The Northwest Passage Icebreaker Cruise

Reykjavík, Iceland - Nome, Alaska

Iceland, West Greenland, Canadian Arctic
August-September
24 Nights
Prins Christian Sund Greenland Ponant
Explorers Club
Reykjavík, Iceland - Nome Alaska
12/08/2024 to the 05/09/2024
24 Nights

Price from per person

£37,130

Cruise Overview

Embark on an epic discovery of west Greenland and explore the furthest reaches of the fabled Northwest Passage on the luxury icebreaker Le Commandant Charcot. In collaboration with The Explorers Club, this expedition will showcase the pioneering work of filmmaker David Borish. Joined by British Photo Ambassadors Ian Dawson and Sue Flood, immerse yourself in the vastness of the Arctic on an extraordinary polar odyssey from Iceland to Alaska, traversing the legendary Northwest Passage. A route sought after by the greatest explorers, realised by Roald Amundsen from 1903 to 1906, now beckons you to venture even further aboard Le Commandant Charcot along a largely unexplored maritime route.

Explore the awe-inspiring Disko Bay. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this region unveils itself amidst a mythical glacier and the graceful dance of monumental icebergs. Embark on the Northwest Passage through Lancaster Sound and the ice of McClure Strait, tracing the footsteps of polar exploration sagas. Progressing through Banks Island, the ship will lead you into a dynamically shifting world of ice, revealing the boundless beauty sculpted by nature, enhanced by the ever-changing light. 

The Northwest Passage, long envisioned before its discovery in the early 20th century, promises a journey that will resonate with the explorer in you.

The Northwest Passage cruise map

Cruise Highlights

Cruise Highlights

  • Embark on a historic voyage through the Northwest Passage, a maritime route long sought after by great explorers and made accessible by the exceptional capabilities of Le Commandant Charcot, uniquely designed to navigate into the heart of the ice.
  • The Explorers Club presents this extraordinary expedition with David Borish, a pioneering social scientist and documentary filmmaker.
  • Accompanied by the distinguished British Photo Ambassadors Ian Dawson and Sue Flood, you'll have the privilege of capturing timeless moments with the guidance and insights of our photo ambassador. The program includes immersive workshops, enlightening conferences, and personalised advice tailored to enhance your photographic skills.
  • Experience unparalleled comfort aboard Le Commandant Charcot during days of exploration, where time seems to pause amidst the ice floe, enveloped in the serene silence of the polar desert.
  • Traverse the west coast of Greenland, unveiling traditional villages, majestic glaciers, and monumental icebergs.
  • Engage with the Inuit communities along the west coast of Greenland and discover the capital, Nuuk. Explore the heart of the ice in the Northwest Passage, marvelling at the sublime reliefs of pristine landscapes that continually evolve.
  • Enchanting landscapes await, featuring icy channels, fjords, expansive ice floes, icebergs in Disko Bay, myriad jagged islands, blue-toned glaciers, mountain chains, vertiginous walls, and vast tundra expanses.
  • Encounter Arctic foxes, seabirds, belugas, bowhead whales, and walruses, with the possibility of witnessing polar bears in their natural habitat.
  • Embark on brand-new activities such as kayaking, hiking or snowshoeing, ice fishing, and even experience an invigorating polar plunge.

Itinerary

Itinerary

An adventurous traverse of the Northwest Passage by Icebreaker

Reykjavik in Iceland in the winter
Day 1

ReyjavÍk

Nestled on the edge of an expansive bay in the western part of the country, Iceland's capital unfolds its charms. The "Pearl of Reykjavík," Perlan, stands as a museum situated atop 'Oskjuhlið hill, providing a sweeping vista of the verdant landscapes below. Not far away, a signpost guides you to the iconic Hallgrímskirkja church and the historic centre, inviting leisurely strolls along the vibrant Skólavördustígur and Laugavegur streets, adorned with charming boutiques. For a tranquil retreat just beyond the city, visitors can explore the Reykjanes peninsula and indulge in the renowned thermal lagoons of the Blue Lagoon.

