Northwest Passage to Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg Islands

Canada’s Remote Arctic. Historical Exploration

You’ll experience the same sense of wonder felt by early explorers as they navigated the region’s formidable bays, inlets and channels.


Canadian Arctic
© QRK

Duration: 12 days
Starts: Calgary, Canada
Ends: Calgary, Canada
Language: English speaking voyage

* Includes a Mandatory Transfer Package


Included
Optional


On this exciting itinerary, we follow the natural guides of sea and ice to showcase the region’s cultural, historic and geographic treasures, aiming to approach the farthest stretches of this rugged, rarely visited landscape. Ultramarine’s unprecedented range of adventure options, including activities such as helicopter flightseeing, gives you an unrivalled polar experience.

You’ll be able to view the magnificent wildlife that make their home in this forbidding region: sea mammals, polar bears, muskox, and possibly even the elusive arctic wolf. From soaring cliffs to mummified forests, spectacular glacial formations to stunning alpine vistas, expansive waterways to sheltered shores, Canada’s Remote Arctic provides the definitive experience of a mysterious, magical region few ever get to see.

Itinerary

© QRK
© QRK
© QRK

Day | 1 Arrive in Calgary, Canada
Your Arctic expedition begins in Calgary. Explore this vibrant city on your own before you spend the night enjoying the comforts and amenities of your designated hotel.

Day 2 | Fly to Resolute and Embark
This morning, board your charter flight to Resolute. Upon arrival, you may have a chance to check out some of the town’s sites before being transferred to your ship via Zodiac or helicopter (depending on ship location and weather conditions).

Days 3 to 10 | Exploring Canada’s High Arctic
Cruising around the remote islands of the Canadian High Arctic aboard Ultramarine, the newest ship in our fleet, you’ll navigate the same icy inlets, channels and bays that fascinated legendary explorers of long ago. Designed to give polar adventurers unprecedented access to the hardest-to-reach places on the planet—and equipped with two onboard twin-engine helicopters for unparalleled access to areas only Quark Expeditions can bring you—this one-of-a-kind ship, in its inaugural year, will take you beyond the familiar in polar exploration. Throughout your journey, your Expedition Team will keep an eye toward immersing you in the best the Arctic has to offer, including reaching Canada’s most northerly islands: Axel Heiberg Island and the rarely visited Ellesmere Island, at the top of the world.

Remember that no two polar voyages are alike, since each expedition presents new opportunities and different weather and ice conditions. While this voyage has no fixed itinerary, our objective is to visit as many of the incredible highlights this season has to offer, using the opportunities provided by the weather and ice to give you the best experience. Each day, your highly skilled Expedition Team will read the conditions and choose the best course to set, but despite their extensive expertise in these areas, each visit brings something new to discover. That said, our expeditions will have some elements in common, including daily Zodiac cruising, land excursions, a robust education program, a community visit and wildlife viewing opportunities. And thanks to our onboard helicopters, you’ll also discover the ultimate polar expedition experience: As stunning as polar landscapes are from your ship, they’re even more striking from the air! Conditions permitting, you’ll enjoy ultra-immersive activities like flightseeing (short sightseeing flights around your ship and surrounding areas) and heli-landings (flying to places we could not otherwise access for shore excursions), two breathtaking options that are unique to Ultramarine and give you an awe-inspiring polar experience like no other.

While this waterway is known to European cultures as the Northwest Passage, this area has nurtured and sustained the Inuit and their predecessors who have called these shores home for almost 5,000 years. Moving through these remote landscapes you will be traveling through the ancestral homelands of this ancient culture, illuminated in person by Inuit guides onboard and ashore. Nunavut is an Inuktitut word meaning “our land” and the Nunavummiut (the people of Nunavut) are renowned for their incredible resourcefulness, hospitality, good humor, and a deep knowledge of the land and animals that has allowed them to thrive in the far north for millennia.

