The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of Great Explorers (Itinerary 1)

The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of Great Explorers (Itinerary 1)

The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of Great Explorers (Itinerary 1)

The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of Great Explorers (Itinerary 1)

Travel information 19 days MS Fram
14 August 2023
Price from
13390 €
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

This expedition cruise takes you from Iceland to Greenland’s southern coast before attempting to sail to the heart of the Northwest Passage at Cambridge Bay. 

Southern Greenland 

We begin in Reykjavik, Iceland. From here, you’ll sail the Denmark Strait to Prince Christian Sound, a spectacular maze of channels made of granite rock, and filled with ice floes and glaciers. We spend four days exploring the remarkable fjords and settlements of southern Greenland, including the capital Nuuk and the stunning UNESCO-listed Ilulissat Icefjord.  

Into the Northwest Passage 

The next part of our adventure takes us across the Davis Strait and the start of our attempt to cross the Northwest Passage. Over seven days, we’ll explore the islands that dot this famously challenging sea route, only navigable a few weeks of the year. You’ll discover a range of possible sites amidst spectacular nature, abundant wildlife, Thule and Inuit settlements, and historic trading posts. 

Our route and landings will depend very much on the sea and weather conditions. We plan to take you for small boat cruises among ice floes and Arctic wildlife. The Captain and the Expedition Leader will pick spots for escorted landings with the Expedition Team, that may include Pond Inlet, Dundas Harbour, Radstock Bay, Fort Ross and Gjoa Haven.  

If successful, our great sea adventure ends in Cambridge Bay, where explorers once sought shelter from the harsh winters. You’ll take a flight to Edmonton before returning home. Should sea ice prevent us from completing our transit of the Northwest Passage, you’ll still have experienced the rugged beauty of the High Arctic and many an opportunity to spot rare wildlife such as polar bears. 

The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of Great Explorers (Itinerary 1) The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of Great Explorers (Itinerary 1)
  • Day 1
    Reykjavik, Iceland

    World`s northernmost capital

    14 August 2023

    Your adventure starts in Reykjavik, the northernmost capital in the world. Reykjavik is simultaneously quaint and cosmopolitan. This small city is the perfect size for a walking tour, packed full of art, culture and history.   

    Take a stroll along Laugavegur, the main shopping street, with its boutiques and outdoor shops. You might like to pick up some Icelandic knitwear, famous for its quality, style, and warmth. You can also head towards the architecturally striking Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral. Art lovers can visit the Reykjavik Art Museum, National Gallery and the many smaller galleries and museums dotting the city.  

    Stopping off at the National Museum, the Saga Museum and the Maritime Museum is sure to fill you in about Iceland’s history. And bring your swimsuit if you fancy a dip in one of the city’s 18 swimming pools, many with saunas and hot tubs.      

    At Reykjavik’s harbour, MS Fram awaits you. After you collect your complimentary expedition jacket and check-in, you’ll have time to settle in your cabin. There is a mandatory safety drill just before departure after which you can walk around to explore the ship.  

    The welcome dinner in the evening ends with a toast by the Captain wishing everyone an enjoyable expedition. You’ll then meet the Expedition Team and key members of the crew who’ll take you through an important health and safety briefing.   


    Why not book a two-day or four-day Pre-Programme with us to spend some extra time discovering Iceland’s nearby Golden Circle. From Reykjavik, whose name means ‘Smokey Bay’ due to the rising steam from the surrounding geothermal features, you’ll be just hours away from geysers, glaciers, hot springs and waterfalls.  

    Day 1
    Reykjavik, Iceland

    World`s northernmost capital

  • Day 2-3
    At Sea

    The Denmark Strait

    15 August 2023 - 16 August 2023

    Ease into your adventure as you spend today at sea on the way to the Northwest Passage. The Denmark Strait is actually the site of the world’s largest waterfall ... underwater! The mixture of warm and cold currents, plus strong winds means that the waters are sometimes a bit choppy. 

    Aboard the ship, you’ll have time to relax, get to know your fellow travellers, and check out the onboard facilities. In the Science Center, the Expedition Team will hold lecture programmes on the wildlife and ecosystems of the Arctic, preparing you for the adventure ahead.   

