Immerse yourself in everyday 18th century life within a French fortress in Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, then set sail into the North Atlantic on a small, ice–strengthened expedition cruise ship while savouring a fresh local lobster supper. Wake up to the mystique of remote Sable Island where wild horses run free on grassy dunes while grey seals bark from sandy shores at waters littered with 350 shipwrecks. Comical, colourful puffins flap through the salty air and countless gannets crowd a thriving colony. Scan the horizon for humpback, minke and blue whales. Explore Canadian history in genteel Charlottetown, PEI where Canada was born in 1867. Kayak or stand–up paddle board across glassy waters, cruise on a guided zodiac tour, or head ashore to hike or cycle. In Newfoundland and Labrador, sail alongside soaring fjord walls streaming with waterfalls in Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Drop in for wine and cheese at a petit outpost of France off Canada’s coast. Then along the coastlines of Iles-de-la-Madeleine and Anticosti Island in Quebec, explore some salty fishing villages with quaint homes painted in rainbow colours — who knows, you might even find yourself dancing a jig with locals to fiery fiddle music at a kitchen party!
One Ocean Expeditions is proud to be a part of the Canadian Signature Experience. Creating innovative travel experiences, designed to encourage visitors to keep exploring Canada, we have been included as one of the newest signature experience members. As diverse as Canada itself, this unique experience is offered to provide the best Canada has to offer.
Our adventure begins in the historic port town of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, where we board our expedition vessel.
First visited in 1597 by the English, the town was fortified in 1713 by the French in recognition of its strategic maritime location. During the 18th century, Louisbourg was the third busiest seaport in North America. We enjoy a dinner of fresh, local lobster as we sail out past the lighthouse into the North Atlantic.
Located on the edge of the Grand Banks, hundreds of kilometers from the coast, Sable Island has a storied history as a graveyard of ships, with more than 350 ships falling victim to the treacherous currents and sandbars. Sporadically inhabited by sealers, shipwreck survivors and salvagers, the island is now home to fewer than six year-round inhabitants, a herd of wild horses and one of the largest gray seal colonies in the world. It is an important stopover for numerous migratory bird species as they make their way to and from the High Arctic regions.
We return to Cape Breton and continue our exploration of this beautiful island by stopping in Englishtown. We have a few options in this area. We encounter Atlantic puffins and razorbills on Bird Island where we explore by zodiac. The seaside community of Englishtown is also a fascinating location featuring numerous points of interest. The Gaelic College in Cape Breton is a short bus ride away from the beach where we disembark, and provides an interesting diversion. There are opportunities to launch the sea kayaks, enjoy a stand-up paddle board excursion in the placid waters, or a cruise in the zodiacs. On shore hiking and gentle cycle touring are other activities to enjoy..
This morning, we are anchored off Georgetown on Prince Edward Island. Today we have plenty of options and we split into several directions to explore this enchanting location. For the history buffs a visit to Charlottetown is a must. For the activity seekers there is a great bike ride along the Confederation Trail to the town of Montague. Dunarave is one of the jewels of the golfing scene on Prince Edward Island, so a round of golf here is another great option. A paddle on the Montague River in the sea kayaks provides even more choice.
Sculpted out of sandstone, Les Isles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are home to unique fishing communities with beautifully maintained waterfront houses and boats, flowing grassy meadows and sandstone shorelines sculpted by the elements. In addition to the traditional fishing and sealing culture found in the islands, we encounter a wide diversity of bird and sea life. Europeans first discovered the islands in the mid 15th century, though it’s thought indigenous Miíkmaqs had been visiting for centuries to hunt walrus. Quebecois and Acadian culture features strongly in the local cuisine, craft and language. The island’s gentle terrain is a cyclist’s paradise, while the sea kayaking and stand up paddle boarding through sea arches and into sandstone sea caves are superb. Otherwise you might enjoy a whale-watching cruise in the zodiacs or head to the beach to soak up some sun or build sand castles!
At Bonaventure Island we drop the anchor near the town of Percé and explore the island by zodiac. This location has a rich natural, historic, and geological heritage. Sculpted over time by the sea, the island is situated at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula. The outstanding flora and fauna, including its famous colony of Northern Gannets, make this location a highlight. Almost 300 different species of birds have been recorded as visiting, migrating to, or living on Bonaventure Island. An afternoon visit to the community of Percé will provide a window into the rich fishing culture of French-Canada. Zodiac cruising, sea kayaking and stand up paddle boarding are all activities that can be undertaken here, weather permitting.
At the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, where the river water mixes with Arctic waters and the more temperate Atlantic waters, lies Anticosti Island. We plan to hike along the beaches near the eastern end of the island followed by a zodiac cruise along the cliffs at East Point. We hope to observe several species of shorebirds and seabirds as well as whales and seals, which are frequent visitors to the island's waters. Bald eagles soaring along the shoreline, deer in the woods and whales just offshore are all common sights in this location.
Sailing into majestic Bonne Bay, in the heart of Gros Morne National Park, the cliffs soar up out of the water and are covered in a green blanket of tuckamore forest – windswept spruce sculpted by the ocean breeze. At Woody Point we are welcomed ashore by a delegation from the community before hiking up to the excellent interpretation centre. From there, various guided walks take us into the World Heritage-listed Tablelands and to the lookout for a view over much of the park! A boreal wetland landscape, featuring dramatic rock ridges, pitcher plants, white-throated sparrows and perhaps even a moose could all be encountered as we explore the park. The twisting mountain road to Trout River makes for a challenging bike ride with our guides or a paddle along the shores of Bonne Bay is another great option.
The community of Francois on the south coast of Newfoundland was settled in the late 1700s. Francois’s rich fishing heritage also included operation of a whale factory in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Known as an ‘out-port’, and accessible only by boat or from the air by helicopter, Francois has a deep harbour which is navigable year-round. When entering Francois harbour, we are first greeted by one of the few remaining manned light stations on the coast of Newfoundland. Once past the light, the narrow opening leading into the steep-walled rocky fjord amazes us. This is a spectacular location and for many, a highlight of the trip.
Saint-Pierre et Miquelon are a small group of islands situated off the south coast of Newfoundland. They were first settled by the French in the early 17th century and today, the islands are the sole remaining vestige of France’s once vast North American empire. Walking down the streets feels like taking a stroll through a provincial French town. There's an excellent puffin colony here and, if weather permits, we cruise in the zodiacs to see these colourful birds. Tonight we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain to mark the end of our voyage through Canada’s spectacular Atlantic provinces.
We sail back to Cape Breton across the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, heading again for the historic port of Louisbourg. We will disembark in the morning and, while some of us will head to the airport, many will add a few extra days in Cape Breton to enjoy one of the gems of Canada’s East Coast.
Small ship expedition cruising can sometimes be unpredictable. Specific sites visited will depend on prevailing weather and sea 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 sea conditions or to maximise our encounters with wildlife. Years of experience spent exploring these waterways mean we have plenty 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.
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.