The Northwest Passage – In the Wake of the Great Explorers

The Northwest Passage – In the Wake of the Great Explorers

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We’ll attempt to navigate the ice floes and islands of the scenic Northwest Passage. You’ll learn about the history of the region in places that might include Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Fort Ross, Beechey Island, and Dundas Harbour.

With sea ice and weather conditions guiding their decisions, your Expedition Team will pick locations for escorted landings and small boat cruising. We’ll also always be looking for opportunities to spot whales, seals and possibly even polar bears.

We’ll then cross Baffin Bay and Davis Strait to the stunning, UNESCO-listed Ilulissat Icefjord in Greenland. You’ll then visit the picturesque town of Sisimiut before heading to the city of Corner Brook in eastern Canada, and finally to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Even if a full transit of the Northwest Passage isn’t possible due to sea ice, you’ll still experience the beauty of the High Arctic and look for wildlife such as polar bears.

Trip Name
The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of the Great Explorers
Vessel Type: Expedition Ship Length: 140 metres Passenger Capacity: 530 Built: 2019 In 2019, Hurtigruten adds a brand new ship to its fleet: the MS Roald Amundsen. The state of the art vessel features new and environmentally sustainable hybrid technology that will reduce fuel consumption and show the world that hybrid propulsion on large ships is possible. MS Roald Amundsen is the first of two hybrid ships Hurtigruten will add to its fleet over the next few years, cutting emissions by sailing with electrical propulsion. Hybrid technology, combined with the advanced construction of the hull and effective use of electricity on board will reduce fuel consumption and CO2-emissions on the ships by 20 percent. The build of these two ships represents the largest single investment in the history of Hurtigruten.  The future of shipping will be silent and emission free. MS Roald Amundsen will lead the way towards an even more sustainable way of traveling. Sailing on electrical power is not only a great benefit for the environment, but it will also enhance the impact of experiencing nature for the guests. The ship will be specially constructed for voyages in polar waters and serve as a comfortable basecamp at sea – bringing adventurers from all over the world to the most spectacular destinations in the most sustainable way. Facilities on board One of the most eye-catching exterior design features of the ships will be the two-level indoor/outdoor Observation Deck wrapped around the top of the ships’ raked bow. In a vast area behind it, you’ll find the core of the onboard experience: Amundsen Science Center.   Packed with state of the art technology and high tech gadgets such as touch screens and science equipment, the immersive edutainment area will be the place guests and staff/crew meet, mingle and create a deeper understanding for the areas they explore. The flexible venue will feature lecture spaces, a small library, and speciality areas for workshops in photography, biology, and more. The area, featuring large windows, will also be the onboard HQ for Hurtigruten’s hand picked Expedition Team.   The stunning scenery will be reflected in a rich and comfortable interior design. Scandinavian materials from nature, such as granite, oak, birch and wool will be used to create relaxed and stylish cabins and public areas. All cabins are outside, 50 % will have private balconies, aft suites will feature private outdoor Jacuzzis with spectacular views.  MS Roald Amundsen will feature three restaurants inspired by Nordic and Norwegian heritage: Aune Main Dining, named after the Norwegian ship chandler and polar expedition supplier Tinus Aune. Fredheim - the ships’ informal and social meeting place – named after a 1900s hunting station on Svalbard. Lindstrøm, a speciality restaurant named after Adolf Lindstrøm, the favorite chef of the Norwegian polar heroes. Artwork on board When the world’s first hybrid powered expedition ship embarks on her maiden voyage, every piece of art on board will be handpicked by HM Queen Sonja of Norway’s art foundation - the Queen Sonja Print Award. Read more about the exciting collaboration here.  


