Arctic, Canada

80° 45′ N 72° 39′ W

 Narwhal (Monodon monoceros) off the floe edge ice of the Canadian arctic in Admiralty Inlet, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada
ExpeditionsUi Arrow rightGateway to the Northwest Passage: Greenland and Canada

Gateway to the Northwest Passage: Greenland and Canada

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Highlights

Huge icebergs lining the shores of the charming town of Qeqertarsuaq (formerly Godhavn) on the south coast of Disko Island, Western Greenland.
  • Travel above 80º north into the fabled Northwest Passage and hear stories of the explorers and adventurers who sought this remarkable, icy frontier

  • Glide between soaring icebergs at the mouth of Greenland’s Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site

  • Explore Ellesmere Island with binoculars at the ready to spot polar bears, walruses, ringed seals, belugas, bowhead whales, and the elusive narwhal

  • Visit Pond Inlet, a small Inuit community known for its friendliness and world-renowned soapstone carvings

  • Marvel at the unique volcanic black-sand beaches, hot springs, and waterfalls of Disko Island

Day by Day

Multiple routes available

Some departures follow a modified itinerary. Please refer to departure dates for exact routing of your departure.

2023 Expedition


Starts at

Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

Ends at

Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

Download Itinerary

Days 1-2

U.S. / Reykjavík, Iceland

Depart on an overnight flight to Reykjavík. Upon arrival, take a tour to see Iceland’s hot springs, beautiful Icelandic Horses, and a fascinating power plant. After lunch, check in to our centrally located hotel. Lunch and dinner are served on day 2.

Days 1-2

U.S. / Reykjavík, Iceland

Depart on an overnight flight to Reykjavík. Upon arrival, take a tour to see Iceland’s hot springs, beautiful Icelandic Horses, and a fascinating power plant. After lunch, check in to our centrally located hotel. Lunch and dinner are served on day 2.

Day 3

Reykjavík / Kangerlussuaq, Greenland / Embark Ship

The morning is at leisure followed by lunch and a tour of the city ending at either the National Museum or the Whale Museum. Transfer to the airport for a chartered flight to Greenland and embark our ship at the head of Kangerlussuaq fjord, a 120-mile-long waterway whose name means “large fjord” in Greenlandic.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3

Reykjavík / Kangerlussuaq, Greenland / Embark Ship

The morning is at leisure followed by lunch and a tour of the city ending at either the National Museum or the Whale Museum. Transfer to the airport for a chartered flight to Greenland and embark our ship at the head of Kangerlussuaq fjord, a 120-mile-long waterway whose name means “large fjord” in Greenlandic.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4

Sisimut

Dozens of deep fjords carve into Greenland’s west coast, many with glaciers fed by the ice sheet that covers about 80 percent of the country. Discover this beautiful and rugged coastline in Zodiacs, keeping an eye out for humpback and minke whales. At Sisimiut, a former whaling port, visit the museum and stroll around a picturesque jumble of historic and modern wooden buildings.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4

Sisimut

Dozens of deep fjords carve into Greenland’s west coast, many with glaciers fed by the ice sheet that covers about 80 percent of the country. Discover this beautiful and rugged coastline in Zodiacs, keeping an eye out for humpback and minke whales. At Sisimiut, a former whaling port, visit the museum and stroll around a picturesque jumble of historic and modern wooden buildings.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5

Ilulissat

Sail into Qeqertarsuup Tunua, also known as Disko Bay, to explore the World Heritage site of Ilulissat Icefjord, a tongue of the Greenland ice cap that extends to the sea. Take an extraordinary cruise among towering icebergs at the mouth of the fjord. Visit the town of Ilulissat and walk to the archaeological site in Sermermiut, an abandoned valley previously inhabited by several distinct Inuit cultures.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5

Ilulissat

Sail into Qeqertarsuup Tunua, also known as Disko Bay, to explore the World Heritage site of Ilulissat Icefjord, a tongue of the Greenland ice cap that extends to the sea. Take an extraordinary cruise among towering icebergs at the mouth of the fjord. Visit the town of Ilulissat and walk to the archaeological site in Sermermiut, an abandoned valley previously inhabited by several distinct Inuit cultures.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 6-8

Exploring Eastern Baffin Island

We continue our exploration of the Canadian High Arctic with a visit to the small Inuit community of Pond Inlet, Nunavut. Explore some of the beautiful bays and inlets along Baffin Island’s Lancaster Sound, a favorite Inuit hunting and fishing location for hundreds of years. Carved by Ice Age glaciers, Lancaster Sound is also the eastern gateway to the Arctic Archipelago, where European explorers like William Baffin first ventured in the 17th century to search for the Northwest Passage. Our days here are spent searching for ringed seals, arctic foxes, walruses, and polar bears, as well as beluga and bowhead whales. Visit Devon Island and take a walk with our ship’s archaeologist to learn about the Thule people—ancestors of the modern Inuit—that once inhabited this region.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 6-8

