The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of Great Explorers (Itinerary 1)

The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of Great Explorers (Itinerary 1)

The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of Great Explorers (Itinerary 1)

The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of Great Explorers (Itinerary 1)

Travel information 19 days MS Fram
Departure
August 14, 2023
Price from $ 21,246
$ 17,391
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

This expedition cruise sails from Iceland to Greenland’s southern coast before making an attempt to sail to the heart of the Northwest Passage at Cambridge Bay.

Southern Greenland

We begin in Reykjavík, Iceland. From here, you’ll sail the Denmark Strait to Prince Christian Sound, a spectacular maze of channels chiseled out of granite rock and filled with ice floes and glaciers. We’ll spend four days exploring southern Greenland’s remarkable fjords and settlements, including the capital, Nuuk, and the stunning UNESCO-listed Ilulissat Icefjord.

Into the Northwest Passage

Then our adventure takes us across the Davis Strait, where we begin our attempt to cross the Northwest Passage. Over seven days, we’ll explore the islands that dot this famously challenging sea route, which is only navigable a few weeks of the year. You’ll discover a range of possible sites amid spectacular nature, abundant wildlife, Thule and Inuit settlements, and historic trading posts.

Our route and landings depend on sea and weather conditions. We also plan to take you small boat (RIB) cruising to more closely admire the ice floes and Arctic wildlife. The Captain and the Expedition Leader will pick spots for escorted landings with the Expedition Team, which may include Pond Inlet, Dundas Harbour, Radstock Bay, Fort Ross, and Gjoa Haven.

If we’re successful in our transit of the Northwest Passage, our great sea adventure will end in Cambridge Bay, where explorers once sought shelter from the harsh winters. Then you’ll catch a flight to Edmonton before returning home. Should sea ice prevent us from completing our transit of the Northwest Passage, you’ll still have experienced the rugged beauty of the High Arctic and have many opportunities to seek rare wildlife such as polar bears.

The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of Great Explorers (Itinerary 1) The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of Great Explorers (Itinerary 1)
Attempt

Our attempts to transit the Northwest Passage are expeditions in the truest sense of the word. We challenge the elements and the ice edge of the Arctic Ocean to circumnavigate these remote and icy waterways—safely, of course. Our deep knowledge of the area, our flexibility, and the multiple alternative routes available are key factors to giving you the most amazing experience possible. If we manage to circumnavigate Baffin Island or sail through the entire Northwest Passage, it will be one for the books.

  • Day 1
    Reykjavík, Iceland

    The world’s northernmost capital

    August 14, 2023

    Your adventure starts in Reykjavík, the northernmost capital in the world. Reykjavík is both quaint and cosmopolitan. This small city is the perfect size for a walking tour, packed full of art, culture, and history.

    Stroll along Laugavegur, the main shopping street, filled with boutiques, bars, and restaurants. Consider picking up some Icelandic knitwear, famous for its quality, style, and warmth. You can also head towards the architecturally striking Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral. Art lovers can visit the Reykjavík Art Museum, the National Gallery, and the many smaller galleries and museums throughout the city.

    Learn about Icelandic history by stopping off at the National Museum, the Saga Museum, and the Maritime Museum. Bring your swimsuit to take a dip in one of the city’s 18 swimming pools, many with saunas and hot tubs, too.

    MS Fram will be waiting for you in Reykjavík’s harbor. After checking in and collecting your complimentary expedition jacket, you’ll have time to settle into your cabin. After a mandatory safety drill just before departure, you can walk around and explore the ship.

    The welcome dinner in the evening ends with a toast by the captain, who will wish everyone an enjoyable expedition. You’ll then meet the Expedition Team and key crew members, who will take you through an important health and safety briefing.

    Pre-Program

    Why not book a two-day or four-day Pre-Program with us? From Reykjavik (whose name means ‘Smokey Bay’, due to the steam rising from the surrounding geothermal features), you’ll be just hours from geysers, glaciers, hot springs and waterfalls. Spend extra time discovering Iceland’s nearby Golden Circle.