Your expedition cruise starts in Vancouver, overnight at the hotel.Set amidst beautiful mountain scenery and the waters of English Bay, Vancouver is both bustling seaport and cosmopolitan city. If you arrange to arrive a few days ahead of your cruise, you’ll soon find out just why people rave about British Colombia’s largest city.
Day 2 - DAY 2 - NOME, ALASKA
You’ll fly from Vancouver to Nome, where MS Roald Amundsen waits to begin your expedition cruise. Situated on the Seward Peninsula, Nome’s name went down in Alaska history the day the ‘Three Lucky Swedes’ discovered gold in Anvil Creek in 1898. Prospectors soon flocked from the Yukon and from San Francisco in steamers. Even the famous sheriff Wyatt Earp followed the call of gold and opened a saloon here.You can see evidence of the gold rush era everywhere, including abandoned dredges, turn-of-the-century steam engines, and old railroad tracks. Cries of ‘Gold! Gold!’ can still be heard today by those foraging on the banks of the Snake River and elsewhere in the area. The town also marked the end point of three of Roald Amundsen’s great expeditions; the Northwest Passage in 1906, the Northeast Passage in 1921, and an aircraft attempt to the North Pole in 1926. It seems only fitting therefore that you’ll board an expedition ship bearing his name here in Nome, eagerly embarking on your own modern-day adventure across the Arctic. Estimated time of departure is 10:00 PM
Day 3 - DAY 3 to 7 - AT SEA
These initial days at sea give you all the time you need to ease into your journey and acclimatise for your adventure ahead. You’ll definitely want to explore the ship and enjoy onboard facilities like the infinity pool, hot tubs, sauna, indoor gym, outdoor running track and spa. There are also informative lectures from the Expedition Team in the Science Centre. Each topic, ranging from wildlife, tectonic activity, glaciology, or local history and culture, is designed to help you appreciate the areas you are sailing through and inform your upcoming landings. The Expedition Team will also talk you through important guidelines from AECO, the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators. You'll learn how you can protect wildlife habitats, keep a safe distance from animals, and visit Arctic communities in a dignified and respectful way.  We’ll sail through the Bering Strait and look to the skies to spot a range of sea birds. There are over 30 species to spot, including Black-legged Kittiwakes and various species of auklets and murrelets. Late summer sees upwards of 10 million winged wonders in the region, giving you plenty to point your binoculars at. Through the Bergin Strait, you’ll also have Russia to the west and the USA to the east. This is the international date line, where you’ll have ‘tomorrow’ on your left and ‘today’ to the right. Crossing Chukchi Sea, we reach Point Barrow, the northernmost point of the USA and enter the Beaufort Sea. Keep an eye on the waters here for bowhead and grey whales and we might also start seeing sea ice.  We continue into the Amundsen Gulf, where we hope to observe the remarkable and colourful Smoking Hills - an amazing sight, with smoke billowing from the cliffs on the east coast of Cape Bathurst. Lignite – a combination of eroded shale and pyrite – spontaneously ignites when exposed to air, creating this photogenic phenomenon
It’s now time for us to attempt to make a complete transit of the Northwest Passage. Before us, only around 60 expeditions have tried to navigate this seaway, with the earliest attempts going as far back as 1497. James Cook attempted it in 1776 and many are familiar with the ill-fated Franklin expedition of 1845. The first to conquer the Northwest Passage by ship was Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen on an expedition that lasted from 1903 to 1906. Now in our modern era, aboard a state-of-the-art expedition ship named in Amundsen’s honour, we’ll also enter the Northwest Passage on our own adventure, aiming to sail through to Greenland and eastern Canada. During our journey, we will land at sites that are linked to early exploration history, visit Inuit communities, and hope to spot Arctic wildlife such as polar bears, whales, seals, and a mixture of seabirds. There will also be opportunities for small boat cruising between ice floes, and in true expedition style, we will go ashore and experience the pristine wilderness first hand. The ship Captain and Expedition Leader will continuously assess the current weather and sea conditions, adapt activities accordingly, and adjust the itinerary to where the sea ice allows us to go. Like all good explorers, we respect and work with nature, not against it. Here are some of the places in the region that we hope to explore together during landings and short walks, if wind, waves, and sea ice allow: Ulukhaktok Many in the 500-strong community are involved in the local artists' co-op, producing prints, tapestries, and other crafts. This is also the location of the world's northernmost golf course which plays host to a tournament each summer. Cambridge Bay Located on Victoria Island, this is the largest stop for vessels traversing the Northwest Passage. It is also called ‘Iqaluktuuttiaq', or ‘A Good Fishing Place’ due to the Ekalluk River which attracts Arctic char, muskoxen, and caribou. Gjoa Haven Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen wintered at this