In Englishtown, Atlantic Puffins and Razorbills on Bird Island might call us as we put the zodiacs down in the water, or perhaps heading into the community of Englishtown will be of interest. The region can be explored by sea kayak, stand up paddleboard, zodiac or bicycle – all alongside our expert guides and naturalists.
Today, we anchor just offshore Prince Edward Island near the town of North Rustico. From here we can split off in several directions. A tour into Charlottetown or perhaps a visit to Green Gables, or spend a few hours at the island’s famous Cavendish beach. Another enticing option could be a leisurely bicycle ride along the Confederation Trail or the Coastal Drive. A round of golf on one of the islands celebrated golf courses, or a kayak paddle in Rustico Bay. You will be welcomed back to the ship for a dinner of fresh Atlantic seafood as we travel north to the Magdalen Islands. These islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are home to unique fishing communities with beautifully maintained waterfront houses and boats, flowing grassy plains and sandstone shorelines sculpted by the elements where we will encounter a wide diversity of bird and sea life.
In the heart of Gros Morne National Park, the cliffs soar up out of the water and are covered in a green blanket of tuck amore forest. At Woody Point we are welcomed ashore by a delegation from the community before hiking up to the excellent interpretation center. From there, various guided walks take us into the World Heritage-listed Tablelands and to the lookout for a view over much of the park.
The next two days are filled with cultural experiences as we visit Francois on the south coast of Newfoundland and Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, an island representing the sole remaining vestige of France’s once vast North American empire. When entering Francois harbor, we are first greeted by one of the few remaining manned light stations anywhere on the coast of Newfoundland. Once past the light, the narrow opening leading into the steep-walled rocky fjord amazes us. Walking down the streets of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon feels like taking a stroll through a provincial French town. As a part of France, the area has much in common with Europe, but also with its Canadian and American neighbors. There's an excellent puffin colony here and, if weather permits, we cruise in the zodiacs to see these colorful birds.
We sail back to Cape Breton, heading again for the historic port of Louisbourg. Today is a free days to explore the town. In the afternoon, return to the ship and set sail, bound for Labrador and into the Arctic.
Today we make a second visit to the outstanding Gros Morne National Park where our zodiacs take us ashore and we are transferred by bus for visit to the World Heritage-listed Tablelands. This incredible location is noted for its unique geology and exceptional scenery. Here, the Earth’s mantle is exposed on the surface – pushed up over millions of years by the movement of tectonic plates.
Cultural visits dominate the next few days of our expedition. L’Anse aux Meadows is one of Canada’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites and we board the zodiacs for a short cruise to the rocky shoreline. As we explore the reconstructed sod huts and Norse ruins with the site’s resident archaeologist, we see evidence that the Vikings discovered North America some five hundred years prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. On the next day, we explore Battle Harbour, one of the first British settlements on the east coast of the Americas. When sailing to Hopedale, where the ancient rocks of the Canadian Shield (the exposed portion of the Earth’s crust) cradle the small coastal hamlet of Hopedale. This remarkable geological feature, estimated to be up to 4-billion-years-old greet us as we sail through narrow channels. We venture ashore by zodiac to visit the Hopedale Moravian Mission – built in 1782 and said to be the oldest building east of Quebec. This location has been designated a Canadian National Historic Site. Today we enjoy a visit to the historic town of Hebron, once the northernmost settlement in Labrador. The Moravian missionaries established Hebron in the early 1830’s and the Germanic influence is clearly seen in the architecture. This is another designated National Historic Site and is considered one of the most historically significant mission-built structures in the entire province.
We will spend the next two days in the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve, established in 2005. Saglek Fjord is the southern gateway to the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve. It is home to Canada’s highest mountains East of the Rockies, and features breathtaking fjords, remnant glacial systems and stunning landscapes. The Inuktitut word Torngat, means “place of spirits” and the Torngat Mountains have been home to Inuit and their predecessors for over 7500 years. Polar bears hunt seals along the coast, and both the Torngat Mountains and George River caribou herds cross paths as they migrate to and from their calving grounds. There are some terrific hiking opportunities here explore the area on foot and along the shoreline in the zodiacs. We will visit Nachvak Fjord on our second day in the Torngat Mountains National Park which is deep and narrow and stretches more than 20 kilometres. The rocky walls of the fjord soar almost 900 meters above us at several points. Numerous seal species may be encountered including ring, hooded, harp and harbour seals. Minke whales have been known to linger in the fjords, while larger species, including fin and humpback, tend to stay offshore.
As we reach the far northern stretches of coastal Labrador, we learn more about the remarkable history of the area. Later in the day, we visit the Button Islands before sailing into southern Davis Strait. The islands are in the middle of the upwelling of nutrients on the edge of the continental shelf. This action makes it a magnet for thousands of seabirds and other marine mammals. We enjoy our final zodiac cruise the mouth of Frobisher Bay and make landfall on Monumental Island, where we are on the lookout for polar bears among the ice bergs and seasonal sea ice. Harp seals can sometimes be found on the ice floes – a tasty meals for the local bears!
We bid farewell to our crew and disembark the ship by zodiac and, after a short tour of Iqaluit (if time and tides permit) we transfer to the airport for out flight back to Ottawa. On arrival in Ottawa, an airport transfer is provided to a central downtown location.