What draws you to the Arctic? Perhaps you’re a photographer hoping to capture rare wildlife in its element. Perhaps you’re drawn to the gritty culture and history of the remote north? Perhaps you just want to see icebergs, and lots of ‘em! There are more options than ever before for exploring the High Arctic and Northwest Passage, from small-ship cruising to fly-cruise expeditions. 

And why is the Northwest Passage so significant, anyway? Sailing in this challenging northern seascape, which stretches from Kangerlussuaq in Greenland to Nome, Alaska, is similar to following in the footsteps of Shackleton in Antarctica. You’ll be sailing the same frigid waters through Arctic waterways, winding around remote islands and natural ice sculptures - learning stories of hardy sailors from centuries past as you go. 

Read on to learn about the amazing places you may stop during your voyage through this largely untouched landscape. Determine what your priorities are during your Arctic adventure - wildlife? culture? history? Review the itinerary of your trip to make sure you’re checking off these points of interest. The destinations below may not be on all trips, and for some, you’ll have to choose a Northwest Passage voyage specifically. That’s where I can help. I have insider knowledge in this region of the world that will enable me to help you choose the best expedition for you and your available time frame. 

Popular Arctic Destinations 

Kangerlussuaq, Greenland 

The gateway to Greenland, Kangerlussuaq, on the massive fjord of the same name, is your entree point to the Greenland Ice Cap, a bucket-list item for many who want to see the most rugged wonders of the world. Whether you’re taking a small-group tour or camping on the ice, there is no experience on Earth quite like visiting this mysterious Arctic landscape. The Ice Camp lies 15 miles down a dirt road from Kangerlussuaq. The Arctic Circle crosses the Kangerlussuaq fjord at its halfway point. 


Photo by Susan Tuckey, Penguins2PolarBears - Ilulissat - 2014

The third-largest town in Greenland, Ilulissat holds the distinction of iceberg capital of the country. The massage Ilulissat icefjord spills out behind the town into natural ice sculptures floating around the bay. Nearly anywhere in the city, you’ll get a majestic, icy view! For the very best vantage points, visit Hotel Arctic, the bridge over the harbor or the Hotel Hvide Falk. 

Western Greenland 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Meet the people of Greenland and journey through landscapes rich in cultural history and natural beauty. Between the steep mountains flanking the Eternity Fjord to the Arctic city of Nuuk to remote Uummannaq, Western Greenland offers a stunning diversity that is sure to wow you. Did you really expect to be able to go shopping, dine at a fine restaurant and tour an incredible Katuaq Cultural Center this far into the Arctic? That’s what Nuuk has in store. For a completely opposite feel, visit remote Paamiut, which boasts its own animal guardian: the white-tailed eagle, or Nattoralik. 

Devon Island

Visit the largest uninhabited islands in the world, laced with several small mountain ranges. Signs of ancient settlements still exist in Dundas Harbour and beyond - relics of a Thule settlement dating back to 1000 AD, as well as a more modern, but abandoned Royal Canadian Mounted Police outpost. 

Tallurutiup Imanga (Lancaster Sound)

National Geographic, Photograph by Paul Nicklen

Wildlife lovers, have those binoculars at the ready. This vast Marine Protected Area in the Canadian Arctic is home to the region’s largest density of polar bears, 75 percent of the world’s population of narwhals, 20 percent of Canada’s population of beluga whales, plus ringed, harp and bearded seals, walruses and bowhead whales. 

Beechey Island

Take a moment to honor the scientists and explorers who have long braved the elements to inform us of the Arctic’s wonders. On Beechey Island, you’ll find the remote gravesites of three members of Sir John Franklin’s expedition to find the Northwest Passage in 1845. They overwintered on the island and met an untimely demise, the circumstances of which are still a bit murky. 



Visit the westernmost community of Nunavut, north of the Arctic Circle on the Canadian mainland. It sits at the mouth of the Coppermine River on Coronation Gul, part of the Northwest Passage. Summertime in Kugluktuk is quite lush, with wildflowers and berry bushes. If time allows, you can hike, fish, canoe, kayak and raft. Look for herds of caribou, ringed seals, peregrine falcons, bald eagles and the occasional moose, musk ox and fox. 

Grise Fjord 

Up Here Magazine: uphere.ca

Get to know the locals of Grise Fjord (Aujuittuq in Inuktitut), a friendly little hamlet in the northernmost reaches of Nunavut. The town, on the southern shores of Ellesmere Island, is tucked beneath the tall cliffs that mark the fjord’s entrance. There’s an abundance of wildlife here - from large pods of narwhal and beluga whales to walruses to kittiwakes to polar bears. This is popular stopover for those visiting the Quttinirpaaq National Park or “Frozen Forest” on Axel Heiberg Island. 

Pond Inlet

At the northern tip of Baffin Island - the fifth-largest island in the world - visit Pond Inlet, rich in fjords, glaciers, icebergs, pods of narwhals and a traditional Inuit community. Learn about the area’s Viking history and Erik the Red. 

Let’s navigate your cruise options in the Canadian Arctic and Northwest Passage. Adventure awaits!