As early as the 15th century, European mariners quested a “northwest passage” between the Atlantic and the Pacific, a water route across the top of Canada that would eliminate the long passage around the bottom of South America.
Arctic ice blocked efforts to navigate the Northwest Passage for hundreds of years and caused some of the most tragic events in the history of polar exploration — like the ill-fated Franklin Expedition of the 1840s during which all hands perished from starvation, scurvy and exposure.
The route was not successfully navigated until the early 20th century when Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen made the journey in a fishing boat called the Gjoa.
One of the spin-offs of climate change in the early 21st century is thinning ice cover in the Arctic which makes it possible for modern vessels to travel the Northwest Passage each summer. Ships like Adventure Canada’s Ocean Endeavour, which undertakes a two-week journey into the heart of polar history next summer.
Into the Northwest Passage (Aug 17 to Sept 2, 2019).
The voyage begins in Greenland, home to mighty icebergs, dramatic fjords and calving glaciers, as well as colorful villages that offer rich culture. Crossing the Davis Strait, the ship explores the Baffin Island coast on the watch for whales, birds and polar bears. Zodiacs stand by for excursions — including a visit to Franklin expedition graves on Beechey Island.
Follow in the wakes of Franklin, Rae, Amundsen and many more polar explorers, the Ocean Endeavour threads the rest of the Northwest Passage on its way to disembarkation Kugluktuk, a remote village at the mouth of the Copper River in the Nunavut territory of northern Canada.
Along the way passengers will meet the Inuit people who call the Arctic home. Travel with scientists, artists, musicians, local culturalists and historians. And sail the legendary sea route at the top of the world. The Northwest Passage calls!
- Pass continental North America’s northernmost point at Bellot Strait
- Explore Nunavut’s rarely visited national parks
- Watch for marine mammals and wildlife in Tallurutiup Imanga (Lancaster Sound), a Marine Protected Area
- Enjoy an Inuit cultural welcome in Qikiqtarjuaq (Broughton Island)
- Visit Queen Maud Gulf, home to the wrecks of the Franklin ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror
- Zodiac cruise among icebergs at Greenland’s Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Cross the Arctic Circle as you sail the length of Sondre Stromfjord — 104 miles!