For centuries, since John Cabot first sighted the eastern coast of the Canadian arctic in 1497, men have tackled the region’s tumultuous weather, its arduous distances, and its less-then-friendly local wildlife, seeking the Northwest Passage, a fabled route across the top of the world and a shortcut between Europe and Asia. First transited in 1906, fewer than 250 vessels have passed through this often uncharted labyrinth of waterways during a fleeting summer season. Now it’s your turn.
Canadian arctic junkies OneOcean offer just two Northwest Passage cruises each year, sailing the sturdy Russian research vessel Akademik Ioffe through sea ice broken and thawed by global warming, on the same route followed by Sir John Franklin during his ill-fated expedition in 1845 (he, his two ships and 129 crew all disappeared). Along the way you’ll trace the coast of Bayot Island searching for arctic wolves and muskoxen; land at Beechey Island by zodiac to see the last evidence of Franklin’s attempt; spy polar bears hunting beluga whales in the shallows of Cunningham Inlet; and meet the local Inuit for whom this desolately-beautiful ice kingdom is home. Along the way you’ll pick up history, biology and photography from a resident troop of naturalists and expedition specialists. You’ll make friends, challenge yourself against Mother Nature, and be awed by some of the most captivating landscapes and wildlife on the planet.
You might even come home with a little glory all of your own.
The Northwest Passage with OneOcean
13-Day Classic Northwest Passage & Greenland itinerary next sails August 24, 2017 from Cambridge Bay, priced from US$9,195 per person.