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It may be the first week of December, but my mind is already on a voyage I’ll be taking eight months from now. Ever since I went to South Africa this past January – then to arctic Norway – then to Vietnam and Cambodia – I have been on a kick to find increasingly more exotic cruises to places that many of us might never consider travelling to.
Starting in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland on July 23, 2014, I’ll embark the 331-foot long Sea Adventurer, which might be familiar to many readers from her previous stint as the Clipper Adventurer. Capable of carrying 118 guests, this nimble, 1975-built vessel has carved up a well-deserved reputation for herself as a capable and adventurous expedition ship.
From Kangerlussuaq, we sail on through some of Greenland’s most spectacular fjords and ice floes before crossing the Davis Strait to arrive in Arctic Canada on this fascinating Arctic Safari.
The full itinerary, both here and onboard:
|July 23, 2014||Kangerlussuaq, Greenland||Charter flight from Edmonton, Alberta to Kangerlussuaq. Embark Sea Adventurer|
|July 24||Sisimiut Coast, Greenland||An expedition stop will be made to explore the rich coastline of Greenland today.|
|July 25||Ilulissat, Greenland||Explore the Ilulissat Icefjord by zodiac. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Icefjord contains the most active and fastest-moving glacier in the world: the Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier.|
|July 26||Karrat Fjord, Greenland||Scenic cruising of the Karrat Fjord, one of Greenland's most scenic fjords. Excellent photographic and wildlife opportunities.|
|July 27||Upernavik, Greenland||Explorations ashore in Upernavik, home to 1,100 residents, most of whom rely on fishing, polar bear hunting or sealing to survive.|
|July 28||At Sea||Crossing the Davis Strait|
|July 29||Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet), Nunavut, Canada||Explore the narwhal breeding ground enroute to Pond Inlet. An opportunity to explore this bustling Arctic town, as well as a cultural presentation at the Nattinnak Centre.|
|July 30||Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada||The largest uninhabited island in the world, Devon Island supports 26 species of seabird and 11 species of marine mammals.
Time is made to explore the former RCMP outpost at Dundas Harbour, and enjoy a zodiac cruise through Croker Bay's icebergs.
|July 31||Prince Leopold Island, Nunavut, Canada||One of the top bird sites in the High Arctic, Sir James Clark Ross was based here between 1848 and 1849 on his search for the lost Franklin Expedition.|
|August 1||Beechey Island, Nunavut, Canada||The site of Sir John Franklin's first winter anchorage in 1845, three of the first crew members to die are buried here to this day.
We'll have the chance to go ashore and explore this desolate landscape that the Expedition called home for the long, dark, winter of 1845-46.
|August 2||Resolute, Nunavut, Canada||Arrive Resolute in afternoon; disembarkation and return charter flight to Toronto Pearson Airport.|
I’ve always had a bit of a love affair with polar travel, despite having never been before. I have read dozens of books on the ill-fated Franklin Expedition and the quest for the elusive Northwest Passage. If you’ve never looked in to this fascinating part of history, you should; it’s endlessly fascinating and filled with stories of explorers like Sir James Clark Ross, Sir William Parry, John Rae, and the gifted-if-habitually-ill Elisha Kent Kane.
While I am greatly looking forward to each and every step ashore, for me, though, the crown jewel – the crème de la crème – of this itinerary is the day spent exploring Beechey Island.
Located in the Canadian territory of Nunavut, Beechey’s claim to fame dates back to 1845, when Sir John Franklin chose it as the spot where HMS Erebus and HMS Terror would spend their first dark, lonely winter on their quest for the Northwest Passage.
In what would prove to be macabre foreshadowing of things to come, three crew members never made it through that first winter. Petty Officer John Torrington, Royal Marine Private William Braine, and Able Seaman John Hartnell all died suddenly, and are still buried on the island to this day.
Each corpse was exhumed by Canadian researcher Dr. Owen Beattie during the 1980’s. The ice had preserved the remains so well that Beattie was able to determine the probable cause of death was lead poisoning and tuberculosis. In his book Ice Blink, author Scott Cookman outlines how the shoddy and cutthroat victualing contractor hired to provision Franklin’s vessels wasn’t cooking canned food long enough before sealing them (improperly) with lead. Canning in the early 1800’s wasn’t an exact science, and when significant long-term contracts – like those required by the Royal Navy – were on the line, manufacturers tended to cut corners.
Lead poisoning or not, the inescapable fact remains that Beechey Island was the start of a slow march into hell for the expedition. Sir John Franklin would die in the summer of 1847, leaving second-in-command, Francis Rawdon Moira Crozier, to attempt one last desperate move: abandoning the Terror and Erebus in the spring of 1848 and setting out on foot for Back’s River and the safety of a distant Hudson’s Bay trading post.
