The specific ship and itinerary you select for your Greenland/Canadian Arctic expedition cruise will determine which destinations you visit.
This section contains descriptions of the main locations included in the cruise itineraries we offer. Please consult your specific ship's itinerary, listed on the Accommodations page, to find out which locations are included on your northern cruise.
An ice-clad realm of glaciers and icebergs, the birthplace of kayaking, rich in Inuit heritage and one of the best places on earth to see the northern lights, Greenland is entrancing. With few settlements and no roads to connect them, Greenland is best explored from its coast. Landings allow for further exploration on foot, where summer hikes reveal a riot of wildflowers. Greenland’s people, whose history here goes back thousands of years, welcome guests with legendary hospitality.
Canadian Arctic Archipelago
The Canadian Arctic Archipelago is situated in the northernmost extremity of North America. The group of more than 35,000 islands comprises much of the territory of Northern Canada—most of Nunavut and part of the Northwest Territories. Canada's claim to its north rests first on the charter granted to the Hudson’s Bay Company by King Charles II in 1670. Exploration of the Arctic has been a facet of Canadian history from the arrival of the first Europeans in North America and continues today. The ill-fated Franklin expedition of the Northwest Passage was one such exploration. Searches still continue to this day for the HMS Erebus
and HMS Terror.
The largest island in Canada, Baffin Island lies mostly above the Arctic Circle and was named for the English explorer William Baffin. Most historians believe it was known to Norse traders who arrived before 1000 AD, based on archaeological remains of Viking presence. Baffin Island is surrounded by sea ice most of the year except during the brief summer. Its dramatic eastern coastline features black granite peaks, vertical cliffs, deeply indented fjords, and ice fields that spawn massive tidewater glaciers. Its rugged environs are home to prolific Arctic wildlife including caribou, polar bear, arctic wolf, fox and hare. Bylot Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary on Baffin's northern tip provides nesting habitat for millions of nesting birds—74 different species in all. Iqaluit, the territorial capital of Nunavut, is located on Frobisher Bay.
Canada’s newest Arctic territory was established in 1999. Nunavut, the size of Western Europe, comprises about a fifth of Canada’s total landmass, most of it encompassing the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Nunavut is rich in wildlife, including caribou, muskox and polar bear, and also the homeland of Canada’s Inuit people—this vast land that lies beneath snow and ice much of the year has seen human habitation for more than 4,000 years. Living in such harsh environs has fostered a deeply held ethic of sharing and mutual reliance. Nunavut’s communities are not linked by road—visitors must arrive by air or sea—and ship-based exploration is the ideal way to see Nunavut’s abundant marine life, too, which includes bowhead whales and narwhal.
Cape Dorset is where remains of the pre-Inuit Thule culture were first discovered, which existed between 1000 BC and 1100 AD. In 1957 a graphic arts workshop was established here, and since then, Cape Dorset has become known as the "Capital of Inuit Art." A world-renowned center for drawing, printmaking and carving, artistic endeavors are the small community's economic mainstay. Some 22% of Cape Dorset’s labor force is employed in the arts. Located on the southwest corner of Baffin Island, Cape Dorset enjoys a location where the ocean remains ice-free all winter, a factor that prompted the establishment of a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post here in 1913.
Once the subject of legend and long the grail for Arctic explorers, the Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways within the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. European colonial powers dispatched mariners over several centuries in an effort to discover such a commercial sea route to the established trading nations of Asia, but it was not until 1903 that it was first navigated by Roald Amundsen, who established the route over the next four years. Until 2009, Arctic pack ice prevented regular marine shipping during most of the year, but global warming has prompted significant melting that has made the waterways more navigable.
Churchill is a small town on the western shore of Hudson Bay in Manitoba, Canada. A variety of nomadic Arctic people have lived and hunted in this region for centuries; the first permanent European presence was established when the Hudson's Bay Company built the a fur trading post here in 1717 near the Churchill River estuary. Churchill is most famous for the many polar bears that move from the interior toward the shore each fall, waiting for the bay to freeze. Summer around Churchill is brief and intense, when the tundra comes alive with wildflowers, nesting birds and a host of wildlife including caribou, moose, arctic fox and arctic hare. Polar bears are sometimes seen in summer, too, and beluga whales congregate by the hundreds in the mouth of the Churchill River.
Newfoundland & Labrador
In the Canadian maritime provinces of Newfoundland & Labrador, stop at scenic Ikkudliayuk Fjord. At Hebron, see examples of Germanic mission architecture at the Moravian Mission, established in the 1830s to minister to the Inuit. Pass through Mugford Tickle, a channel flanked dramatically by the 4,000-foot Kaumajet Mountains. At Battle Harbour, once the economic and social hub of the southeastern Labrador coast, visit restored 18th-century whaling buildings.