    Day 1
    Reykjavík, Iceland

    The world’s northernmost capital

  • Day 2-3
    At Sea

    The Denmark Strait

    August 15, 2023 - August 16, 2023

    Ease into your adventure as you spend today at sea on the way to the Northwest Passage. The Denmark Strait is actually the site of the world’s largest waterfall... underwater! The mixture of warm and cold currents and strong winds means that the waters here are sometimes a bit choppy.

    Relax, get to know your fellow travelers, and check out the onboard facilities. Meanwhile, the Expedition Team will prepare you for the adventure ahead with their lecture programs on Artic wildlife and ecosystems in the Science Center.

    They will also talk about important guidelines from AECO, the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators. You’ll learn how you can protect wildlife habitats, keep a safe distance from animals, and visit Arctic communities in a proper and respectful way. 

    Feel like staying active? Hit up the gym and get your blood pumping. Don’t forget you’ll have access to the sauna, an infinity pool, and two outdoor hot tubs. Enjoy drinks in the panoramic Explorer Lounge & Bar, while settling down into a sofa and letting the rhythmic waves of the ocean roll by.

    Day 2-3
    At Sea

    The Denmark Strait

  • Day 4
    Prins Christian Sound Region

    'A river of melted ice’

    August 17, 2023

    Prepare to marvel at some of the most stunning views on the planet in Prince Christian Sound region. This Southern Greenland Sound connects the Labrador Sea with the Irminger Sea, separating the mainland from the Cape Farewell Archipelago.

    The 60-mile waterway is surrounded by granite mountains with sharp peaks, some reaching up to over 7,200 feet high. Marvel at the maze of geological patterns in the rock face, from deep cracks and crevasses to lines of black lichen that seem to seep from the stone like paint.

    The mountains’ muted grays and rusted greens stand in stark contrast to the bright white of the bountiful glaciers. These slow-moving masses of ice grind their way from the enormous Greenlandic ice sheet and flow straight into the sound, calving white-blue icebergs of all sizes, shades, and shapes. You’ll understand why 15th-century Italian explorer John Cabot famously described Prince Christian Sound as ‘a river of melted ice’.

    Get your camera ready and join the Expedition Team on the observation deck. Only two signs of human life remain here: The Danish weather station built by the U.S. during the Cold War at the entrance to the fjord, and the colorful houses of the 100 residents of Aappilattoq, a fishing and hunting village. When translated from local Greenlandic Inuit, Aappilattoq means ‘Sea Anemone’.

    You may spot ringed seals and bearded seals on the ice. Look up to the steep cliffs, where you might find nesting glaucous gulls and black guillemots. Minke and humpback whales may also make an appearance, although they tend to not swim into the narrow stretches of the sound, preferring the wider sections at the entrance.

    Navigating Prince Christian Sound is only possible in the summer, when the sea ice is less packed and icebergs don’t block the entrance. However, our route may still be blocked by weather, sea ice, and gate-keeping icebergs.

    Even if that happens, don’t worry! That’s the nature of an expedition into true wilderness. Here, nature sets the rules. Instead, we may sail toward Nunap Isua—a.k.a. Cape Farewell—the southernmost point of Greenland.

    • Included Prins Christian Sund Exploration Day
    Day 4
    Prins Christian Sound Region

    'A river of melted ice’

  • Day 5
    Kvanefjord, Greenland

    Expedition day

    August 18, 2023

    The Kvanefjord is a fjord stretching 30 miles along the west coast of Greenland in the Sermersooq district, which means ‘Place of Much Ice’. The fjord extends over six miles inland before branching into three smaller channels, each with a glacier at its head.

    We’ll spend the day exploring this amazing fjord and the captain will search for places to drop anchor and head ashore. There will be plenty of opportunities to watch for wildlife, either from the deck or on land, or perhaps you’d just like to stretch your legs and enjoy the stunning scenery.

    Then Kvanefjord is also close to Kvanefjeld, an area with one of the largest concentrations of rare-earth mineral deposits in the world. Recent surveys even estimate that a quarter of the world’s rare-earth minerals lie within these hills.

    The Kvanefield site is particularly noteworthy for its concentrations of uranium and the fabled Greenlandic ruby, the tugtupite (meaning ‘reindeer blood’). Cerium, lanthanum, and other precious metals are also found here, which are crucial to modern technology like smartphones, electric cars, and MRI machines.

