High Arctic Expedition: Northwest Passage and Greenland
Join our photo expedition to explore Canada’s historic Northwest Passage and Greenland. We will follow the footsteps of the early Arctic explorers as we explore the islands and channels that create Canada’s high Arctic region. This is home to skyscrapers of ice, polar bear, muskox, caribou, and walrus. With cameras in hand, we will set sail into deep fjords, past enormous icebergs, and discover the rich culture and people of the north. On reaching Greenland, we’ll disembark for four full days in this photographer’s paradise. You will be taking photographs of the colorful villages, the vast ice fields, and towering icebergs of Greenland’s Disko Bay.
FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHER
› You will learn wildlife photography techniques that will help you capture great action and environmental photos
› We will teach you how to incorporate the landscape into your wildlife photography, and vice-versa
› Learn the “Art of Seeing” and create stunning landscape images using the ice, icebergs, glaciers, and mountains as our subjects and supporting players
› Create story-telling imagery of the people and culture of the region
› Our famous post-processing and image critiques to help you better utilize more advanced post-processing of your images.
OUR EXPEDITION SHIP
Our base for this expedition is the purpose-built Expedition Cruise ship RCGS Resolute. Designed for comfort, RCGS Resolute is modern, well-appointed, stabilized, safe, and ice-strengthened. From small group sessions to briefings for all passengers, we have public spaces onboard the ship ideally suited for each and every need. Two separate bar and lounge areas featuring 180-degree views, and a wonderfully stocked library, provide ideal places to relax or catch up on some reading. We will enjoy our meals in either of the two dining rooms—one of which features a bistro menu, with quick and easy meals so you can get back out on deck. Both dining rooms have ample and open seating paired with modern furnishings and large picture windows with 180-degree views. Other facilities include the theatre style presentation room, gift-shop, gymnasium, wellness center, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, and saltwater pool.
You have three types of cabin to choose from as well as a suite option. Are you traveling alone? No worries, single cabins are available, or we’ll match you up with a fellow traveler, no problem.
August 27–September 12, 2021
Itinerary and General Information
About the Wildlife: This workshop offers significant opportunities for photographing wildlife, and while we do our best to maximize our wildlife encounters—based on past experiences, local knowledge, and the current conditions—we need to impress upon you that the wildlife really is wild and that we don’t control it.
August 27, 2021: ARRIVALS INTO EDMONTON, ALBERTA
Arrive Edmonton (YEG) before 4:00 PM. Hotel is included, as is our group kick-off dinner.
August 28, 2021: EDMONTON, ALBERTA TO CAMBRIDGE BAY, NUNAVUT
We depart Edmonton this morning on our private flight to Cambridge Bay, a center for hunting, trapping, and fishing. Upon arrival, we enjoy a walking tour of the town and board our expedition ship in the afternoon. After settling into our cabins and exploring the ship, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail and cast off, bound for the fabled Northwest Passage.
August 29, 2021: VICTORY POINT, KING WILLIAM ISLAND
As we chart a course into the Northwest Passage, our onboard presentation series begins, on the legend of Sir John Franklin, and his ‘lost expedition.’ The mystery of the long-lost HMS Erebus was partially solved in September 2014, when the shipwreck was found in the Victoria Strait. One Ocean Expeditions played a pivotal role by carrying underwater search equipment on our ship as well as scientists, historians, researchers, dignitaries, and sponsors of this history-defining mission. We plan to visit Victory Point, traveling very near the actual location of the wreck of HMS Erebus, all the while learning about the quest for exploration that eventually opened up the Arctic. Just two years later, in 2016, the wreck of Franklin’s second ship, HMS Terror was located less than fifty miles from HMS Erebus—so ending one of marine archaeology’s most enduring mysteries. Yet the discovery of these two ships leaves many unanswered questions about the fate of Franklin and his men.
August 30, 2021: CONINGHAM BAY
This morning we arrive at Coningham Bay on the shore of Prince of Wales Island. Here, in the heart of the Northwest Passage, we hope to encounter one of the most remarkable wildlife sites in the Arctic. This is a known hotspot for polar bears who come here to feast on beluga whales, often caught in the rocky shallows at the entrance to the bay during low tide. It is not unusual to find the shoreline littered with whale skeletons—and very healthy looking polar bears!
August 31, 2021: BELLOT STRAIT AND FORT ROSS
Today we transit the narrow passage of Bellot Strait, separating northerly Somerset Island from continental North America. We plan to enter at slack tide if possible, to avoid a current that roars through the passage at more than seven knots during the peak flow. The mixing of waters in this strait provides abundant food for marine mammals. We will keep our eyes peeled for harp seals, bearded seals, and even polar bears. The historic site of Fort Ross, located at the southern end of Somerset Island, is a former Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading outpost. Fascinating archaeological sites tell of more than one thousand years of habitation by the Inuit and their predecessors.
September 1, 2021: BEECHEY ISLAND AND PORT LEOPOLD
Beechey Island holds great historic importance on our journey through the Northwest Passage. Here Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition spent its last ‘comfortable’ winter in 1845 before it disappeared into the icy vastness, sparking an incredible series of search expeditions, over nearly three decades. A trip ashore at Beechey Island to visit the grave markers gives one pause to wonder at the bravery (or foolhardiness) of these pioneering explorers. This is a thrilling location for history buffs, and for many, it will be the defining moment of our expedition.
September 2, 2021:LANCASTER SOUND AND DUNDAS HARBOUR
We are now at almost 75° degrees north of latitude. Cruising the coastline of Devon Island, we are in the waters of Lancaster Sound—a rich, bio-diverse region often referred to as the wildlife ‘superhighway’ of the Arctic. The waters from Baffin Bay to the east, Beaufort Sea to the west, and the archipelago of islands to the north, all combine to create rich nutrients, which support an abundance of Arctic wildlife. We plan on visiting the old Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) outpost at Dundas Harbour, situated on the southern shores of Devon Island.
