Classic Northwest Passage & Greenland Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group
Destinations:
Canada, Arctic
Programmes:
Polar Expeditions
Trip Code:
PNW
Activity Level: Leisurely
Leisurely

You are healthy, enjoy the outdoors and want a relaxing trip. No experience is required.

Days Flight Inclusive
13 Days Land only
Min age: 18

Trip Overview

This iconic voyage through the remote Northwest Passage follows in the footsteps of the early Arctic explorers such as Franklin, Amundsen and Larsen. Wildlife is the major draw card of our expedition but there is plenty of historical interest and the stories of that ill-fated expedition by Sir John Franklin more than 150 years ago are central to our journey. Franklin made his last heroic foray into the Arctic in 1845 with two ships and 129 men, never to be heard from again. We visit the last known wintering site of his ships the Erebus and Terror, and other sites along the way where traces of the expedition have been found.

At a Glance

  • 12 nights in a choice of cabin types, all with en suite facilities
  • Expedition cruising in comfortable conditions
  • Countries visited: Canada, Arctic

Trip Highlights

  • Sail the most legendary route in Arctic lore
  • Navigate the coastline of Devon Island, the wildlife 'super highway' of the Arctic
  • Start to unravel the legend of Sir John Franklin's 'lost expedition'
  • Explore stunning iceberg-studded Disko Bay, and the bizarre landscape of volcanic Disko Island
  • Travel in a small expedition vessel
  • Accompanied by extremely qualified Expedition Staff

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.

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.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

The Exodus group forms part of the ship’s complement, 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 partners, One Ocean 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.
We work with many fine Expedition Leaders and Polar Experts, bringing a diversity of interests including zoology, Polar history, geology, ornithology and ocean sciences. The ship’s operating crew is Russian and have many years of experience in Polar Regions and are committed to ensuring a safe and memorable journey. Each day your cabin will be serviced by the housekeeping crew, and your meals served by the friendly and attentive restaurant staff. There is also a resident medical officer.

Adult min age:
18
Max group size:
146

Itinerary

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Fly Edmonton to Cambridge Bay (Nunavut) and board ship

    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 Sergey Vavilov. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail and cast off, bound for the fabled Northwest Passage.

    Meals included:
    Dinner
  • Day 2

    Victory Point, King William Island

    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. To end this remarkable find, the sister ship - HMS Terror was discovered nearby in the Summer of 2016.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 3

    Conningham Bay

    This morning we arrive at Coningham Bay on the shore of Prince of Wales Island. 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!

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 4

    Bellot Strait and Fort Ross

    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.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 5

    Beechey Island

    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.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 6

    Devon Island and Dundas Harbour

    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.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 7

    Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet)

    We sight the wild north coast of Baffin Island and navigate through Navy Board Inlet. The vast landscapes of Sirmilik National Park surround us as we approach the remote Inuit community of Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet). A highlight will be a visit to the Natinnak Centre, where a fascinating cultural exhibit showcases daily life, culture and history of the people of the north. We also enjoy meeting the local children of Mittimatalik and marveling at their athletic abilities as they demonstrate traditional Inuit games.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 8

    Gibbs Fjord

    This morning we enter the spectacular Gibbs Fjord. Our expedition ship will be dwarfed by the giant peaks and snowy glaciers as we cruise along the dark waters.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 9

    Baffin Bay

    Leaving the rugged coastline of Baffin Island, our crossing of Baffin Bay allows us time to slow down and reflect on the beauty and experiences we have shared. Our team of onboard experts will continue to educate us on the history and wildlife of the region while our naturalists keep watch looking for fulmars and dovekies, Pilot whales and perhaps even Orca. As we approach Greenland, we also increase our likelihood of spotting some of the big baleen whales like the Fin and Sei whales.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 10

    Ilulissat Icefjord

    If one word could sum up today’s experience it would be 'ice'. Truly one of the wonders of the world, the Jacobshavn Icefjord – a UNESCO World Heritage site - spews giant tabular icebergs out into Disko Bay. The glacier that creates these stunning monoliths advances at over 40 metres per day, creating around 50 cubic kilometres of ice annually. Our approach to Ilulissat is dependent on the amount of ice in and around the mouth of the fjord. Our Captain and officers are skilled ice navigators and our ship has one of the highest ice ratings of any vessel exploring Arctic waters.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 11

    Sisimiut

    We will explore the fjord behind the town of Sisimiut before going ashore to explore this beautiful location. Characterized by colourful local houses, the town features a towering granite peak as a backdrop. We hope to meet a few of the traditional Greenlandic kayakers and to see a demonstration of ‘Eskimo rolling’ by one of the former Greenland kayak champions. A small museum is another interesting diversion.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 12