    They’ll also talk through important guidelines from AECO, the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators. You'll learn how you can protect wildlife habitats, keep a safe distance from animals, and visit Arctic communities in a dignified and respectful way.  

    If you feel like getting active, you can hit the gym and get your pulse up. You’ll also have access to a sauna, an infinity pool, and two outdoor hot tubs. Drinks can be enjoyed in the panoramic Explorer Lounge & Bar too, while settling into a sofa and watching the rhythmic ocean waves roll by outside.    

    Day 2-3
    At Sea

    The Denmark Strait

  • Day 4
    Prins Christian Sund Region

    'A river of melted ice’

    17 August 2023

    Get ready to marvel at some of the most stunning views on the planet in the Prince Christian Sound region. The Southern Greenland sound connects the Labrador Sea and the Irminger Sea, separating the mainland from Cape Farewell archipelago.  

    The 60-mile waterway is surrounded by granite mountains with sharp peaks, some reaching up to 7,283 ft. high. You’ll marvel at the maze of geological patterns in the rock face, from deep cracks and crevasses to lines of black lichen that seem to seep from the stone like paint.   

    The muted greys and rusted greens of the mountains stand in contrast to the bright white of the many glaciers you’ll see. These slow-moving masses of ice grind their way from the enormous Greenlandic Ice Sheet and flow straight into the sound, calving white-blue icebergs of all sizes, shades, and shapes. You’ll understand why 15th century Italian explorer John Cabot famously described Prince Christian Sound as ‘a river of melted ice’.   

    Get your camera ready and join the Expedition Team on the observation deck. There are only two signs of human life here: the Danish weather station built by the US during the Cold War at the entrance to the fjord, and the colourful houses of the 100-strong fishing and hunting village of Aappilattoq, which when translated from local Greenlandic Inuit means ‘Sea Anemone’.  

    You may see ringed seals and bearded seals on the ice, while the likes of Glaucous Gulls and Black Guillemots nest in the steep cliffs. Minke and humpback whales may make an appearance too, although they tend not to swim into the narrow stretches of the sound, preferring the wider sections at the entrance.   

    Navigating Prince Christian Sound is only possible in summer each year when sea ice is less packed and icebergs don’t block the entrance. However, weather, sea ice, and gate-keeping icebergs on the day may mean our route is still barred.  

    If that does happen, don’t worry! It’s all to be expected on an expedition into true wilderness. This is where nature sets the rules, not the other way around. We may instead sail towards Nunap Isua, otherwise known as Cape Farewell, the southernmost point of Greenland.

    • Included Prins Christian Sund Exploration Day
    Day 4
    Prins Christian Sund Region

    'A river of melted ice’

  • Day 5
    Kvanefjord, Greenland

    Expedition day

    18 August 2023

    Kvanefjord is a 30-mile-long fjord on the west coast of Greenland in the district of Sermersooq, which means ‘place of much ice’. The fjord extends around six miles inland before branching into three smaller channels, each with a glacier at its head.  

    We’ll spend the day exploring this amazing fjord and the Captain will seek out places where we can drop anchor and head ashore. There will be plenty of opportunities for scouting out wildlife, either from the deck or on land, or perhaps you’d just like to stretch your legs and enjoy the stunning scenery.  

    Kvanefjord is also close to Kvanefjeld, an area with one of the largest concentrations of rare-earth mineral deposits in the world. Recent surveys even estimate that a quarter of the world’s rare-earth minerals lie within these hills.  

    Geological concentrations of uranium and the fabled Greenlandic ruby, the tugtupite – meaning ‘reindeer blood’ make the Kvanefield site particularly noteworthy. Cerium, lanthanum, and other precious metals crucial to modern technology, such as smartphones, electric cars, and MRI machines, are also found here.

    • Included Kvanefjord Exploration Day
    Day 5
    Kvanefjord, Greenland

    Expedition day

  • Day 6
    Nuuk, Greenland

    The Capital of Greenland

    19 August 2023

    Nuuk was settled in 1728, which makes it the oldest settlement in the nation. And although Greenland’s capital is classed as a city, fewer than 17,000 people call it home. The name Nuuk means peninsula, and it’s located at the mouth of a system of spectacular fjords and mountains.  