Embarkation from 16:00 to 17:00

Departure at 18:00

CHARCOT in the Denmark Strait PONANT
Days 2-3

Sailing Through The Denmark Strait

Spanning the waters between Greenland and Iceland, the Denmark Strait became a historic passage first navigated by the Vikings in the late 10th century during the expeditions of Erik the Red. In the Second World War annals, the strait witnessed a significant naval battle between the Kriegsmarine and the Royal Navy on May 24, 1941. During winter, the coasts of Greenland are enveloped in extremely dense pack ice, while the Transpolar Drift carries icebergs along the strait throughout the year. However, in the summer, the strait generally remains free of ice.

Beneath the surface of the strait lies the world's largest waterfall, an undersea cataract formed by the temperature contrast between the cold waters of the Greenland Sea and the warmer waters of the Irminger Sea. This region hosts a diverse and thriving ecosystem, providing a habitat for numerous cetacean species.

Prins Christian Sund Greenland Ponant
Day 4

Prins Christian Sund

Your ship gracefully approaches the coast of Greenland, surrounded by a backdrop adorned with sharp peaks and grand glaciers. Prepare to embark on a journey through the enchanting Prins Christian Sund, a narrow channel that meanders over approximately one hundred kilometres between the southeast and southwest of Greenland. Succumb to the allure of the raw beauty present in these distinctive landscapes, featuring rocky cliffs and waterfalls nourished by the expansive ice sheet cascading into the frigid waters below. This is a realm where bearded seals find solace, reclining on floating ice to bask in the warmth of the sunshine.

Aappilattoq in Southern greenland
Day 5

Aappilattoq (Augpilatok)

Aappilattoq (Augpilatok) is a quaint Inuit village with a population of around one hundred residents, and its name translates to "sea anemone" in Greenlandic. Nestled in a mountainous area inaccessible by road, this charming village boasts picturesque and vibrant houses that extend to the southern tip of Greenland along the banks of the breathtaking Prince Christian Sound. The sound, stretching approximately one hundred kilometres, links the Labrador Sea to the Irminger Sea, meandering through mesmerising landscapes adorned with majestic glaciers, craggy peaks, and rocky cliffs featuring waterfalls nourished by the expansive ice sheet.

Uninhabited in the 19th century, this region came to life in the 1920s with the creation of the village, which has since become a hub for activities centred around hunting, fishing, and livestock farming. Aappilattoq stands as a testament to the harmonious coexistence of its residents with the stunning natural surroundings.

Nuuk capital of Greenland
Day 6

Nuuk

Upon his arrival on the coast of Nuuk, Erik Le Rouge, the exiled Norse chief, discovered a bountiful and hospitable land adorned with fjords. Choosing to settle with a group of his compatriots, the Norse became the primary inhabitants, maintaining their presence for 500 years until a gradual decline paved the way for the Inuit community. Nuuk graces the mouth of one of the world's largest fjord networks, where the waters remain unfrozen. The town gracefully extends toward the Davis Strait and boasts a historic centre brimming with national heritage.

In winter, when the sombre waters of Greenland prevail, the vivid reds, blues, greens, and yellows of the houses emerge as a lively contrast, uplifting the locals' spirits. Nuuk stands as a testament to the cultural richness and historical significance embedded in the heart of Greenland.

Indoor swimming pool on Le Commandant Charcot PONANT-Gilles Trillard
Day 7

At Sea Aboard Le Commandant Charcot

Embark on extraordinary moments aboard Le Commandant Charcot, the pioneering luxury polar exploration vessel and the inaugural PC2-class polar cruise ship with the ability to navigate deep into the heart of ice-covered seas and oceans—regions typically off-limits to conventional ships due to frozen conditions. Le Commandant Charcot is equipped with cutting-edge oceanographic and scientific instruments meticulously chosen by experts.

Seize the opportunity to engage in on-board lectures and discussions with these specialists, gaining deeper insights into the polar regions. Join in advancing scientific research and collectively unveil the mysteries these captivating destinations have yet to disclose. Let the journey on Le Commandant Charcot be a unique blend of luxury and exploration, offering a glimpse into the uncharted realms of the polar wonders.

Disko Bay Greenland Ponant
Day 8

Disco Bay

Explore Disko Bay, located east of Baffin Bay, adorned with numerous icebergs sculpted by the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Witness the majestic ballet of these colossal ice giants from the deck of your ship as they gracefully drift across the dark waters.

Recognized as a natural marvel of Greenland, Disko Bay is also celebrated as a prime vantage point for observing the region's abundant humpback whales. Encounters with untamed wildlife and captivating landscapes within this spectacular and delicate environment promise to be moments of pure wonder for you.