Exploring Eastern Baffin Island

We continue our exploration of the Canadian High Arctic with a visit to the small Inuit community of Pond Inlet, Nunavut. Explore some of the beautiful bays and inlets along Baffin Island’s Lancaster Sound, a favorite Inuit hunting and fishing location for hundreds of years. Carved by Ice Age glaciers, Lancaster Sound is also the eastern gateway to the Arctic Archipelago, where European explorers like William Baffin first ventured in the 17th century to search for the Northwest Passage. Our days here are spent searching for ringed seals, arctic foxes, walruses, and polar bears, as well as beluga and bowhead whales. Visit Devon Island and take a walk with our ship’s archaeologist to learn about the Thule people—ancestors of the modern Inuit—that once inhabited this region.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 9-12

Exploring the Queen Elizabeth Islands

We explore the ice-laden channels and glacier-carved islands that stretch for hundreds of miles—a stunning display of raw geology. We explore the rocky, Mars-like terrain of uninhabited Devon Island. We take our cues from nature: following wildlife, stopping for hikes on the tundra, dropping anchor in a beautiful fjord or an iceberg-strewn bay to explore and kayak beneath massive ice sculptures and soaring cliffs. Sail past the northernmost part of mainland North America in the Bellot Strait, one of the narrowest and most infamous of the passage. We learn about the Inuit peoples who have hunted and fished here for thousands of years. As well, we are on the lookout for the animals that call this region home such as ringed seals, arctic foxes, musk oxen, walruses, and polar bears, as well as beluga and bowhead whales.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 9-12

Exploring the Queen Elizabeth Islands

We explore the ice-laden channels and glacier-carved islands that stretch for hundreds of miles—a stunning display of raw geology. We explore the rocky, Mars-like terrain of uninhabited Devon Island. We take our cues from nature: following wildlife, stopping for hikes on the tundra, dropping anchor in a beautiful fjord or an iceberg-strewn bay to explore and kayak beneath massive ice sculptures and soaring cliffs. Sail past the northernmost part of mainland North America in the Bellot Strait, one of the narrowest and most infamous of the passage. We learn about the Inuit peoples who have hunted and fished here for thousands of years. As well, we are on the lookout for the animals that call this region home such as ringed seals, arctic foxes, musk oxen, walruses, and polar bears, as well as beluga and bowhead whales.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 13-17

Exploring Ellesmere Island

Heading ever northward, we make our way up the beautiful and remote east coast of Ellesmere Island. Cruise along scenic Smith Bay (a.k.a. Skog Inlet) bordered by a steep wall of mountains, with a glacial ice tongue which pours down the mountains on either side. Be up on the bridge as we search for a patch of “polar bear ice,” the mixture of first-year and multi-year sea ice that is the preferred habitat of the ice bears. Our binoculars seek out any small ivory-colored dot on an otherwise white ice surface. We strain to see the dot move. With luck, it is a bear, spotted at a considerable distance. We approach, ever so slowly, stalking the polar bear much as the bear stalks seals on the ice. At the end of the bay, we go ashore to hike or kayak in picturesque surroundings. Ice is always present here.

On our next day, we enter Buchanan Bay, and turn into Alexandra Fjord to reach the area of Skraeling Island. (“Skraeling” is the word that the Norse settlers of Greenland used for the Inuit.) This is the site of an important archaeological find. Norse artifacts show that the Norse traded with the natives here on Ellesmere Island, far north of their settlements on Greenland. Last summer, quite unexpectedly, we discovered the remains of a summer encampment of natives, possibly of the Thule culture (the third of the three Inuit cultures to occupy this area.) We saw rings of stones that held down the edges of skin tents against the wind, and stone chambers that might have been constructed for storage. Perhaps the Inuit camped at this very site as they traded with the Norsemen, exchanging skins and walrus ivory for European goods, especially metal.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 13-17

Exploring Ellesmere Island

Heading ever northward, we make our way up the beautiful and remote east coast of Ellesmere Island. Cruise along scenic Smith Bay (a.k.a. Skog Inlet) bordered by a steep wall of mountains, with a glacial ice tongue which pours down the mountains on either side. Be up on the bridge as we search for a patch of “polar bear ice,” the mixture of first-year and multi-year sea ice that is the preferred habitat of the ice bears. Our binoculars seek out any small ivory-colored dot on an otherwise white ice surface. We strain to see the dot move. With luck, it is a bear, spotted at a considerable distance. We approach, ever so slowly, stalking the polar bear much as the bear stalks seals on the ice. At the end of the bay, we go ashore to hike or kayak in picturesque surroundings. Ice is always present here.

