The icy and labyrinthine channels of the legendary Northwest Passage have enchanted explorers and adventurers for centuries. Get a glimpse into the world that captivated early explorers such as Franklin, Amundsen, and Larsen by exploring a portion of the fabled Northwest Passage. Visit the final resting places of some of the heroic explorers to have ventured here and experience the archipelago of islands and channels that form Canada’s High Arctic region. Along the way, meet local indigenous people who call this remote wilderness home and encounter enigmatic Arctic wildlife, including walrus, beluga whale, polar bear, musk ox, and the elusive narwhal. Pack ice always threatens to halt our voyage through the passage, adding a compelling element of adventure that is integral to any genuine expedition.
Discover Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Explore Greenland’s second largest town, Sisimiut
Visit Sillem Island with glacial features on all sides
Having made your way to Toronto Airport, check-in at Westin Toronto Airport Hotel for an overnight stay. At the welcome briefing this evening, enjoy a drink and meet fellow expeditioners. A representative from Aurora Expeditions will provide you with important information about biosecurity and also about the charter flight to Kangerlussuaq tomorrow. You will receive Aurora Expeditions cabin tags for your luggage. Please clearly label the tags with your name and ship cabin number.
After breakfast at the hotel, board our charter flight to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, where our vessel Sylvia Earle awaits. After boarding, there is time to settle into your cabin before your important safety briefings. The sailling out of Søndre Strømfjord, with its towering mountains on both sides, is magnificent. This evening, meet your expedition team and crew at the Captain’s Welcome Dinner.
Greenland’s second largest town, Sisimiut is located approximately 54 kilometers (33.5 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, meaning that during summer, you can experience the midnight sun here. The town is famous for the old blue church with the gate made of whalebone. In the cozy museum next door to the church, you will find an excellent reconstruction of an Inuit turf house and exhibits of local history and early life in Greenland.
Sisimiut offers hiking trails with varying degrees of difficulty. The easier trails take you through the town itself, its outskirts, and into the mountains, where you will find spectacular vantage points.
Approximately 4,500 years ago, the Saqqaq culture arrived from Canada and settled in the area. They lived here for approximately 2,000 years, mysteriously disappearing from the area. The Dorset culture arrived around 500 CE and stayed until the 1200s when they were replaced by the Thule culture. Today, the majority of the population of Sisimiut are descendants of the Thule culture.
Known as the ‘birthplace of icebergs’, this region produces some of the most dazzling icebergs found anywhere on earth. Hike to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Icefjord and stand in awe of its immensity. Sermeq Kujalleq, also known as Jakobshavn Glacier, is the most productive glacier – not only in Greenland but the entire Northern Hemisphere. It produces 20 million tonnes of ice each day, all floating into the Ilulissat Icefjord and Disko Bay. Conditions permitting, enjoy a Zodiac cruise at the mouth of the fjord and kayak through sea ice and icebergs. An optional 90-minute helicopter flight over the ice fjord is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.
This compelling island seems to have more in common with Iceland than Greenland. While most of the interior is mountainous and glaciated, its beautiful shorelines boast black sandy beaches, unusual basalt columns, hot springs and dramatic lava formations. On a guided hike, enjoy a diversity of arctic flora. Zodiac cruise in Disko Bay, a hotspot for marine life including humpback, fin, minke and bowhead whales.
Our team of experts entertain us with informative talks about wildlife, geology and epic tales of early explorers such as Franklin and Amundsen. Reaching the coast of Baffin Island, we may encounter Greenland’s famous icebergs. Keep watch for humpback, sei, sperm and fin whales, as well as various species of seals such as ring and harp seal.
Farther north along the east coast of Baffin Island lies Isabella Bay, an important summer and autumn feeding ground for a large population of bowhead whales. Stacked side-by-side, numerous soaring cliffs of Sam Ford Fjord make for a majestic site as you sail by. One of the most isolated places on the planet, this big-wall playground attracts climbers eager to scale the sheer rock faces that seem to shoot straight out from the sea. In the afternoon, we sail around Sillem Island, with glacial features on all sides. A slow cruise offers the chance to see many glaciers as well as a variety of seals and other arctic wildlife.
The picturesque hamlet of Pond Inlet, overlooking Eclipse Sound, is surrounded by scenic mountain ranges and numerous glaciers and fjords. Travelers come to marvel at the abundant wildlife hoping to see narwhals, beluga and orca whales, ringed and harp seals, caribou and the occasional polar bear. Explore churches and visit the Natinnak Center to see exhibits showcasing the culture and history of the local Inuit people.
In the afternoon, visit Tremblay Sound and enjoy a ship cruise. The area is well-known to attract narwhals that spend summer here. If we are extremely lucky, we may catch a glimpse of these notoriously shy creatures that are related to whales and dolphins.
This morning, we sail along the coastline of Bylot Island. Bylot provides nesting habitat for large numbers of thick-billed murres and black-legged kittiwakes, covered with mountains, icefields, steep cliffs, snowfields, and glaciers. A total of 74 unique species of arctic bird thrive on this island. Due to the richness of the wildlife and the beauty and diversity of the landscapes in the area, a large portion of the island was also included in the Sirmilik National Park, established in 2001.