Ultimately, your Expedition Team will keep its eye northward, hoping to follow in the footsteps of the lucky few polar adventurers who have transited through the famous Hell Gate to reach the top of the world, the spectacular Ellesmere Island. If conditions are right, the soaring, ominous snow-capped peaks of this polar desert will come into focus as we approach. The northernmost island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Ellesmere is one of the most remote places on the planet, a land of deep fjords, jagged mountains and massive ice shelves. If we’re fortunate enough to reach here, you will be among the few polar explorers to do so.
Ultimately, your Expedition Team will keep its eye northward, hoping to follow in the footsteps of the lucky few polar adventurers who have transited through the famous Hell Gate to reach the top of the world, the spectacular Ellesmere Island. If conditions are right, the soaring, ominous snow-capped peaks of this polar desert will come into focus as we approach. The northernmost island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, to fly up to explore the Devon ice cap, one of the largest in the Canadian Arctic. History buffs will also be intrigued by the chance to visit an abandoned Hudson’s Bay Company trading post at Fort Ross, at the southern end of Somerset Island, and pay their respects to the ill-fated Franklin expedition of 1845–46 at the gravesite of three crew members on Beechey Island, one of Canada’s most significant Arctic sites.

One of this expedition’s objectives, weather and ice conditions allowing, is to visit the famous fossil forest on Axel Heiberg Island, Canada’s second most northerly island. Dating back more than 30 million years, the large mummified stumps were discovered in 1985 after erosion swept them clean. The original forest that was here flourished, with some trees reaching as high as 115 feet (35 meters) and growing for 500 to 1,000 years. Birders will want to have their binoculars and cameras at the ready, as the island also affords opportunities for sightings of snow buntings, ptarmigans, jaegers and arctic terns, among others.
You may have the opportunity to cruise in a Zodiac along the face of an active glacier near Croker Bay and possibly even witness the wonders of calving ice, at a safe distance. Listen closely for the steady crackle and loud roars as pieces of ice break off and crash into the water below. You’ll also want to be on the lookout for the walrus that are often seen in the area.
Wildlife sightings are almost guaranteed, as many of the areas we hope to explore are home to a surprising number of birds and mammals that thrive in this challenging environment. You may see polar bears, muskoxen and several bird species, such as gyrfalcons and dovekies (little auks). If you’re lucky, you may even spot the elusive narwhal or arctic wolf, though sightings of these iconic creatures in the wild are rare, even in these areas where we have the highest chances of encountering them.

Coburg Island, for instance, is a wildlife reserve for such birds as snowy owls and peregrine falcons, while the impressive vertical cliffs of Prince Leopold Island are dotted with nesting seabirds like northern fulmars and black guillemots. The sheltered shores and steep cliffs of Arctic Bay, a hamlet located off of Admiralty Inlet, provide an ideal nesting habitat for various High Arctic birds such as snow geese, thick-billed murres (Brünnich’s guillemots) and kittiwakes. The region has been occupied by Inuit and Thule cultures for almost 5,000 years. This community is an ideal spot to go ashore and learn more about the Inuit culture, sampling the local cuisine and mingling with artists, perhaps picking up carvings or other handicrafts as a memento of your polar adventure.

Devon Island is another possible locale for wildlife encounters, as walrus, polar bears and muskoxen inhabit the area, which is also the location of the remains of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police outpost, established at Dundas Harbour in 1924 to curb foreign whaling and other activities. Nearby is a small cemetery, one of Canada’s most northerly, still maintained by the RCMP to this day. Another exciting excursion your Expedition Team might offer, conditions permitting, is the opportunity to fly up to explore the Devon ice cap, one of the largest in the Canadian Arctic. History buffs will also be intrigued by the chance to visit an abandoned Hudson’s Bay Company trading post at Fort Ross, at the southern end of Somerset Island, and pay their respects to the ill-fated Franklin expedition of 1845–46 at the gravesite of three crew members on Beechey Island, one of Canada’s most significant Arctic exploration sites.

You may have the opportunity to cruise in a Zodiac along the face of an active glacier near Croker Bay and possibly even witness the wonders of calving ice, at a safe distance. Listen closely for the steady crackle and deep roars as slabs of ice break off and crash into the water below. You’ll also want to be on the lookout for the walrus that are often seen in the area.