Svalbard sea ice PONANT
Day 9

At Sea Aboard Le Commandant Charcot

As we depart the magnificent coast of West Greenland, spend time indulging in Le Commandement Charcot's outstanding facilities. Enjoy the view of the ice from the heated outdoor lagoon, and spend time in the indoor pool, relaxation areas or sauna.

During your time at sea, our team of naturalists and scientists will undertake presentations in the ship's theatre and share their knowledge with you, ready for our next destination, Arctic Canada.

Pond Inlet Canadian Arctic Northwest Passage Cruise PONANT
Day 10

Pond Inlet, Nunavut

Nestled on Baffin Island, situated in northern Canada at the entrance of the renowned Northwest Passage, lies a small Inuit settlement at the farthest reaches of infinity. To reach this destination, one must traverse the Arctic Circle—a symbolic boundary that separates humanity from the lands of mystery and marvel.

It's not merely the way of life that distinguishes the residents of Pond Inlet but rather the awe-inspiring backdrop surrounding them. Snow-capped mountains, fjords, and glaciers converge in a breathtaking natural panorama that transcends space and stretches time. Some discoveries have the power to alter you indefinitely, and this is undeniably one of them.

Lancaster Sound Northwest Passage Cruise PONANT
Day 11

Lancaster Sound

Situated between Devon Island and Baffin Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut, Lancaster Sound is a pivotal component of the Northwest Passage—an essential shipping route traversing the Canadian Arctic Archipelago along the northern coast of North America. Coveted for nearly three centuries, it has witnessed various expeditions, including the ill-fated one led by John Franklin, who was last seen near Lancaster Sound in August 1845. Numerous colonies of cetaceans, polar bears, and seabirds have established their homes in or around these nourishing waters at the convergence of vital currents.

Located within Inuit territory, Lancaster Sound is the focal point of initiatives to establish a marine conservation area to safeguard this vibrant ecosystem and its inhabitants from the impacts of human activities.

Devon Island Northwest Passage cruise PONANT
Day 12

Devon Island, Nunavut

Devon Island in Baffin Bay is integral to the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Anchored within the Arctic Cordillera, its rocky terrain, reminiscent of Mars, holds significant fascination for scientists. In 1616, Robert Bylot and William Baffin became the first Europeans to spot Devon Island. Still, it wasn't until two centuries later that British sailor William E. Parry mapped it, naming it after the eponymous English region.

In the early 1920s, the Hudson's Bay Company established a fur-trading outpost on the island, which saw the departure of the Inuits in 1936. A renewed effort to inhabit the island was made in the early 1950s. Today, only a few dilapidated buildings, remnants of that era, stand as witnesses to its history.

Beechey-island Northwest Passage Cruise PONANT
Day 14

Beechey Island, Nunavut

Beechey Island, situated at the eastern terminus of Resolute Bay, evokes poignant memories from Franklin's expedition. In 1845, Sir John embarked on a quest for the mythical Northwest Passage and found refuge in Erebus Harbour for two years, patiently awaiting the recession of ice floes to forge a path forward.

The site is nothing short of spectacular; the three weathered wooden grave markers, sun-bleached and signifying the resting places of at least three of Captain Franklin's men, alongside the memorial honouring Franklin and his crew, create an atmosphere of profound reverence. While the surrounding wilderness leaves a lasting impression, the ochre and yellows of the rocky desert tenderly soften the landscape.

North West Passage PONANT
Days 15-17

Exploring Sea Ice Of Northwest Passage

Located at the northernmost point of the American continent, within the Arctic archipelago, the Northwest Passage is the shortest water route linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Coveted since the 15th century, Roald Amundsen achieved the historic crossing in 1906. This passage, often obstructed by thick ice floes for most of the year, has only been successfully navigated by a fortunate few. The journey through this sparsely mapped and little-explored region presents a challenge ideally suited for Le Commandant Charcot, meticulously designed for navigation in extreme environments.

Within the refined and protective confines of Le Commandant Charcot, you will fully embrace the exploration of the ice with the unparalleled allure of a first-time experience. Like the early explorers, you will navigate through channels sculpted by glacial erosion, unveiling spectacular landscapes characterised by rugged terrain and monumental fjords. The rare privilege of undertaking such an exploration will become evident as you immerse yourself in the remarkable scarcity of this experience.

