Baffin Island is one of the last great wilderness regions on the planet and the focus of this outstanding expedition. From Iqaluit, situated at the head of Frobisher Bay, we explore up the wild east coast of Baffin Island discovering the deep fjords, soaring mountains and immense glacial systems.
We are constantly on the lookout for variety of birdlife and marine wildlife - including polar bears - the icon of the north. At this time of the season, we anticipate exciting ice navigation as the pack ice continues to break up during the short period that defines Arctic Summer.
Visits to remote Inuit communities provide a fascinating glimpse into the daily life of the people who call this remote wilderness their home. The history of early exploration is ever present and we visit former Hudson's Bay Company locations and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outposts. A highlight will be a visit to Beechey Island, the final resting place for some of the men of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition in 1845-46. This remote and desolate place is home to several small grave markers, which we see on our shore excursion.
We eventually reach the remote town of Resolute where our adventure comes to an end. This is remote, small ship expedition cruising at its best.
Please Note: this voyage starts from Ottawa on a special charter flight. The voyage ends with a charter flight to Edmonton. Flights are not included in your voyage cost.
• Wildlife Identification. An activity everyone can participate in! Join us as we work through our wildlife list identifying markers and checking off even the most elusive species.
• Photographer in Residence. On each and every departure our Photographer in Residence provides presentations, critiques, informal instruction and a photographer zodiac to assist you in your photographic goals.
• Education. Ornithology, marine biology, geology, & history make up the backbone of our educational program. Our educators are part of our expedition team travelling alongside you from the zodiac to the dinner table.
• Fitness & Yoga. Offered at various times throughout the day, as well as by private schedule, our fitness/yoga instructors/trainers offer a full suite of active movement programs for you to either stay fit, or start a new regime.
• Polar Bear Watching. Watch the icon of the north wandering through it’s natural environment from our ice strengthened vessel or keep an eye open for polar bears, when discovering the Arctic via zodiac.
• Trekking/Hiking. Where possible we tailor the options to offer our contemplative walk for those wanting to stay close to shore and not hike up slope, our mid range hike and our longer hikes. The longer hikes can range from two to three hours in duration, and may involve challenging terrain without the assistance of trails.
• Whale Watching. Experience the ultimate wildlife show from your front row seat. While sailing and exploring on the ship or cruising through the shallow waters of the coastal area, you will be surprised by the gracious movements of those majestic animals.
• Zodiac Cruising. Heavy duty mark V zodiac inflatables paired with yamaha 60HP four stroke engines and a trained guide/driver provide a brilliant platform for small group cruising.
We depart Ottawa this morning on our scheduled flight to Iqaluit, situated on Baffin Island. Upon arrival into Iqaluit we enjoy a walking tour of the town and board our expedition ship, the Akademik Ioffe in the afternoon. After settling into our cabins and exploring the ship, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail and cast off to explore one of the most remote places on earth – Baffin Island.
Situated in the Davis Strait, Monumental Island is a well-known location for walrus. We explore by zodiac along the shoreline looking for these fascinating creatures. We sometimes encounter polar bears around here as well – they have been known to chase walrus off their haul into the water.
Nestled in the heart of Cumberland Sound and the western gateway to Auyuittuq National Park, the village of Pangniqtuuq is beautifully situated between the mountains and the sea. This remote community is a well-known centre for traditional and contemporary arts and crafts – including carvings, prints and textiles. In addition, the Angmarlik Visitor Centre has a wonderful interpretive display featuringthe lifestyle and history of the Thule and of the modern Inuit.
Sunshine Fjord straddles the Arctic Circle at 66 ̊ degrees, 33 minutes north of latitude. Depending on the weather, we might cruise across the Circle on the ship, cross it in the zodiac boats or the more active option maybe to cross the circle on foot. Whichever way, it’s a thrill to be above the Arctic Circle at last!
Sunshine Fjord offers terrific hiking opportunities and we have a number of great routes in mind. You may wish to take the extended hike, gaining elevation and offering wonderful views of our surroundings. Or choose to take the less strenuous option along the shoreline. For the sea kayakers, the sheltered waters of the fjord provide great conditions for paddling.
On the eastern coast of Baffin Island, lies one of Canada’s most spectacular National Parks – Auyuittuq. The landscape is dominated by steep and rugged mountain scenery, extensive glacial systems and powerful rivers. In partnership with Parks Canada, we venture into the park with skilled local guides who are able to interpret the flora, fauna, geological and glacial systems which can be found here. It’s a fascinating place experienced by only a few fortunate visitors every season. We plan on hiking and cruising the rocky shorelines looking for wildlife. We also plan a visit to Qikiqtarjuaq, a small settlement which is home to several Inuit families. After an inspiring day of exploration, we continue north along the coastline of Baffin Island, venturing deeper into the Arctic wilderness.
