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Northwest Passage Franklin’s Legend (Westbound)

20 days

For centuries, fortune-seekers risked their lives to find the Northwest Passage, the fabled sea route running between Europe and Asia. The greatest geographical problem of the last three centuries, according to the New York Times of November 25, 1852.

During this 18-day active adventure, cruise through the heart of the Northwest Passage. You will experience first-hand those islands, waterways and wilds that still yield a gratifying sense of achievement for all those who make the voyage, including Beechey Island, made famous by explorers such as Roald Amundsen and Sir John Franklin. As recently as 2013, searchers from Parks Canada were still looking for the ships lost in the mid-19th century Franklin Expedition.

Day-by-Day Expedition in Brief

  • Explore highlights of Greenland and the Canadian Arctic
  • Iconic Arctic wildlife: musk ox, caribou, polar bears, Arctic fox and more
  • Colorful Greenlandic villages and traditional Inuit handicrafts
  • Ilulissat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most productive ice fjord in the Northern Hemisphere

Day 1 — Copenhagen, Denmark

Enjoy an included night in Copenhagen and meet your fellow travelers.

Day 2 — Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

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

Day 3 — Itilleq and Sisimiut

As we head north, the ship will reach the village of Itilleq, a typical Greenlandic village. Situated on a hollow, Itilleq is on an island without any fresh water.

Day 4 — Ilulissat

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.

Day 5 — Eqip Sermia

You’ll visit one of the best-run small villages in Greenland, Saqqaq.

Day 6 — Uummannaq

You'll want to be out on deck as the ship approaches Uummannaq regardless of the time of day.

Day 7 — 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.

Day 8 — Pond Inlet, Nunavut, Canada

Arriving in the Canadian Arctic, the people of Pond Inlet or Mittimatalik – as it has been called by the Inuit for thousands of years – will welcome us to their town and the Artist’s Co-operative.

Day 9 — Day 9: Devon Island

In the Maxwell Bay region of Devon Island, you will go for hikes and cruise in Zodiacs as you visit a Thule site, where the ancestors of the Inuit lived.

Day 10 — Beechey Island

Just offshore at the western end of Devon Island is Beechey Island. There, on a stony beach, stand three grave markers; solemn reminders of the lives lost during Sir John Franklin’s search for the Northwest Passage.

Day 11 — Somerset Island

We'll call on Somerset Island, in Peel Sound, located above the 74th parallel directly on the Northwest Passage (close to 800 km north of the Arctic Circle).

Day 12 — Fort Ross and Bellot Strait

Through the night we'll be sailing in a southerly direction, following the coast of Somerset Island, just as Amundsen did. We plan to go ashore at Fort Ross, an uninhabited Hudson’s Bay Company trading post.

Day 13 — Victory Point

In 1845, John Franklin led an expedition of 129 British naval officers and seamen to the Canadian Arctic, tasked with finding the Northwest Passage. By 1848, they were presumed missing. Rescue missions were conducted for 32 years.

Day 14 — King William Island

Here, we’ll return to the site of Sir John Franklin's saga. For two winters, Franklin’s ships Erebus and Terror were beset in ice near the island. In 1848, the ships were abandoned.

Day 15 — Coronation Gulf and Cambridge Bay

Your Expedition Team will use ice charts, weather forecasts and their years of Arctic expedition experience to make the most of time spent in Coronation Gulf.

Day 16 — Bathurst Inlet

In the area around Bathurst Inlet, we’ll enjoy a hike on the tundra among the spectacular fall colors.

Days 17 and 18 — Amundsen Gulf

At the eastern end of the gulf is Dolphin and Union Strait, crossed in 1851 by Dr. John Rae, his two companions, two sledges and five dogs. At the completion of that expedition, Rae and his companions were only 80 km (50 miles) west of the beset ships of Sir John Franklin.

Day 19 — Kugluktuk (Coppermine)

Our final destination is the town of Kugluktuk. We will have a chance to explore and bid the community farewell.

Day 20 — Edmonton (Departure)

Today you can make you way home at your leisure or spend some more time in the Edmonton area.
View full 20-day itinerary »

Adventure Options Add an Extra Rush of Adrenaline to Your Expedition

Every Quark Arctic voyage includes great daily outdoor activities including Zodiac cruises, hiking and some also offer snowshoeing. We also offer kayaking on most of our voyages; a great way to experience the beauty of the Arctic in a more personal way. Contact a Quark Polar Travel Adviser to learn more about adventure options, including physical requirements.

$595 per person

Kayaking in the Arctic is probably one of the most intimate and inspiring ways you can explore the rugged coastlines and calm bays of the regions we visit.

Kayaking in the Polar Regions is highly weather-dependent, however we guarantee at least one outing throughout your voyage, but your kayak guides will take you out as many times as possible throughout your voyage.

Offered on most Arctic voyages, spaces are limited and require some kayaking experience. All equipment, guides and instructions are provided by Quark. Please contact a Quark Polar Travel Adviser for more information.