They also plan to visit nearby Navy Board Inlet, an arm of Lancaster Sound that is uninhabited. The inlet is part of Sirmilik National Park and provides stunning views of Bylot and Devon islands, with awe-inspiring scenery including mountains, picturesque fjords, inlets, glaciers, and icebergs. Marine animals including polar bears, narwhal and whales, seals and seabirds frequent the area so keep your cameras and binoculars ready to spot some wildlife.
Croker Bay features a number of active glaciers, and a Zodiac cruise, at a safe distance, is a thrilling adventure. In Dundas Harbour, we plan to anchor and Zodiac ashore, keeping watch for walrus that are often seen in the bay, for a walk across tundra where it is possible to encounter musk ox, enjoy birdwatching, and visit ancient semi-subterranean Thule huts and a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police outpost.
At the western end of Devon Island lies Beechey Island. Named after Frederick William Beechey, the island has many of Canada’s most important Arctic relics and is a designated Canadian National Historic Site. Sir John Franklin’s first winter, 1845-46, was spent here during his attempt to sail through the Northwest Passage aboard HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, with dangerous results – the first three of his men died here. Roald Amundsen landed at Beechey Island in 1903, during the first successful voyage to fully transit the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
Note: In true expeditionary style, our itinerary for the following days is entirely dependent on unpredictable sea ice. The following are places we hope to visit.
Prince Leopold Island, Port Leopold
On the southern side of Lancaster Sound opposite Beechey Island lie the towering bird cliffs of Prince Leopold Island— the most important bird sanctuary in the Canadian Arctic, with approximately 500,000 birds nesting pairs here in summer. Ringed seals are often spotted on the sea ice. Nearby Port Leopold is a historic site where British explorer James Clark Ross wintered in 1848 while searching for the missing Franklin expedition. The ruin of a century old Hudson’s Bay trading post can be found there, and polar bear often lurk nearby. The shallow gravel beds attract beluga whales, which come to moult in this part of the Arctic each summer.
On the north coast of Somerset Island, when factors such as weather and whale behavior align, you might see the amazing spectacle of hundreds of beluga whales shedding their skin on shallow sandy banks. The local scenery makes for excellent guided walks, where waterway trails lead to waterfalls and higher ground.
Across from Victoria Strait, Coningham Bay lies on the shores of Prince of Wales Island. This is a polar bear hotspot where the majestic creatures come to feast on beluga whales that are often trapped in the rocky shallows at the entrance to the bay. It is not unusual to find the shoreline littered with whale skeletons – and very healthy-looking polar bears!
King William Island
In 1859, a Franklin expedition tent camp was discovered at Cape Felix. Remains attributed to the Franklin expedition have been found at 35 different locations on King William Island and on nearby Adelaide Peninsula. South of Cape Felix, in Victoria Strait, we hope to visit Victory Point and get close to where the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror were abandoned in 1848.
A large town by local standards, Cambridge Bay is the administrative and transportation hub of the region. It is the largest stop for passenger and research vessels traversing the Northwest Passage and unofficially marks the midpoint for voyages of the Northwest Passage. Zodiac ashore for an exploration of this Inuit settlement located in the high arctic. Enjoy a walk through the village, where you can visit the local church, and visitor center and support the local community by purchasing some locally made handicrafts.
In the old town, we plan to visit the ancient archaeological sites of the Pre-Dorset, Dorset, and Thule people.
Wildlife abounds in this area, and you might see caribou, musk ox, and seals. The tundra is ablaze with wildflowers and birds including jaegers, ducks, geese and swans visit the area in large numbers.
Edinburgh Island is a small and uninhabited island in Canada’s Nunavut region. The scenery consists of colorful flowering shrubs, and beaches tinged in stunning ochres, while the surrounding cliffs are shaded in rich, deep tones. We hope to enjoy a Zodiac excursion within an estuary of at the northeast end of Johansen Bay and up the river towards the lake. A possible walk to a lookout overlooking the lake offers spectacular views of lakes, seas, and mountains. Wildlife including caribous, reindeer, arctic foxes, hares and peregrine falcons frequent the area.
Enjoy the many facilities aboard the Sylvia Earle as we continue along the shores of the Canadian High Arctic. Enjoy panoramic views from one of the observation lounges, attend informative talks from our onboard experts or sweat it out in the gym or the sauna.
Located in the north of Canada’s Northwest Territories, Banks Island, the fifth largest island in Canada, is home to approximately 60 percent of the world's population of Lesser Snow Geese. Arctic foxes, wolves, polar bears, caribous, musk ox, and many birds are also found here. Grizzly bears are occasionally spotted and bowhead whales are often seen offshore. The dramatic cliffs on the southeast coast feature colorful yellow, white and red quartzites, while, the west coast is characterized by long, sandy offshore bars. Nelson Head cliffs feature ancient Precambrian rock that is almost 2 billion years old.
