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An Arctic fox scouts the terrain

The Northwest Passage

Example 25 Day Cruise aboard Le Commandant Charcot
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Embark on a 25-day cruise on Le Commandant Charcot to explore remote Arctic destinations. Visit Reykjavik, Iceland, cross the Denmark Strait and Prins Christian Sund, and discover Nuuk, Aappilattoq, Disko Bay, Pond Inlet, Lancaster Sound, Devon Island, Beechey Island, Banks Island, and Nome, Alaska. Look out for polar bears and other Arctic wildlife in the Beaufort Sea. This itinerary offers a unique experience of the breathtaking beauty of the Arctic.
Street view of old town ReykjavikPolar bears in the ArcticExploring GreenlandWalruses coming ashore in the arcticAn Arctic fox scouts the terrain
Highlights
  • Explore the city of Reykjavik, Iceland’s famous capital
  • Explore the Northwest Passage and the contemplation of sublime reliefs of unspoiled and immaculate landscapes, which are constantly changing
  • Discover Nuuk, the capital of Greenland
  • Observe unique wildlife, including Arctic foxes, sea birds, belugas, bowhead whales, walruses, and polar bears
Activity Level: Variable
Activity options vary depending on destination and operator. Activity level is determined by the range and intensity of activities you choose to participate in. Discuss with your Trip Planner which options are best for you.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Reykjavík, Iceland | Embark

Iceland’s capital stretches along the edge of a vast bay in the west of the country. Perlan, the “Pearl of Reykjavík”, a museum located on ’Oskjuhlið hill, offers a panoramic view of the lush, green landscapes. A little further, one can easily spot the signpost showing the way to the evangelical Hallgrímskirkja church, and to the historical center where one can stroll along the Skólavördustígur and the Laugavegur, two lively streets with charming small shops. For some relaxation just outside of the city, visitors have the opportunity to visit the Reykjanes peninsula and its famous thermal lagoons of the Blue Lagoon.

Day 2-3: Sailing through the Denmark Strait

Lying between Greenland and Iceland, the Denmark Strait was crossed for the first time by the Vikings in the late 10th century during Erik the Red’s expeditions. In the Second World War, its waters were the theater of a battle between the Kriegsmarine and the Royal Navy on May 24, 1941. In the wintertime, extremely dense pack ice forms along the Greenlandic coasts, and while the Transpolar Drift sweeps icebergs throughout the year, the strait is generally clear of ice during the summer. In the depths of the strait lies the world’s largest waterfall, an undersea cataract formed by the difference in temperature between the cold waters of the Greenland Sea and the warmer waters of the Irminger Sea. Numerous cetacean species thrive in this rich ecosystem.

Day 4: Prins Christian Sund

Your ship glides silently towards the Greenland coast in a setting punctuated by pointed peaks and majestic glaciers. You are on the verge of crossing the Prins Christian Sund, a narrow channel stretching out and zigzagging over one hundred kilometers between Greenland’s southeast and southwest. Fall under the spell of the primitive beauty of these unique landscapes, including rocky cliffs and waterfalls fed by the ice sheet, and plunge into the icy waters. Here, bearded seals love to lie on the floating ice to soak up the sunshine.

Day 5: Aappilattoq (Augpilatok)

Aappilattoq (Augpilatok) is a small Inuit village of around one hundred inhabitants, whose name means “sea anemone” in Greenlandic. Located in a mountainous region inaccessible by road, its picturesque, colorful houses stretch out to the southern tip of Greenland on the banks of the spectacular Prince Christian Sound. Some one hundred kilometers long, the sound connects the Labrador Sea to the Irminger Sea, meandering through stunning landscapes such as majestic glaciers, craggy peaks, and rocky cliffs with waterfalls fed by the ice sheet. This region was uninhabited in the 19th century. The village was created in the 1920s, and the main activities revolve around hunting, fishing, and livestock farming.

Day 6: Nuuk

When Erik Le Rouge, the exiled Norse chief, landed on the coast of Nuuk, he found a fertile and welcoming land dotted with fjords. He settled there with a group of his former countrymen, and the Norse remained the principal inhabitants until, over the course of 500 years, their population declined and gave way to the Inuit. Nuuk is situated at the mouth of one of the largest networks of fjords in the world, where the waters never freeze. The town spreads gently towards the Davis Strait and enjoys a historic center rich in national heritage. The vivid reds, blues, greens, and yellows of the houses are a lively contrast to the somber waters of Greenland and serve to lift the locals' spirits during the winter months.

Day 7: At Sea

Spend exceptional moments sailing aboard Le Commandant Charcot, the world’s first luxury polar exploration vessel and the first PC2-class polar cruise ship capable of sailing into the very heart of the ice on seas and oceans, which the frozen conditions render inaccessible to ordinary ships. Le Commandant Charcot is fitted with oceanographic and scientific equipment selected by a committee of experts. Take advantage of the onboard lectures and opportunities for discussion with these specialists to learn more about the poles. Participate in furthering scientific research with PONANT and discover what these fascinating destinations have yet to reveal.

