The Northwest passage
* Subject to availability.
- Outings and landings in Zodiac® dinghies among icebergs and glaciers.
- Natural delights: fjords, iridescent glaciers and icebergs, wild tundra, lakes, alpine peaks.
- Wildlife: Musk Oxens, Arctic Foxes, Humpback Whales, Orcas, Seals, Narwhals, possibility of viewing Polar Bears.
- Encounters: Inuit people. Discovery of its traditions and visit of villages.
- Disko Bay, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Discovery of Nuuk, Capital of Greenland.
Staterooms & Suites
There are no staterooms available for booking. Please contact our cruise advisors.
In May 2011, l'Austral joined PONANT's fleet. This superb mega-yacht with 132 staterooms is the result of the expertise of the Italian Fincantieri shipyard and French sophistication, as interpreted by designer Jean-Philippe Nuel. L'Austral remains faithful to our philosophy - to create a unique atmosphere, a subtle blend of luxury, intimacy and well-being.
A sleek silhouette softened by elegantly smooth contours and large, arched windows opening up to the sea and the light: so many features come together to give L’Austral her distinctive shape. Precious materials, discreet elegance and a perfect balance between chic and casual, combine to make you feel as if you are on your own private yacht. A design blending tradition and innovation, where a nautical mood has been subtly recreated. A welcoming atmosphere of relaxed sophistication revolves around shades of grey, taupe, white and ivory enlivened by touches of cinnamon, caramel and tan.. So many personal touches create the spirit of a “private yacht.”
You will encounter unique itineraries, calls inaccessible to large ships, chic and elegant yacht-like ambiance, refined and personalized service as well as gastronomic cuisine.
Port of call & excursions
KangerlussuaqEmbarkation 16/08/2016 from 18H00 to 19H00 . Departure 16/08/2016 at 22H30 .
From 1941 to 1992, the town of Kangerlussuaq in Greenland was home to an American military base. Nowadays, thanks to its international airport, it has become a transit point for travellers seeking adventure in the Far North. Located to the north of the Arctic Circle, this town is the starting point of magnificent discoveries surrounded by unspoiled nature. Indeed, just a few dozen kilometres from there it is possible to get close to the Greenland ice sheet, the largest body of ice in the Northern Hemisphere. From Kangerlussuaq, admire also the superb landscapes of tundra in autumnal colours, where Arctic hares, musk oxen, Arctic foxes, reindeer, falcons and eagles live.
17 August 2016 – SisimiutArrival 17/08/2016. Departure 17/08/2016.
During your cruise, we invite you to discover Sisimiut, founded in 1756 and the second largest town in Greenland. This small town is typical of Greenland, boasting bewitching panoramas: here and there, colourful stilt houses dot the undulating landscape, and the small fishing port stands as the gateway to an icy realm. As for the town centre, it is home to a number of historic buildings, a small church and a museum which retraces the history of the Inuit people, as well as many craft shops. When your ship drops anchor here, you will set out to meet the locals in a typically arctic atmosphere.
18 August 2016 – IlulissatArrival 18/08/2016. Departure 18/08/2016.
At the heart of Disko Bay - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - the Ilulissat Icefjord provides an extraordinary spectacle of almost surreal beauty, with the largest icebergs of the northern hemisphere. The sculptural icebergs continue their timeless journey, shimmering with their eternal light. Vast pieces of ice break off from the bergs and rejoin the inexorable movement of the sea. Close by lies the town of Ilulissat, the region’s principal destination. Encircled by icebergs, it has retained a unique mix of traditional Arctic life, with multicoloured wooden houses, huskies and the leather tanners who still work today using the ancient methods of their ancestors.
19 August 2016 – Upernavik FjordArrival 19/08/2016. Departure 19/08/2016.
The glacier that calves in the majestic Upernavik Fjord is extremely active. You will sail between the gigantic icebergs drifting in this large bay, scattered with around 100 tiny islands, home to a number of marine mammals such as the beluga or the narwhal. The fjord, which has always been frequented by hunters, bears the name of a neighbouring village, which means “the region of spring”. It is in this dynamic area that PONANT is working to preserve Inuit culture and contributes to the transmission of artisanal know-how through its participation in the Upernavik Fablab, an innovation that combines tradition and modernity, respecting the pioneer spirit and adaptive capacities of the Inuit populations.
20 August 2016 – Melville BayArrival 20/08/2016. Departure 20/08/2016.
21 August 2016 – SavissivikArrival 21/08/2016. Departure 21/08/2016.
Some places in this world are so magical that their beauty cannot be described in words… Savissivik, a small Inuit village with less than a hundred inhabitants, is one such place. Rightly considered to be the biggest iceberg graveyard in Greenland, it is a stunning sight to behold. During your Zodiac® outing, you will sail between these icy giants. Once on land, you can hike to a viewpoint from which to enjoy breathtaking views over these icebergs, which come in an incredibly diverse range of shapes and colours. Photographers will love it. Savissivik Bay attracts many bears and is also known for having been the home of one of the world’s biggest meteorites, but the latter has now been moved to a museum in New York.
22 August 2016 – Pond InletArrival 22/08/2016. Departure 22/08/2016.
On Baffin Island, located in northern Canada at the mouth of the famous NorthWest Passage, there is a small Inuit settlement at the very bounds of infinity. To get there, cross the Arctic Circle, the imaginary line that separates man from lands of mystery and wonder. It’s not so much the way of life that sets Pond Inlet’s inhabitants apart, so much as the setting. Snow-capped mountains, fjords and glaciers combine in a dazzling natural environment that fills space and expands time. Some discoveries change you forever: this is one of them.
