Things to know about the Northwest Passage

  • Previously inaccessible to all but the hardiest explorers, you can now discover a wealth of extraordinary wildlife, fascinating history and rich Inuit culture
  • There are seven main routes through the Northwest Passage, which thread their ways through Canada’s Arctic archipelago of 36,500 islands
  • This is true expedition, sea ice covers the archipelago for much of the year, but by late summer many of the waterways become ice-free offering chance for exploration
  • Lancaster Sound is a major migratory route for many marine and terrestrial species, making it ideal for polar bear, walrus, narwhal and beluga whale sightings
  • It’s one of the least populated regions on the planet with 0.05 people per square mile - a true Arctic wilderness

What is the Northwest Passage?

The Northwest Passage is the sea route across the northern Canadian Archipelago joining the Pacific Ocean and the North Atlantic. For centuries European explorers had sought a way through the ice in search of a shorter route to the East. Many lives were sacrificed in the search until Roald Amundsen succeeded between 1903-1906 on board the Gjoa.

The shrinking of the Arctic sea ice and advances in modern vessels has made the route increasingly accessible. Alongside the expedition ships carrying adventurers are a handful of commercial vessels cutting 2,500 miles off their journey, saving precious time and fuel, and serving the remote communities dotted through the region.