    The first thing you’ll notice about this low-rise settlement is how colourful the houses are, with red, green, blue and yellow buildings standing out against the icy black and white backdrop of the mountains.  

    Today Nuuk is a place where old and new traditions meet, from the picturesque old buildings dotting the edge of the fjord, to the ultra-modern architecture of the Greenlandic Parliament and the wave-shaped Katuaq Cultural Centre inspired by the Northern Lights.  

    You can visit the oldest building in Greenland at Hans Egede’s House, constructed in 1721, by the Norwegian missionary who is credited as founding the city. Elsewhere in the city, you can look for a statue and a church named after him.  

    The red-painted Nuuk Cathedral with the typical Lutheran clock tower and steeple is worth a visit too. Drop by the Greenland National Museum to see the Qilakitsoq mummies or admire local paintings at the Nuuk Art Museum, the only private arts and crafts museum in Greenland. 

    We’ll also be offering a long hike through Paradise Valley and around Mt. Lille Malene as part of an optional excursion. As you follow a path formed by old reindeer tracks, you’ll bask in splendid views of the Greenlandic coast and pass by a small lake and natural springs. 

    There’s a range of eateries in Nuuk to satisfy all tastes, some of them featuring local delicacies such as musk ox, seal soup and snow crab on the menus. If you’d rather just have a coffee, there are several excellent cafes that serve hot drinks and snacks such as burgers and Danish pastries.

    • Included Nuuk Grand Experience
    Day 6
    Nuuk, Greenland

    The Capital of Greenland

  • Day 7
    Sisimiut, Greenland

    Modern settlement, ancient traditions

    20 August 2023

    Spectacularly situated Sisimiut – Greenland’s second city – is placed 25 miles north of the Arctic Circle in the central coastal area of the Davis Strait. It’s a modern settlement but its roots stretch back in time a long way, with estimates that the area has been settled by Greenlandic peoples for over 4,500 years.  

    Its name translates into ‘the people at the fox holes’, a reference to the many burrows of Arctic fox that lie near the city. Another animal local to the area is the musk ox whose wool is used to make a local fabric called qiviut – said to be 10 times warmer than sheep wool. You might like to pick up a qiviut scarf, hat, or mittens while you are here. 

    With a population of around 5,500, Sisimiut is an important regional hub and is often a stopover point for boats heading between Nuuk and the Disko Bay area, with many coming here to enjoy backcountry sports on the Greenland ice cap such as skiing or dog sledding.  

    The small museum houses artefacts from excavations of ancient Saqqaq settlements near the town, some as old as 4,000 years. There’s also the Taseralik Cultural Centre, the place to go to learn more about the cultural heritage of the area.  

    For the fit and healthy, we offer a 4 - 5 hour hike up Palaasip Qaqqa mountain, a steady, steep climb to over 1,640 ft. above sea level. The effort to go up will be well rewarded with unique views of Greenland’s exceptional scenery. 

    • Included Sisimiut Community Visit
    Day 7
    Sisimiut, Greenland

    Modern settlement, ancient traditions

  • Day 8
    Ilulissat, Greenland

    Birth of Icebergs

    21 August 2023

    Ilulissat – meaning simply ‘Icebergs’ – is set in the stunning scenery of the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This beautiful gem of a town is characterised by its colourful houses sitting down by the fjord which features an ever-changing gallery of icebergs – it really is a picture-perfect kind of place.  

    It’s also a vibrant hub for adventure seekers who head out onto the polar ice cap, and there are almost as many sled dogs living here as there are people. Each spring, one of the world’s greatest dog sled races takes place here, with 100 sleds.  

    Just outside the town you can often see enormous icebergs floating in the deep blue waters. They originate from the Jakobshavn Glacier, which calves some 35 billion tonnes of icebergs each year. The icebergs make their way down the 12-mile-long fjord before entering Disko Bay, and they’re a photographer’s dream.  

    You won’t just see these huge, chiselled masses of ice, you’ll also hear them. As they bump into one another and into the shores, the sounds of cracking, rumbling, and creaking echo throughout the fjord.  