It was a journey no one would live complete.
I have always, always, wanted to visit Beechey Island. Few people I know can understand my fascination with some of the world’s most desolate places, but this landscape has changed little in the nearly 170 years that have passed. I’m visiting in the summer, when the days are long and night rarely falls. But when Franklin and his men were here, it was winter – a long, cold winter spent in total darkness next to an island in a region that didn’t even exist on maps.
If you’re looking for proof that it really is a small world, consider this: I’m related – distantly – to one of the onboard lecture staff. George Sirk is the father of my cousin’s wife, and I see them periodically whenever I am able to get across to Vancouver Island to visit them in their home in Victoria.
So join me in July for a truly one-of-a-kind cruise adventure; I think it will be worth the wait!
Stay tuned – our Live Voyage Report from the Christmas Markets of Europe kicks off on Monday, as we travel to Basel, Switzerland to embark Viking River’s Viking Baldur!
For me, music is an integral part of any cruise or trip. Nothing brings you back to a time and a place like a song, and I am always in search of new and interesting music to take with me on each trip. After all, having something good to listen to really speeds up those long-haul flights.
This is an article I’ve probably tried to write about a hundred times in the past year, each time with limited success – mainly because I hate similar articles I’ve seen. The subject, of course, is about cool music to travel with – or, perhaps, a look at “What’s on Aaron’s iPod Right Now.”
Here’s my disclaimer to this article: I have a natural resistance to travel music that makes a big stink about being travel music. So you won’t find songs like Celebration, Holiday, or Guantanamara here. But maybe you’ll discover some new favorites for your next trip.
Closed Hand, Full of Friends – Foy Vance
Could be the best toe-tapping song I’ve heard all year. Think I had this on repeat on my iPod most of the flight home from London last week. One of the very best songs for travel of any kind. Matter of fact, you should just run out (well, to iTunes) and buy the album right now.
I’m Not Talking - A.C. Newman
This one works well with long flights, train journeys, motorcoach rides…you name it. Very mellow and relaxing.
Keep On Walking – Gabrielle Aplin
I heard this song on my Lufthansa flight coming home from Frankfurt in August as part of the airline’s in-flight CD selection. I had no idea who Gabrielle Aplin was, but I found myself listening to the album on repeat for most of the flight. I think this is my favorite track, though.
Dream is Collapsing – Hans Zimmer
The third track from composer Hans Zimmer’s score to the 2010 movie Inception, Dream is Collapsing is almost perfectly-timed to a large aircraft (like A340′s and Boeing 747′s) taking off. I know you’re not supposed to listen to music on take-off, but this track’s worth sneaking an earbud in for as your jet roars down the runway (but seriously – don’t do it if the flight crew tells you not to.)
Copperline – James Taylor
Creeping up on 23 years old, Copperline is one of my favorite songs to listen to on long motorcoach journeys.
Ballantines – Aimee Mann
Although it was released (on the album, Smilers), nearly four years ago, this song always makes me envision London at the turn of the last century. And pubs. Who’s thirsty? Just don’t drink as much as the character in the song, okay?
Shot at the Night – The Killers
So deliciously 1980s! And very European-sounding, to boot. Oddly, none of the hotel maids I’ve ever seen look quite like the girl in the music video. Hmmm…
Indian Summer – Stereophonics
I heard this back in March on the internet radio in my hotel in Amsterdam. I was writing that evening’s Live Report and sitting at the desk in the room, when I found myself tapping my foot on the hardwood floor to the infectious beat. I went out the next day, found a CD shop, and paid (slightly over-the-odds) for a copy. As it turns out, it was a good decision: the album wasn’t released in North America on iTunes until this past September. Great for any long overland journey!
Only If for a Night – Florence + The Machine
This was on my playlist for most of my expedition voyage last year aboard Silversea’s Silver Explorer. But it reminds me most of my day on the deserted island of Staffa and in the small village of Iona on Scotland’s west coast.
Joy of Nothing – Foy Vance
One last Foy Vance number. It initially sounds like a sad song, but give it a few listens: it’s actually quite positive and uplifting.
Think of Me – Jo Hamilton
There’s good reason for mentioning this song last: I’ve simply never heard a more beautiful tune. If it doesn’t get you thinking about journeys past, nothing will.
From the Deck Chair will return tomorrow.
Aside from experiencing ports of call both old and new, I love cruising because it affords some excellent ship-spotting opportunities. This is particularly true of the Caribbean and Mediterranean, where ships that have international brand recognition mingle with smaller, older vessels that have changed operators several times but still ply the same waters.
Last week, I had the chance to spot several ships I’d never seen in person before while sailing from Rome to Malaga. And even at this late time of year, the Med still offered up plenty of surprises.
From the Deck Chair will return tomorrow.
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