Arctic Express Canada: The Heart of the Northwest Passage

9 days
from
CHF7’540
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Polar Expeditions
Suitable for:
Age 18+
Activity level:
Leisurely
Activity Level: Leisurely
Trip code: 
PLJ
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Polar
Max group size:
199
Min age:
18

For centuries, fortune-seekers risked their lives to find the Northwest Passage, the fabled sea route running between Europe and Asia.

The quest for trade routes to the Far East inspired much of the age of exploration of North America, with the promise of the Northwest Passage its elusive jewel. On Arctic Express Canada, discover the great sea route at the top of the world—that obsessed explorers for centuries—on our new expedition ship Ultramarine, which allows you a journey no traditional vessel could offer: immersing yourself in the full Arctic experience while getting back home a week and a half later.

Nature and wildlife are the guides on this voyage as you explore the region’s diverse treasures. The Arctic’s stark beauty offers an unforgettable backdrop, while Quark Expeditions’ world-class team provides the knowledge and insight to help you connect with the region’s unique history and geography. Ultramarine’s two twin-engine helicopters, 20-quick-launching Zodiacs and unprecedented mix of on-ship amenities and off-ship adventure options will deliver an unrivalled Arctic experience no one else can.

Highlights

  • Explore the highlights of Lancaster Sound
  • Search for iconic Arctic wildlife, such as Polar bears and Musk ox
  • Cruise in a Zodiac to get up close to glaciers, fjords, icebergs and more
  • Visit Inuit communities and learn about their traditions and customs
  • Travel in a small expedition vessel
  • Enjoy flightseeing and heli landings with Ultramarine’s two onboard helicopters
  • Accompanied by extremely qualified Expedition Staff

Key information

  • 6 nights in a choice of cabin types, all with en suite facilities, 2 nights hotel in Toronto.
  • Expedition cruising in comfortable condition
  • Countries visited: Canada, Arctic

What's included

  • All meals while on the ship
  • Beer and house wine during dinner
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Full complement of qualified Expedition Staff
  • We can include flights from the UK.  Please contact us for a quote.

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Mandatory transfer package (including return charter flights between Toronto and Resolute) which is £1700 per person (or equivalent in booking currency) paid on booking
Call for general departures:
056 631 86 71
Call for private group trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Toronto, Canada.

    Your Arctic expedition begins in Toronto. Explore this vibrant city on your own before spending the night at your well-appointed hotel.

  • Day 2

    Fly to Resolute and embark

    This morning, board your charter flight to Resolute, Nuvanut. Upon arrival, you may have a chance to check out some of the town’s sites before being transferred to your ship via Zodiac or helicopter (depending on ship location and weather conditions).

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Days 3-7

    Exploring Canada's High Arctic

    Winding your way around the remote islands of the Canadian High Arctic aboard Ultramarine, the newest ship in our fleet, you’ll navigate the same icy inlets, channels and bays that fascinated legendary explorers of long ago as they searched for the fabled Northwest Passage, the great sea route at the top of the world. Designed to give polar adventurers unprecedented access to the hardest-to-reach places on the planet— and equipped with two onboard twin-engine helicopters for unparalleled access to areas only Quark Expeditions can bring you—this one-of-a-kind ship, in its inaugural year, will take you beyond the familiar in Polar exploration. Throughout your journey, the Expedition Team will work hard to give you a taste of the best the Arctic has to offer, immersing you in the heart of the Northwest Passage in under a week.

    Remember that no two Polar voyages are alike, since each expedition presents new opportunities and different weather and ice conditions. While this voyage has no fixed itinerary, our objective is to visit as many of the incredible highlights the season has to offer, using the opportunities provided by the weather and ice to give you the best experience. Each day, your highly skilled Expedition Team will read the conditions and choose the best course to set, but despite their extensive expertise in these areas, each visit brings something new to discover. That said, our expeditions will have some elements in common, including daily Zodiac cruising, land excursions, a robust education program, a community visit and wildlife viewing opportunities. And thanks to our onboard helicopters, you’ll also discover the ultimate Polar expedition experience: as stunning as Polar landscapes are from your ship, they’re even more striking from the air! Conditions permitting, you’ll enjoy ultra-immersive activities like flightseeing (short sightseeing flights around your ship and surrounding areas) and heli-landings (flying to places we could not otherwise access for shore excursions), two breathtaking options that are unique to Ultramarine and give you an exhilarating Polar experience like no other.

    While this waterway is known to European cultures as the Northwest Passage, this area has nurtured and sustained the Inuit and their predecessors who have called these shores home for almost 5,000 years. Moving through these remote landscapes you will be travelling through the ancestral homelands of this ancient culture, illuminated in person by Inuit guides onboard and ashore. Nunavut is an Inuktitut word meaning “our land” and the Nunavummiut (the people of Nunavut) are renowned for their incredible resourcefulness, hospitality, good humour, and a deep knowledge of the land and animals that has allowed them to thrive in the far north for millennia.