    If that background noise is like the drums, the crumble, crash, and splash of ice calving off the icebergs into the waters below are the cymbals. Take a moment just to sit, watch, and listen to the icebergs in the beautiful surroundings. 

    • Included Walk to the Icefjords
    Day 8
    Ilulissat, Greenland

    Birth of Icebergs

  • Day 9-10
    Labrador Sea

    Crossing the Davis Strait

    22 August 2023 - 23 August 2023

    Named for English explorer John Davis, who led expeditions here searching for a route through the Northwest Passage between 1585 and 1587. Davis was the first to draw attention to seal hunting and whaling possibilities in the area, and to show that the Newfoundland cod fisheries extended this far north.

    We have left Greenland behind and now set course for Canada. While sailing across the Labrador Sea, you can continue to enjoy informative presentations by the Expedition Team. Some of their topics could include wildlife you might see in Northern Labrador, Inuit culture, expedition photography, and historic explorers of the Canadian Arctic.   

    We also support a number of Citizen Science projects that you can join. These projects include Happywhale, where your photographs help identify and track the movement of specific whales across the planet due to their distinguishing characteristics.  

    Or you can participate in the GLOBE Observer project, which combines your observations of clouds and sky conditions from below with data collected by satellites from above. By participating in these projects, not only will you be supporting the scientific community, you’ll also be gaining a better understanding of the world around you.

    Day 9-10
    Labrador Sea

    Crossing the Davis Strait

  • Day 11-17
    Northwest Passage

    Heart of the Northwest Passage

    24 August 2023 - 30 August 2023

    It’s now time for us to explore the heart of the Northwest Passage. The first recorded voyage here was led by John Cabot in 1497. James Cook attempted but failed to sail the Passage in 1776, and many are already familiar with the ill-fated Franklin expedition of 1845. The first to conquer the Passage by ship was Norwegian Roald Amundsen on an expedition that lasted from 1903 to 1906. 

    The ice varies from year to year, but we hope to be able to show you some of the following places: 

    Pond Inlet, called 'Mittimatalik' in Inuktitut, is a traditional Inuit community surrounded by mountains, glaciers, fjords, ice caves, geological hoodoos and drifting icebergs. 

    Dundas Harbour is an abandoned settlement with an old Royal Canadian Mounted Police camp and several archaeological sites. Go ashore to see the ruins of some of these buildings, along with an impressive Thule site.  

    Radstock Bay is dominated by the striking outcropping of Caswell Tower. The shoreline here is ideal for walks to a pre-historic Inuit dwelling site. Caswell Tower itself features a challenging hike to the summit for great views.  

    Beechey Island is known for the ill-fated Franklin expedition. Two ships sailed into the passage in 1845, but neither were ever seen again. It is known that the Franklin Expedition over-wintered on Beechey Island in 1845-1846. 

    Fort Ross is a trading post established in 1937. There are two small huts ashore that are maintained by the Canadian Coast Guard. 

    Gjoa Haven honours the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who wintered here from 1903. He was in contact with the local Netsilik Inuit people, and learned a lot from them about survival and travel in polar regions, which eventually gave him the upper hand in the race for the South Pole years later 

    Throughout the journey, we will be sailing spell-bindingly scenic straits and on the constant look out for wildlife such as the mighty polar bear. 

    Day 11-17
    Northwest Passage

    Heart of the Northwest Passage

  • Day 18
    Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island

    ‘A Good Fishing Place’

    31 August 2023

    Cambridge Bay is a hamlet with fewer than 2,000 residents. There’s a clue to the region’s hunting and fishing heritage in the name: Cambridge Bay in Inuinnaqtun is called ‘Iqaluktuuttiaq’ meaning a ‘good fishing place’. Fly-fishing for giant char in the river nearby remains a draw to this day.  

    The abundant wildlife, including musk oxen and caribou, is an obvious pull for explorers to these parts. Others also come to visit the Canadian High Arctic Research Station, a world-class centre for the study of climate change. 

    It’s only fitting that your expedition draws to an end here, where Arctic explorers of old seeking the Northwest Passage often sheltered. You can add your name to an illustrious list which includes the legendary Roald Amundsen. From here, you’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight to Montréal where you’ll spend the night.

