Canadian polar cruise specialist, One Ocean Expeditions (OOE), have recently completed what they are hailing as the greatest ever season of expedition cruising in the Arctic.
Guests enjoyed record-breaking polar bear encounters – with 91 separate sightings on one voyage alone! Frequent sightings of humpack, beluga, gray, pilot, bottlenose and pilot whales were capped off by sightings of rare fin whales – and the mythical narwhal. Bird lovers were treated to staggering numbers of thick-billed murres, black-legged kittiwakes, northern fulmars and black guillemots to name a few. While late season voyages enjoyed the mesmerizing spectacle of the Northern Lights dancing across the night sky on several occasions.
2016 saw the introduction of several new voyages – including for the first time, shorter voyages concentrating on the wildlife and historic hotspots in the North West Passage. Several departures hosted historians and curators from the Vancouver Maritime Museum. While other departures featured scientists and researchers from the prestigious Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Vancouver Aquarium, and Parks Canada. Working alongside OOE’s experienced team, these special guests provided fascinating presentations, hosted lively discussions and accompanied off-ship excursions. This enabled guests to learn and interact, observe and experience in the company of some of the world’s leading Arctic experts.
Visits to remote Inuit communities added a fascinating cultural element to many voyages, enhanced by local Inuit guides travelling on board the ship. On shore, these local guides provided cultural interpretation and deep insight into the lives of the people who inhabit Canada’s north.
Manager for One Ocean Expeditions in Australia, Richard Cunningham said, “This season is right up there – it may well be our best ever. The polar bear sightings were unprecedented. What guests really seem to like, is the true sense of exploration on our Arctic voyages. You have to work hard for it – with wildlife sightings and managing the ever changing ice and weather conditions. Spontaneity is the key. These are expeditions in the true sense of the word. Throw in large doses of Arctic history, strong Inuit culture and stunning scenery and you have a very powerful travel experience”.
In 2017, Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary and One Ocean have an exciting range of new voyages planned. A new voyage explores several historic RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) outposts on remote Ellsemere Island, situated at 80 degrees north of latitude. The 9-night ‘Pathways to Franklin’ voyage focuses on the history of early Arctic exploration, and the ill-fated Franklin expedition of the 1840’s in which 129 men perished and two ships vanishing in the Arctic for almost 170 years. One of the two ships was discovered in 2014, a discovery in which OOE played a significant role. The second vessel was located in its final resting place, just two weeks ago.
OOE’s two expedition vessels will operate the season. Purpose built for remote polar exploration, these vessels feature the highest ice classification of any commercial passenger ship operating in northern Canada. With fewer than 100 passengers per vessel, they provide guests with a unique, small-ship expedition experience. This is a particularly important consideration when visiting small Inuit communities.
Generous ‘early-bird’ booking offers are available for a short time, including US1,000 flight credit valid until October 31, 2016. Voyages range in duration from 9 nights to 12 nights. The Canadian expedition season operates between early July and early September.