On our next day, we enter Buchanan Bay, and turn into Alexandra Fjord to reach the area of Skraeling Island. (“Skraeling” is the word that the Norse settlers of Greenland used for the Inuit.) This is the site of an important archaeological find. Norse artifacts show that the Norse traded with the natives here on Ellesmere Island, far north of their settlements on Greenland. Last summer, quite unexpectedly, we discovered the remains of a summer encampment of natives, possibly of the Thule culture (the third of the three Inuit cultures to occupy this area.) We saw rings of stones that held down the edges of skin tents against the wind, and stone chambers that might have been constructed for storage. Perhaps the Inuit camped at this very site as they traded with the Norsemen, exchanging skins and walrus ivory for European goods, especially metal.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 18-20

Exploring above 80 Degrees North

On these two days we explore to 80ºN and beyond, ice conditions permitting. We take full advantage of our “human resources”—our experienced captain, expedition leader, and naturalists—as well as our technological resources. We chart where the ice is impenetrable and where there are leads guiding us to exciting discoveries.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 18-20

Exploring above 80 Degrees North

On these two days we explore to 80ºN and beyond, ice conditions permitting. We take full advantage of our “human resources”—our experienced captain, expedition leader, and naturalists—as well as our technological resources. We chart where the ice is impenetrable and where there are leads guiding us to exciting discoveries.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 21

Kiatassuaq Island, Greenland

Marking the southern border of Melville Bay, Kiatassuaq Island means “a large torso” in the Greenlandic language. Known as an important area for whaling in the 19th century, we spend the day exploring the southern reaches of Melville Bay and shores of the island, marveling at the ice dispatched from the Greenland Ice Cap as well as being on the lookout for whales and other marine life.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 21

Kiatassuaq Island, Greenland

Marking the southern border of Melville Bay, Kiatassuaq Island means “a large torso” in the Greenlandic language. Known as an important area for whaling in the 19th century, we spend the day exploring the southern reaches of Melville Bay and shores of the island, marveling at the ice dispatched from the Greenland Ice Cap as well as being on the lookout for whales and other marine life.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 22-23

Disko Island / Exploring

Continue south, stopping to explore the volcanic Disko Island, home to isolated Greenlandic settlements, dramatic cliffs laced with waterfalls, and black-sand beaches.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 22-23

Disko Island / Exploring

Continue south, stopping to explore the volcanic Disko Island, home to isolated Greenlandic settlements, dramatic cliffs laced with waterfalls, and black-sand beaches.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 24-25

Kangerlussuaq / Disembark Ship / Reykjavík, Iceland / U.S.

Sail back into Søndre Strømfjord to Kangerlussuaq and disembark the ship. Take an evening charter flight to Reykjavík and transfer to the Marriott Keflavik Airport Hotel. On our final morning, you may choose to join a tour of the Reykjanes Peninsula to view the Mid-Atlantic Ridge before transferring to the airport for flights home. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included on day 24; breakfast and lunch are included on day 25.

Days 24-25

Kangerlussuaq / Disembark Ship / Reykjavík, Iceland / U.S.

Sail back into Søndre Strømfjord to Kangerlussuaq and disembark the ship. Take an evening charter flight to Reykjavík and transfer to the Marriott Keflavik Airport Hotel. On our final morning, you may choose to join a tour of the Reykjanes Peninsula to view the Mid-Atlantic Ridge before transferring to the airport for flights home. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included on day 24; breakfast and lunch are included on day 25.

Download Itinerary

NOTE: For expeditions departing April 2024 onward, Day 1 of our itineraries will no longer reflect “departure from the U.S.” and will reflect “arrival to the city” where your expedition begins.  Durations of expeditions will remain unchanged. More details. 

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Polar Discovery: Voyages to Antarctica & the Arctic 2023-25


Explore above 80º north on a grand polar adventure that traces the icy shores of Western Greenland and Arctic Canada. Sail into dramatic fjords, narrow straits, and breathtaking bays, and call on remote villages where Inuit communities have lived off the land for centuries. Search for the mighty polar bear and other iconic wildlife from whales to walrus. Discover the untamed beauty of the storied Northwest Passage and experience the thrill of true exploration.

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