    Day 18
    Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island

    ‘A Good Fishing Place’

  • Day 19
    Montréal, Canada

    Québec’s premier city

    1 September 2023

    Your adventure concludes in Montréal, the largest city in the beautiful province of Québec, and the second most populous in Canada. Occupying the Island of Montréal and its surrounds, the city is a hub for Canadian history and culture with a modern cosmopolitan feel, infused with both French and British influences. If you choose to remain for a few days following your cruise, you’ll find plenty to appreciate in this lively city. 

    Discover shopping, cuisine, and culture in the city’s exciting downtown area, marvel at Notre Dame Basilica while exploring the historic streets of Old Montréal, or find a kaleidoscope of colour and quirks in the city’s buzzing Plateau district. Montréal is also famous for its year-round festive atmosphere, thanks to a calendar full of events. 

    For those looking to satisfy their inner foodie, Montréal is one of the finest cities in Canada for its diverse food markets, range of restaurants, and charming café culture. Make sure to treat yourself to local delicacies, including smoked meats, freshly baked bagels, and maple sweets, washed down with a beer from one of the many craft breweries in the city. 

    After spending the day exploring, you can take your pick from the pubs and bars in Downtown’s social hub, Crescent Street. Unwind and people-watch while enjoying a cocktail on the terrace or re-live your adventure among friends over a beer or two in one of the city’s lively bars.  

    Add some extra time and join our optional half-day Montréal Sightseeing & Savoir-Vivre Tour. You’ll see how culturally diverse Montréal is and visit the landmarks that make it such a unique and wonderful city. We’ll also stop to pick up some of Montréal’s famous bagels, and swing by Little Italy to enjoy a tasting of local produce at the popular Jean-Talon market. 

    Day 19
    Montréal, Canada

    Québec’s premier city



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What's included

Included in your voyage


  • Overnight in Montréal after the expedition cruise including breakfast 


  • Economy flight from Cambridge Bay to Montréal 


  • Transfer from the ship to the airport in Cambridge Bay after the Expedition cruise Transfer from the airport in Montréal to the hotel after the expedition cruise 

Expedition Cruise  

  • Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice 
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurants Aune and Fredheim 
  • À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm included for suite guests 
  • Complimentary tea and coffee 
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported. 
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to use at water refill stations on board 
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organise and accompany activities on board and ashore 
  • Range of included excursions 

Onboard Activities 

  • Experts on the Expedition Team deliver in-depth lectures on a variety of topics 
  • Use of the ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes 
  • Citizen Science programme allows guests to assist with live scientific research 
  • Professional onboard photographer gives top tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos 
  • Use of the ship’s hot tubs, infinity pool, panoramic sauna, outdoor and indoor gyms, and outdoor running track  
  • Informal gatherings with the crew such as daily recaps and preparation for the day to come 

Landing Activities 

  • Escorted landings with small expedition boats  
  • Loan of boots, trekking poles and all equipment for activities 
  • Complimentary wind and water-resistant expedition jacket 
  • Expedition Photographers help with your camera settings  

Not included in your voyage

  • International flights  
  • Travel insurance 
  • Luggage handling 
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners 
  • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team   
  • Optional treatments in the onboard wellness and spa area 



  • All planned activities are subject to weather and ice conditions 
  • Excursions and activities are subject to change  
  • Please make sure you meet all entry and boarding requirements
  • No gratuities expected 
MS Fram in Greenland
Photo: Stian Klo
MS Fram in Antarctica
Photo: Sandra Walser
Your ship

MS Fram

Year built 2007
Year of refurbishment 2022
Shipyard Fincantieri, Italy
Passenger capacity 250 (200 in Antarctica)
Beds 276
Car capacity 0
Gross tonnage 11 647 T
Length 114 m
Beam 20.2 m
Speed 13 knots
MS Fram in Greenland
Photo: Stian Klo

The original Fram was the most famous explorer ship of its time, and the achievements of her expeditions are unparalleled. MS Fram brings on the heritage of the original Fram, using the most advanced technology to make her exceptionally well suited for expedition voyages in Polar Regions.

Read more about MS Fram

Icebergs – one of many favorite photo motives when on an expedition with MS Fram
Photo: Tomas Mauch
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