The Northwest Territories is famous for paddling, RVing, flightseeing – but did you know you can also take a cruise here? Ahoy! This summer, four different cruise vessels will ply the waters of the Western Arctic, giving guests a chance to tour our Far North towns, to gaze at Arctic critters like polar bears, muskoxen and bowhead whales, and to see natural wonders such as Aulavik National Park.
The North’s most experienced Arctic cruise company, Adventure Canada, will again be sailing its vessel, the Ocean Endeavour, to the Northwest Territories this year as part of its “Into the Northwest Passage” itinerary. Taking place in early September, the expedition will bring approximately 200 passengers west through Prince of Wales Strait, with landings on muskox-laden Banks Island and at the Inuit art mecca of Ulukhaktok.
New to the Northwest Territories this year will be the biggest-ever cruise ship to transit Canada’s Arctic, the Crystal Serenity. In late August, the vessel – boasting 1,700 passengers and crew, two helicopters, and an icebreaker escort – will make stops at the Smoking Hills near Paulatuk and in the town of Ulukhaktok before continuing east toward the Atlantic.
Also visiting the Northwest Territories as part of a Northwest Passage voyage will be the L'Austral, a 260-passenger vessel. In late August they will drop in on Ulukhaktok; additional stops are planned for Jesse Harbour on Banks Island and for Franklin Bay near the Cape Parry Bird Sanctuary. The ship will then continue west through the Beaufort Sea bound for Alaska.
Finally, polar experts Quark Expeditions will sail to the Northwest Territories with a small 110-passenger ship in mid-September. They plan to land at our northernmost community, Sachs Harbour, and visit Victoria Island, Mercy Falls in Aulavik National Park, the Smoking Hills near Paulatuk, and the Mackenzie Delta.