Home » Akademik Ioffe: Classic Northwest Passage & Baffin Island
Early Bird: Selected departures include a travel credit of US$1000. Contact us today!
This iconic voyage explores the remote Northwest Passage and stunning fjords of the Baffin Island coastline. Following the paths of the legendary early Arctic explorers, we journey through the archipelago of islands and channels of Canada’s high Arctic on the expedition ship, Akademik Ioffe. Wildlife is a major draw card, as we venture through the home of the polar bear, muskox, caribou and walrus.
Duration: 13 Days
We depart Edmonton on a charter flight to Cambridge Bay, a remote outpost above the Arctic Circle. Located on the southern shores of Victoria Island, today it is a centre for hunting, trapping and fishing. Enjoy a walking tour of the town and then board our expedition ship, the Akademik Ioffe. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail and cast off, bound for the fabled Northwest Passage.
As we chart a course into the Northwest Passage, our onboard presentation series begins and we delve into the tale of the Franklin expedition. The mystery of what happened was partially solved in September 2014, when a joint Parks Canada and Royal Canadian Geographic Society expedition found the HMS Erebus in the Victoria Strait. One Ocean Expeditions played a pivotal role in the search by carrying underwater search equipment on our ship as well as scientists, historians, researchers, dignitaries and sponsors.
We aim to visit Victory Point, travelling very near the actual location of the wreck of HMS Erebus, while learning about the quest for exploration that eventually opened up the Arctic. Experts all agree that the second of Franklin’s lost ships, HMS Terror, is likely to be in this vicinity. There is great optimism that it will also be found when ice conditions permit the search to resume.
This morning we arrive at Conningham Bay on the shore of Prince of Wales. This is one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the Arctic. A hotspot for polar bears who come here to feast on Beluga whales, it is not unusual to find the shoreline littered with whale skeletons and very healthy looking polar bears!
Today we transit the narrow passage of Bellot Strait. The mixing of waters in this strait provides an abundant food source for marine mammals, and we will keep our eyes peeled for harp seals, bearded seals and even polar bears. The skill of the Captain and officers and the capabilities of the ship become apparent during this exciting day of Arctic navigation. The historic site of Fort Ross, located at the southern end of Somerset Island, is a former Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading outpost. Fascinating archaeological sites nearby tell a story of more than a thousand years of habitation by the Inuit and their predecessors.
Beechey Island is of great historic importance. It is here that Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition spent its last ‘comfortable’ winter in 1845 before disappearing into the icy vastness. A trip ashore at Beechey Island to visit the grave markers on a remote windswept beach gives one pause to wonder on the bravery (or foolhardiness) of these pioneering explorers, as they sought a way through the barren, frozen landscape. This is a thrilling location for history buffs and for many it will be the defining moment of our expedition.
Cruising the coastline of Devon Island, we are now in the waters of Lancaster Sound – a rich, bio-diverse region often referred to as the wildlife ‘super highway’ of the Arctic. Massive volumes of water from Baffin Bay to the east, Beaufort Sea to the west, and the archipelago of islands to the north combine here to make a rich cocktail of nutrients supporting an abundance of Arctic wildlife. We plan to visit the old Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outpost at Dundas Harbour. Muskox and Arctic hare are sometimes seen around here, and there are great hiking options in the area.
We sight the wild north coast of Baffin Island and navigate through Navy Board Inlet. The vast landscapes of Sirmilik National Park tower surround us as we approach the remote Inuit community of Pond Inlet. We are welcomed ashore by and a highlight will be a visit to the Natinnak Centre, where a fascinating cultural exhibit showcases aspects of daily life, culture and history of the people of the north. Inuit carvings, jewellery and other traditional craft is on display and purchasing such items from the local artisans is a great way to support the community. We enjoy meeting the local children of Pond Inlet and marvelling at their athletic abilities as they demonstrate the skills and challenges of traditional Inuit games. The skills and physical agility developed by such games were often those necessary for everyday survival in the harsh Arctic environment.
