Getting to the Northwest Passage

A mother and cubs explore the ice

With such expansive distances to cover, flying to the Northwest Passage is unquestionably the fastest, easiest option. Many expedition trips will start or end in Greenland, with flights into and out of Kangerlussuaq – where a full-sized runway allows for reliable flight service. With a population of only 36,000 living in just 25 communities across the Canadian province Nunavut’s 2 million km², there is little availability or need for air travel or landing sites, so local airlines, Canadian North and First Air offer only limited and irregular scheduled flights.

Entry requirements for Canada

Getting to the Northwest Passage

Proof of Covid-19 vaccination, pre-board testing and arrival tests are no longer required for entry into Canada. It is also not mandatory to wear a mask in public spaces while travelling, although this is still recommended. 

Visa requirements

In travelling to the Northwest Passage, which is part of the Canadian Arctic, you will need to ask your local embassy or consulate if you need a visa.

  • United States passport holders can visit Canada without a visa for up to 180 days
  • British Citizens don’t usually need a visa for Canada, but do need to secure an Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) prior to travel
  • If you are starting or finishing in Greenland as part of your trip, you will need to check immigration regulations but generally, USA and British citizens do not require a visa
Scenery of the Northwest Passage, Arctic

Scenery of the Northwest Passage

Entry requirements for Greenland

Getting to the Northwest Passage

Greenland's Covid-19 restrictions were removed on the 18th May 2022.

All travellers can currently enter Greenland without the need to quarantine or show proof of vaccination for Covid-19. It is also no longer a requirement to present a negative PCR test at check-in before departure to Greenland or re-test on entry.

Health & safety

It is not yet confirmed if any Covid-19 requirements will be in place in 2024. We will continue to update this guide as our operators confirm their requirements nearer to the start of the season.

Getting to the Northwest Passage

Booking flights

Getting to the Northwest Passage

When you are booking your flights you will need to check your trip dates carefully and ensure you are arriving in plenty of time. If you are late, the ship will not wait for you.

Booking your international flights will depend on your personal circumstances. Some of our passengers are choosing to wait to purchase flights, while others prefer to book their flights to take advantage of current availability and pricing. We would recommend that you seek the advice of an airline or flight specialist.

Changeable/refundable tickets will give you peace of mind and flexibility should anything unexpected happen. Whatever you choose, we strongly recommend that you opt for flexible ticket options.

Pre-voyage arrangements

We strongly advise building in a minimum of two nights at the start of your itinerary to provide a buffer in case of travel delay. This allows time for any mandatory pre-embarkation arrangements and ensures you’re refreshed and ready for your adventure. Some cruise packages may already include one night of pre-voyage accommodation; please check your itinerary for details.

The cruise will not wait for you if you are delayed arriving at the start point, so it is sensible to plan in plenty of time for your travels.

Getting to the Northwest Passage

Your lodge in the wilds of Greenland

Charter flights


The Northwest Passage is sparsely populated, and it is not an easy place to get to. Anyone travelling by air will be bound by a handful of fairly unreliable scheduled flights between the communities. This does make independent travel in the region something of a major challenge and adventure!

Because of this, our expedition trips rely on chartered flights in and out of the more substantial settlements where it’s possible to land larger jets. These flights go from Calgary, Yellowknife, Ottawa or Toronto to settlements including Cambridge Bay, Kugluktuk and Resolute (in the Northwest Passage), or Kangerlussuaq in Greenland. 

To find information on your charter flights, please refer to your itinerary or reach out to your Customer Experience Coordinator with any questions.

Please note you will still need to arrange your international flights. Swoop does not have an in-house flights team, so you will need to book your international flights directly with the airline, or use a local flight agent.

Arranging your travel insurance

Canada and Greenland do not require any specific Covid-19 insurance for entry or travel. Please be aware this situation may change and you should monitor the latest guidelines before your trip.

Both governments highly recommend having coverage for incidents such as medical care. It is your responsibility to check with your insurance provider to ensure that you have the appropriate cover in place.

You should bring your complete travel insurance policy with you when travelling. As well as ensuring your full policy is available on your phone or tablet, we recommend that you carry a printout and a spare copy in case you lose one.

Getting to the Northwest Passage

Views of Greenland in winter, near Ilulissat

Other essential information