    Remote and rich in history, the Canadian High Arctic is as awe inspiring as it is informative. Your days spent exploring this mysterious region will have you travelling back in time to the Age of Exploration. While following in the footsteps of famous explorers like Sir John Franklin and Roald Amundsen, you’ll navigate the waters and visit the historic sites in the area around Lancaster Sound that were key to the discovery of the Northwest Passage. You’ll also learn about the scientific, cultural, geopolitical and environmental aspects of the route from our world-class experts, guides and the local communities. Reaching remote lands that have lured adventurers for centuries and few have ever set foot on will be an experience you’ll never forget.

    Wildlife sightings are almost guaranteed, as many of the areas we hope to explore are home to a surprising number of birds and mammals that thrive in this challenging environment. You’ll likely see Polar bears, Musk ox and several bird species, such as gyrfalcons and dovekies (Little auks). If you’re lucky, you may even spot the elusive narwhal or Arctic wolf, though sightings of these iconic creatures in the wild are rare, even in places where we have the highest chances of encountering them.

    Coburg Island, for instance, is a wildlife reserve for such birds as Snowy owls and Peregrine falcons, while the impressive vertical cliffs of Prince Leopold Island are dotted with nesting seabirds like Northern fulmars and Black guillemots. The sheltered shores and steep cliffs of Arctic Bay, a hamlet located off of Admiralty Inlet, provide an ideal nesting habitat for various High Arctic birds such as Snow geese, Thick-billed murres (Brünnich’s guillemots) and kittiwakes. Occupied by Inuit nomads for almost 5,000 years, this traditional community is also an ideal spot to go ashore and learn more about the Inuit culture, sampling the local cuisine and mingling with artists, perhaps picking up carvings or other handicrafts as a memento of your Polar adventure.

    Devon Island is another possible locale for wildlife encounters, as walrus, Polar bears and Musk ox inhabit the area, which is also the location of the remains of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police outpost, established at Dundas Harbour in 1924 to curb foreign whaling and other activities. Nearby is a small cemetery, one of Canada’s most northerly, still maintained by the RCMP to this day. Another exciting excursion your Expedition Team might offer, conditions permitting, is the opportunity to fly up to explore the Devon ice cap, one of the largest in the Canadian Arctic.

    At the western end of Devon Island, windswept Beechey Island might be small, but it’s steeped in history, as its flat beach and safe anchorage made a suitable stopover for Arctic expeditions. You’ll want to pay your respects to the ill-fated Franklin expedition of 1845–46 at the small marked graves of three crew members on the island, one of Canada’s most significant Arctic sites. This is also where Norwegian Roald Amundsen stopped to pay his own respects to his childhood hero, Franklin, during his 1903–06 voyage, which became the first successful transit of the Northwest Passage in history.

    History buffs will be further intrigued by the chance to explore an abandoned Hudson’s Bay Company trading post at Fort Ross, at the southern end of Somerset Island.

    Nearby is the Bellot Strait. One of the goals of this expedition is to transit this famous channel, one of the most narrow and challenging of the passage. If we’re successful, at the midpoint you’ll sail past Zenith Point, the northernmost point of continental North America. Named for Frenchman Joseph Bellot, one of several explorers who set out in the 1850s to search for Franklin’s doomed expedition, the strait separates Somerset Island from the Boothia Peninsula on mainland Canada. (On Beechey Island, you can visit the memorial to Bellot, who disappeared during his search for Franklin.)

    Those looking for even more excitement may have the opportunity to cruise by Zodiac along the face of an active glacier near Croker Bay, Devon Island and possibly even witness the wonders of calving ice, at a safe distance. Listen closely for the steady crackle and loud roars as pieces of ice break off and crash into the water below. You’ll also want to be on the lookout for the walrus that are often seen in the area.

    There is no shortage of natural beauty, wildlife and history in Canada’s High Arctic. Each day, you’ll discover something new and inspiring, whether it is admiration of the tundra flora to survive the rugged environment, a rare bird species soaring overhead, a Polar bear on the hunt in its natural habitat, or the remains of a century-old hut.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Disembark in Resolute, fly to Toronto

    After disembarking in Resolute, you’ll be transferred to your charter flight to Toronto, where you’ll spend the night at your included hotel.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    End Toronto

    Today, make your way to the airport to catch your homeward flights, or spend the day exploring this fascinating city.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Group Information

The Ultramarine takes a maximum capacity of 199 passengers. The Exodus group forms part of the ship’s complement (max of approx. 100), enjoying the relaxed, intimate and informal atmosphere, which breaks into smaller groups to facilitate the frequent excursions. We offer these cruises in conjunction with our partner, Quark Expeditions, and Exodus participants will join an international group, not all of whom have booked through Exodus. Occasionally some of these may be younger than 18 years old, the Exodus' stated minimum age for this trip.

Visas

Canada

The Government of Canada has an entry requirement, known as an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), for some international travellers flying into Canada. Citizens from countries other than the US who do not require a visa to enter Canada are required to obtain an eTA before entering the country. Eligible travellers will need to go online to apply for their eTA.

