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The islands of Canada’s Atlantic Maritime Provinces feature a rich and diverse culture, found in small fishing communities and remote out ports. The area is well known for its Celtic traditions and the music and cuisine of the region is celebrated the world over. Historically, this is one of the most fascinating places in North America. Our exploration of the Maritimes starts and ends in the historical town of Louisburg, on Cape Breton Island. The region also offers a staggering abundance of wildlife, including prolific birdlife, numerous seal and whale species and we even encounter the fabled ponies of Sable Island. Beaches and lagoons provide viewing opportunities for numerous shorebirds and as we cruise towards the mouth of the St Lawrence River we hope to see the great baleen whales such as the humpback, minke and blue whale - as well as grey and harp seals. These rich feeding grounds act as a magnet for wildlife. A ship-based exploration allows us to visit places that are otherwise inaccessible or difficult to get to for land-based visitors and we achieve this all in a manageable time frame.
This iconic voyage explores the remote Northwest Passage and stunning fjords of the Baffin Island coastline. We follow in the footsteps of the early Arctic explorers such as Franklin, Amundsen and Larsen, exploring the archipelago of islands and channels that create Canada’s high Arctic region. This is the home of the polar bear, the barren ground grizzly bear, musk ox, caribou and walrus and we journey through the wild Canadian north aboard the celebrated expedition ship, Akademik Ioffe. Wildlife is a major draw card of the expedition but there is plenty of historical interest and the stories of that ill-fated expedition by Sir John Franklin nearly 170 years ago is central to our voyage. Franklin made his last heroic foray into the Arctic in 1845 with two ships and 129 men, never to be heard from again. The fate of the expedition remained a mystery – until September 2014 – when one of the vessels, HMS Erebus, was discovered in a remarkable state of preservation in the frigid waters of Victoria Strait. The find is undoubtedly one of the great archeological discoveries of the last 100 years and has been likened to the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb. This is small ship expedition cruising at its best.
This new expedition brings the wildlife of the Arctic into sharp focus. We cross and re-cross the nutrient-rich waters of Lancaster Sound and the abundance of food makes this region of the Arctic a wildlife hotspot. A visit to the one of the largest migratory bird sanctuaries in the world, frequent sightings of seals, beluga whale and narwhal provide great interest for wildlife lovers. A highlight will be sightings of polar bear and we hope to encounter these iconic hunters of the north at a number of special locations we have discovered over the years. Frequent shore landings in the company of expert guides allow us to explore on foot, observing wildlife, Arctic flora, and points of historical interest - including a number of former Hudson's Bay Company outposts. All of this is set against a backdrop of epic mountain scenery, sweeping glaciers and skies that go on forever. This is an ideal introduction to small ship expedition cruising in the remote Canadian Arctic.