Northwest Passage

Cruising Canada’s Northwest Passage

Arctic Adventures

Cruising Canada’s Northwest Passage

By John and Sandra Nowlan

Polar bears, remote Inuit communities, and beautiful, rugged landscapes. That’s just some of what’s in store for an increasing number of cruise enthusiasts who look to this continent’s far north and a sail through the Northwest Passage.

We cruised the region with Adventure Canada, one of several companies that are active in Canada’s Arctic, especially now that more areas are becoming ice-free in the summer and early fall.Our 160 fellow passengers on the ice-strengthened Ocean Endeavour were mostly veteran cruisers with a passion for adventure and a desire to experience a unique environment that few people ever get to enjoy. The Arctic is remote with some unpredictable (but carefully monitored) ice patterns. The pleasures far outweigh the risks and every one of our fellow passengers — a mix of Americans, Canadians, and Australians — loved the sense of adventure and history.

Chilling on Board
After a charter flight from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, we began our cruise in the western Nunavut community of Kugluktuk (formerly Coppermine). There are no docking facilities for cruise ships in the North so we boarded Zodiacs for the transfer to Ocean Endeavour, which carries 20 of these versatile rubber boats that are ideal for sightseeing and landings.

Built in 1981, Ocean Endeavour has had extensive refits and now boasts a spa, swimming pool and hot tub, a broad library, and three lounges for lectures and entertainment. The dining room is large and bright with a surprisingly good menu selection that includes fresh caribou, Arctic char, and halibut from some ports. There are many stateroom categories, but all are comfortable with private shower or bath.

Adventure Canada is well known for the quality of its naturalists, and we were impressed by the staff of 38 Arctic specialists who gave lectures and guided us at the various stops. On board, we were joined by a top Canadian geologist, a veteran archeologist with two….

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Photo: JD Andrews

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