Top 5 reasons to visit the Canadian High Arctic

  1. A landscape of vast untouched wilderness; over 36,000 different islands and covering around 500,000 square miles
  2. Canada is one of the best places in the world to see polar bears in the wild
  3. The Northwest Passage and its rich history of exploration
  4. Visit thriving Inuit communities 
  5. Whether you come to explore on foot, onboard a ship, by vehicle or plane, the Canadian Arctic offers unparalleled choice in terms of experiences

Choosing your cruise to the Canadian Arctic

Places to visit

Canada's arctic makes up over 40% of the country's landmass, the portion north of the Arctic Circle, east of Alaska and west of Greenland. A significant chunk comprises a group of over 36,500 islands, the Canadian Arctic archipelago, located in Nunavut and part of the Northwest Territories.

Adventurous travellers are drawn to remote Baffin Island, with its bowhead whales and Inuit communities, Newfoundland's fascinating Norse history and national parks, the First Nations culture and history of Northern Canada, and of course, the famous Northwest Passage itself.

Cruises to the Canadian Arctic

Getting there

Distances are vast, so the best way to access the Canadian Arctic is by flying to Edmonton or Ottawa, the main gateway cities to catch an onward flight further north to Iqaluit on Baffin Island, Cambridge Bay, Resolute, Kugluktuk (Coppermine) or Kangerlussuaq in West Greenland. Here, you'll embark your ship, by far the best way to explore such a remote, vast icy labyrinth.

July and August have the most choice in terms of voyages, when the passages have become freer from ice, allowing safe passage. To transit the Northwest Passage, you should aim to travel in August.

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Our best trips to the Canadian Arctic

Major landmarks in the Canadian Arctic region

About the Canadian Arctic

Culture

Northern Canada is one of the best places to come into contact with Inuit and First Nations communities, the resilient, welcoming and fiercely traditional people who make the Arctic wilderness their home.

Traditions vary widely between communities, but one thing is held in common throughout, overcoming the challenges of living in a hostile, remote environment, in a rapidly changing world. Tourism is an important part of life here, and you'll find many eager to share their way of life with visitors.

Cruises to the Canadian Arctic

History

For stories of ingenuity, discovery and heroism, it's hard to beat the Canadian Arctic. For a start, here you'll find archaeological evidence of the very first Europeans in North America, tenacious vikings who settled in Newfoundland and Labrador in the 11th Century.

Back then, the Norse called this area Vinland, and led by Erik the Red they built up settlements, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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1,500 years later, the Northwest Passage was to become one of the most fabled adventurer's routes in the world. History books are full of stories of the daring expeditions that attempted to find a way through the Northwest Passage, most of which ended in disaster due to the labyrinthine, ever-changing icescapes. It's possible to visit Victory Point, right near the wreck of Franklin's HMS Erebus, and Beechey island where the graves of him and his men stand proudly in the Tundra.

Cruises to the Canadian Arctic

Canadian Arctic: FAQs

  • Will I see Arctic wildlife?

    The wildlife in the Arctic is plentiful and also rather shy, but it can be seen with patience and tenacity. Some parts of the Canadian Arctic are better than others, and as ever with wildlife, there is a certain amount of luck involved. If seeing the Arctic Big 6 (polar bears, walrus, musk oxen, narwhal, beluga whales and birdlife) is your top priority, get in touch to make sure your cruise gives you the best possible opportunities for sightings.

  • What is the average trip length to the Canadian Arctic?

    Approx. 13 days in length, however, those transiting the Northwest Passage or combining with West Greenland are typically 17 - 20 days in length.

  • How much can I expect to pay?

    From £5,000 per person upwards, depending on the length of the voyage and the ship you are on.

  • When should I start to plan my trip?

    To be confident of securing your preferred option the answer is - the sooner the better. Typically departure dates are released 18 months in advance.

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