Isabella Bay (Niginganiq) is an important summer habitat and feeding area for endangered bowhead whales. These remarkable marine mammals are able to break sea ice with the crown of their head. Polar bears, ringed seals, Canada geese, snow geese and narwhal are also commonly sighted in this area.
This morning we enter the spectacular Gibbs Fjord with towering cliffs all around us. Our expedition ship will be dwarfed by the giant peaks and snowy glaciers as we cruise slowly along the dark waters.
Nearing the far north of Baffin Island, we enter a broad channel which is home to the remote Inuit community of Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet). A highlight is a visit to the Natinnak Centre, where a fascinating cultural exhibit showcases the daily life, culture and history of the people of the North. Inuit carvings, jewellery and other traditional craft are on display. Mittimatalik is also the main access point to the pristine wilderness of Sirmilik National Park. This jewel in the crown of Canada's Arctic Park system features the most spectacular scenery, with rugged mountains, ice fields, glaciers, coastal lowlands and large seabird colonies.
Leaving the wild landscapes of Baffin Island, we cross Lancaster Sound to Devon Island. Lancaster Sound, which separates Devon and Baffin Island, has been named the wildlife ‘super highway’ of the Arctic. Waters from the Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, and the northern archipelago of islands meet here, combining to create a rich source of nutrients and food for an abundance of Arctic wildlife. We plan on visiting the old Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outpost at Dundas Harbour. In the afternoon we reposition the ship into Crocker Bay, home to a substantial glacial system.
Prince Leopold Island is important migratory bird sanctuary, home to thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes. A population of several hundred thousand birds, makes this one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the entire Arctic ecosystem. Given the abundance of food found in the nutrient-rich waters here, we often sight beluga, narwhal and bowhead whales, several species of seal as well as polar bears.
Our final shore landing - Beechey Island, is a place of great historic significance and suitable finale to our expedition. It is here that Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition spent its last ‘comfortable’ winter in 1845 before disappearing into the icy vastness, sparking an incredible series of search expeditions that last almost three decades. The mystery of what happened to Franklin was partially solved in September 2014, when a joint Parks Canada and Royal Canadian Geographic Society expedition, found the long-lost Franklin shipwreck, HMS Erebus in the Victoria Strait. One Ocean Expeditions played a vital role in the search by carrying underwater search equipment on our ship as well as scientists, historians, researchers, dignitaries and sponsors of this history-defining mission. A trip ashore at Beechey Island to visit the grave markers on a remote windswept beach, is a thrilling experience for history buffs and for many, it will be a highlight of the expedition. We return to the ship and this evening enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain. It’s a great time to reflect on the wildlife, history and dramatic scenery of the High Arctic.
Our expedition comes to an end as we arrive into Resolute and then take our flight to Edmonton. A transfer is provided from the airport into a central downtown location.
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 . A flexible approach is something we encourage you to bring to the ship.
Located on deck 3 these cabins feature two lower berths and one upper berth. One lower berth can be converted to a comfortable sofa during the day. Washroom facilities are shared. There is a washbasin in the cabin, a writing desk and chair and ample storage for all cabin occupants. These cabins are efficient and well-appointed with two portholes with the option to open one. One triple cabin is reserved for female guests, the other is for male guests. Triple cabins can also be booked by groups of three travelling together.
Located on deck 4 these cabins have two lower berths, one of which can be converted to a sofa during the day. These cabins have tall wardrobes with internal shelving for storage, a writing desk, chair, bookshelf, and a window that can be opened. Facilities are semi-private â meaning you share the washroom with the adjacent cabin.
Located on decks 4 and 5 these spacious. Well-appointed cabins feature two lower berths (one which can be converted to a sofa during the day), with private washroom facilities (sink, shower, toilet and bathroom cabinet). There are tall wardrobes with internal shelving for storage, a writing desk, chair, bookshelf, and a window that can be opened.
Onboard Akademik Ioffe these very large cabins are located on deck 6, and feature two lower berths, a sofa, writing desk and chair, ample storage and private washroom facilities. All cabins have a window that can be opened. These cabins provide great access to the outer observation decks and shipâs bridge.
Located on decks 4 and 5 these cabins are separated into two spacious rooms, one that is ideal for relaxation with a sofa (convertible to bed), large table, writing desk, chair, ample storage and a large window that can be opened. A separate private bedroom has a double berth with upgraded linen/pillows, night light, private facilities, iPad loaded with region specific material, mini stereo, capsule coffee maker, fully stocked mini bar, iPod alarm clock with audio line.