September 3, 2021: MITTIMATALIK (POND INLET)
We sight the wild north coast of Baffin Island and navigate through Navy Board Inlet. The vast landscapes of Sirmilik National Park surround us as we approach the remote Inuit community of Mittimatalik.A highlight will be a visit to the Natinnak Centre, where a fascinating cultural exhibit showcases aspects of daily life, culture, and history of the people of the North. Inuit carvings, jewellery, and other traditional craft are on display, and purchasing such items from the local artisans is a great way to support the community.
September 4, 2021: BUCHAN GULF
The Buchan Gulf is 108 nautical miles south from Pond Inlet, Nunavut. Two sections of the impressive cliffs (the Mitres and the Bastions) are key terrestrial habitats for migratory birds, and have been designated as a Canadian Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA). The huge colony of Northern Fulmars is impossible to miss. These oceanic birds will use this site to lay their eggs from April to September. Each set of parents will lay a single egg and share the incubation period for nearly a month. The young take two months to develop and grow before they can leave the nest. Other potential wildlife sightings include polar bears, walruses, orcas, and narwhals.
September 5, 2021: ISABELLA BAY
Isabella Bay (Niginaniq) is a critical summer habitat and feeding area for endangered bowhead whales. These remarkable marine mammals can break sea ice with the crown of their head. The area also includes a shallow shelf at the entrance to the bay that provides protection for bowheads from predatory orca whales. Polar bears, ringed seals, Canada geese, snow geese, and narwhal are also found in and around the area.
September 6, 2021: BAFFIN BAY
Leaving the rugged coastline of Baffin Island, our crossing of Baffin Bay allows us time to slow down and reflect on the beauty and experiences we have shared. Our team of experts will continue to teach about the history and wildlife of the region, while our naturalists keep watch looking for fulmars, dovekies, pilot whales, and orca. As we approach Greenland, we also increase our likelihood of spotting some of the big baleen whales like the fin and sei whales.
September 7, 2021: ILULISSAT, GREENLAND, AND THE JACOBSHAVN ICEFJORD
For many, today is a highlight of the voyage. Truly one of the wonders of the world, the Jacobshavn Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site, spews gigantic tabular icebergs out into Disko Bay. The glacier that creates these stunning monoliths advances at over 40 meters per day, creating around 50 cubic kilometers of ice annually. Our approach to Ilulissat is dependent on the amount of ice in and around the mouth of the fjord. Our captain and officers are skilled ice navigators, and our ship has one of the highest ice ratings of any vessel exploring Arctic waters.
We disembark our ship here and begin a four-day intensive photography session in and around Ilulissat and Disko Bay.
September 7–11, 2021: ILULISSAT, GREENLAND, AND DISKO BAY We’re based on land in a lovely hotel in Ilulissat, Greenland. Each day we’ll be out on one of our favorite small expedition boats to explore the icebergs, glaciers, small villages, and more in this photographically-rich area. Each day we’ll be out on our private boat. With some weather luck and good solar activity, we should be able to photograph the Northern Lights as well! Our days will take us around the towering icebergs of Disko Bay, to some remote villages, and to one of the most beautiful glaciers, Eqi Glacier. We’ll feature our signature image reviews and post-processing sessions, as well.
September 11, 2021: At midday, we fly from Ilulissat to Reykjavik, Iceland. We’ll check into our hotel and have a wonderful dinner where we can celebrate a successful expedition of the Northwest Passage, the Canadian Arctic, and Greenland.
September 12, 2021: EXPEDITION CONCLUDES Flights home from Reykjavik, Iceland (KEF), anytime this day.
ABOUT OUR ITINERARY: Polar exploration can be unpredictable. Specific sites visited will depend on prevailing weather and ice conditions at the time of sailing. The above itinerary should be read as a ‘guide only’ and may change. The captain, expedition leader, and our team wll review the sailing plan throughout the voyage, taking advantage of weather and ice conditions, to maximize our encounters with wildlife. Decades of experience on these waterways means we have a large number of landing sites and cruising locations, even when the weather or ice conditions hinder our planned route. A flexible approach is something we encourage you to bring to the ship.
All meals, and on-board lodging during the expedition
Use of expedition gear (parka, snow pants, waterproof boots, trekking poles, binoculars, and dry bag)
All crew gratuities, and lodging in Ottawa and Edmonton
Photographic instruction and guiding from Andy Williams
Image reviews, post-processing instruction
Fun, inspiration, and a great time!
What’s Not Included?
Air transportation to Edmonton, Alberta (YEG airport code) and from Ottawa, Ontario (YOW airport code). Passport and visa fees, if any. Items of a personal nature. Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks other than water, tea, coffee. Ship to shore communication (ship’s email, satellite phone). Medical Evacuation and Travel Medical Insurance (required). Trip Cancellation Insurance (strongly recommended). Anything else not specifically listed as included.
Your non-refundable deposit will hold your place on this workshop. A further non-refundable payment is due on January 1, 2021. Final non-refundable balance payment is due by April 1, 2021. Payment amounts are based on cabin choice. All payments are non-refundable and this is why we recommend comprehensive travel insurance including trip cancelation. All of our other standard terms and conditions apply.
Are you ready to explore and photograph the serene beauty of West Greenland, the ice and icebergs, the colorful towns? And the magic and discovery of sailing through the Northwest Passage and photographing the beauty of the Canadian Arctic, her flora, fauna, and her people? Space is limited, so click “Sign Me Up!” and we’ll see you in the Arctic!