Northwest Passage The Legendary Arctic Sea Route
Starting From:$13,736 USD
Winding your way through the icy channels of the legendary Northwest Passage is history brought to life during this expedition in the Canadian High Arctic and Greenland. On this compelling 17-day journey aboard our game-changing new vessel Ultramarine, passengers retrace the steps of the intrepid Franklin Expedition, which left the shores of England in 1845 in search of the last unexplored section of the Northwest Passage—only to become permanently icebound. Its discovery more than a century and a half later by Norwegian Roald Amundsen was a much-celebrated moment in polar history.
On Ultramarine, guests benefit from two twin-engine helicopters that will provide spectacular aerial views of the Arctic landscape, the most extensive portfolio of Adventure Options in the industry, more outdoor wildlife viewing spaces than any other expedition ship its size, and 20 quick-launching Zodiacs to get you closer to ancient glaciers, dramatic fjords and towering icebergs. Explore colorful Inuit villages, and shop for traditional Inuit handicrafts. Hike the endless Arctic backdrop and marvel at the vast, colorful tundra. Keep your eyes peeled for the elusive and majestic creatures that make their home in this wilderness, such as whales, walrus, muskoxen and polar bears. Come aboard Ultramarine for this immersive journey along the legendary Arctic sea route, and return home with memories permanently etched in your heart.
Experience highlights of Greenland and the Canadian Arctic
Explore colorful Greenlandic villages and shop for traditional Inuit handicrafts
View iconic Arctic wildlife, such as whales, walrus and muskoxen
Hike the colorful tundra
Cruise in a Zodiac to get up close to glaciers, fjords, icebergs and more
Enjoy flightseeing on one of Ultramarine’s two twin-engine helicopters.
Our portfolio of immersive itineraries allows you to choose where—and how—you’d like to explore the Arctic with the best expedition team in the Polar Regions.
- Departing From:
- Toronto, Canada
- Starting From:
- $13,736 USD* Per person(Incl. Transfer Package)
- 17 Days
Your Arctic expedition begins in Toronto. Explore this vibrant city on your own before spending the night enjoying the comfort and amenities of your designated hotel.
After breakfast, board your charter flight to Kangerlussuaq, a small community nestled deep inside a 118 mile (190 km) long fjord. Enjoy your first Zodiac ride as you’re transferred from shore to ship. Out on deck, take in your new surroundings before you set sail on your Arctic adventure.
Cruising around the remote regions of Greenland and the Canadian 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 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 at the top of the world. Locals call Maniitsoq the Venice of Greenland, as it’s situated in an archipelago intersected by natural canals. Soaring, snow-capped mountains surround the small, rocky town, whose name means “the uneven place.” Playful humpback whales spend summer in the waters around here.
The Greenlandic capital of Nuuk is a haven for history and culture lovers. See for yourself the unique and thriving culture of contemporary Greenland that mingles the ancient with the modern in surprising and wonderful ways. Stroll down to the waterfront to see the Hans Egede Church and Hans Egede statue, named for the missionary who established the settlement in 1728. Marvel at the famous remains of 500-year-old fully dressed mummies, discovered under a rock outcrop in 1972 by two brothers out hunting, at the Greenland National Museum. The Nuuk Art Museum and Katuaq Culture Centre are also worth visiting.
Say goodbye to Greenland’s shores as you traverse the Davis Strait in pursuit of the Canadian Arctic. Presentations by on-board experts will prepare you for the adventures that lie ahead.
Visit towering fjords, historical sites and Inuit communities as you follow in the footsteps of famous explorers from long ago in the Canadian High Arctic.
At the southern tip of the Cumberland Sound, you’ll visit Cape Mercy, which was named by British explorer John Davis (yes, he of the Davis Strait), who sailed through it in 1585. This is the site of an old Distant Early Warning Line installation, dating back to the Cold War. These and many other stations were set up to detect Soviet bombers. It’s an ideal spot to go ashore for a hike.
As icebergs travel down the Davis Strait, they’re naturally trapped at Qikiqtarjuaq (formerly known as Broughton Island). The icy waters here are also home to ring and harp seals. A hike up to the hilltop inuksuk rewards with spectacular views of the community. Inuksuks are stone figures or cairns that traditionally call attention to the location for navigation, abundant harvesting or spiritual significance.
Cruising further north along the mountainous east shore of Baffin Island, we’ll approach Isabella Bay, an important summer and fall feeding area for the largest concentration of bowhead whales in Canada. Bowheads are a truly a remarkable arctic leviathan that research has revealed may live more than 200 years of age - the oldest mammal.
At the northern tip of Baffin Island, near the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage, is the Inuit hamlet of Pond Inlet, surrounded by scenic mountains, fjords, glaciers and icebergs. Many in the community still follow a nomadic lifestyle and hunt for their food.