To apply for your eTA you will need your passport, credit or debit card and an email address. At the time of publication there was a CAD$7 fee to process your eTA. Your eTA will be valid for a period of five years, or until your passport expires. We recommend you carry a print out of your eTA approval when you travel. Please visit www.canada.ca/eTA to apply.

If you have not applied for and received authorisation via an eTA prior to travel you may be denied boarding, experience a delayed processing or be denied admission at the Canadian point of entry. However, neither possession of a visa nor meeting the basic requirements for travelling visafree on the eTA, guarantees admission to Canada. As with most countries, the final determination of admissibility is made by immigration officials at the point of entry.

Arctic

No visa required for British passport holders.

Vaccinations

Canada

There are no specific health risks.

Arctic

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All meals while on the ship included.

Typical Meals

The ships galley offers good quality service and cuisine throughout, with excellent chefs preparing international menus including vegetarian dishes, accompanied by a wide variety of drinks from around the world on sale.

Breakfast: Buffet style – unlimited tea and coffee, a selection of fruit juices, hot options including bacon and eggs or omelettes, a selection of bread and toast and jam/honey/marmalade, fruit and cereal.

Lunch: Three course set meal or buffet, or the occasional BBQ.

Dinner: Three or four courses with a starter of soup and/or salad, a choice of mains with at least one vegetarian option and a dessert, with tea and coffee.

Is this trip for you?

Travelling Conditions

The voyages are designed to be as flexible as possible, taking advantage of circumstances and events as they occur, as well as passengers' wishes and particular interests wherever possible. The atmosphere on board is relaxed and friendly with expedition staff, including naturalists and Polar experts, on hand and the opportunity to mingle with people from all over the world. The ship is kept warm, clean and comfortable with a wet/mud room in which to hang gear and store boots ready for the next adventure.

On the Zodiac cruises you are sitting still for most of the time with the potential for some sea spray and a cold headwind - if you are not dressed appropriately you will get cold. On the shore excursions, the majority of landings are wet which means that the Zodiacs beach and you are helped to slide into the ankle deep shore break before walking up onto dry land (wellington boots are issued to all passengers). There are, of course, no paths, so be prepared for slippery, rough terrain and sometimes fairly deep snow. Back on board the cosy ship after each adventure, you can have a sauna and/or a hot shower and then relax with a tea, coffee, hot chocolate or something stronger from the bar.

Optional activities

Sea Kayaking

Imagine gliding across the surface of a bay in the presence of icebergs and glaciers. Our Sea Kayaking program is a great way to intimately explore your surroundings. A small group of kayakers will plan to go out multiple times per voyage as an alternative to shore landings or Zodiac cruises.
The number of opportunities to kayak is weather dependent, and will be conducted only during calm conditions. Prior kayaking experience is required, and you must be able to do a wet exit to participate. Beginners interested in kayaking should consider participating in the Paddling Excursion.

Paddling Excursion

If you’re interested in kayaking but would like to try something a bit less demanding than Sea Kayaking, you’re the perfect candidate to sign up for a one-time paddle on our stable sit-on-top kayaks—perfect for anyone with minimal or no kayaking experience. Rotating groups of passengers will be taken out on calm days, with our expert guides always present to provide instruction and help connect you with the Polar sea.

Polar Itineraries

All Polar itineraries should be treated as a guide only - it is possible that, amongst other things, the capricious nature of wind, visibility and ice, intelligence from previous sailings, changes in local landing regulations or the expert opinion of the crew onboard may lead to adjustments to the route published.

Booking Conditions

Please note that the booking conditions for this trip differ from our standard conditions. 

As with all Polar holidays and voyages, the required deposit is 20% per person of your selected travel arrangements (minimum £1000 per person or equivalent) and the balance of the price of your travel arrangements must be paid at least 133 days before your departure date. The deposit is non-refundable, and at 133 days before departure date, our cancellation penalties are 100% of the holiday cost.

Call for general departures:
056 631 86 71
Call for private group trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Ultramarine

The Arctic Express Canada: The Heart of the Northwest Passage is offered on the Ultramarine which is a Polar Adventure ship. Full board accommodation on the ship, generally on a twin share basis in a variety of cabin types, all with en suite facilities. Please visit the Polar Fleet page for Ship Information and Deck Plans.

Polar Adventure Ship:

These are small ice rated vessels well qualified for Polar waters. Intimate adventures are always more enjoyable with like-minded passengers and staff, so these voyages are for people who like flexible itineraries and plenty to keep them busy. Activities include frequent Zodiac excursions, trekking and many hours on deck in areas that other ships only dream about accessing. Food and staff are superb and every guest benefits from the technical advances of this superb fleet. Rest assured our Polar Adventure Ships enable any traveller to maximize their experience sensitively in the Poles.

Call for general departures:
056 631 86 71
Call for private group trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Have you been on this adventure? Tell others what it’s like by writing a review.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros  Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros  Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros  Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

 

Please contact our specialist Polar sales team on 020 8003 9957 or at [email protected] for further dates and prices

Polar Ships: For information regarding ship specifications, visit the Polar Fleet page.

 

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