    • Included Kvanefjord Exploration Day
    Day 5
    Kvanefjord, Greenland

    Expedition day

  • Day 6
    Nuuk, Greenland

    The Capital of Greenland

    August 19, 2023

    Nuuk was settled in 1728, making it the oldest settlement in the nation. Although Greenland’s capital is classed as a city, fewer than 17,000 people call it home. ‘Nuuk’ means peninsula, as it is located at the mouth of a system of spectacular fjords and mountains.

    The first thing you’ll notice about this low-rise settlement is its colorful houses. The red, green, blue, and yellow buildings pose a striking contrast to the icy black and white backdrop of the mountains.

    Today, Nuuk combines old and new traditions. The old picturesque buildings dotting the fjord’s edge give way to ultra-modern architecture in the Greenlandic Parliament and the wave-shaped Katuaq Cultural Centre, inspired by the Northern Lights.

    Visit the oldest building in Greenland at Hans Egede’s House, constructed in 1721 by the Norwegian missionary who is credited with founding the city. As you roam the city, keep an eye out for a statue and the church bearing his name.

    The red-painted Nuuk Cathedral and its typical Lutheran clock tower and steeple is worth a visit, too. Drop by the Greenland National Museum to see the Qilakitsoq mummies or admire local paintings at the Nuuk Art Museum.

    We’ll also be offering a long hike through Paradise Valley and around Mt. Lille Malene as part of an optional excursion. As you follow a path formed by old reindeer tracks, you’ll bask in splendid views of the Greenlandic coast and pass by a small lake and natural springs.

    There are a wide range of restaurants in Nuuk to satisfy all tastes, some of which feature local delicacies such musk ox, seal soup, and snow crab. Rather just have a coffee? There are several excellent cafés serving hot drinks and snacks like burgers and Danish pastries.

    • Included Nuuk Grand Experience
    Day 6
    Nuuk, Greenland

    The Capital of Greenland

  • Day 7
    Sisimiut, Greenland

    Modern settlement, ancient traditions

    August 20, 2023

    Located in a spectacular letting, Greenland’s second-largest city, Sisimiut, sits 25 miles north of the Arctic Circle in the central coastal area of the Davis Strait. It’s a modern settlement, but its roots stretch far back, with some estimates dating more than 4,500 years.

    Sisimiut’s name translates into ‘the people at the fox holes’, a reference to the Arctic fox many burrows that lie near the city. Another local animal is the musk ox, whose wool is used to make a local fabric called qiviut—said to be 10 times warmer than sheep wool. You might like to pick up a qiviut scarf, hat, or mittens while you are here.

    With a population of around 5,500, Sisimiut is an important regional hub. Boats heading between Nuuk and Disko Bay area frequently use it as a stopover point, with many coming here to enjoy backcountry sports like skiing or dog sledding on the Greenland ice sheet.

    The small museum here houses artifacts from excavations of ancient Saqqaq settlements near the town, some up to 4,000 years old. You can also visit the Taseralik Cultural Center, the perfect place to learn about the area’s cultural heritage.

    If you’re fit and healthy, join an optional 4- to 5-hour hike up Palaasip Qaqqa, a steady but steep climb to over 1,640 feet above sea level. The effort on the way up is well rewarded with unique views of Greenland’s exceptional scenery.

    • Included Sisimiut Community Visit
    Day 7
    Sisimiut, Greenland

    Modern settlement, ancient traditions

  • Day 8
    Ilulissat, Greenland

    Birthplace of Icebergs

    August 21, 2023

    Ilulissat (translated simply as ‘Icebergs’) is set in the stunning scenery of the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This gem of a town stands out for its colorful houses sitting along the fjord, which features an ever-changing gallery of icebergs. This place is truly picture perfect.

    It’s also a vibrant hub for adventure seekers who head out onto the polar ice sheet. There are almost as many sled dogs living here as people. Each spring, one of the world’s greatest dog sled races takes place here, with 100 sleds participating.

    Just outside the town, you can often see enormous icebergs floating in the deep blue waters. They originate from the Jakobshavn Glacier, which calves some 35 billion tons of icebergs each year. The icebergs make their way down the 12-mile fjord before entering Disko Bay. They are a nature photographer’s dream.