Arctic fox Canadian Arctic Northwest Passage Cruise PONANT
Day 18

Banks Island

Nestled in the northern expanse of the Canadian archipelago in the Northwest Territories, Banks Island, also referred to as Banks Land, presents landscapes that seamlessly blend sumptuousness with spectacle. Encompassing an area of approximately 70,000 km², the island unfolds a panorama of hills, valleys, towering cliffs, and canyons sculpted by glacial erosion.

The northern reaches of the island host a remarkably diverse wildlife population, featuring Arctic wolves, muskoxen, caribou, Arctic foxes, lemmings, and an array of bird species.

Polar bears in the Beaufort sea PONANT
Days 19-22

Exploring Sea Ice In Beaufort Sea

Lining the northern coasts of Alaska and Canada, the Beaufort Sea, long dreaded for its harsh climatic conditions, remained in mystery for centuries. Enshrouded in a thick layer of ice for most of the year, this segment of the Arctic Ocean, christened in tribute to the British Admiral Francis Beaufort, remained unexplored until 1914. Now, the Beaufort Sea beckons to unveil its magnificent icy landscapes. With a stroke of luck, you might chance upon the majestic presence of polar bears, as the region is renowned for harbouring the Lords of the Arctic.

Sailing in the beaufort sea PONANT
Day23

Sailing In Beaufort Sea

Bounded by the entrance to the Northwest Passage and the Amundsen Gulf to the east and Canada's Yukon and Northwest Territories to the west, the Beaufort Sea constitutes a part of the nearly inaccessible Arctic Ocean. Owing to its extreme weather conditions, it remained unexplored until 1914, when Canadian explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson undertook the challenge.

Nevertheless, it bears the name of Francis Beaufort, a distinguished British admiral and hydrographer. Navigating these remote waters, adorned with a mosaic of ice resulting from the breakup of sea ice, you will be surrounded by this breathtaking scenery, where sightings of belugas and bowhead whales forming colonies in the region may grace your journey.

Northwest Passage icebreaker cruise PONANT
Day 24

Crossing The Bering Strait

Embark on a journey across the Bering Strait, a maritime channel spanning 90 kilometres (56 miles) between eastern Siberia and Alaska, bearing the name of Danish explorer Vitus Bering. Once traversed on foot during the last glaciations, this strait served as a pathway from Asia to North America.

The Russians' transfer of Alaska to the United States in 1867 elevated the strait to a crucial geostrategic site, earning the moniker "Ice Curtain" during the Cold War. Defined in 1990, the border between the two countries lies in the middle of the strait, between the two Diomede Islands—one Russian and the other American. Your crossing promises favourable conditions, fostering poignant encounters with wildlife drawn to the nourishing waters of this significant passage.

Nome Alaska Icebreaker Cruise
Day 25

Nome, Alaska

Positioned along the Bering Strait, at the westernmost point of Alaska, Nome presents the quaint allure of a former gold-mining town nestled in the heart of breathtaking wilderness. Wandering through the vibrantly coloured houses, you'll unearth the enduring legacy of the pioneering spirit that continues to shape local traditions. Life in Nome revolves around manual labour, encompassing fishing, reindeer rearing, and sledge racing. The expansive plains that envelop the town offer remarkable vantage points for observing the diverse Arctic fauna that inhabits the region.

Disembarkation at 08:00

Activities

Activities

Ice Fishing

Ice Fishing activity

Where else could be more fitting for the pursuit of ice fishing than the frigid Arctic regions? With the guidance of our naturalist guides, you'll seek out the ideal location to carve a hole into the ice floe or frozen lakes, attempting to catch fish using an age-old method. Seizing the opportunities presented by weather and ice conditions, you'll engage in this unique activity, equally appealing to avid game fishing enthusiasts and those with a curiosity for new discoveries.*

*Optional activity with limited available spots. Please enquire with our Travel Experience Team at the time of booking.

