Wildlife Group Tour

Canadian Arctic - Northwest Passage with Friends of SPRI

Departing August 2021

13 days

from £18,350pp
  • Follow in the wake of early explorers as you traverse the mythical Northwest Passage
  • Visit locations associated with Franklin's tragic search for the Northwest Passage
  • Explore the home of the polar bear, musk ox, caribou and walrus
  • Travel aboard the RCGS Resolute - one of the most comfortable expedition vessels in the Arctic

This iconic voyage explores the remote Northwest Passage, following the paths of the legendary early Arctic explorers. Sailing west from Ottawa, journey through the archipelago of islands and channels of Canada’s high Arctic on board the luxury expedition ship RCGS Resolute.

It is now possible to undertake a similar journey to that first completed by Roald Amundsen, navigating a course through the Arctic that very few people manage to achieve. These waterways are renowned for tricky navigation, rapidly changing ice conditions and for supporting a diverse population of wildlife, as well as vestiges of former expeditions, including the most notorious of all, the ill-fated Franklin expedition of 1845. 

Register your interest here for our August 2021 cruise to The Northwest Passage with SPRI.

Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI)

Established in 1920 as part of the University of Cambridge, the Scott Polar Research Institute is a centre of excellence in the study of the Arctic and Antarctic. The mission of the SPRI is to enhance the understanding of these polar regions through scholarly research and its publication, educating new generations of polar researchers, caring for and making accessible its collections (including its library, archives, photographic and object collections), and projecting the history and environmental significance of the polar regions to the wider community for public benefit.

Your Canadian Arctic Vessel

The RCGS Resolute is an ice-strengthened luxury ship. With two separate bar and lounge areas featuring 180-degree views, she offers plenty of space and a number of facilities designed to maximise your comfort on board. The cabins are spacious and benefit from comfortable seating areas and ample storage. There is a choice of two dining rooms, one of which offers a popular bistro menu with quick and easy meals so you can maximise your time out on deck. Other facilities include a theatre-style presentation room, gymnasium, wellness centre, hot water spa, sauna, steam room and saltwater pool.

Why is the Northwest Passage such a captivating region to explore?

This is a unique opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Franklin and visit Beechey Island, or explore the remains of sod houses left by Inuit families. An abundance of local history can be discovered in the 37 remote settlements that are dotted throughout the region.

Wildlife is also a large draw to the area, and despite the lesser abundance than in other parts of the Arctic, the 'Arctic big five' are regularly sighted. Keep your eyes open for bears, musk ox, narwhals, belugas and walruses.

When is the best time to travel to The Northwest Passage?

Most Northwest Passage cruises depart in August and September when late summer ice allows safe passage through the narrow channels.

Departing on:
  • 19th August 2021

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour ExpertStatus 
19th Aug 2021 31st Aug 2021 £ 18,350 £ 1,400 £ 7,680 Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • All breakfasts, lunches and dinners on board throughout your voyage with daily afternoon tea
  • Charter flight from Cambridge Bay to Edmonton
  • Charter flight from Ottawa to Kangerlussuaq
  • Comprehensive pre-voyage information package including details to help you prepare for your trip in the Canadian Arctic
  • Daily off-ship excursions by zodiac boat breaking into small groups for shore landings
  • Educational presentations and talks by polar experts in their field
  • Experienced Expedition Leader and professional expedition team of marine bioligists, naturalists, historians, adventure guides and photographers
  • Port fees and all permits to access visited areas
  • Shipboard accommodation in your selected cabin category with daily housekeeping.
  • Transfers to the ship on embarkation day and from the ship to the airport or local hotel on disembarkation

what is excluded

  • Baggage, cancellation or medical travel insurance
  • Gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and ship crew (suggested amount $12-15 USD per day)
  • International flights
  • Personal expenses on board such as alcoholic beverages, bar charges or laundry expenses
  • Pre or post-cruise hotel accommodation
  • Visa and passport expenses


Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Charter flight to Kangerlussuaq

Transfer to ship

Kangerlussuaq embarkation
Kangerlussuaq, the start of your voyage, is appropriately named. The word means 'The Big Fjord' in Greenlandic, aptly describing this amazing feature, 168km long! Lying at the head of the longest fjord in western Greenland, Kangerlussuaq has one of the most stable climates in the region—though temperatures can range from -50C in the winter to as high as 28C in summer.