hamlet in 1903 on the expedition the ‘haven’ is named after. During his time here, he learnt crucial survival skills from the local Nesilik Inuit. This knowledge would later give him the upper hand in his famous race to the South Pole in 1911. There is an informative walking tour, Heritage Centre, and Hamlet Centre dedicated to the history and culture of the area. Fort Ross An abandoned Hudson’s Bay Trading post located at the southern end of Somerset Island. The storehouse here is still used as a shelter by occasional travellers, with bunk beds and shelves of canned goods. Beechey Island This is the final resting place for three members of the lost Franklin expedition which sailed into the Northwest Passage in 1845 but never returned. It is customary for explorers in the region to stop and pay their respects at the graves, as Roald Amundsen did in 1903. Devon Island Welcome to the largest uninhabited island on Earth. The only signs of human life are found at the long-abandoned settlement of Dundas Harbour along with several archaeological sites from the Thule period. Pond Inlet Called 'Mittimatalik' in Inuktitut, it means ‘the place where the landing place is’. This is a traditional Inuit community on Baffin Island, boasting views of Eclipse Sound and the mountains of Bylot Island. It is also known as a great place to see narwhal - the unicorn of the sea.
We have left Canada behind and now set course for Greenland. While sailing across Baffin Bay and Davis Strait, you can continue to enjoy informative lectures in the Science Center. Some of the topics may include wildlife you might see, Greenlandic culture, expedition history, geology, photography, and historic explorers.   If you feel like getting active, you can hit the gym and get your pulse up. You’ll also have access to the sauna, an infinity pool, and two outdoor hot tubs. Drinks can be enjoyed in the panoramic Explorer Lounge & Bar too, while settling into a sofa and watching the rhythmic ocean waves roll by outside.    In the evening, swap stories of your adventures with the Expedition Team and learn more about these modern-day explorers. Each of them are walking, talking treasure troves of exploits and information.
Ilulissat – meaning simply ‘Icebergs’ – is set in the stunning scenery of the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This beautiful gem of a town is characterised by its colourful houses sitting down by the fjord which features an ever-changing gallery of icebergs – it really is a picture-perfect kind of place. It’s also a vibrant hub for adventure seekers who head out onto the polar ice cap, and there are almost as many sled dogs living here as there are people. Each spring, one of the world’s greatest dog sled races takes place here, with 100 sleds. Just outside the town you can often see enormous icebergs floating in the deep blue waters. They originate from the Jakobshavn Glacier, which calves some 35 billion tonnes of icebergs each year. The icebergs make their way down the 20km fjord before entering Disko Bay, and they are a photographer’s dream. You won’t just see these huge, chiseled masses of ice, you’ll also hear them. As they bump into one another and into the shores, the sounds of cracking, rumbling, and creaking echo throughout the fjord. If that background noise is like the drums, the crumble, crash, and splash of ice calving off the icebergs into the waters below are the cymbals. Take a moment just to sit, watch, and listen to the icebergs in the beautiful surroundings.
Day 7 - DAY 20 - SISIMIUT
Spectacularly situated Sisimiut – Greenland’s second city – is placed 40km north of the Arctic Circle in the central coastal area of the Davis Strait. It’s a modern settlement but its roots stretch back in time a long way, with estimates that the area has been settled by Greenlandic peoples for over 4,500 years.Its name translates into ‘the people at the fox holes’, a reference to the many burrows of Arctic fox that lie near the city. Another animal local to the area is the musk ox whose wool is used to make a local fabric called qiviut – said to be 10 times warmer than sheep wool. You might like to pick up a qiviut scarf, hat, or mittens while you are here.With a population of around 5,500, Sisimiut is an important regional hub and is often a stopover point for boats heading between Nuuk and the Disko Bay area, with many coming here to enjoy backcountry sports on the Greenland ice cap such as skiing or dog sledding.The small museum houses artefacts from excavations of ancient Saqqaq settlements near the town, some as old as 4,000 years. There’s also the Taseralik Cultural Centre, the place to go to learn more about the cultural heritage of the area.
ou’ll have time to relax, get to know your fellow travellers better, and make full use of the facilities on board. In the Science Center, the Expedition Team will hold lecture programmes on the wildlife and ecosystems of the Arctic. We also support a number of Citizen Science projects that you can join. These projects include Happywhale, where your photographs help identify and track the movement of specific whales across the planet due to their distinguishing characteristics.Or you can participate in the GLOBE Observer project, which combines your observations of clouds and sky conditions from below with data collected by satellites from above.By participating in these projects, not only will you be supporting the scientific community, you’ll also be gaining a better understanding of the world around you
