There is something about polar travel that has always excited me so when I got the opportunity to join a voyage with One Ocean Expeditions to the Arctic I couldn’t wait to experience this remote and totally unique part of the world. This particular voyage would start in Iqaluit, Baffin Island and cruise north up the coast before crossing the Davis Strait to Greenland and working its way down to Kangerlussuaq.
Being someone who must keep busy and is used to independent travel I was a little apprehensive as to how I might feel being on a boat for 11 days in the middle of the Arctic! I needn’t have worried as this trip turned out to be my most memorable and fulfilling travel experience.
One Ocean Expeditions are just that: expeditions, voyages, adventures, not your “typical” cruise. The total passenger numbers are small at a maximum of 150 and because of this the boat never felt crowded, you got to know the other passengers and we were easily split into small groups for excursions. My home for the 10-night trip was the RCGS Resolute, recently renovated, it really is a beautiful ship and such a great way to experience these remote regions whilst still having somewhere comfortable (and warm!) to sleep after a busy day. Every day brought with it a new adventure, the “itinerary” adapts to the weather and the events of the day and during the course of the trip we went on some thrilling zodiac adventures, visited remote Inuit communities, hiked to amazing viewpoints, admired the stunning icebergs, ice fjords and dramatic arctic scenery and were even lucky enough to spot some humpback whales and a polar bear!
I was also a little concerned as to how I would fill my free time on the boat when we were not out on excursions and hurriedly downloaded books onto my kindle before departing Ottawa for my flight to Iqaluit. I didn’t even turn my kindle on during the trip! Whilst there is ample time to relax in the library with a good book, use the sauna or the hot tub, they also put on some incredibly interesting and inspiring talks and presentations. There was a wealth of knowledgeable and interesting people on board, from artists to geologists and we had talks on whales, life in the north and polar bears to name a few! We even had a researcher on board looking into the effects of micro plastics in the Arctic and we could get involved in by collecting samples when out on the zodiacs and helping to analyse them in the lab.
Canada is home to the majority of the world’s polar bear, beluga, narwhal and bowhead whale populations, however as the arctic region covers such a vast area you do need to keep your eyes peeled to spot one! We were lucky enough to spend time observing a pod ofhumpback whales off the coast of Greenland and a polar bear swimming amongst the ice at Cape Mercy, Baffin Island and nothing quite beats witnessing these incredible animals from a zodiac in the middle of the Arctic, where you can watch quietly and unobtrusively, with no other ships or people in sight.
Aside from the dramatic and incredible scenery and the amazing wildlife, a hugely fascinating part of the trip was the opportunity to learn and interact with remote Inuit communities on Baffin Island and Greenland. We were also joined on the boat by two cultural guides, Johnny and Alex, who really helped us to gain an understanding of Inuit culture and learn about their unique traditions and way of life. To truly understand and appreciate a region such as the Arctic, you need to understand and appreciate the people who call it home and Johnny and Alex were such a fundamental part of this trip.
It is hard to sum up my timein the Arctic, to travel thereis such a unique experience and for those with an open mind and an adventurous spirit I would say go and you will be rewarded with an incredible adventure!