    You won’t just see these chiseled masses of ice up close, you’ll also hear them. Their cracks, rumbles, and creaks echo throughout the fjord as they bump into one another and into the shores.

    If those noises are drums, the crumble, crash, and splash of ice calving from the icebergs into the waters below are the cymbals. Take a moment to sit, watch, and listen to the icebergs in these beautiful surroundings.

    • Included Walk to the Icefjords
    Day 8
    Ilulissat, Greenland

    Birthplace of Icebergs

  • Day 9-10
    Labrador Sea

    Crossing the Davis Strait

    August 22, 2023 - August 23, 2023

    The Davis Strait is named for English explorer John Davis, who led expeditions searching for a route through the Northwest Passage between 1585 and 1587. Davis was the first to note the seal hunting and whaling possibilities in the area and demonstrated that the Newfoundland cod fisheries extended this far north.

    It’s time to leave Canada behind and set our course for Greenland. While sailing across the Labrador Sea, don’t miss the Expedition Team’s ongoing informative lectures. Their topics may include the wildlife you might spot in Northern Labrador, Inuit culture, expedition photography, and the historic explorers of the Canadian Arctic.

    We also support a number of Citizen Science projects that you can join. These projects include Happywhale, where your photographs help identify and track the movement of specific whales across the planet, identified from their distinguishing characteristics.

    You may also join the GLOBE Observer project, which combines your observations of clouds and sky conditions with satellite data. By participating in these projects, not only will you be supporting the scientific community, you’ll also be gaining a better understanding of the world around you.

    Day 9-10
    Labrador Sea

    Crossing the Davis Strait

  • Day 11-17
    The Northwest Passage

    Heart of the Northwest Passage

    August 24, 2023 - August 30, 2023

    It’s time to explore the heart of the Northwest Passage. The first recorded voyage here was by John Cabot in 1497. James Cook attempted but failed to sail it in 1776, and many may have heard about the ill-fated Franklin expedition of 1845. The first to conquer the Northwest Passage by ship was Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen on an expedition that lasted from 1903 to 1906.

    Depending on the ice (which varies from year to year), we hope to show you some of the following places:

    Pond Inlet, called 'Mittimatalik' in Inuktitut, is a traditional Inuit community surrounded by mountains, glaciers, fjords, ice caves, geological hoodoos, and drifting icebergs.

    Dundas Harbour is an abandoned settlement featuring an old Royal Canadian Mounted Police camp and several archeological sites. Go ashore to see the ruins of some of these buildings, along with an impressive Thule site.

    Radstock Bay is dominated by the striking natural profile of Caswell Tower. The shoreline here is ideal for walks to a pre-historic Inuit dwelling site. Caswell Tower itself features a challenging hike to the summit for great views.

    Beechey Island is known for the ill-fated Franklin expedition. Two ships sailed into the passage in 1845, never to be seen again. The Franklin Expedition was known to have over-wintered on Beechey Island in 1845-1846.

    Fort Ross is a trading post established in 1937. There are two small huts ashore maintained by the Canadian Coast Guard.

    Gjoa Haven honors the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen who wintered here in 1903. He was in close contact with the local Netsilik Inuit people, who taught him about survival and travel in polar regions, which eventually gave him the upper hand years later in the race to the South Pole.

    Throughout the journey, we will sail spellbinding straits and be on a constant lookout for wildlife like the mighty polar bear.

    Day 11-17
    The Northwest Passage

    Heart of the Northwest Passage

  • Day 18
    Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island

    ‘A Good Fishing Place’

    August 31, 2023

    Cambridge Bay is a hamlet with fewer than 2,000 residents. There’s a clue to the region’s hunting and fishing heritage in the name: In Inuinnaqtun, Cambridge Bay is called ‘Iqaluktuuttiaq’, meaning a ‘good fishing place’. Fly-fishing for giant char in the river nearby remains a draw to this day.

    The abundant wildlife, including musk oxen and caribou, is an obvious point of attraction for explorers. Others come to visit the Canadian High Arctic Research Station, a world-class center for studying climate change.

    It’s only fitting for your expedition to end here, where Arctic explorers of old often sheltered while seeking the Northwest Passage. Now you can add your name to that illustrious list, which of course includes the legendary Roald Amundsen. From here, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Montréal, where you’ll spend the night.

