Last month, one of the greatest mysteries in the history of polar exploration was solved when a team of researchers from Parks Canada located the HMS Erebus, the lead vessel in Sir John Franklin’s doomed 1845 quest for the Northwest Passage. Discovered off the coast of King William Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut, she lies in just 11 metres (36 feet) of water, and is shockingly well-preserved.

Side-scan sonar image showing HMS Erebus, lead vessel in the Franklin Expedition, lying nearly perfectly preserved beneath the frigid Canadian arctic waters off King William Island. Photo courtesy of Parks Canada.

Side-scan sonar image showing HMS Erebus, lead vessel in the Franklin Expedition, lying nearly perfectly preserved beneath the frigid Canadian arctic waters off King William Island. Photo courtesy of Parks Canada.

The Northwest Passage would eventually be conquered, but not until 1906, when Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen spent three hard years navigating an east-west route aboard the small herring boat Gjøa.

The discovery of the HMS Erebus and the renewed interest in the fabled Northwest Passage is a subject that is very dear to the folks at Adventure Canada, one of the pioneers of expedition cruising in the Canadian Arctic. Since 2007, discerning guests have been able to traverse this historic route aboard the line’s rugged, ice-strengthened expedition cruise ships – and 2015 will be no exception.

The desolate landscape of Beechey Island has played an important role in history. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / Creative Commons

The desolate landscape of Beechey Island has played an important role in the history of the Northwest Passage, and the Franklin Expedition.  Adventure Canada calls here in 2015. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / Creative Commons

“It is a privilege to sail the Northwest Passage. Our northern heritage has shaped so much of what it means to be a Canadian, and the search for the Northwest Passage and later the Franklin party are an integral part of our national story. Sharing the excitement of discovery and tracing the route of polar explorers with our guests is an honour,” said Cedar Swan, Adventure Canada Vice-President. “The incredible discovery [of HMS Erebus] has sparked an elevated interest in the region among our guests. We look forward to seeing what a new era of Arctic discovery will bring.”

Acclaimed author Ken McGoogan, who has penned numerous titles on the Franklin Expedition including Fatal Passage, Ancient Mariner, Lady Franklin’s Revenge and Race to the Polar Sea has also sailed with Adventure Canada on numerous occasions, and will once again rejoin the company as the Ocean Endeavour transits the Northwest Passage next year.

Adventure Canada has secured the 1982-built Ocean Endeavour - formerly Kristina Katarina - to operate their expedition adventures in 2015. Photo courtesy of Adventure Canada

Adventure Canada has secured the 1982-built Ocean Endeavour – formerly Kristina Katarina – to operate their expedition adventures in 2015. Photo courtesy of Adventure Canada

“This discovery is far more exciting, and potentially meaningful, than I expected it be,” said McGoogan. “This finding vindicates certain Inuit oral traditions suggesting that the demise of the Franklin expedition may have taken longer, and been more complex, than most experts expected. The trick is to stay tuned for further revelations, and I can’t wait to get back into the Arctic with Adventure Canada.”

Joining him will be fellow Canadian literary giant Margaret Atwood, who has penned everything from fiction novels to nonfiction works of historical importance, poetry, and even children’s books.

An expedition cruise through the Northwest Passage is a veritable adventure in its own right. It's a journey into a different world. Photo courtesy of Adventure Canada / Andrew Stewart

An expedition cruise through the Northwest Passage is a veritable adventure in its own right. It’s a journey into a different world. Photo courtesy of Adventure Canada / Andrew Stewart

In 2015, Adventure Canada offers two Northwest Passage itineraries: the 17-day, eastbound Into the Northwest Passage voyage from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland to Kugluktuk (Coppermine), Nunavut, Canada; or the 17-day reverse journey from Coppermine to Kangerlussuaq that Adventure Canada calls Out of the Northwest Passage. Both trips are operated aboard the 137 metre (450 foot)-long Ocean Endeavour, which is new to the Adventure Canada fleet for 2015. Recently refurbished from top-to-bottom, she sails with a maximum of 198 passengers and is equipped with a Class 1B Ice Rating that allows her to safely traverse the sometimes harsh environment of the High Arctic.

To get a proper idea of what she looks like, you can take a swanky Virtual Tour of the ship by clicking here. Ship buffs might remember her for her short stint with Kristina Cruises as their Kristina Katarina.

Adventure Canada's 2015 Northwest Passage itineraries either end or begin in the remote village of Kugluktuk (Coppermine), Nunavut, Canada. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / Creative Commons

Adventure Canada’s 2015 Northwest Passage itineraries either end or begin in the remote village of Kugluktuk (Coppermine), Nunavut, Canada. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / Creative Commons

Northwest Passage transits are rarer than even voyages to Antarctica – and they typically tend to sell out well in advance. If the Arctic and polar exploration have a hold on you, now’s the time to hop onboard.

More information on Adventure Canada’s dual Northwest Passage transits in 2015 can be found by visiting the Adventure Canada website.

 

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