Sunday, 11 March 2012

Northwest Passage = Plethora of Wildlife

While the history of the 300-year search for the Northwest Passage, which links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, is well documented, travellers in search of a polar adventure may be less aware of the huge variety and numbers of wildlife to be enjoyed during a voyage through the Canadian High Arctic.

According to Aaron Lawton, a Northwest Passage Expedition Leader with specialist small-ship cruise company One Ocean Expeditions, it is possible to be truly inundated and overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of marine mammals, polar bears and birdlife that appear during such a voyage.

This bombardment of wildlife sightings is by no means an isolated experience as passengers on board the impressive ice-strengthened Akademik Ioffe will discover. Using zodiac inflatable boats with the quietest of motors, travelling upwind of a polar bear, it is possible to safely get within metres of these beautiful creatures as they stroll along the shoreline. And, with a real chance of seeing pods of beluga or bowhead whales, a raft of ringed, harp or bearded seals, a herd of walrus and staggering numbers of birds, many with chicks in various stages of fledging, it is certain to be a wildlife experience to remember.

Today’s adventurers will travel in much greater comfort than the remarkable polar explorers who went before them. Facilities on board include a bar and lounge, a library and media room, plus a theatre-style presentation room, gift-shop and wellness centre with massage, sauna and hot tub, as well as a dining room serving excellent meals throughout the voyage.

Additional highlights of the 14-night trip, which travels between Kangerlussuaq in Greenland and Coppermine in Canada, include majestic, steep-sided fjords and massive tabular icebergs; the chance to visit remote Inuit communities and meet traditional Greenlandic kayakers; and the opportunity to participate in hiking, kayaking, photographic and birding expeditions in the company of expert guides.

One Ocean Expeditions is offering the choice of two 14-night voyages through the Northwest Passage this summer. Departures are on August 12 from Kangerlussuaq, sailing west to Coppermine, and August 26 in reverse.

Prices start from $7,590 per person, based on triple share and from $10,990 for a private twin cabin. Suites and superior cabins are also available and range from $11,990-$13,990. Charter flights between Ottawa and Kangerlussuaq and Edmonton and Coppermine are required for passengers joining these voyages, at an additional cost of $1,850 per person.

Kayaking excursions are also available at a cost of $695 per person. Return transfers between Kangerlussuaq/Kugluktuk airports and the ship, all meals and accommodation and zodiac excursions are included.

For booking details, be sure to check out this link with the UK's luxury cruise specialists, The Cruise Line Ltd.