Every summer for over three decades now, ice-breaking and ice-strengthened cruise ships have been plying the seas of Nunavut from Greenland to Alaska, offering passengers a fascinating and pleasant northern experience. These ships offer a broad range of services, from basic accommodation and meals to fine amenities commonly associated with world-class hotels. Arctic cruise ships are not as luxurious and high-end as the gigantic vessels that travel the Mediterranean Sea; they are smaller and sturdier craft designed for the Arctic Ocean.
Passengers do not need to pack a tuxedo or an expensive evening gown, however they do need to bring warm clothing suitable for the north, including insulated wind jackets and waterproof hiking footwear for going ashore.
There are no deep-sea ports in Nunavut yet, so a visit to a community or to a hiking destination usually requires a short boat ride from the cruise ship, often on an inflatable craft such as a Zodiak.
Arctic cruises are not cheap excursions. The least expensive cruises will cost several thousand dollars, lasting up to twelve days at sea. Passengers can expect clean, comfortable accommodation similar to that of a three-star hotel, with simple yet hearty buffet-style or served meals.
The most luxurious, higher-end cruises cost tens of thousands of dollars, lasting several weeks cruising the Arctic with chefs preparing international cuisine served with champagne in fluted crystal glasses. These deluxe vessels may also have saunas and on-board helicopters for excursions. The average nature cruise through the Arctic Ocean, showcasing arctic wildlife and the northern environment, usually lasts from ten to fourteen days, costing slightly more than an equivalent duration cruise in the Caribbean. Nonetheless, travelling by cruise ship in 24-hour sunshine to experience the unique culture of the Inuit people and view exotic polar animals in their natural habitat while enjoying the spectacular pristine scenery found only at the top of the world is well worth it!
Under the great big arctic skies of Nunavut — in winter, spring, summer or fall — and far from the madding crowds of the south, the healthy, peaceful, enjoyable activities of camping and hiking with good friends in Nunavut will provide an unforgettable lifetime experience!
The historic quest for the Northwest Passage made heroes of European arctic explorers like John Franklin and Roald Amundsen. Many centuries earlier, however, Inuit forefathers had already explored all the best routes and channels through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, having navigated the circumpolar world from Siberia to Greenland. Nowadays, it is a superbly relaxed and comfortable voyage. Northwest Passage cruises may take you to the Nunavut communities of Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Pond Inlet and Resolute.
In warmth, luxury and great company, High Arctic icebreaker cruises, fully equipped with ship-to-shore capabilities, can take you to visit ancient Thule ruins on uninhabited Somerset Island, photograph the site of Franklin’s 1845 winter camp on Beechey Island, then travel as far north as Tanquary Fiord on Ellesmere Island, at the top of the spinning world. Nunavut communities visited on these cruises include Arctic Bay, Cambridge Bay, Grise Fiord, Pond Inlet, Qikiqtarjuaq and Resolute.
Northern Baffin cruises tour the dramatic eastern coastline of the island, then sail into the Northwest Passage. These voyages, which sometimes depart from and arrive at Iqaluit, will take you to the communities of Pangnirtung and Pond Inlet, then past Sirmilik National Park, through Lancaster Sound, to visit Resolute on Cornwallis Island.
Southern Baffin cruises are equally thrilling voyages. They will introduce you to world-renowned Inuit artists working in Cape Dorset and also sail you to Akpatok Island in Ungava Bay. This uninhabited, cliff-faced island, gashed with many deep ravines, is the absolute favourite nesting ground of the world’s largest living auk — the thick-billed murre (uria lomvia), which gather in such numbers they attract many polar bears.
In Inuktitut nautical terminology, the bow of a vessel is ‘sivua’ — and ‘aqua’ is stern.