Day 8: Disko Bay

To the east of Baffin Bay, discover Disko Bay, scattered with countless icebergs produced by the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From your ship, admire the majestic ballet of these ice giants as they slowly drift across the dark waters. This site is a natural marvel of Greenland and is also renowned as an observation point for the region’s many humpback whales. The encounters with wild fauna and stunning landscapes in the heart of this spectacular and fragile nature will be pure moments of wonder for you.

Day 9: At Sea

Spend exceptional moments sailing aboard Le Commandant Charcot, the world’s first luxury polar exploration vessel and the first PC2-class polar cruise ship capable of sailing into the very heart of the ice on seas and oceans, which the frozen conditions render inaccessible to ordinary ships. Le Commandant Charcot is fitted with oceanographic and scientific equipment selected by a committee of experts. Take advantage of the onboard lectures and opportunities for discussion with these specialists to learn more about the poles. Participate in furthering scientific research with PONANT and discover what these fascinating destinations have yet to reveal.​

Day 10: Pond Inlet, Nunavut

On Baffin Island, located in northern Canada at the mouth of the famous Northwest Passage, there is a small Inuit settlement at the very bounds of infinity. To get there, cross the Arctic Circle, the imaginary line that separates man from lands of mystery and wonder. It’s not so much the way of life that sets Pond Inlet’s inhabitants apart as the setting. Snow-capped mountains, fjords, and glaciers combine in a dazzling natural environment that fills space and expands time. Some discoveries change you forever; this is one of them.

Day 11: Lancaster Sound

Between Devon Island and Baffin Island, in the Canadian territory of Nunavut, Lancaster Sound forms part of the Northwest Passage, a shipping route crossing the Canadian Arctic Archipelago along the northern coast of North America. Coveted for almost 300 years, it saw several expeditions, including the fatal one led by John Franklin, seen for the last time near Lancaster Sound in August 1845. Many colonies of cetaceans, polar bears, and seabirds have taken up residence in or near these nourishing waters at the confluence of the currents. Situated in Inuit territory, the Sound is the subject of plans to create a marine conservation area intended to protect this rich ecosystem and its inhabitants.

Day 12: Devon Island, Nunavut

Devon Island is in the Baffin Bay and is part of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Anchored on the Arctic Cordillera, its rocky surface, similar to Mars's, is of great interest to scientists. Robert Bylot and William Baffin were the first Europeans to sight Devon Island in 1616, but it would be mapped two centuries later by the British sailor William E. Parry, who named it after the eponymous English region. Around 1920, the Hudson's Bay Company set up a fur-trading outpost there until the departure of the Inuits in 1936. A new attempt to populate it was made at the beginning of the 1950s. Only a few buildings in ruins, vestiges of that time, remain today.

Day 13: Beechey Island, Nunavut

Beechey Island, at the eastern end of Resolute Bay, will bring to mind some of the most important moments of Franklin’s expedition. Sir John set off in 1845 in search of the mythical Northwest Passage and was forced to take shelter in Erebus Harbour for two long years while he waited for the ice floes to recede and allow him a way through. It is a spectacular location; seeing the three wooden grave markers bleached by the sun (indicating the burial places of at least three of Captain Franklin’s men) and visiting the memorial erected in memory of Franklin and his men can only reinforce the hushed sense of reverence. If the surrounding wilderness impresses you, the ochre and yellows of the rocky desert soften the landscape.

Day 14-16: Exploring Sea Ice of Northwest Passage

At the far north of the American continent, in the most northern part of the Arctic archipelago, the Northwest Passage is the shortest waterway between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Its crossing has been coveted since the 15th century, and Roald Amundsen was the first to do so in 1906. Few people have successfully sailed from one side to the other due to the year-long obstruction of thick ice floes. Crossing this little-mapped and little-explored region is a challenge worthy of Le Commandant Charcot, designed to sail in extreme environments. Sheltered in its refined and protective setting, you can make the most of this exploration of the ice with the inimitable appeal of the first time: just like the first explorers, you can sail in its channels sculpted by glacial erosion and discover spectacular landscapes made up of craggy terrain and monumental fjords. You can measure the privilege of undertaking such an exploration in light of the experience’s rarity.

Day 17-18: Banks Island

Located in the north of the Canadian archipelago of the Northwest Territories, Banks Island, also known as Banks Land, offers landscapes that are as sumptuous as they are spectacular. The island, covering some 70,000 km2, offers a landscape of hills, valleys, sheer cliffs, and canyons due to glacial erosion. To the north of the island, the Aulavik National Park is home to a very rich wildlife population, mainly consisting of Arctic wolves, muskox, caribou, Arctic foxes, lemmings, and many varieties of birds.

Day 19-22: Exploring Sea Ice in Beaufort Sea

Bordering the north coasts of Alaska and Canada, the Beaufort Sea has been feared for centuries because of its extreme climatic conditions. Covered for most of the year with a thick layer of ice and unexplored until 1914, this part of the Arctic Ocean, named in honor of the British Admiral Francis Beaufort, will reveal its magnificent icy landscapes. With some luck, you may cross the path of some polar bears since the region is renowned for sheltering the Lord of the Arctic.

