Arrive Montreal, Quebec
Arrive in Montreal and transfer to your hotel. Enjoy time at leisure to relax or explore the city independently, with our staff available at the A&K hospitality desk to assist with arrangements. Gather tonight with your A&K Expedition Team for a welcome dinner, and introduction to your cruise’s AKP art auction.
Montreal | Dynamic French-English City
Today, explore this modern Canadian city with a choice of engaging tours. Choose a panoramic city tour, beginning with a guided visit of Notre-Dame Basilica, then pausing at the scenic summit of Mount Royal and sampling the city’s fabled bagels. You may opt instead to explore multicultural Old Montreal, enjoying those same beautiful vistas at Mount Royal before proceeding to Little Italy and its open-air Jean Talon Market. As an alternative, explore Old Montreal on foot, learning about its French and English heritage; see Jacques-Cartier Square, Place d’Armes and Saint Jacques Street with its notable Victorian architecture. As another option, you may take a guided walking tour through the city’s downtown, traversing its “Underground City,” Sainte Catherine Street and Quartier des Spectacles, the city’s premier entertainment district.
Kangerlussuaq | Edge of Indlandsis
Transfer to the airport for an early morning charter flight to Western Greenland. Arrive this afternoon at Kangerlussuaq, a fjord at the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet and once a strategic allied stronghold during World War II. Later, board your luxury expedition mega-yacht, ‘Le Boreal.’ Throughout your journey, gain rich knowledge both on board and ashore, with an immersive, exciting enrichment program led by your award-winning Expedition Team. Tonight, join fellow guests and crew for a welcome cocktail reception.
Western Greenland | Where Amundsen Began
In 1906, polar explorer Roald Amundsen became the first person to successfully cross the entire Northwest Passage. Begin as he did, venturing along Greenland’s stunning West Coast and north into Baffin Bay for the next five days. Your Captain and Expedition Team determine the day’s best excursions, which may include the following areas:
Sisimiut: North of the Arctic Circle, Sisimiut is the northernmost city in Greenland able to maintain a yearround, ice-free port, and also the southernmost town with sufficient snow for dogsledding in winter and spring. Visit the local museum and enjoy an Inuit sea kayak demonstration.
Disko Bay & Ilulissat: Cruise into the wide inlet of Disko Bay, first explored by Erik the Red in 985, when he established the first Norse settlements in Western Greenland. Discover the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site at the mouth of one of the fastest and most active glaciers in the world, Sermeq Kujalleq. Amid its spectacular giant icebergs, floating growlers and bergy bits, listen for the sounds of the calving ice-stream. Take a walking tour of Ilulissat, visit its local history museum, and meet with villagers to learn about life in this harsh Arctic region. Conditions permitting, board a local vessel for an iceberg cruise of Disko Bay.
Uummannaq Fjords: Located north of Ilulissat, this system boasts a geological wonder teeming with marine life. Visit Karrat to enjoy views of the iceberg-studded bay and discover the remains of ancient huts, built by Thule hunters (ancestors of the Inuit) more than 500 years ago.
Kullorsuaq: Translated as “Big Thumb” in the native Kalaallisut in homage of Devil’s Thumb, a nearby prominent mountain, Kullorsuaq remains one of the most traditional hunting, fishing and trading villages in Greenland.
Nunavut & the Canadian Arctic Archipelago | Heart of the Northwest Passage
Cruise into the Canadian Arctic Archipelago of Nunavut, where you begin your journey to the heart of the Northwest Passage. As ‘Le Boreal’ winds through legendary channels and inlets, A&K’s enrichment specialists continue to spark captivating discussions that enhance your discovery. Your crew and Expedition Team determine your itinerary, which is dependent on weather, sea, ice and wildlife conditions. Exciting excursions may include:
Pond Inlet: At the Northern end of Baffin Island, Pond Inlet (“Place of Mittima’s Grave”) is the gateway to the Northwest Passage and a rich archaeological site. After clearing customs formalities for Nunavut, embark on a shore excursion to an area once inhabited by the ancient Thule. Visit the Nattinnak Visitor’s Center or Toonoonik Sahoonik Co-op, where you can shop for soapstone artisan carvings, beautiful wall hangings and other handcrafted goods.
Lancaster Sound: Situated between Devon Island and Baffin Island, this body of water forms the eastern entrance to the Parry Channel and the Northwest Passage. It’s also home to a rich abundance of Arctic cod, which draw a seasonal population of sea birds and marine mammals. Beluga and endangered bowhead whales, and ringed and bearded seals, as well as northern fulmars, black guillemots and Arctic terns are among some of the wildlife that inhabits the area.
