The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of Great Explorers (Itinerary 2)

The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of Great Explorers (Itinerary 2)

The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of Great Explorers (Itinerary 2)

The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of Great Explorers (Itinerary 2)

Travel information 20 days MS Fram
30 August 2023
Price from
13190 €
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Join us on a thrilling expedition cruise as we attempt to cross the legendary Northwest Passage and explore the stunning landscapes and wildlife of southern Greenland.  

From the heart of the Northwest Passage 

We start off exploring lively Montréal before flying to Cambridge Bay where our sea expedition begins into the Northwest Passage. Over the next seven days, we’ll explore the islands that dot this notoriously challenging territory, navigable for only a few weeks of the year. Exactly what we’ll see and do depends on the sea ice and weather conditions.  

As we sail, you’ll pass spectacular ice cliffs sculpted by the elements. We’ll pick locations for expedition boat cruising with the Expedition Team where possible, that may include Gjoa Haven, Fort Ross, Beechey Island, Radstock Bay, Dundas Harbor and Pond Inlet. 

Greenland: the world’s largest island 

If all goes to plan, we’ll exit the Northwest Passage and cross Baffin Bay towards Greenland. You’ll spend four days discovering its nature, history and wildlife, including the stunning UNESCO-listed Ilulissat Icefjord and the capital, Nuuk. We continue towards Newfoundland and Labrador where you’ll visit a UNESCO-listed former whaling station in Red Bay and the charming city of Corner Brook. Our expedition cruise ends in the city of Boston, Massachusetts. 

Even if a full transit of the Northwest Passage isn’t possible due to sea ice, you’ll still experience the raw and remote beauty of the High Arctic and enjoy many opportunities to look for rare wildlife such as the mighty polar bear. 

The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of Great Explorers  (Itinerary 2) The Northwest Passage - In the Wake of Great Explorers  (Itinerary 2)
  • Day 1
    Montréal, Canada

    Québec’s premier city, overnight

    30 August 2023

    Your adventure starts in Montréal, the largest city in the beautiful province of Québec, and second most populous city 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 arrange to arrive a few days ahead of 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. 

    Add some extra time and join our optional half day Montréal Sightseeing & Savoir-Vivre Tour. You’ll see how culturally diverse the city really is and visit the landmarks that make it such a unique place. 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. 

    Enjoy all that Montréal has to offer before heading the next morning to the airport to fly north to Cambridge Bay where your adventure aboard MS Fram will begin. 

    Day 1
    Montréal, Canada

    Québec’s premier city, overnight

  • Day 2
    Montreal / Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island

    A Good Fishing Place

    31 August 2023

    This morning, you’ll fly from Montréal to Cambridge Bay, where your expedition ship MS Fram awaits you. 

    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 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 and all things Arctic. 

    It’s only fitting that your expedition starts 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. 

    After you check in on the ship and collect your complimentary expedition jacket you’ll have time to get acquainted with your cabin and explore the ship. There is also a mandatory safety drill held at 30-minute intervals before our departure, allowing you to pick a time convenient to you. 

    Tonight’s dinner, the first of many on board, ends with a toast by the Captain wishing everyone an enjoyable expedition. You’ll then meet the Expedition Team in a separate welcome session where you’ll learn important health and safety information.   

    They will also talk through 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.

    Day 2
    Montreal / Cambridge Bay, Victoria Island

    A Good Fishing Place

  • Day 3-10
    Northwest Passage Exploration

    Heart of the Northwest Passage

    1 September 2023 - 8 September 2023

    We aim to head into the heart of the Northwest Passage. Since the late 15th century, the search for this fabled seaway through the Canadian Arctic was a holy grail for hardy adventurers.  

    The first recorded voyage 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 explorer Roald Amundsen on an expedition that lasted from 1903 to 1906. 

    The sea ice varies from year to year and every expedition here is unique. We hope to be able to show you some of the following places: 

    Gjoa Haven honours the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who wintered here from 1903 on the Gjøa expedition. He called the place 'the finest little harbour in the world.' He learned a great deal from local Netslik Inuit people about survival and travel in polar regions. These skills were instrumental in helping Amundsen be the first to reach the South Pole almost a decade later. 

    Fort Ross was established in 1937. There are two small huts ashore maintained by the Canadian Coast Guard, and occasionally used by the local Inuit for shelter. It was one of several Hudson’s Bay Company trading posts in the Canadian Arctic. 

    Beechey Island is closely linked to the history of exploration of the Northwest Passage, particularly the voyage led by Sir John Franklin, whose two ships sailed into the passage in 1845, but never returned. It is known that the Franklin Expedition over-wintered here in 1845 and three of his men are buried here. 

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

    Dundas Harbour is an abandoned settlement with an old Royal Canadian Mounted Police camp and Hudson Bay Company trading post, together with several archaeological sites from the Thule period.   

    Set on the picturesque Eclipse Sound with Bylot Island in the distance, Pond Inlet, called 'Mittimatalik' in Inuktitut, is a traditional Inuit community on Baffin Island. Pond Inlet is surrounded by mountain ranges, with glaciers, scenic fjords, ice caves, geological hoodoos and drifting icebergs to marvel at. 

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

    Day 3-10
    Northwest Passage Exploration

    Heart of the Northwest Passage

  • Day 11
    Baffin Bay and Davis Strait

    Crossing the Davis Strait

    9 September 2023

    We have left Canada behind and now set course for Greenland. While sailing across Baffin Bay, you can continue to enjoy informative lectures presented by the Expedition Team. Their topics may include wildlife you might see in Greenland, Greenlandic culture, expedition photography, geology, and historic explorers.   

