Best of the Western Arctic: Canada and Greenland (Day 2)
Embarkation Day in Kangerlussuaq: Head to Greenland to embark on your adventure! After breakfast at the hotel, drive to the airport to board a private charter flight to Kangerlussuaq, a small town at the eastern edge of Sondre Stromfjord, one of the longest fjords in the world. A popular transit place, this town is a diamond in the rough, with clear skies, colorful buildings and the occasional herd of Arctic animals crossing the road. Admire the beautiful scenery of mountains and fjords, with the Midnight Sun shining above you, before you board your ship, the Ultramarine, in the afternoon. Once you set sail, step out on the deck to enjoy the bracing Arctic air, the stark beauty of the landscape and the sheer vastness of the sea, stretching for miles ahead. Make friends with your shipmates over a cup of coffee or an icy cocktail at the bar and make yourself comfortable on the ship.
Best of the Western Arctic: Canada and Greenland (Day 3)
At Sea Davis Strait: Cruise the seas and experience the Arctic in all its glory! Over the next few days, enjoy informative briefings on the adventures and sights that are in store for you. As you sail across the Davis Strait, learn about the interesting wildlife, ecology, geology and climate of the Arctic Region, along with its rich history and politics. Keep an eye out for seabirds soaring around the ship and whales flitting through the waters, and keep your camera ready to capture these rare sightings. Wind through narrow inlets, bays and channels as you navigate the same course that legendary explorers were fascinated by all those years ago. Depending on the weather conditions, you can take thrilling Zodiac cruises to hidden, unexplored locations on shore, or zip above the ship on the Ultramarine’s helicopters, admiring the magnificent aerial views of the surrounding icebergs, fjords and remote islands.
Best of the Western Arctic: Canada and Greenland (Days 4 – 6)
Exploring Baffin Island, Canada: Discover Baffin Island, the fifth-largest island in the world! Named after English navigator William Baffin, who visited this area in the early 17th century in search of the legendary Northwest Passage sea route, the island’s east coast is filled with natural wonders such as ice-capped mountains, steep fjords and wildflower-covered stretches of tundra. Depending on the weather conditions, each day offers new adventures and new landings around Baffin Bay. Visit the Inuit community of Qikiqtarjuaq, known as ‘Qik’ by the locals, who live just north of the Arctic Circle on Broughton Island. Get a lovely view of Davis Strait from this hamlet and interact with the local Inuit artisans. Support them by picking up some of their unique handicrafts and jewellery as souvenirs to take home. Cruise the scenic Isabella Bay before you head to the less-explored Sam Ford Fjord, known as one of the most isolated places on Earth. Dotted with almost fully vertical granite cliffs that rise magically out of the sea, the fjord is a paradise for climbers. Keep your camera ready as you glide along the jagged coastline carved by ancient glaciers. The intricately stacked rock formations are sure to take your breath away with their harsh beauty.
Best of the Western Arctic: Canada and Greenland (Day 7)
At Sea Lancaster Sound: As you sail north from Baffin Island towards Lancaster Sound, there is plenty to do on board the ship during your day at sea. Take in a presentation about the region’s history, geography, and wildlife by on-board experts. Spend the afternoon watching a movie before moving to the bar to sip on an icy cocktail. There’s plenty of sunshine during the Arctic summer, which you can take advantage of by joining the expedition team on the bridge as they look out for seabirds soaring on the wing above the ship, and for whales breaching the water below. Make sure to take your camera.
Best of the Western Arctic: Canada and Greenland (Days 8 – 11)
Lancaster Sound: Travel through the gateway to the Northwest Passage. It stays ice-free all year round, making it an important summer feeding ground for whales and other marine animals. Spend a few days exploring beautiful bays and islets and searching for walrus and seals. The area is known for polar bear sightings too, so keep an eye out for the largest of all land predators. If you are lucky, you may spot the mystical narwhal with its unicorn horn as well. Potentially make a landing at Radstock Bay, where you can explore one of the most impressive ancient Thule sites, complete with remains of subterranean houses and the whale bones that were used as support. If conditions permit, visit Beechey Island, a Canadian National Historic Site that contains the graves of members of Sir John Franklin’s 1845–46 expedition to find the Northwest Passage. Explore Coburg Island, which is part of the Nirjutiqavvik National Wildlife Area. Though largely covered in glaciers and ice fields, its steep cliffs provide safe nesting space for hundreds of thousands of seabirds, making it an ornithologist’s delight. Spot Brünnich’s guillemots, black-legged kittiwakes, and northern fulmars.