There is no shortage of natural beauty, wildlife and history in Canada’s High Arctic. Each day, you’ll discover something new and inspiring, whether it is admiration of the tundra flora to survive the extremely rugged environment, a rare bird species soaring overhead, a polar bear on the hunt in its natural habitat, or the ancient remains of a Thule dwelling, predecessors of the Inuit who live here today.

Day 11 | Disembark in Resolute, Canada & fly to Calgary
After disembarking in Resolute, you’ll be transferred to your charter flight to Calgary, where you’ll spend the night at your included hotel.

Day 12 | Depart Calgary
Today, make your way to the airport to catch your homeward flights, or spend the day exploring this fascinating city.

Itinerary

Day | 1 Arrive in Calgary, Canada
Your Arctic expedition begins in Calgary. Explore this vibrant city on your own before you spend the night enjoying the comforts and amenities of your designated hotel.

Day 2 | Fly to Resolute and Embark
This morning, board your charter flight to Resolute. Upon arrival, you may have a chance to check out some of the town’s sites before being transferred to your ship via Zodiac or helicopter (depending on ship location and weather conditions).

Days 3 to 10 | Exploring Canada’s High Arctic
Cruising around the remote islands of the Canadian High Arctic aboard Ultramarine, the newest ship in our fleet, you’ll navigate the same icy inlets, channels and bays that fascinated legendary explorers of long ago. Designed to give polar adventurers unprecedented access to the hardest-to-reach places on the planet—and equipped with two onboard twin-engine helicopters for unparalleled access to areas only Quark Expeditions can bring you—this one-of-a-kind ship, in its inaugural year, will take you beyond the familiar in polar exploration. Throughout your journey, your Expedition Team will keep an eye toward immersing you in the best the Arctic has to offer, including reaching Canada’s most northerly islands: Axel Heiberg Island and the rarely visited Ellesmere Island, at the top of the world.

Remember that no two polar voyages are alike, since each expedition presents new opportunities and different weather and ice conditions. While this voyage has no fixed itinerary, our objective is to visit as many of the incredible highlights this season has to offer, using the opportunities provided by the weather and ice to give you the best experience. Each day, your highly skilled Expedition Team will read the conditions and choose the best course to set, but despite their extensive expertise in these areas, each visit brings something new to discover. That said, our expeditions will have some elements in common, including daily Zodiac cruising, land excursions, a robust education program, a community visit and wildlife viewing opportunities. And thanks to our onboard helicopters, you’ll also discover the ultimate polar expedition experience: As stunning as polar landscapes are from your ship, they’re even more striking from the air! Conditions permitting, you’ll enjoy ultra-immersive activities like flightseeing (short sightseeing flights around your ship and surrounding areas) and heli-landings (flying to places we could not otherwise access for shore excursions), two breathtaking options that are unique to Ultramarine and give you an awe-inspiring polar experience like no other.

While this waterway is known to European cultures as the Northwest Passage, this area has nurtured and sustained the Inuit and their predecessors who have called these shores home for almost 5,000 years. Moving through these remote landscapes you will be traveling through the ancestral homelands of this ancient culture, illuminated in person by Inuit guides onboard and ashore. Nunavut is an Inuktitut word meaning “our land” and the Nunavummiut (the people of Nunavut) are renowned for their incredible resourcefulness, hospitality, good humor, and a deep knowledge of the land and animals that has allowed them to thrive in the far north for millennia.

