Nunavut is the youngest territory in Canada, formally established by the Canadian government in 1999. Prior to the recognition of Nunavut as a territory, most Canadian maps had not changed since 1949 when the province of Newfoundland and Labrador became the tenth province of the Dominion of Canada.
Despite being officially recognized as a distinct territory a relatively short time ago in the historical sense, Indigenous people and their cultures have thrived across the majestic northern landscapes for thousands of years. It has long been their home—long before settlers and explorers from Europe. Inuit (whose ancestors were the Thule) are believed to have first arrived in this northern region from Russia via the Bering Strait at a time when thick glaciers froze the body of water. They traversed across these northern lands, establishing semi-nomadic ways of life, and primarily settled north of the Arctic Tree Line that runs across Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon.
At least 85% of the people living in Nunavut identify as Inuit, which means travelers have the opportunity to learn first-hand about one of the most vibrant Indigenous communities in Canada's northern lands. Photo: Hugo Perrin
Nunavut is derived from the Inuktitut meaning of the phrase “Our Land,” mirroring the name Canada as a derivation of the word Kanata from the Huron-Iroquois tribes that translates into “Our Village.” The largest city in Nunavut is the capital Iqaluit, while Inuit live in 25 communities spread across the visually breathtaking environments of the far north.
Nunavut Cruise Ship Schedule
Nunavut is the largest administrative region of Canada and, as a result, features some of the most diverse, ruggedly beautiful, and exciting environments that polar travelers will ever encounter. Adventurers love to explore the intrinsic beauty of fjords, and Nunavut is rich with opportunities to see incredible ecological wonders. One of the most amazing spots to visit is Grise Fiord on Ellesmere Island, a warmly hospitable inlet nestled between high cliffs on the southern edge of the island at Jones Sound.
Stunning views of snow- and ice-covered landscapes are highlights of any cruise to Nunavut. Photo: Hugo Perrin
In fact, Ellesmere Island and its collection of remote fjords is one of the principal stops aboard Ultramarine when you book passage on the Canada's Remote Arctic: Northwest Passage to Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg Islands adventure. Book passage on this 12-day adventure between August and September, and you can customize adventurous excursions throughout your voyage, including Heli-Landing in remote communities and even flightseeing on a twin-engine helicopter from the heli-deck of Ultramarine, allowing you to appreciate the incredible beauty of the Arctic Archipelago from the air.
Exploring in the footsteps of Franklin
The voyages across Nunavut exist thanks to the seafaring adventures of famed historic explorers, including Sir John Franklin. He led a now-famous expedition in search of the Northwest Passage through the seaways spanning Canada's northern borders, enabling more adventurers to visit unknown (except to local First Nations) wonders in the northern climate.
Franklin's expedition was lost at sea sometime between when they first set sail on May 19, 1845 and the year 1847. Rescue parties were dispatched to the region and searched throughout Nunavut after no word had been received from Franklin for nearly two years. Eventually, the remains of the crew were discovered near King William Island off the coast of Nunavut's mainland. A 168-year search for one of Franklin's ships, the HMS Terror, finally came to an end in 2016.
Learn about Inuit community, culture, and livelihoods across Nunavut
A view looking down on Pangnirtung, a settlement of approximately 1,500 people on Baffin Island, Nunavut.
Photo: Quark Expeditions
In addition to the magnificent sightseeing in the Canadian Arctic, one of the best reasons to book an adventure to Nunavut is the opportunity to educate yourself on different cultures and lifestyles. Inuit First Nations have called Nunavut and northern communities home for generations — long before the country was founded. They've built a hardy way of life in these harsh environments, which continue to inspire visitors who take the time to explore these First Nations communities with Quark Expeditions.
You can immerse yourself in the beating heart of each community and take in a day in the life of First Nations people who call the northern land their home. Perhaps most alluring is the opportunity to see the mystifying northern lights in a part of the world where the colors magnify the sky in ways that are unseen throughout other parts of the world.
Cruise ship to Nunavut
The opportunity to learn first-hand about Inuit culture is one of the highlights of a Nunavut cruise .
Photo: Hugo Perrin
The technologically advanced Ultramarine is built for polar exploration, and the seafaring adventures waiting to beexperienced in northern Canada are perfect for our commanding vessel. You'll take in wondrous views and unforgettable scenery as you traverse between the islands and mainland of Nunavut to experience all that northern Canada has to offer.
Among the most intriguing experiences to witness aboard the Ultramarine are the candid moments with Arctic wildlife throughout the region. Pods of amazing Beluga whales have been discovered near the Prince of Wales Island, nestled in the middle of the island territories. You'll be blown away seeing these incredible animals swimming and frolicking in their natural habitat.
Exploring Nunavut lures many travelers to join expeditions along the Northwest Passage. Photo:Hugo Perrin
You'll also sail into the port of Resolute, an Inuit hamlet on the southern coast of Cornwallis Island. There, you'll be given an opportunity to learn more about local culture, wildlife and see animals like polar bears, seals, walruses, and even some pods of Beluga whales. You'll also have the chance to visit Tupirvik Territorial Park near Resolute Bay where you can hike across areas that have existed for hundreds of millions of years. There's no better way to envision the magic of history than to be on the ground and seeing natural wonders up close and personal.