You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 2

Sondrestrom Fjord and Kangerlussuaq
Just 37 miles (60 km) north of the Arctic Circle, Kangerlussuaq sits at the head of one of the longest fjords in Greenland. Musk ox and arctic fox inhabit the tundra-covered plain that surrounds the town.

You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 3

Sisimiut and Itilleq
In Sisimiut, watch a traditional kayaking demonstration, Kayak is an Inuit word the English borrowed to describe a small vessel propelled by paddles, seating one or two people. Explore the town where 18th century buildings from Greenland's colonial period still stand. Take the time to wander through the historic area by passing under the arch formed by two giant bowhead whale bones.

Later head south, to Itilleq, a typical Greenlandic village. Situated in a hollow, Itilleq is on an island without fresh water. The village has approximately 130 inhabitants and offers charming views of colourful native houses along the tundra.

You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 4

Ilulissat Kangerlua is Greenlandic for the Iceberg Fjord. The glacier at the head of the fjord is the most productive in the Northern Hemisphere. The icebergs it calves float down the fjord to enter Baffin Bay. The journey of these 'bergs' will end years later, somewhere off the coast of Newfoundland. So significant is Ilulissat Fjord that UNESCO has designated the area a World Heritage Site. Hike along the boardwalk to a stunning viewpoint of the bay. If time permits take in a microbrew at a pub, or shop for local handicrafts.

You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 5

Baffin Bay
Baffin Bay is technically a sea not a bay; it is an extension of the Arctic Ocean, the massive body of water that separates Canada from Greenland. As the ship sails westward be on the lookout for icebergs and seabirds gliding on the wing, and whales in the water below.

You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 6

Gibb Fjord
This morning sail into enter the spectacular Gibb Fjord with towering cliffs all around, the ship is dwarfed by the giant peaks and snowy glaciers while cruising slowly along the dark waters.

You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 7

Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet)
Nearing the far north of Baffin Island, enter a broad channel which is home to the remote Inuit community of Mittimatalik. A highlight is a visit to the Natinnak Centre, where a fascinating cultural exhibit showcases aspects of daily life, culture and history of the people of the north. Inuit carvings, jewellery and other traditional craft is 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 spectacular rugged mountains, ice fields and glaciers, coastal lowlands and sizeable seabird colonies.

You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 8

Lancaster Sound and Dundas Harbour
Reach the most northerly point of the voyage at almost 75° degrees north of latitude. Cruising the coastline of Devon Island, in the waters of Lancaster Sound - a rich, bio-diverse region often referred to as the wildlife 'super highway' of the Arctic. These massive volumes of water from Baffin Bay to the east, Beaufort Sea to the west, and from the archipelago of islands to the north, combine to make a rich cocktail of nutrients supporting an abundance of Arctic wildlife. Visit the old Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outpost at Dundas Harbour, situated on the southern shores of Devon Island.

You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 9

Beechey Island and Prince Leopold Island
Beechey Island holds great importance in the quest to complete the Northwest Passage. It is here that 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 finished the charting of Canada's northern archipelago. Almost sixty years later, Roald Amundsen stopped at Beechey Island during the first successful complete transit of the Northwest Passage. Following the visit to Beechey Island, sail south toward Prince Regent Inlet, stopping for a view of the bird cliffs at Prince Leopold Island. A migratory bird sanctuary, Prince Leopold Island is home to thick-billed murres, black guillemots, northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes. Totalling several hundred thousand birds, Prince Leopold Island is one of the most important bird sanctuaries in the Canadian Arctic. Encounters with polar bear, beluga, narwhal and the occasional bowhead whale have also been known in the summering grounds around Prince Regent Inlet.