At the top of Baffin Island sits Lancaster Sound, a true arctic oasis. Known by the Inuit and their predecessors for thousands of years, this channel and the surrounding lands are extremely rich in wildlife and history, both indigenous and European.
The area around Lancaster Sound affords several hiking opportunities. At Dundas Harbour, on Devon Island, you’ll visit an abandoned beachside outpost of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. At nearby Croker Bay, cruise in a Zodiac (at a safe distance) along the face of an actively calving glacier. Your Expedition Team will also keep its eyes peeled for walrus that are known to visit the bay. Farther west, some of the best ancient Thule remains in the Arctic are at Radstock Bay, beside the soaring Caswell Towers.
At the western end of Devon Island, the windswept Beechey Island is steeped in history. Named after famed British explorer Frederick William Beechey, it’s a Canadian National Historic Site. You’ll visit the small marked graves of three crew members who died during Sir John Franklin’s tragic 1845–46 expedition. Over 150 years later, Roald Amundsen landed here in 1903, during the first successful voyage by ship through the Northwest Passage.
Sailing down the east coast of Somerset Island, you may be fortunate to spot beluga whales and if you’re very fortunate, narwhals, as they feed at Creswell Bay. An Important Bird Area, the bay also attracts such species as black-bellied plovers, king eiders and white-rumped sandpipers. You’ll also have time to explore Fort Ross, where the Hudson’s Bay Company established a now-abandoned trading post in 1937. At the midpoint of the Bellot Strait, the narrow channel that separates Somerset Island from mainland North America, you’ll reach the northernmost area of the continental landmass, Zenith Point.
After disembarking in Resolute, you’ll be transferred to your charter flight to Calgary, where you’ll spend the night at your included hotel.
Today, make your way to the airport to catch your homeward flights, or spend the day exploring this unique Western Canadian city.
- 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
- Greenland voyages cruise passenger tax
- 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
All we need is a little bit of information about your travel preferences and one of our Polar Travel Advisors will be in touch.
in open water
Staff and Crew
Ultramarine's off-ship adventures start here on Deck 2. This is where you’ll find the efficiently-designed Ready Rooms A and B next to the Zodiac hangar, where you'll embark on your off-ship adventure options. Ultramarine’s two ready rooms include an individual locker for each guest to safely store and dry personal items and expedition gear between outings. They're also equipped with benches that are handy when changing attire before or after off-ship excursions. Zodiac embarkation is at water-level which makes for quick deployment.
Deck 3 is where you’ll find Reception, where a crew member is available (during posted hours) to assist you. It’s also where you’ll purchase internet or email access cards and phone cards, arrange for a wake-up call, or settle your accounts at the end of the voyage. Also on Deck 3 is the Polar Boutique, which is stocked with expedition gear and a selection of polar souvenirs. The Clinic is located on Deck 3, as are the Explorer Triples and the Explorer Suites (two of which offer modified layouts and bathrooms for wheelchair accessibility).
- Explorer Suite
- Explorer Triple
Deck 4 offers guests two categories of suites. The Balcony Suites feature one double or two single beds, and a 52 sq. ft. (4.8 sq. m) balcony, a refrigerator, safe, TV, and a bathroom with shower and heated floors. (Some Balcony Suites offer interconnecting rooms.) The larger Deluxe Balcony Suites feature one double or two single beds, a 70 sq. ft. (6.5 sq. m) balcony, refrigerator, safe, TV, and a bathroom with shower, bathtub and heated floors.
- Deluxe Balcony Suite
- Balcony Suite
Deck 5 is home to Balena restaurant, featuring tables that accommodate 2 to 10 guests. Every seat in Ultramarine’s main restaurant offers views of the wraparound deck. At the opposite end of Deck 5 is the state-of-the-art Ambassador Theatre, where guests enjoy daily presentations and films on the high-definition LED wall screen. This space is large enough to accommodate all guests.
During your voyage you may be granted access to the Bridge to observe how the Captain and officers sail and navigate the ship. This is an excellent opportunity to learn how your vessel operates. Strict etiquette applies during Bridge visits which can be facilitated through the Expedition Leader. Also on Deck 6 is a selection of Deluxe Balcony Suites, Ultra Suite, Solo Panorama, Owner’s Suite and Terrace Suites.
- Ultra Suite
- Owner's Suite
- Terrace Suite
- Deluxe Balcony Suite
- Solo Panorama
- Balcony Suite
Guests can go to Deck 7 to visit Bistro 487, an alternative dining option to the larger Balena restaurant. Here, they'll enjoy selections from the main menu, healthy eating options and light snacks, as well as an early riser’s breakfast, afternoon tea and late night snacks. Also on Deck 7 are the Sauna (with floor-to-ceiling windows), the Library, Tundra Spa, a gym with the latest fitness equipment, and studio space for informal yoga.
