We depart Ottawa this morning on our charter flight to Kangerlussuaq, situated on the west coast of Greenland. Upon arrival into Kangerlussuaq we enjoy a short tour before boarding the ship in the afternoon. After settling in to our cabins and exploring the vessel, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we cast off and enjoy a welcome cocktail while cruising along Sondre Stromfjord in the soft Arctic twilight.
We will explore the fjord behind the town of Sisimiut before going ashore for further exploration. Characterized by colorful 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 ‘kayak rolling’ by one of the former Greenland kayak champions. The town's church and a small museum are other points of interest. The restored historic houses and old Greenlandic fishing boats make for great photography.
If one word could sum up today’s experience it would be 'ice'. Even our expedition team members, with years spent exploring both the Arctic and Antarctica, will take a moment to reflect on the awesome ice formations found here. Truly one of the wonders of the world, the Jacobshavn Icefjord – a UNESCO World Heritage site - projects gigantic icebergs out into Disko Bay. The glacier that creates these stunning monoliths advances at over 130 ft (40 m) per day, creating an estimated 12 cubic miles (50 cubic kilometres) of ice annually! Our approach to Ilulissat is always dependent on the amount of ice in and around the mouth of the fjord. A cruise by Zodiac along the face of the massed icebergs is a memorable experience. There's also a great hike through the town to a viewpoint, high above the ice field. This place will take your breath away.
We cruise across the bay overnight, approaching the small town of Qeqertarsuaq, situated at the head of Disko Bay. Keep a look out for humpback or fin whales which we often encounter here. A small harbor filled with local fishing boats greets us as we head ashore. Our landing site is right next to the old Customs building - now a small museum. Qeqertarsuaq is a very historic location where Eric the Red, the 9th century Norse Viking, is believed to have visited and used the location as a base for hunting, fishing and exploration. The town is easily explored on foot and a hike up to a high point provides great views of the town, the harbor and offshore where large icebergs drift by. Be sure to stop and chat to the locals. We return to the ship and weigh anchor - heading west for Baffin Island and Canada.
We wake this morning to find ourselves in the Davis Strait - a broad expanse of open water that separates Greenland from Canada. Whale sightings are possible and we sometimes encounter fin, sperm, sei and humpback whales, plus seals and seabirds. Our onboard experts deliver fascinating presentations that focus on wildlife, history, geology and the culture of the Arctic as we navigate closer towards the coast of Baffin Island. At this time of the season and with the right atmospheric conditions, we hope to catch a glimpse of the dancing lights in the night sky - the mystical Aurora Borealis.
Our first landfall on Baffin Island will be at Sunshine Fjord where you will have the opportunity to cross the Arctic Circle however you wish – on foot, in a Zodiac or on board ship. 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.
Protecting the northern entrance to Cumberland Sound, Cape Mercy is an exposed headland jutting out into the Davis Strait. As the Baffin middle ice recedes throughout the summer, this stretch of coastline is a great place to look for polar bears. All eyes will be off the ship looking for these majestic animals in their natural environment.
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 Center has a wonderful interpretive display featuring the lifestyle of the Thule and of the modern Inuit.
Situated in the Davis Strait, the rocky dome of Monumental Island can be seen from a distance. We explore by Zodiac along the rocky shoreline and hope to encounter polar bears in this vicinity. Walrus are also known to haul out along the shore here. In good weather a complete circumnavigation of the island in the Zodiacs is possible.
At the mouth of Frobisher Bay on the south-eastern tip of Baffin Island, the Lower Savage Islands are a geological wonder. A maze of channels crisscross the island and provide great Zodiac cruising opportunities. It's possible to navigate from one side of the island to the other where the ship will collect us. The islands are ideally situated between the dynamic flow of the Hudson Strait and this mixing of nutrient rich waters makes for a diversity of marine life. Tonight, as we near the end of our journey we enjoy an entertaining voyage recap from the expedition leader. We celebrate with a special dinner attended by the captain of the ship and reflect on our journey through the landscapes of the 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 our scheduled flight to Ottawa. On arrival in Ottawa our journey comes to an end. A transfer is provided to a downtown location.
Important note: Polar exploration can be unpredictable. Specific sites visited will depend on prevailing weather and ice conditions at the time of sailing. The above itinerary should be read as a ‘guide only’ and may change. The ship’s captain in conjunction with the expedition leader continually review the sailing plan throughout the voyage, making adjustments to the itinerary along the way to take advantage of optimal weather and ice conditions or to maximize our encounters with wildlife. Decades of experience spent exploring these waterways mean we have a large number of outstanding landing sites and Zodiac cruising locations to consider, even when the weather conditions may not be ideal or when heavy ice may hinder our planned route. A flexible approach is something we encourage you to bring to the ship.
* Itinerary may be subject to change