Beechey Island: Historic moments in Arctic exploration define this island, best known for providing a safe haven to British explorer Sir John Franklin in 1845. Look east toward Resolute Bay at the huge silhouette of Cape Riley and imagine what Captain Franklin saw here in Erebus Harbour, where he took shelter for two years before his ill-fated attempt to conquer the Northwest Passage. See the wooden grave markers for three of Franklin’s men, now bleached by the sun, and visit the cenotaph memorial erected in memory of the lost explorer. It is an unforgettable experience.
Fort Ross: An abandoned trading post on the tip of Somerset Island, Fort Ross was founded in 1937 as a place for trappers to barter Arctic fox pelts in exchange for food and necessities. Explore the remaining wooden buildings of the post, which closed in 1948, and imagine life in such a barren landscape. Perhaps take a Zodiac excursion to CoBay, keeping watch for local wildlife and learning about residents from expert, accompanying naturalists.
Gjoa Haven: During his first attempt to transit the Northwest Passage on ‘Gjoa,’ Roald Amundsen used this natural harbor as a respite while waiting for ice conditions to improve. For two years, he lived with the Netsilik Inuits, learning their skills for survival and more efficient travel, which would later prove invaluable in his successful South Pole expedition.
Victoria Island: Cruise along the south coast of Victoria Island, which straddles both Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, voyaging through Queen Maud Gulf, Dease Strait and Coronation Gulf. Expedition stops may include bird sanctuary Jenny Lind Island and Johansen Bay, home to the remains of a nomadic trapper base camp. Your Expedition Team may also lead you to Ulukhaktok (Holman village) in Queen’s Bay for an unforgettable visit with its local Inuit people. Only in contact with the rest of the world since the middle of the 19th century, the people of Holman still practice a traditional lifestyle. Experience a warm welcome with drum dances, taste fresh char and bannock rings (fried dough) prepared over an open fire, and tour the town art center. There, discover Ulukhaktok’s beautiful printmaking tradition as well as carvings, hats made of coveted qiviut (musk ox wool), and traditional ulus, half-moon-shaped knives used by women to prepare food and skins.
Franklin Bay & the “Smoking Hills” | Endless Fire
In the Northwest Territories at Franklin Bay, tread where few will and see the spectacular and enormous “Smoking Hills,” cliffs of bituminous shale that endlessly combust and burn. This rare geological phenomenon has likely been occurring for millennia, with layers of the relatively unstable mineral jarosite covering these hills. When the mineral comes into contact with cold air, it becomes redhot and produces a thick, black smoke — a fantastic sight similar to the smoky fumaroles produced by volcanoes, though far rarer to see.
Herschel Island & the Yukon Territory | Safe Haven in the Farthest Reaches
During a long mapping expedition in 1826, Captain Franklin was the first European to lay eyes on this unique island at the northernmost point of the Yukon Territory. Named by Franklin, Herschel Island is a bear-populated landmark in the West Arctic and has since served alternately as a whaling station, relay station and refuge for travellers. The island supports numerous species of wildlife, which seasonally may include musk ox and arctic fox. It is also one of the only places on earth where you may see a grizzly bear, black bear and polar bear, the last of which live along the ice edge in summer. Evidence of the island’s whaling culture and Thule predecessors remains along its coastline — one that is also greatly affected by the impacts of sea erosion and climate change.
Beaufort & Chukchi Seas | Waters of the White One
Typically dense with ice floes and fog, the Beaufort Sea opens up a 60-mile-wide coastal pass from August to September. From here, ‘Le Boreal’ cruises into the U.S. and clears at Point Barrow, Alaska (U.S. Customs clearance only). Sailing in the comfort of your luxury cruiser, continue participating in exciting talks led by your Expedition Team. Still hunted on a sustenance quota basis by local Inuit, beluga whales travel in numbers here and are said to be quite “chatty,” with their clicks and squeals audible above the surface. In the late evening, relax on your private balcony or join fellow guests on deck and, with some luck, witness the northern lights, known for delivering a stunning display in autumn.
Little Diomede | Along the Alaskan Coast
Continue cruising through the Bering Sea to Little Diomede, an island between Alaska and Russia at the edge of the International Dateline. Enjoy a Zodiac cruise of the island, where the Ingalikmiut maintain a traditional lifestyle of hunting, fishing and egg gathering. In line with customs and necessity, the Ingalikmiut also use seal, walrus and polar bear hides for trade currency as well as to make clothing, parkas and hats.
Nome, Alaska | Gold Rush Fever
Arrive and disembark in Nome, Alaska, among the wildest reaches of mainland America and the final destination for the Iditarod dogsled competition. Gold can still be mined here, and you may try gold panning firsthand; also experience a dogsled demonstration and a stop at the Bering Sea Land Bridge National Monument visitor’s center. After lunch at Old St. Joe’s Church, enjoy time at leisure in downtown Nome. Transfer to the airport for your chartered internal flight to Anchorage, and then either continue on with your homebound flight, or join the Alaska post-tour extension.