Canada’s Arctic is a vast expanse of stunning wilderness. Breathtaking landscapes are home to a remarkable diversity of wildlife. Canada’s Inuit people call this place home and only on an expedition voyage can you encounter the people of the far north. The region is best explored by small expedition ship and in the company of locals. One Ocean Expeditions (OOE), is a Canadian polar cruise specialist that have been exploring the maze of waterways in the Arctic for more than a decade. Every northern Summer, OOE bring their two ice-strengthened expedition ships into their home waters for a series of outstanding voyages.
The Arctic is accessed from Edmonton, or Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, where a charter flight takes us into the far north, to locations including Resolute, Iqaluit and Cambridge Bay. These flights are arranged by OOE and include airport transfers and transfers to the ship for easy embarkation. The Arctic season is short however – just six weeks, between late July and mid September, when optimal ice conditions allow for easy navigation.
Australian travelers are now discovering there is more to Canada beyond the icons of British Columbia and the Rockies and every year more are exploring the eastern seaboard provinces of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador. Those visiting the Canadian Arctic are often return clients from the ‘other’ polar region – Antarctica.
The Arctic features very different wildlife encounters, compared to Antarctica. Polar bears, musk ox, walrus, beluga whales and mythical narwhals are only found in the Arctic. The region has staggering birdlife and unlike the frozen continent of Antarctica, you will also find abundant plant life, including stunning wildflowers covering the Arctic tundra.
Virtually the entire season in the Canadian Arctic is spent above the Arctic Circle, which means extended hours of daylight in the late Summer months. Towards the end of the season, it’s not uncommon to glimpse the staggering phenomenon of the Northern Lights – an experience at the top of list for Australian travelers to Canada, according to a recent survey by Destination Canada.
OOE operate two, purpose-built expedition ships carrying fewer than 100 passengers. This makes for easy embarkation into the fleet of zodiac boats with maximum time spent onshore. Smaller groups have far less impact on shore, particularly when visiting remote Inuit communities.
Passengers enjoy authentic and respectful cultural interaction and exchange when visiting Northern communities. Beautiful hand-made textiles and crafts are produced by the Inuit and provide a sustainable source of income in such locations. Along with community visits, a wide range of outdoor activities and interesting educational opportunities are provided over the course of the voyage. All activities and excursions are led by trained and experienced OOE guides offering guests the possibility to become ambassadors to the region, the wildlife, and the unique Inuit communities housed there. “Each passenger that has discovered the Arctic with One Ocean Expeditions came back transformed by its beauty, the experience and knowledge they acquired. It’s simple really. They are now part of our family”, says Andrew Prossin, Managing Director at One Ocean Expeditions.
Voyages offered in the Canadian Arctic include the celebrated transit of the iconic Northwest Passage – a 12 night journey across to top of Canada. The deep fjords and towering peaks of Baffin Island are experienced on several voyages throughout the season. The landscape of Baffin Island has been likened to the Norwegian fjords ‘on an entirely different scale’. A 7-night wildlife focused voyage has been selected by the Canadian Geographic Society as a ‘must do’ Canadian experience. While history lovers will love the voyages focusing on the early Arctic explorers, such as Franklin, Amundsen and Larsen.