Ultimately, your Expedition Team will keep its eye northward, hoping to follow in the footsteps of the lucky few polar adventurers who have transited through the famous Hell Gate to reach the top of the world, the spectacular Ellesmere Island. If conditions are right, the soaring, ominous snow-capped peaks of this polar desert will come into focus as we approach. The northernmost island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Ellesmere is one of the most remote places on the planet, a land of deep fjords, jagged mountains and massive ice shelves. If we’re fortunate enough to reach here, you will be among the few polar explorers to do so.
Ultimately, your Expedition Team will keep its eye northward, hoping to follow in the footsteps of the lucky few polar adventurers who have transited through the famous Hell Gate to reach the top of the world, the spectacular Ellesmere Island. If conditions are right, the soaring, ominous snow-capped peaks of this polar desert will come into focus as we approach. The northernmost island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, to fly up to explore the Devon ice cap, one of the largest in the Canadian Arctic. History buffs will also be intrigued by the chance to visit an abandoned Hudson’s Bay Company trading post at Fort Ross, at the southern end of Somerset Island, and pay their respects to the ill-fated Franklin expedition of 1845–46 at the gravesite of three crew members on Beechey Island, one of Canada’s most significant Arctic sites.

One of this expedition’s objectives, weather and ice conditions allowing, is to visit the famous fossil forest on Axel Heiberg Island, Canada’s second most northerly island. Dating back more than 30 million years, the large mummified stumps were discovered in 1985 after erosion swept them clean. The original forest that was here flourished, with some trees reaching as high as 115 feet (35 meters) and growing for 500 to 1,000 years. Birders will want to have their binoculars and cameras at the ready, as the island also affords opportunities for sightings of snow buntings, ptarmigans, jaegers and arctic terns, among others.
You may have the opportunity to cruise in a Zodiac along the face of an active glacier near Croker Bay and possibly even witness the wonders of calving ice, at a safe distance. Listen closely for the steady crackle and loud roars as pieces of ice break off and crash into the water below. You’ll also want to be on the lookout for the walrus that are often seen in the area.
Wildlife sightings are almost guaranteed, as many of the areas we hope to explore are home to a surprising number of birds and mammals that thrive in this challenging environment. You may see polar bears, muskoxen and several bird species, such as gyrfalcons and dovekies (little auks). If you’re lucky, you may even spot the elusive narwhal or arctic wolf, though sightings of these iconic creatures in the wild are rare, even in these areas where we have the highest chances of encountering them.

Coburg Island, for instance, is a wildlife reserve for such birds as snowy owls and peregrine falcons, while the impressive vertical cliffs of Prince Leopold Island are dotted with nesting seabirds like northern fulmars and black guillemots. The sheltered shores and steep cliffs of Arctic Bay, a hamlet located off of Admiralty Inlet, provide an ideal nesting habitat for various High Arctic birds such as snow geese, thick-billed murres (Brünnich’s guillemots) and kittiwakes. The region has been occupied by Inuit and Thule cultures for almost 5,000 years. This community is an ideal spot to go ashore and learn more about the Inuit culture, sampling the local cuisine and mingling with artists, perhaps picking up carvings or other handicrafts as a memento of your polar adventure.

Devon Island is another possible locale for wildlife encounters, as walrus, polar bears and muskoxen inhabit the area, which is also the location of the remains of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police outpost, established at Dundas Harbour in 1924 to curb foreign whaling and other activities. Nearby is a small cemetery, one of Canada’s most northerly, still maintained by the RCMP to this day. Another exciting excursion your Expedition Team might offer, conditions permitting, is the opportunity to fly up to explore the Devon ice cap, one of the largest in the Canadian Arctic. History buffs will also be intrigued by the chance to visit an abandoned Hudson’s Bay Company trading post at Fort Ross, at the southern end of Somerset Island, and pay their respects to the ill-fated Franklin expedition of 1845–46 at the gravesite of three crew members on Beechey Island, one of Canada’s most significant Arctic exploration sites.

You may have the opportunity to cruise in a Zodiac along the face of an active glacier near Croker Bay and possibly even witness the wonders of calving ice, at a safe distance. Listen closely for the steady crackle and deep roars as slabs of ice break off and crash into the water below. You’ll also want to be on the lookout for the walrus that are often seen in the area.