    Sondre Stromfjord

    One of the world’s longest fjords, Sondre Stromfjord towers above the ship as we sail up it. We plan to venture into some of the small side fjords that we can zodiac into and explore on foot or by kayak. Major geologic and geomorphologic features will surround us and we hope to find Muskox along the shores of the fjord as well. Soaring high above us will be the white-tailed Sea eagle, riding the thermals off the ridges. There are fantastic opportunities for hiking.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 13

    Disembark Kangerlussuaq, Greenland and fly to Ottawa

    Our journey through the Arctic is all but complete as we disembark the ship in Kangerlussuaq and make our way to the airport and a charter flight returns us to Ottawa. A transfer is provided from the airport to a central location downtown.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Accommodation

RCGS Resolute

The Resolute

The Classic Northwest Passage and Greenland is offered on the RCGS Resolute which is a Polar Adventure Ship. Please visit the Polar Fleet page (www.exodus.co.uk/polar-holidays/polar-fleet) for Ship Information and Deck Plans.

Polar Adventure Ships

These are small (approx. 100 passengers) 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.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single only guarantees a room for single use. It does not always mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Food & Transport

Eating & 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.

Transportation

During the expedition, you will visit remote and isolated sites that are accessible only by Zodiac landing craft. Designed for expedition work, these large and heavy-duty inflatable vessels are extremely safe.

Weather & Seasonality

Joining Instructions

Travelling land only: 13 days starting in Edmonton and ending in Ottawa

Your trip starts in Edmonton in the morning of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are given in the Final Joining Instructions.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start:
Edmonton
Location end:
Ottawa

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Boots – Rubber boots are essential for a Polar Expedition, but to eliminate these from your packing list we will loan you a pair for the duration of the voyage.
Parkas – We recommend one with a wind and waterproof shell. Free wetskin rental is provided on this itinerary.
Trousers – Waterproof trousers or salopeltes are essential for Zodiac travel as well as activities on shore.Free wetskin rental is provided on this itinerary.
Gloves – To keep your hands warm and dry, pack a minimum of two pairs of gloves: a pair of thin polypropylene gloves to be worn underneath warm outer gloves.
Hat and Scarf – Pack a warm, woollen hat or cap that covers your ears, as well as a scarf, neck gaiter or other face protection.
Socks – For maximum warmth, we suggest that you wear two pairs of socks to wear inside the rubber boots.
Outer Clothing – Pack woollen or fleece jumpers and tops, plus several turtlenecks for layering.
Underclothing – Pack silk or polypropylene underwear since it will keep you warm without adding bulk.
Knapsack or Backpack – To keep your hands free for shooting photographs, bring a water resistant or waterproof knapsack or backpack.
Shoes – Non-slip shoes for walking around the vessel.

Optional Equipment

Swimsuit
Sunglasses
Binoculars
Camera, extra batteries, film or memory cards
Protective sunscreen
Electric converter with adapter plug set, 220V/110V
Small medical kit containing prescription medicines and over-the-counter medication for basic ailments such as stomach upsets, allergies, headaches and seasickness
Snow poles or trekking poles

Practical Information

Passport

Canada

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for the duration of the intended length of stay, if your passport has less than 6 months validity it may take longer to pass through immigration. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

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.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccination

Canada

There are no specific health risks.

Arctic

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Canada's Timezone:
America/Toronto EDT (GMT -04:00)

Electricity

Canada's Electricity:

120 Volts. Plug types A & B; establishments often take two flat parallel pin plugs and/or two flat parallel pins and a round grounding pin plug.

Arctic's Electricity:

The electrical supply on board most of the Polar vessels is 220v/50Hz.

The electrical outlets found in the cabins and around the ships on most Polar vessels accept standard European two round pin plugs, so you may need to bring your own travel adapter.

The electrical supply at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge is 120v/60Hz, same as most North American plugs.

on ships 220v 50Hz

Money

Canada's Currency

The national currency of Canada is the Canadian Dollar (CAD), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (June 2019) of approximately 1.69 to the GBP, 1.33 to the USD, 1.50 to the EUR, 0.93 to the AUD and 0.88 to the NZD.

Arctic's Currency

On board all Polar vessels USD are accepted as the primary currency.

The Canadian dollar is the standard currency at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge.

ATM Availability

ATMs dispensing Canadian dollars are readily available in most cities. Credit cards are widely accepted in Canada. Please note that when using a credit card for shipboard expenses, the amount owed will be converted to a Canadian Dollar amount before the charge is put through.

Tipping

The appropriate amount to tip the staff and crew is a personal matter but it is customary to provide an end-of-cruise gratuity (as a rough guide approximately US$13-15 per day per passenger would be appreciated).

Responsible Tourism

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… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 16 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE –STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to www.exodus.co.uk for online booking, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.