This morning we enter the spectacular Gibbs Fjord with towering cliffs all around us. Our expedition ship will seem dwarfed by the giant peaks and snowy glaciers as we cruise slowly along the dark waters. One past guest was known to liken Gibbs Fjord to a 'scene from a Lord of the Rings' - it's hard to disagree!
Isabella Bay (Niginaniq) is an important summer habitat and feeding area for endangered bowhead whales. These remarkable marine mammals are able to break sea ice with the crown of their head. The area also includes a shallow shelf at the entrance to the bay that provides protection for bowheads from predatory orca whales. Polar bears, ringed seals, Canada geese, snow geese and narwhal are also found in and around the area.
Sunshine Fjord straddles the Arctic Circle. This location offers terrific hiking opportunities and we have a number of great routes in mind. You may wish to take the extended hike, gaining some real elevation and offering wonderful views of our surroundings. Or choose to take the less strenuous option along the shoreline. The sheltered waters of the fjord provide the kayakers with great conditions for paddling.
Nestled in the heart of Cumberland Sound and the gateway to Auyuittuq National Park, Pangnirtung is beautifully situated between the mountains and the sea. This remote town is known for its arts and crafts and a visit to the local art gallery is a highlight. In addition, the Angmarlik Visitor Centre has a wonderful interpretive display featuring the lifestyle of the Thule and of the modern Inuit.
Located in Davis Strait, Monumental Island is a known location for walrus. We explore by zodiac along the shoreline looking for these fascinating creatures. Watchful eyes may locate smaller pups within the masses. We sometimes encounter polar bears in this vicinity and they have been known to chase walrus off their haul out and into the water. As we near the end of our journey we enjoy an entertaining voyage recap from the Expedition Leader. This evening we celebrate with a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship and reflect on one our voyage across the top of the remote Canadian Arctic.
By morning we are anchored off the beach from Iqaluit - the largest community on Baffin Island. We say goodbye to our crew and make our way ashore on our final zodiac ride. We are transferred to the airport and board out scheduled flight to Ottawa. On arrival in Ottawa our journey comes to an end.
|20 Aug 2019 - 01 Sep 2019||$14486 AUD||US$1000 Travel Credit|
|Main Deck Triple Cabin||$14486 AUD||US$1000 Travel Credit|
|Twin Semi-Private Cabin||$17094 AUD||US$1000 Travel Credit|
|Twin Private Cabin||$20283 AUD||US$1000 Travel Credit|
|Superior Cabin||$22167 AUD||US$1000 Travel Credit|
|Shackleton Suite||$24341 AUD||US$1000 Travel Credit|
|One Ocean Suite||$27094 AUD||US$1000 Travel Credit|
On deck 3, an upper and two lower beds (one of the lower beds can be converted to a sofa), shared facilities, washbasin, writing desk/chair, storage, two portholes (one openable), bathrobes
On deck 4, two lower berths (one which can convert to a sofa during the day), a writing desk, storage, wardrobes with internal shelving, semi-private facilities (one bathroom between two cabins), one openable window, toiletry kit, hairdryer, coffee/tea maker, bathrobes
On decks 4 and 5, two lower berths, a writing desk/chair, wardrobes with internal shelving, storage, private facilities, one openable window, toiletry kit, hairdryer, coffee/tea maker, bathrobes
On deck 6, two lower berths, a sofa, a writing desk/chair, wardrobes with internal shelving, ample storage, private facilities, one openable window, toiletry kit, hairdryer, coffee/tea maker, vanity kit, bathrobes, upgraded bed linen and duvets.
On deck 4 and 5, 1 queen bed, double berth in separate sleeping quarters, a sofa in the main section (can be converted to a bed), a writing desk/chair, a comfortable armchair, fully stocked mini bar, iPad with polar literature, documentaries, movies and webmail access, private facilities, large openable windows.
On deck 5, a double berth in separate sleeping quarters, fully stocked mini bar, sofa ( can be converted to a single bed), large writing desk/chair, several armchairs, iPad with polar literature, documentaries, movies, private facilities, shower and bathtub, large openable windows.
*Expedition gear package
Included in the expedition, you will have free use of essential gears needed for the trip. This package includes quality waterproof/windproof jacket, insulated rubber boots, and a set of binoculars.