Cruise North breaks the ice with Arctic-area expedition cruises


NEW YORK -- Looking for the big chill this summer? An Arctic vacation, with its snow, 24-hour daylight and polar bears (sorry, no penguins), might be the ticket.

But the ticket is hefty: Many of the operators that sell these ends-of-the-earth adventure tours are on the pricey side. Its also hard to get to the ends of the earth, and by the time you reach them, you usually spend two weeks there.

Cruise North is hoping to change that. This new entrant into the adventure market is wholly owned by Makivik, an Inuit native corporation based in Quebec.

Prices start at $2,490 per person for a seven-day air/sea package. The first cruise launches July 10. 

These are Canadian Arctic cruises, and theres a difference: The ship doesnt actually cross the Arctic circle on its cruises (although itineraries that would do that are on their radar for 2006). But because the company is Inuit-owned, the ice-class ship, the Ushuaia, has access to tribal lands that other cruise lines dont have.

Passengers on Cruise North see much the same thing in terms of landscape and wildlife, such as this polar bar, as cruisers who venture higher into the Arctic circle, said Dugald Wells, the line's president.Cruise North gets Inuit people involved in the delivery of the product, Dugald Wells, the lines president said in an interview. Its a neat thing. Its a benefit to the Inuit. And its a real upside to the passengers.

Cruise North passengers see pretty much the same thing in terms of landscape, wildlife and culture as folks venturing farther north, he added.

Cruises start in Kuujjuaq, at the northern limit of Canadas Boreal Forest. The package includes a two-hour flight from Montreal to Kuujjuaq on First Air, also owned by the Inuit.

Most of the cruises curl around the Hudson Strait or sailing up to Pangnirtung, just shy of the Arctic Circle.

Passengers should expect to spot walrus, whales, seals and musk ox. Weather will likely be a balmy 50 degrees, but passengers will see icebergs.

The line is chartering the Ushuaia for its short season (which ends in September). The ship is already suited up for adventures like Arctic scuba diving. The drawback: Unless you book a suite, youll share your bathroom with the passengers next door.

For more information, call (866) CNE-3220 or visit The site has sections on Inuit history and culture.

To contact reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].

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