Day 23: Sailing in Beaufort Sea

Delimited by the entrance to the Northwest Passage and the Amundsen Gulf to the east and by Canada’s Yukon and Northwest Territories to the west, the Beaufort Sea makes up part of the almost inaccessible Arctic Ocean. Due to its extreme weather conditions, it was not explored until 1914 by the Canadian explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson. However, it was named after Francis Beaufort, a British admiral and hydrographer. Sail on these remote waters strewn with a mosaic of ice resulting from the sea-ice breakup. Surrounded by this stunning scenery, you may spot a few belugas and bowhead whales established in colonies in the region. 

Day 24: Crossing the Bering Strait

Cross the Bering Strait, a 90-kilometer (56-mile) wide maritime channel between eastern Siberia and Alaska, named after the Danish explorer Vitus Bering. Sail this strait that people once used to walk across, during the last glaciations, from Asia to North America. The Russians' transfer of Alaska to the United States in 1867 turned the strait into a significant geostrategic site nicknamed the "Ice Curtain" during the Cold War. Delineated in 1990, the border between the two countries is located in the middle of the strait, between the two Diomede Islands, making one of them Russian and the other American. During your crossing, favorable conditions will be conducive to a moving encounter with wildlife attracted by these nourishing waters.

Day 25: Nome, Alaska | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Located along the Bering Strait at the westernmost point of Alaska, Nome offers the rustic charm of a former gold-mining town in the middle of a magnificent wilderness. As you weave in and out of the brightly colored houses, discover the pioneering legacy that still marks local traditions. Fishing, reindeer rearing, and sledge-racing. People here live from their manual labor. The surrounding plains provide stunning vantage points for observing Arctic fauna.

Ship/Hotel

Le Commandant Charcot

Dates & Prices

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Per person starting at
$47,100 2-3 travelers
Rates are dynamic and fluctuate based on capacity. Contact us for a specific quote.
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 6
20m² and a 5m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower, dressing table with hairdryer, flat-screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 7
20m² and a 5m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower, dressing table with hairdryer, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 8
20m² and a 5m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower, dressing table with hairdryer, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
Deluxe suite
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Deluxe Suite Deck 6
28m² and a 5m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower, dressing table with hairdryer, flat-screen tv, wifi, minibar, and safe
Deluxe suite
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Deluxe Suite Deck 7
28m² and a 5m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower, dressing table with hairdryer, flat-screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe.
Deluxe suite
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Deluxe Suite Deck 8
28m² and a 5m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower, dressing table with hairdryer, flat-screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe.
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
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Prestige Suite Deck 7
40m² and a 10m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with two showers, dressing table with hairdryer, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
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Prestige Suite Deck 8
40m² and a 10m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with two showers, dressing table with hairdryer, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
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Grand Prestige Suite
42m² and a 12.5m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower and Balneo bathtub, dressing table with hairdryer, butler service, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
Le Commandant Charcot cabin
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Privilege Suite
48m² and a 12.5m² private balcony, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower and Balneo bathtub, dressing table with hairdryer, butler service, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
suite duplex
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Suite Duplex
48m² and a 26m² private balcony with jacuzzi, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower and Balneo bathtub, dressing table with hairdryer, butler service, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe
owners suite
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Owner's Suite
114m² and a 186m² private balcony with jacuzzi, king-sized bed or two twin beds, private bathroom with shower and Balneo bathtub, dressing table with hairdryer, butler service, flat screen tv, wifi, minibar and safe

Notes

Please note:
Fares are based on double occupancy and are capacity controlled. Rates may increase at any time as the ship sells out and are subject to change without notice.
Included
  • 24 Breakfasts, 23 Lunches, 24 Dinners
  • 24 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Ponant Activities: A variety of excursions and activities will be offered during your cruise, weather dependent, and can be reserved on board
  • Port Fees
  • Unlimited Wifi
  • Onboard Entertainment 
  • Captain’s Welcome Cocktail and Gala Dinner
  • Gratuities to Onboard Crew
  • “Open Bar” (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands...list available upon request)
  • 24h Room Service (special selection)
  • English-Speaking Lecturer 
  • Highly experienced and bilingual (French-English) expedition staff
  • Park Entry Fees into Protected Areas
  • Water sports activities (except scuba diving) using the ship’s equipment, when permitted by local authorities and confirmed by ship Master according to safety and sea conditions onsite. 
  • Transfer to the airport in time for check-in for the PONANT selected flight from Nome to Seattle
  • Flight Nome/Seattle selected by PONANT in economy class
Excluded
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Visa Fees
  • Optional Excursions - Ponant allows you to pre-book your excursions approximately six to two months prior to the cruise* departure. Please note that this is subject to change. Please contact us for more details.
  • Any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned
  • Luggage Handling 
  • Laundry Services, Hair Salon, and à La Carte Spa Treatments
  • Pre or post cruise programs, overland programs or shore excursions 
  • Beverages other than the ones mentioned in inclusions
  • CDP recommends that every Traveler has full and adequate travel insurance covering the risks of cancellation, assistance being required, repatriation, damages to and loss of baggage, and medical expenses
  • Tips for the driver and local guide

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