Day 9 - DAY 23 - RED BAY
Red Bay is a former Basque whaling settlement on the coast of southern Labrador in the Strait of Belle Ile. You might catch a glimpse of humpback or minke whales that first drew Basque whalers to this harbour back in the 17th century. For about 70 years, these fishermen would return to catch whales and export their refined oil back to Europe. Not all whaling ships were able to reach Red Bay’s shores though. Wrecked chalupas and galleons are just some of the ships that have been found preserved in the ice-cold waters. These discoveries make Red Bay one of the most important underwater archaeological sites in the world. As you explore this fascinating town, make sure to visit the local museum which is part of the Red Bay National Historic Site to see an eight-metre chalupa – a small whale-catching boat – and imagine life as a Basque whaler on the Labrador Sea. You can also look for whale bones in the protected National Historic Site or for pirate captain Kidd’s buried treasure around Tracey Hill. While you might not find any gold doubloons, you’ll at least be rewarded with a fantastic view.
Day 10 - DAY 24 - CORNER BROOK
As you sail into the Bay of Islands, surrounded by the jagged slopes and dense forests of the Long Range Mountains, you’ll be charting the same course that Captain James Cook did over 250 years ago.Just like that esteemed captain, we are headed to Corner Brook at the mouth of the Humber River. This is the second-largest city in the Newfoundland and Labrador province after St. John’s. If the latter is trendy and international, Corner Brook is decidedly traditional and local.You can get a sense of the regional history here at Corner Brook Museum. There are a number of artifacts that chart the indigenous cultures, logging industry, and of course, Captain James Cook. The exhibit on World War II brides from England and Scotland is particularly fascinating.We offer an optional excursion up to Crow Hill, home of the Captain James Cook National Historic site. Standing where the famous British Explorer once stood to survey the area, you’ll have pleasant views over the city. Don’t forget to grab a photo with the statue of the man himself.Other optional excursions include a guided hike along a portion of the Corner Brook Stream trail. Or adrenaline-inducing zip-lining high up over the scenic Humber Valley, admiring views of Marble Mountain and Steady Brook Falls.When it’s time to depart, a local band might come aboard and treat us to a performance, sending us on a way in true Corner Brook hospitality
Day 11 - DAY 25 - AT SEA
It’s our final day at sea and your cruise with us is fast drawing to a close. You might like to spend this day at sea just fully unwinding from the excitement of the past two weeks. Your thoughts might naturally turn to home, or maybe you’ll find that you’ll have already left your heart back in one of the special places you’ve visited. Today will be a good time to spend reflecting on and taking stock of all the wonderful experiences you’ve had. The Expedition Team will likely be in a similar mood as you, and you can join them as they fondly recap the highlights of the thrilling cruise you’ve shared together. You’ll probably also have a few hundred photos of scenic landscapes, activities, and memories to sift through and sort out!
Day 12 - DAY 26 - HALIFAX
And with that, your exciting, epic journey from one end of the Northwest Passage all the way to the other ends in Halifax. The cosmopolitan capital of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia sits in the centre of the region’s east coast and is an important seaport that looks out over one of the world's largest natural harbours. With its red-brick heritage buildings, the landmark Citadel Hill National Historic Site, a historic 1820 brewery and the epic 4-km seafront boardwalk, Halifax offers plenty of potential if you want to extend your trip. Close to where we dock is Pier 21, the ‘Ellis Island of Canada’ where thousands of immigrants arrived from all over the world, and an appropriate site for Canada's Museum of Immigration. There is also the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic which contains a large exhibit of the notorious Titanic disaster. Not far from Downtown Halifax is Halifax Common which opened in 1763 and is Canada’s oldest park. And if you enjoy art, the extensive collection in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is sure to make an impression on you. If you can, spend a few extra days here on our Post-Programme before you head home. You’ll visit the historic community of Peggy's Cove and see its iconic lighthouse. There’ll also be time to pay your respects at Halifax Fairview Lawn Cemetery, the solemn burial place of 121 tragic passengers of the Titanic. Estimated time of arrival is 8pm

Trip Dates

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    • Attempt to navigate the ice floes and islands of the scenic Northwest Passage. You’ll learn about the history of the region in places that might include Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Fort Ross, Beechey Island, and Dundas Harbour.
    • Be looking for opportunities to spot whales, seals and possibly even polar bears.
    • Experience the beauty of the High Arctic and look for wildlife such as polar bears.