Northwest Passage Cruises & Expeditions

Northwest Passage

Embark on one of AE Expeditions’ Canadian Arctic Cruises and experience the legendary Northwest Passage with a world-class expedition team. Our Northwest Passage cruises through the polar regions of the Northern Atlantic follow in the footsteps of the early explorers and aim to immerse you the fascinating history of the fabled route, Inuit culture and otherworldly Canadian High Arctic landscapes.

Each expedition is accompanied by an Expedition Team we believe is among the world’s best. Your expert team will help you get the most out of your time exploring the Canadian High Arctic. As you cruise the Canadian Artic’s wild coastline, you will will pass massive glaciers, ice-capped mountains, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, icy channels, remote communities and diverse wildlife if you’re lucky!

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Zodiac Cruising at Tay Bay, Canada, Richard I'Anson

Traversing the Northwest Passage

Icon Expedition


29-30 Days


GBP £27,715.50

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Zodiac cruising to observe sea ice at Croker Bay in Canada's Northwest Passage

Northwest Passage

Icon Expedition


16-17 Days


GBP £15,916.00

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Why Join a Northwest Passage Cruise with AE Expeditions?

The Northwest Passage represents centuries of effort to find a route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, which lies to the north of the Canadian mainland.

The fabled Northwest Passage in Canada’s High Arctic offers a fascinating escape through ancient landscapes and a labyrinth of waterways leading into the Beaufort Sea. Millions travel to Canada to experience its natural beauty, but few journey through the Northwest Passage, where life is anything but ordinary.

Travel in the footsteps of daring explorers, get acquainted with the region’s wildlife and connect with the Indigenous locals whose ancestors have hunted and fished the region for thousands of years.

Explore northwards of the Arctic Circle, which runs across from West Greenland to the top of the Canadian continent, with most of the Canadian Archipelago of islands found above it. The magnificent waterways between these islands and deep fjords make it a one-of-a-kind place to cruise amongst steep cliffs and mountains stretching to the horizon, with green lowlands and scenic bays adding some variety. The exact route taken depends on a number of factors including the weather conditions, which vary constantly and can make cruises to the Northwest Passage true expeditions.

Northwest Passage Wildlife Encounters

The Canadian Arctic region has unique wildlife scattered throughout its majestic landscapes. Being a place of extremes, the Northwest Passage is an environment that only few can survive in, which means the rare wildlife found here often is only seen in the High Arctic. Although wildlife can be hard to spot here, Bowhead whales, Beluga whales, Arctic fox and musk ox are some of the Arctic wildlife that call this part of the world home.

Our Canadian Arctic cruises include naturalists as part of the Expedition Team, who are there to answer your questions and educate you about how Arctic wildlife has influenced the Inuit culture over thousands of years. Whether you have a question about Beluga whales or want to maximise your chances of spotting Arctic fox, the Expedition Team is your first point of contact.

The Northwest Passage is also a bird watchers’ paradise, with numerous Canadian Arctic species nesting there every summer. If you’re lucky you will get to see them during this period, before they migrate south as September approaches.

Unique Northwest Passage Experiences

Northwest Passage cruises with AE Expeditions include several activities unique to the High Arctic that will ensure you have the trip of a lifetime. Cruise through the Canadian High Arctic in an Aurora Expedition stateroom that’s made for comfort – most have a private balcony. For those willing to explore the Northwest Passage, the adventures and memories will last a lifetime.

On the expedition, you will learn about the history of the legendary route of the Northwest Passage, Inuit art, iconic wildlife and the changeable weather conditions in the Arctic Ocean.

Zodiac cruise trips ashore and walking tours are also led by your Expedition Leader as included activities and offer great photography opportunities. Visits to places like Baffin Island, Somerset Island, Beechey Island, Hudson Bay, Ellesmere Island and Cambridge Bay will give you a chance to stretch your legs, while others may choose to explore the area from water level in a sea kayak.

Northwest Passage Expedition Regions

Kayaking at Croker Bay, Canada


The northernmost inhabited place in the world, Nunavut is the “True North”. Experience the Inuit way of life with arts and crafts, music and performance art, hunting, fishing and dog sledding with rare Canadian Inuit dogs. If you have a spirit of adventure, Nunavut welcomes you. Home to Baffin Island and Isabella Bay, a Canadian National Wildlife Area, it’s also a great spot to see some of the local wildlife. Baffin Island is the largest island in Canada and the fifth largest in the world, so there’s lots of exploring to do.