    Day 18
    Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island

    ‘A Good Fishing Place’

  • Day 19
    Montréal, Canada

    Québec’s premier city

    September 1, 2023

    Your adventure concludes in Montréal, the largest city in the beautiful province of Québec, and the second most populous in Canada. Occupying the Island of Montréal and its surroundings, the city is a hub for Canadian history and culture. It has a modern cosmopolitan feel, infused with both French and British influences. If you stick around for a few days after your cruise, you’ll find plenty to spark your interest in this lively city.

    Discover shopping, cuisine, and culture in the city’s exciting downtown area, marvel at Notre Dame Basilica while exploring the historic streets of Old Montréal, or find a kaleidoscope of color and quirks in the city’s buzzing Plateau district. Montréal is also famous for its year-round festive atmosphere, thanks to a calendar full of events.

    For the foodies, Montréal is one of the finest cities in Canada. It has diverse food markets, a range of restaurants, and a charming café culture. Treat yourself to local delicacies, including smoked meats, freshly baked bagels, and maple sweets. Wash it all down with a beer from one of the many craft breweries in the city.

    After spending the day exploring, take your pick from the pubs and bars in Downtown’s social hub, Crescent Street. Unwind and people-watch over a cocktail on the terrace or re-live your adventure among friends with a beer or two in one of the city’s lively bars.

    Add some extra time and join our optional half-day Montréal Sightseeing & Savoir-Vivre Tour. You’ll see Montréal’s culturally diversity and visit the landmarks that make it such a unique and wonderful city. We’ll also stop to pick up some of Montréal’s famous bagels, and swing by Little Italy to enjoy a tasting of local produce at the popular Jean-Talon market.

    Day 19
    Montréal, Canada

    Québec’s premier city

Departures

2023

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What's Included

Included in Your Expedition

Hotels

  • Overnight in Montréal after the expedition cruise, including breakfast

Flights

  • Economy flight from Cambridge Bay to Montréal

Transfers

  • Transfer from the ship to the airport in Cambridge Bay after the Expedition cruise. Transfer from the airport in Montréal to the hotel after the expedition cruise

Expedition Cruise

  • Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurants Aune and Fredheim
  • Fine-dining À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm is included for suite guests
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to fill at onboard water refill stations
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organize and guide activities, both on board and ashore
  • Range of included excursions

Onboard activities

  • Experts from the Expedition Team present detailed lectures on a variety of topics
  • Use of the ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
  • The Citizen Science program allows guests to contribute to current scientific research projects
  • The onboard professional photographer will give tips and tricks for taking the best landscape and wildlife photos
  • The ship has hot tubs, an infinity pool, a sauna, an outdoor and indoor gym, and an outdoor running track
  • Participate in informal gatherings with the crew, such as daily recaps and the next day’s preparations

Landing activities

  • Escorted landings with small boats (RIBs)
  • Loan of boots, trekking poles, and all equipment needed for the activities
  • Complimentary wind- and water-resistant expedition jacket
  • Expedition photographers help configure your camera settings

Not Included In Your Expedition

  • International flights
  • Travel protection
  • Baggage handling
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners
  • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team
  • Optional treatments in the onboard wellness and spa area

Notes

  • All planned activities are subject to weather and ice conditions
  • Excursions and activities are subject to change
  • Please ensure you can meet all entry and boarding requirements
  • No gratuities are expected
MS Fram in Greenland
Photo: Stian Klo
MS Fram in Antarctica
Photo: Sandra Walser
Your Ship

MS Fram

Year built 2007
Year of refurbishment 2022
Shipyard Fincantieri, Italy
Passenger capacity 250 (200 in Antarctica)
Beds 276
Car capacity 0
Gross tonnage 11,647 T
Length 374 ft
Beam 66.3 ft
Speed 13 knots
MS Fram in Greenland
Photo: Stian Klo

The original Fram was the most famous explorer ship of its time and the achievements of her expeditions are unparalleled. The advanced technology on the MS Fram, in the spirit of the famous original, makes her exceptionally well suited for expedition cruises in polar regions.

Read more about MS Fram

Icebergs – one of many favorite photo motives when on an expedition with MS Fram
Photo: Tomas Mauch
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