Located on deck 5 this cabin is separated into two very spacious rooms. A spacious lounge areas is perfect for relaxation and features a sofa (convertible to bed), large table, writing desk, ample storage, plus large pictures windows overlooking the bow (forward facing) that can be opened. The separate bedroom features a double bed with upgraded linen/ pillows, night light, and windows over the port side of the ship. The bathroom has a bathtub and shower. There is also a region specific iPad, mini stereo, capsule coffee maker, fully stocked mini bar, iPod alarm clock with audio line and several arms chairs.
Charter Flights: 1995 USD pp
Vessel Type: Expedition
Length: 117 metres
Passenger Capacity: 96
Stability and Strength. Our ship was purpose built to conduct sensitive hydro-acoustic research and science in the polar regions. The original design brief dictated that the vessel offers a very high level of stability. This is achieved through a sophisticated internal trimming system, controlled via a series of gyroscopic sensors around the vessel. This stability feature is something you will greatly appreciate should you encounter less than ideal sailing conditions.
Maneuverable, Quiet and Fast. With both bow and stern thrusters and twin reversible propellers, the ship can spin on its own axis – greatly assisting embarkation of the zodiacs in windy conditions. You will notice there is little – if any – ambient noise or vibration, which makes for a quiet ship. The ship is fast, with a top speed of 14.5 knots in open water. Unmatched stability, coupled with superior speed allows for more time at your destination (rather than ‘at sea’) and more flexibility with itinerary planning – a critical factor in polar waters where ice and weather conditions sometimes dictate our daily itinerary.
Superb Design and Layout. Throughout the ship there are spaces ideally suited to every need. Spacious outer decks provide 360 degree views of the stunning polar landscapes – as well as a great place for an outdoor barbecue, which usually happens once on every voyage. Inside there are comfortable presentation spaces for lectures and film screenings and there’s a multimedia computer lab with several large screen workstations where guests can download and back up photos.
Six Different Cabin Categories. All cabins feature outside windows allowing ample natural light to filter in. Cabins all have lower berths (some triple share cabins have one upper/lower bunk scenario and feature port holes). Akademik Ioffe carries a maximum of just 96 guests – making for true, small-ship expedition cruising. This is particularly important in Antarctica where visitor guidelines dictate that no more than 100 people can be on shore at any one time. We fall under this limit and that equals maximum time ashore at all locations. Ships carrying more than 100 guests compromise your time ashore.
Enjoy Great Dining? So do we. The exciting schedule of onshore excursions, zodiac cruises and onboard activities are guaranteed to work up a serious appetite. Although the ship operates in some of the most remote locations in the world, you can expect an exceptional variety of tasty meals, prepared by a team of professional international chefs. Breakfasts are usually buffet style. Lunches offer a great choice of light meals - as well as more substantial options for those who are hungry - and each evening there is a hearty three-course meal offering both variety and choice. There’s also an excellent wine list featuring a range of international wines. You can get a cup of tea or coffee at any time of the day or night and we always offer afternoon tea with cakes and biscuits. Guests with dietary restrictions or special meal requirements are also well catered for.
Join us on the Bridge. There is an open-bridge policy and guests are welcome to meet the navigating crew at virtually any time of day; there’s always something to learn from the officers on watch and the bridge is one of the best places on the ship for spotting whales and sea birds.
Operational Safety. There are no compromises here. The expedition staff and crew onboard Akademik Ioffe have the deepest respect for changeable weather in the polar regions and the varying sea and ice conditions. That respect is apparent in every decision made throughout the voyage. The ship carries the most extensive inventory of safety equipment on all excursions and require leaders to undergo vigorous and effective safety training programs. Your expedition team are well prepared, so you can relax and enjoy your voyage.
Relax — You're on Holiday. The ship also features a Finnish dry-heat sauna, a plunge pool, a hot water Jacuzzi, a small gymnasium and day spa with massage therapist.
An expedition gear package is included. An expedition cruise requires a fair bit of planning and some special items of clothing and equipment are needed. You will have use of an expedition wet weather gear package free of charge, which includes a quality waterproof/windproof jacket and bib-pants as well as insulated, comfortable rubber boots designed for extended walking. A set of expedition binoculars and a walking pole are also available for the duration of your voyage. This saves you buying expensive items you may only ever use once and eliminates the need to carry such cumbersome gear all the way to the ship. If you do have your own gear, of course you are welcome to bring it. Make sure it is wind and waterproof.