Best of the Western Arctic: Canada and Greenland (Day 12)
Smith Sound: Follow in the footsteps of explorers such as Adolphus Greely and Sir George Nares as you sail as far north as possible through Smith Sound. This is an uninhabited Arctic sea passage that runs from Ellesmere Island, Canada’s northern-most island, to Greenland. The sound connects Baffin Bay to the Kane Basin and extends for 55 miles. It is named after the English diplomat Sir Thomas Smith, originally appearing on maps as Sir Thomas Smith’s Sound and over time was shortened to the simpler Smith Sound. Make sure to spend time on deck looking for wildlife such as walrus and seals. The sound is often crowded with ice, making for favorable viewing conditions.
Best of the Western Arctic: Canada and Greenland (Days 13 – 14)
Exploring Northern Greenland: Look out for stunning icebergs and vast glaciers as you sail along the northwest coast of Greenland. Stop at Qaanaaq, one of the northernmost towns in the world, previously known as Thule. Meet the local Inuit community and learn about their culture and traditions. Visit the museum in town, where exhibits provide insights into life in the Arctic. You could also explore Melville Bay, a major whaling site in the 1800s. Hop into a Zodiac, a heavy-duty rubber dinghy, to explore Baffin Bay and get up close to icebergs of all shapes and sizes. Salts in the water and warming currents from the south create ideal conditions for life in Baffin Bay, making it a great place to spot wildlife. Huge shoals of cod, herring and halibut arrive in the summer. Spot ringed seals, harp seals and walrus, as well as whales, dolphins, and even killer whales. Seabirds and coastal birds soar on the wind and if you are lucky, you may even spot caribou or a polar bear along the shore. For an additional cost, you have the option to go paddling in these waters, a unique Arctic experience.
Best of the Western Arctic: Canada and Greenland (Day 15)
At Sea Melville Bay: Spend the day at sea as you continue sailing south along the west coast of Greenland. Conditions permitting, you may be able to see Melville Bay, which lies off the coast of northwestern Greenland and used to be an important whaling site in the late 1800s. Its Kalaallisut name, Qimusseriarsuaq, means ‘the great dog sledding place.’ The bay is generally crammed full of icebergs, creating some spectacular photographic opportunities. It is also home to the ethereal narwhal; whose white color and unique horn make it a truly unusual sight.
Best of the Western Arctic: Canada and Greenland (Days 16 – 18)
Exploring West Greenland: Discover stunning glaciers, dramatic fjords, and vibrant local communities as you sail along the west coast of Greenland. Keep your cameras ready for a visit to Uummannaq, a traditional Inuit town that may be the most picturesque place in Greenland. The name means ‘heart-like’ and is taken from the red heart-shaped mountain that rises up 1,170 meters behind it. Do not miss the view of the twin peaks rising from behind colorful houses as you approach the rugged coastline. Jump into a Zodiac, a heavy-duty rubber dinghy, and float past huge icebergs as you explore the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes Jakobshavn, one of the most active glaciers in the world. Visit the town of Ilulissat, which means ‘iceberg,’ to approach the fjord on foot and gain a completely different perspective of this river of ice. Head for Itilleq (meaning ‘crossing place’), a scenic hollow that lies about a mile above the Arctic Circle. It represents the southern limit of the Greenlandic sled dogs, which are not permitted to venture further, to keep the breed pure. Experience the town’s famous friendly vibe by chatting with locals, who paint their houses in rainbow colors, and maybe even challenge them to a friendly game of soccer.
Best of the Western Arctic: Canada and Greenland (Day 19)
Disembark in Kangerlussuaq and fly to Toronto: There’s time for one more ride in a Zodiac, a heavy-duty rubber dinghy that allows you to get a sea level view of the stunning Arctic environment. Then disembark in Kangerlussuaq and board your charter flight back to Toronto, Canada. On your arrival in Toronto, you will be taken to your hotel, after which you can spend the rest of the evening at your leisure.