Sea ice and glaciers in Croker Bay, Canada

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories of the Northwest Passage include three main geographic regions: the Arctic Archipelago to the north, the Arctic mainland and the Mackenzie Valley area. Unforgettable adventures await here. Witness the magic of the Northern Lights, navigate rapids, explore vast national parks and hook the catch of a lifetime in the beating heart of the north.

Postcard-perfect mountains in Canada's Yukon Territories


Yukon in northwestern Canada boasts rugged mountains and high plateaus that border the Northwest Passage. Surrounded by the Northwest Territories to the east, British Columbia to the south and Alaska to the west, it extends northward above the Arctic Circle to the Beaufort Sea.

Destination Highlights

      Northwest Passage Expedition Cruise Activities

      Visit The Northwest Passage with AE Expeditions and our Expedition Team will take you on excursions unique to the High Arctic, fully included in the cost of your expedition. For those interested in a little extra excitement, there are optional activities designed to get you closer to the action. Our Northwest Passage expeditions provide a mix of comfort and adventure; for those willing to explore this Arctic archipelago the memories will last a lifetime.


      Bird Watching




      Polar plunge

      Trips ashore

      Trips ashore




      Whale and mammal spotting


      Zodiac cruises


      Lecture on wildlife, our environment, history and destinations

      Add-on Activities

      Sea kayaking in the Arctic

      Sea Kayaking

      Sea Kayaking is one of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic and beyond. Sea kayaking holidays in the humbling…

      *Optional add-on activities are available on select voyages. They are listed on each itinerary page and additional fees apply. 

      Featured Articles

      FAQs: Northwest Passage Cruises

      The Northwest Passage is a sea route that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. It traverses through the northern coast of North America, comprising a series of deep channels through grand landscapes. Despite the harsh conditions, the Northwest Passage is home to thousands of Canadian Inuit across 53 communities along the Arctic Ocean’s shores. Additionally, the waters of the Northwest Passage reach depths of up to 4,200 meters (13,780 feet)​ and are home to a wide array of marine wildlife.

      The best time to book a Northwest Passage Cruise in 2024 is during the summer months, from July to September. This period offers the most favourable weather conditions and the highest likelihood of clear passages through the Arctic waters. Booking early is recommended to secure a spot on these popular expeditions, as they often fill up quickly. Many travellers aim to witness the incredible Arctic wildlife and stunning landscapes that are most visible during these months. The longer daylight hours also provide more exploration and photography opportunities during your Northwest Passage Cruise.

      On a Northwest Passage Expedition, you can expect to encounter a variety of unique Arctic wildlife. Species such as Bowhead whales, Beluga whales, Arctic foxes, and musk oxen are commonly sighted. The region is also a bird watcher’s paradise, with numerous Canadian Arctic species nesting in the area during the summer. While wildlife sightings can never be guaranteed due to the vast and wild nature of the Arctic, the expert naturalists on your Expedition Team will help maximise your chances. They provide valuable insights into the habits and habitats of these animals, making each wildlife encounter on your Northwest Passage Expedition a memorable experience.

      AE Expeditions offers a variety of activities on their Northwest Passage Cruises. These include Zodiac cruises, guided walks, and trips ashore to explore the Arctic landscapes up close. Guests can also participate in bird watching, photography sessions, and whale and mammal spotting. For the adventurous, there’s also the exhilarating polar plunge. Additionally, the expedition features lectures on wildlife, environment, and the fascinating history of the Northwest Passage, providing a comprehensive educational experience. These activities ensure that your Northwest Passage Cruise is not only an adventure but also an opportunity to learn and engage deeply with the Arctic environment.

      Northwest Passage Cruises differ from traditional cruises in several ways. These expeditions are more focused on exploration and adventure, taking you through the remote and rugged landscapes of the Canadian Arctic, where few other cruises venture. Unlike traditional cruises that may emphasise luxury and leisure, Northwest Passage Cruises prioritises immersive experiences, such as wildlife spotting, guided hikes, and cultural interactions with Indigenous communities. The routes taken are also more flexible, often dictated by weather and ice conditions, making each journey unique. Moreover, the smaller ship sizes used for these expeditions allow access to areas larger cruise ships cannot reach, providing a more intimate and personalised experience.

      Packing for a Northwest Passage Cruise requires careful consideration of the Arctic environment. Essential items include warm, layered clothing made from moisture-wicking and insulating materials, a waterproof and windproof outer jacket, sturdy waterproof boots, and thermal gloves and hats. Personal medications and toiletries should be packed as well, as amenities may be limited.

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