     If you feel like getting active, you can hit the gym and get your pulse up. You’ll also have access to a sauna 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 11
    Baffin Bay and Davis Strait

    Crossing the Davis Strait

  • Day 12
    Ilulissat, Greenland

    Birth of Icebergs

    10 September 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 20km fjord before entering Disko Bay, and they are a photographer’s dream.  

    You won’t just see these huge, chiseled 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 12
    Ilulissat, Greenland

    Birth of Icebergs

  • Day 13
    Sisimiut, Greenland

    Modern settlement, ancient traditions

    11 September 2023

    Spectacularly situated Sisimiut – Greenland’s second city – is placed 40km 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 500 metres 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 13
    Sisimiut, Greenland

    Modern settlement, ancient traditions

  • Day 14
    Nuuk, Greenland

    The Capital of Greenland

    12 September 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.  

    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 are also 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 14
    Nuuk, Greenland

    The Capital of Greenland

  • Day 15
    Kvanefjord, Greenland

    Expedition day

    13 September 2023

    Kvanefjord is a 48km-long fjord on the west coast of Greenland in the district of Sermersooq, which means ‘place of much ice’. The fjord extends around 10km inland before branching into three smaller channels, each with a glacier at its head.  

    We will 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 15
    Kvanefjord, Greenland

    Expedition day

  • Day 16
    At Sea

    Labrador Sea

    14 September 2023

    Today you’ll have time to relax and make full use of the facilities on board. In the Science Center, the Expedition Team will hold lecture programmes on the wildlife and ecosystems of the 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 16
    At Sea

    Labrador Sea

  • Day 17
    Red Bay, Canada

    Canada’s hidden history

    15 September 2023

    Red Bay is a former Basque whaling settlement on the coast of southern Labrador in the Strait of Belle Ile. You might catch a glimpse of humpback or minke whales that first drew Basque whalers to this harbour back in the 17th century. For about 70 years, these fishermen would return to catch whales and export their refined oil back to Europe.  

    Not all whaling ships were able to reach Red Bay’s shores though. Wrecked chalupas and galleons are just some of the ships that have been found preserved in the ice-cold waters. These discoveries make Red Bay one of the most important underwater archaeological sites in the world.  

    As you explore this fascinating town, make sure to visit the local museum which is part of the Red Bay National Historic Site to see an eight-metre chalupa – a small whale-catching boat – and imagine life as a Basque whaler on the Labrador Sea.   

    You can also look for whale bones in the protected National Historic Site or for pirate captain Kidd’s buried treasure around Tracey Hill. While you might not find any gold doubloons, you’ll at least be rewarded with a fantastic view. 

    Day 17
    Red Bay, Canada

    Canada’s hidden history

  • Day 18
    Corner Brook, Canada

    The course of Captain James Cook

    16 September 2023

    As you sail into the Bay of Islands, surrounded by the jagged slopes and dense forests of the Long Range Mountains, you’ll be charting the same course that Captain James Cook did over 250 years ago. 

    Our next stop is Corner Brook at the mouth of the Humber River. This is the second-largest city in the Newfoundland and Labrador province after St. John’s. If the latter is trendy and international, Corner Brook is decidedly traditional and local.  

    You can get a sense of the regional history here at Corner Brook Museum. There are a number of artifacts that chart the indigenous cultures, logging industry, and of course, Captain James Cook. The exhibit on WWII brides from England and Scotland is particularly fascinating. 

    We offer an optional excursion up to Crow Hill, home of the Captain James Cook National Historic site. Standing where the famous British Explorer once stood to survey the area, you’ll have pleasant views over the city. Don’t forget to grab a photo with the statue of the man himself. 

    Other optional excursions include a guided hike along a portion of the Corner Brook Stream trail. Or adrenaline-inducing zip-lining high up over the scenic Humber Valley, admiring views of Marble Mountain and Steady Brook Falls. 

    When it’s time to depart, a local band might come aboard and treat us to a performance, sending us on a way in true Corner Brook hospitality. 

    • Included Newfoundland Music & Storytelling
    Day 18
    Corner Brook, Canada

    The course of Captain James Cook

  • Day 19
    At Sea

    Coming to a close

    17 September 2023

    It’s our final day at sea and your cruise with us is fast drawing to a close. You might like to spend this day at sea just fully unwinding from the excitement of the past two weeks. 

    Your thoughts might naturally turn to home, or maybe you’ll find that you’ll have already left your heart back in one of the special places you’ve visited. Today will be a good time to spend reflecting on and taking stock of all the wonderful experiences you’ve had. 

    The Expedition Team will likely be in a similar mood as you, and you can join them as they fondly recap the highlights of the thrilling cruise you’ve shared together. You’ll probably also have a few hundred photos of scenic landscapes, activities, and memories to sift through and sort out! 

    Day 19
    At Sea

    Coming to a close

  • Day 20
    Boston, USA

    Arriving in Boston

    18 September 2023

    Your expedition cruise through the Northwest Passage ends in Boston. One of the major cities of the east coast, this thriving city is a fitting place to end your Northwest Passage experience. 

    Boston’s rich history is infused into its many districts, with grand colonial era buildings intermixing with a thoroughly modern city centre. Discover revolutionary history in abundance or visit some of the world’s most respected and influential universities before you head home. 

    Day 20
    Boston, USA

    Arriving in Boston



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What's included

Included in your voyage


  • Overnight in Montréal before the expedition cruise including breakfast 


  • Economy flight from Montréal to Cambridge Bay 


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