You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 10

Bellot Sttrait and Fort Ross
You will attempt the passage of the Bellot Strait entering at slack water, if possible, in order to avoid a current that can be more than seven knots during the peak flow. The mixing of waters in this strait provides an ample food source for marine mammals so keep your eyes peeled for harp seals, bearded seals and even polar bears you sail through. On exiting the strait, stop at Fort Ross, on the southern tip of Somerset Island. Fort Ross is a former Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading outpost. Ancient archaeological sites nearby tell a story of more than a thousand years of habitation at this site by the Inuit and their predecessors.

You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 11

Conningham Bay
Having emerged from the transit of Bellot Strait, cross the broad Victoria Strait and arrive at Conningham Bay on the eastern shore of Prince Edward Island. Here, in the heart of the Northwest Passage is perhaps one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the Arctic and a known hotspot for polar bears. Beluga whales come to the shallow inlet to rub their white skins against the gravel bottom - an annual ritual. Often when the tide recedes, the whales become trapped in the shallows making them easy prey for the polar bear. It's common to find mothers and their cubs here in sizeable numbers and the skeletons of beluga whales litter the shore - grim testament to the ebb and flow of life in the Arctic.

You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 12

Victory Point, King William Island
As the ship's captain charts a course in to the Northwest Passage, presentations on board begin with the legend of Sir John Franklin and his 'lost expedition'. 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. Our partners and your hosts on board this voyage, One Ocean Expeditions, played a pivotal role in the expedition by transporting underwater search equipment as well as scientists, historians, researcher and dignitaries. Today, you will visit Victory Point, travelling very near the actual location of the wreck of HMS Erebus.

You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 13

Proceed to Cambridge Bay
Leaving Victoria Strait behind and heading to Cambridge Bay will allow us the opportunity to reflect on the exploration we have been a part of while doing something that Franklin's ships were not able to do. As we transit these hallowed waters, our onboard experts will wrap up the story of the lost ships and prepare is for our return to Southern Canada.

Cambridge Bay to Edmonton
We drop anchor off the beach in Cambridge Bay and make our way ashore by zodiac. Depending on flight times, we may have a chance to explore the town before proceeding to the airport for our charter flight back to Edmonton.

Destination Experts

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Paul Bird, Travel Expert

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Roxy Dukes, Travel Expert

"Roxy filled us with enthusiasm and came up with some great ideas for a trip. We liked the idea of a slightly 'off the beaten track experience' and some private bespoke activities and that's exactly what we've had. Thank you!"

"Roxy created a wonderfully interesting route which was the basis for a super trip. She also chose lovely places for us to stay and interesting activities for us to participate in, introducing us to the idea of private guided experiences which we thoroughly enjoyed."

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.


Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI)

Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI)
The Scott Polar Research Institute, established in 1920 as part of the University of Cambridge, is a centre of excellence in the study of the Arctic and Antarctic. The Institute houses the World's premier Polar Library, extensive archival, photographic and object collections of international importance on the history of polar exploration, and a Polar Museum with displays of both the history and contemporary significance of the Arctic and Antarctic and their surrounding seas.

SPRI's mission is to enhance the understanding of the polar regions through scholarly research and publication, educating new generations of polar researchers, caring for and making accessible its collections (including its library, archival, photographic and object collections), and projecting the history and environmental significance of the polar regions to the wider community for public benefit.
Enquire about this Wildlife tour:

Group Size:

Min 20 / Max 120

Tour Expert:

Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI)

Departure Date (S):

  • 19th August 2021

  • Moderate Activity - The cruise will involve visits to a variety of sites throughout the duration of the itinerary and be at a moderate pace.

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