There is no shortage of natural beauty, wildlife and history in Canada’s High Arctic. Each day, you’ll discover something new and inspiring, whether it is admiration of the tundra flora to survive the extremely rugged environment, a rare bird species soaring overhead, a polar bear on the hunt in its natural habitat, or the ancient remains of a Thule dwelling, predecessors of the Inuit who live here today.

Day 11 | Disembark in Resolute, Canada & fly to Calgary
After disembarking in Resolute, you’ll be transferred to your charter flight to Calgary, where you’ll spend the night at your included hotel.

Day 12 | Depart Calgary
Today, make your way to the airport to catch your homeward flights, or spend the day exploring this fascinating city.


© QRK
© QRK
© QRK


INCLUSIONS

Mandatory Transfer Package*
Leadership throughout your voyage by our experienced Expedition Leaders, including shore landings and other activities
All Zodiac transfers and cruising as per the daily program
All shore landings as per the daily program
Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping
All meals, snacks, soft drinks and juices on board throughout your voyage (Please inform us of any dietary requirements as far in advance as possible. Unfortunately, the ships’ galleys cannot prepare kosher meals.)
Select beer and wine during dinner; and coffee, tea and cocoa available around the clock
Formal and informal presentations by our Expedition Team and guest speakers as scheduled
A photographic journal documenting the expedition
A pair of waterproof expedition boots on loan for landings and Zodiac cruising excursions
An official Quark Expeditions® parka to keep
Hair dryer and bathrobes in every cabin
All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program
All luggage handling aboard the ship
Emergency Evacuation insurance for all passengers to a maximum benefit of USD $500,000 per person

Mandatory Transfer Package*
Includes:
One night’s pre-expedition hotel accommodation in Toronto
Group transfer from the Toronto hotel to the airport on Day 2
Charter flights between Toronto and Resolute
Group transfers between the Resolute airport and the ship
Group transfer from Toronto airport to hotel on disembarkation day
One night’s post-expedition hotel accommodation in Toronto
Package Price: $1,995 USD

EXCLUSIONS

International airfare
Arrival and departure transfers in Toronto
Passport and visa expenses
Canadian eTA required for non-Canadian or U.S. visa-exempt passengers
Government arrival and departure taxes not mentioned above
Meals ashore unless otherwise specified
Baggage, cancellation, interruption and medical travel insurance—strongly recommended
Excess-baggage fees on international and domestic flights
Mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac cruising, or any other gear not mentioned
Laundry, bar and other personal charges unless specified
Phone and Internet charges (connectivity may vary by location)
Voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for shipboard staff and crew
Additional overnight accommodation
Adventure Options not listed in Included Activities


Dates & Rates


Ship: Ultramarine | Date: 15 Aug 2024 - 26 Aug 2024 (2083)
Solo Panorama
$24,590
$18,263
Explorer Triple
$14,090
$10,703
Explorer Suite
$18,090
$13,583
Balcony Suite
$19,690
$14,735
Deluxe Balcony Suite
$22,990
$17,111
Terrace Suite
$23,790
$17,687
Penthouse suite
$24,590
$18,623
Owner's Suite
$30,990
$22,871
Ultra Suite
$34,190
$25,175
Ship: Ultramarine | Date: 24 Aug 2024 - 04 Sept 2024 (2084)
Solo Panorama
$24,590
$17,246
Explorer Triple
$14,090
$10,159
Explorer Suite
$18,090
$12,859
Balcony Suite
$19,690
$13,939
Deluxe Balcony Suite
$22,990
$16,166
Terrace Suite
$23,790
$16,706
Penthouse suite
$24,590
$17,246
Owner's Suite
$30,990
$21,566
Ultra Suite
$34,190
$23,726

* The prices are per person in US Dollars, unless expressly specified in a different currency. In that case, payment will be in US dollars at the exchange rate of the day.
** All prices will be re-confirmed by email at the time of booking.
NOTE: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy—and excitement—of expedition travel. When traveling in extremely remote regions, your expedition staff must allow the sea, the ice and the weather to guide route and itinerary details. This itinerary is a tentative outline of what you’ll experience on this voyage; please be aware that no specific itinerary can be guaranteed.

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