- Penthouse Suite
Ultramarine’s two twin-engine H145 helicopters enable guests to enjoy the largest selection of off-ship adventures, all of which start at the two helidecks. It’s here on Deck 8 that guests will safely board the two helicopters to experience more unique aerial perspectives and heli-supported activities than are possible on any other ship in the industry.
Europeans have been visiting the area that came to be known as Pond Inlet since the 1600s. The first visitors arrived seeking the Northwest Passage. In the 1800s, whalers brought wood and barter goods to the community. These visitors were latecomers, as the indigenous peoples had been living in the region for thousands of years.
The 1.2 mile (2 km) wide Bellot Strait separates Somerset Island from the Boothia Peninsula. During the transit, you’ll sail past the northernmost point of mainland North America, Zenith Point.
Prince Leopold Island
Impressive, vertical cliffs surround part of this small island. This creates an ideal environment for nesting seabirds, and they nest here in vast numbers—more than 300,000 strong! Thick-billed murres, black guillemots and northern fulmars are most commonly seen here.
In June 1585, British explorer John Davis (he of the Davis Strait) embarked on the first of three voyages to search for the legendary Northwest Passage. In August 1585, he reached this area at the northern entrance to the Cumberland Sound and named it Cape of God’s Mercy. Now known as Cape Mercy, it’s the site of a dramatic glacial fjord.
Known until 1998 as Broughton Island, Qikiqtarjuaq boasts some of the highest mountains in North America east of the Rocky Mountains. From the cape, multitudes of icebergs can be seen coming down Davis Strait, and the rich arctic waters are home to numbers of seals and whales.
On the south coast of Devon Island is Croker Bay. A glacier here actively calves off chunks of ice, creating a birthplace for icebergs. The bay was a popular stop during the 1800s, when a path to the Pacific (the Northwest Passage) was at the forefront of Arctic exploration.
One of Canada’s most northern settlements, Resolute was formed by forceful relocation of Inuit from northern Quebec by the Canadian government in 1953, during the Cold War. Today, it’s also a jumping off point for much high Arctic research. It has everything from a grocery store and cable TV to a school and a couple of hotels. About 200 people live in Resolute throughout the year, where hunting and logistical support to research, mining and tourism contribute to the community’s economy.
In 1937, the Hudson’s Bay Company established a trading post, named Fort Ross, on the coast of Somerset Island. Due to the harsh conditions and isolation of the post, it was closed in 1948. The store and manager’s house still stand.
This picturesque and remote community maintains strong ties to the land and sea, as its Inuit inhabitants have lived as nomadic hunters in this region for almost 5,000 years. The protective high hills and sheltered shores of this hamlet make for an ideal nesting habitat for various Arctic birds, including thick-billed murres, kittiwakes, ivory gulls and Ross’s gulls. Seals, narwhals and bowhead whales call the waters here home.
When the Hudson’s Bay Company built a trading post in Pangnirtung in 1926, local Inuit families moved to the tiny settlement. A Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment was established two years later. A hospital opened in 1929, but it wasn’t until 1962 that most of the Inuit who lived on Cumberland Sound relocated to Pang. The community has become internationally renowned for the tapestries and prints by local artists.
Named after Frederick William Beechey, an explorer with the Royal Navy, this is one of Canada’s most important Arctic sites and has been deemed a Canadian National Historic Site. During the Franklin expedition of 1845–46, two of Franklin’s ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, anchored here with perilous results. Three of Franklin’s crew died here and are buried at marked gravesites.
Kangerlussuaq sits at the head of a 118- mile (190 km) long fjord. The tiny town has Greenland’s largest airport and a unique history. Although Inuit and their predecessors occupied or visited the area, Kangerlussuaq’s modern incarnation dates back to the U.S. occupation of Greenland as an air force base beginning in World War II.
Nuuk is the epicenter of Greenland’s fascinating emerging culture. At population 15,000, the world’s smallest capital city is a wonderful and curious mix of the traditional and the new. A particular highlight is the Greenland National Museum, which offers an insight into social change affecting the country from the 1950s onwards. Other exhibits include some of the the world’s oldest rocks (approx. 3.8 billion years found close to Nuuk), and the Qilakitsoq exhibit displaying the mummified remains of 15th century Inuit women and a six-month old child. The Katuaq Culture Centre and Nuuk Art Museum are also worth exploring.
Departure Dates and Cabins
All we need is a little bit of information about your travel preferences and one of our Polar Travel Advisors will be in touch.