Sailing through the Northwest Passage is a rare travel experience that has been hundreds of years in the making. The passage — more specifically, a series of channels through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans — extends approximately 900 miles from Baffin Island to the Beaufort Sea above Alaska. Your Seabourn ship spends nine days traversing this famed sea corridor, and while the exact route taken through the islands can vary, your expedition is sure to be one of contemplation and discovery.
The glacier-carved landscape here is dominated by sea ice, which is used as a platform by marine mammals such as walruses and Arctic ringed seals — as well as the polar bears that hunt them. Yet the region has experienced monumental change since Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen first mapped the Northwest Passage in 1906, and the rapidly shrinking sea ice coverage now allows ships to navigate the route year-round — while also creating existential challenges for the animals that rely upon the ice for survival. Many of the areas you pass through were traditional Indigenous hunting and fishing grounds, and archaeological discoveries show that the Pre-Dorset people occupied this region some 4,000 years ago.
Highlights along the Northwest Passage include:
Devon Island: The world’s largest uninhabited island, located west of Baffin Bay, is known as “Mars on Earth” for its barren, rocky terrain and polar desert climate.
Beechy Island: This tiny island, connected to Devon by a thin isthmus, is the final resting place for four members of the doomed Franklin Expedition of 1845.
Cambridge Bay: A visit to this small Inuit town — the administrative hub for Canada’s Nunavut territory — offers insight into how people survive in such a remote and harsh environment.
Bellot Strait: Steep slopes, strong currents, and thick sea ice make this narrow gap between Somerset Island and mainland Canada a navigational challenge. (Fear not, though: if it proves impassable, your Seabourn captain has other options!)
Get an up-close perspective of this icy realm on regular Zodiac cruises, navigating huge icebergs and glacier fronts while your Expedition Team members point out marine mammals and wildlife ashore.
Set out on foot to explore beautiful, tundra-covered landscapes with your Expedition Team members, who delight in pointing out delicate plants and flowers that thrive in this hostile environment. You can hike to an ancient Thule settlement of stone pit houses on Devon Island, and encounters with arctic foxes, hares, and other wildlife are always possible.
OPTIONAL EXPEDITIONS (whenever possible):
Join your Kayak Team for a paddle along the shores wherever your expedition stops. The chance to experience this wild, remote place from a water-level perspective is a rare and special privilege.
Delve below the frigid water surface of Arctic Canada in one of your ship’s custom-built submarines, exploring a plankton-rich realm where few have ever ventured — and fascinating discoveries are yet to be made.