Kayaking

Kayaking in Greenland PONANT

Discover the art of embracing the natural elements, where you'll seize every opportunity provided by the ever-changing weather and ice conditions to navigate the crystal-clear polar waters. Under the expert guidance of licensed professionals, you'll embark on a kayaking adventure, a craft cherished by the Inuit people for over four millennia. Initially designed for hunting and fishing, the kayak now becomes your gateway to immersing yourself in the unspoiled wonders of polar regions, whether it's the White Continent or the enchanting Far North.*

*Please note that limited spots are available for this experience.

Hiking or Snowshoeing

Hiking and snowshoeing on Le Commandant Charcot

Amid our shore landings, you'll have the chance to join our seasoned naturalist guides for hiking expeditions of varying difficulty levels based on the ecological resilience of the unique biome. These excursions may range from leisurely coastal strolls to extended treks lasting several hours, taking you to breathtaking viewpoints and historic sites. You'll seize the moment, adapting your journey to the prevailing weather and ice conditions. And when our itineraries permit, donning snowshoes* will transport you into the footsteps of early explorers, unlocking the uncharted corners that have remained largely untouched by mankind.

*Kindly be aware that there are limited spaces available for snowshoeing.

Polar Plunge

Polar Plunge activity PONANT

Prepare to be captivated by the unparalleled experience of plunging into frigid waters. Weather and ice conditions permitting, you'll have unique opportunities to partake in a polar plunge while clad only in your swimwear, right in the heart of the icy realm. The intense rush of emotions and the invigorating warmth that follows will leave you with unforgettable memories, reenergizing you for the journey ahead.*

*Please keep in mind that there are limited spots available for this daring adventure.

If you are interested in participating in these adventurous activities please enquire about availability at the time of reservation. All activities are subject to availability and weather conditions.

Your Ship

Your Ship

Le Commandant Charcot

Introducing the majestic Le Commandant Charcot, the world's first luxury icebreaker. Imagine exploring the seldom visited furthest reaches of the polar regions in comfort levels never seen before on an icebreaker. Her unique icebreaking PC2 Polar Class 2 Hull allows it to explore captivating destinations locked in by sea ice from the North Pole to the frozen seas of East Greenland and Antarctica, which are off-limits to standard expedition ships. The onboard experience is second to none, with fine dining, an outdoor heated lagoon and sumptuous ensuite cabins with verandas. With a team of onboard expedition experts, Le Commandant Charcot is perfect for adventurers and connoisseurs looking to explore the unexplored in safety and style.

Ship Highlights

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The World’s first Luxury Icebreaker Built For Polar Exploration

The ice-strengthened hull and powerful engines give Le Commandant Charcot an extraordinary ability to explore places where no other cruise ship has ventured before offering out-of-this-world itineraries. Equipped with a fleet of Zodiacs for excursions and kayaks, this is the ultimate expedition ship.
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Outstanding Onboard Experience & Fine Cuisine

From bathing in the heated outdoor blue lagoon to unwinding in the relaxation area complete with detox bar, indoor pool, and seating with large windows, Le Commandant Charcot is conceived around the guest experience at every level. Enjoy the finest gourmet food at the ship’s two restaurants.
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Small Group Size​

Le Commandant Charcot takes a maximum of 245 guests with only 200 on Antarctica voyages. The ship is spacious and never feels crowded. A small group size offers our guests the best experience on the ship, during Zodiac excursions and shore landings.
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World Class Expedition Teams and Leaders

What makes expeditions on Le Commandant Charcot truly pioneering is the team’s experience behind it. From captains to expedition leaders, naturalists, guides, scientists, and special guest speakers, there is a passion and wealth of experience that is shared with you every step of the way.
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Environmentally Responsible Expeditions

From cutting-edge hybrid electric engines powered by liquid natural gas to an outdoor pool heated with recycled thermal energy generated by the ship’s engine, the ship utilizes the latest technologies to be a leader in environmentally respectful cruising.
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Luxury Accommodation

Le Commandant Charcot offers luxury never seen before on an icebreaker. The tastefully designed cabins feature balconies and ensuites. For those looking for exceptional luxury, there is a choice of suites featuring private deck areas with jacuzzis, large living spaces, and dining areas.
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Dedicated to Scientific Discovery

Equipped with science laboratories, Le Commandant Charcot offers a platform to host scientists and researchers to gain valuable insights into understanding and protecting the most remote places on Earth with their knowledge shared with guests during presentations.

Do you need help planning your expedition?

Our friendly and knowledgeable Travel Experience Team is ready to assist you.

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