The smoking Hills in Canada’s Northwest Territories have been smouldering, sending plumes of gas across the landscape, for centuries. Technically sea cliffs, you would be forgiven for thinking that the multicoloured fiery natural phenomenon is the set to an apocalyptic movie depicting the end of the world. The smoke is caused by layers of combustible, sulphur-rich lignite (brown coal) that ignites and emit sulphurous gas into the air, when exposed to erosion and landslides, which also creates a dazzling colouration of the rocks.
As you continue our journey west, sailing through waters named after famous explorers such as Amundsen Beaufort, keep a close watch for marine wildlife including Beluga whales that are often seen here.
Lying 5 km (3.1 mi) off the north coast of the Yukon in the Beaufort Sea, Herschel Island has a heritage of natural and natural importance. Its dry polar climate is home to a unique number of arctic plants, animals and sea life. More than 100 other species of birds live or migrate here, and the western arctic’s largest colony of black guillemots nest in Pauline Cove. The island is also a habitat for musk oxen, caribou, arctic and red foxes. Seals are often spotted on the sea ice, while bowhead and beluga whales frequent the waters. Apart from the dazzling wildlife and historic buildings found on the island, it is the stunning wildflowers, flourishing in the 24 hours of midnight sun daylight, that most visitors remember.
Point Barrow, or ‘Nuvuk’ in the local Inuit language, is a headland on the Arctic coast in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is the northernmost in the United States, and where we enter the country. The North Pole is only 1,122 nautical miles (2,078 km /1,291 mi) away. The area is home to the Inupiat, an Inuit tribe that has lived in the area for more than 1500 years. Bowhead whales migrate through the region, so keep a close watch for a glimpse of them. A bowhead whale’s jawbone sits on the shore on the outskirts of Utqiagvik town, formerly known as Barrow. The of the whale is in the form of an archway that faces the Chukchi Sea, symbolizing the important relationship between the Inupiat and the sea.
Continuing west along the northern coast of Alaska to where the U.S and Russia are only 100 km (60 miles) apart, separated by the Bering Sea, there is ample time to reflect on your adventures while scanning the water for marine life. Enjoy a massage in the wellness center, share, edit and submit pictures in your photo competition and attend final lectures from the team of onboard experts. Celebrate an unforgettable voyage at the Captain’s Farewell Dinner on board.
Transfer to the airport for your onward journey.
Please note that this is an indicative itinerary only and is subject to change. Sea ice and weather conditions determine our route, and Aurora Expeditions cannot guarantee the complete crossing of the Northwest Passage to the Beaufort Sea.
However, we will certainly have an incredible adventure trying!
Apologies for the inconvenience. Prices for not yet published. Below per person rate based on previous season. Contact us to confirm upcoming season pricing.
Prices for are estimated based on inflation. Contact us to confirm pricing and availability for your desired departure date.
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Aurora Stateroom Triple
22.67m2 (244ft2) - There are two Aurora Stateroom Triple cabins featuring portholes, all with private en-suites. Located on Deck 3, they're close to the mudroom and loading platforms.
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Aurora Stateroom Superior
19.9m2 - 20.8m2(214.2ft2 - 223.9ft2) - Located on Deck 7, the Staterooms feature french balconies, floor to ceiling windows, en-suite bathrooms and a comfortable desk area. Perfect for polar adventurers who travel with plenty of gear.
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Balcony Stateroom C
19.5m2 - 28.7m2 (209.9ft² - 308.9ft2) - 11 Balcony Stateroom C cabins - most economical, fitted with all the necessities and comfortable for up to 2 people. These cabins are scattered throughout Deck 6.
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Balcony Stateroom B
19.5m2 - 28.7m2 (209.9ft² - 308.9ft2) - 17 Balcony Stateroom B Cabins - standard cabin, many fitted with interconnecting features making them great for families or groups. These cabins are located at the fore and aft of Deck 4 and 6.
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Balcony Stateroom A
19.5m² - 28.7m² (209.9ft² - 308.9ft²)- 23 Balcony Stateroom A cabins - premium cabin, and the most abundant on board. These cabins are located in preferred positions on Deck 4 and 6 which provides easy access between Decks via the internal stairs or elevator.
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Balcony Stateroom Superior
29.2m2 - 35.2m2 (314.3ft2 - 378.9ft2) - Located on Deck 4 and 6, the Staterooms feature floor to ceiling windows, en-suite bathrooms and a comfortable desk area. Some of these rooms are equipped with wheelchair accessible bathrooms.
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Up to 41.6m2 (447.8ft2)- 4 Junior Suites take in some impressive scenery from their vantage points on Deck 7. When you aren't enjoying a landing, you can relax in the suites' separate lounge area, or just watch the world float by from the private balcony.
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43.8m2 (471.5 ft2) - Captain's Suite - the largest of all our rooms, will take you to the polar regions in ultimate style and comfort. Complete with large lounge area, balcony, walk-in wardrobe and en-suite, you'll need to get in early to secure this suite.
We are so glad that we chose Adventure Life. The service is top-notch. Everything is well taken care of and we just have to print the documents and go. Franny even gave us timely updates on possible airport strike.