23 August 2016 – Leopold CliffArrival 23/08/2016. Departure 23/08/2016.
23 August 2016 – BeecheyArrival 23/08/2016. Departure 23/08/2016.
Beechey Island, at the eastern end of Resolute Bay, will call to mind some of the most important moments of Franklin’s expedition. Sir John set off in 1845 in search of the mythical Northwest Passage and was forced to take shelter in Erebus Harbour for two long years, while he waited for the ice floes to recede and allow him a way through. It is a spectacular location; seeing the three wooden grave markers, bleached by the sun (indicating the burial places of at least three of Captain Franklin’s men) and visiting the memorial that has been erected in memory of Franklin and his men can only reinforce the hushed sense of reverence. If the surrounding wilderness impresses us, the ochre and yellows of the rocky desert soften the landscape.
24 August 2016 – Fury BeachArrival 24/08/2016. Departure 24/08/2016.
The ice floe gradually appears as you approach Somerset Island, in the heart of the North West Passage. In a Zodiac® dinghy, you will land on Fury Beach, a place with a rich history where the English explorer William Edward Parry ran aground in 1825. He left materials and supplies here in order to help the next expeditions that would pass by this site. During your hike around the majestic canyon of Fury Beach, you’ll be dazzled by the surprising landscape: the turquoise green water and sheer cliffs are reminiscent of the Grand Canyon or the High Atlas in Morocco. If fortune smiles on you, you will perhaps come across a family of polar bears roaming the enormous ice floes. A sublime hike; a sense of wonder is guaranteed.
25 August 2016 – Fort RossArrival 25/08/2016. Departure 25/08/2016.
Discover Fort Ross, the last trading post established by the Hudson's Bay Company. Constructed in 1937, it was used as a fur and whaling trading post at the same time. Fort Ross, located on a small island at the entrance to the Bellot Strait, is still home to this former store as well as the house for the manager and staff. The interior of these two buildings has been damaged over time and by the presence of polar bears. After a short walk towards the summits of the island, you will be able to enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view over the Bellot Strait and surrounding area.
25 August 2016 – Sailing Bellot StraitArrival 25/08/2016. Departure 25/08/2016.
A key stage in the North West Passage, the Bellot Strait, crossed by strong currents, promises you an unforgettable sailing experience. The entrance to the strait is dominated by the Ross Cairn. The buildings of Fort Ross also stand not far from here. Separating Somerset Island from the Boothia Peninsula, this 2-km-wide strait was discovered in 1852 by Captain William Kennedy of the Royal Navy, and the Frenchman Joseph-René Bellot, during an expedition in search of Sir John Franklin. Discover a magnificent décor covered in snow, fragmented by large ice floes. As you sail between them, your ship will perhaps be accompanied by a few polar bears.
26 August 2016 – Gjoa HavenArrival 26/08/2016. Departure 26/08/2016.
Discovered by the Scottish explorer John Ross in 1830, King William Island was named in honour of the reigning British King. In September 1903, Captain Roald Amundsen was the first to drop anchor at Gjoa Haven, the only inhabited part of the island, where a few Inuit were the only sign of human life. The Norwegian sailor decided to overwinter here for two years, to attempt to find the location of the mysterious Magnetic North Pole. Roald Amundsen interacted with the local Inuit to learn how to survive in these extreme conditions and freezing temperatures. We invite you to discover this small hamlet in the Nunavut region, located just above the Arctic Circle. Do not miss this unique opportunity to discover these forgotten lands.
27 August 2016 – Sailing Queen Maud GulfArrival 27/08/2016. Departure 27/08/2016.
28 August 2016 – Sail Coronation Gulf & Duke YoArrival 28/08/2016. Departure 28/08/2016.
29 August 2016 – HolmanArrival 29/08/2016. Departure 29/08/2016.
Set off to meet the inhabitants of Holman for an unforgettable moment in the midst of a welcoming community. With some 500 inhabitants, this hamlet located on the west of Victoria Island has learned how best to adapt to an at-times harsh environment and a difficult climate. As you visit this village in the Canadian Far North, admire the prints and other objects created by the very rich local craftsmanship. Traditional singing and dancing are also part of the daily life of this commune, to the great delight of fans of Inuit culture. The village of Holman, also called Ulukhaktok, is one of those places in which you can share an authentic experience in a remote land.
30 August 2016 – Jesse HarbourArrival 30/08/2016. Departure 30/08/2016.
30 August 2016 – Sailing Prince of Wales StraitArrival 30/08/2016. Departure 30/08/2016.
31 August 2016 – Franklin BayArrival 31/08/2016. Departure 31/08/2016.
This large bay, 48 km long and 40 km wide, is located in the Northwest Territories, in Canada. It was given its name in 1826 by the naturalist John Richardson, in honour of the British polar explorer Sir John Franklin. Franklin Bay always offers fine occasions to come across marine mammals. During your cruise here, you will also see the famous smoke column show at Smoking Hills, which are cliffs made of sulphur and lignite in beautiful yellow, ochre and brown colours.
1 September 2016 – Sailing Beaufort SeaArrival 01/09/2016. Departure 01/09/2016.
A little above the Arctic Circle, you will slowly cruise towards the natural wonder of the Beaufort Sea. Here, the sea boasts one of the largest varieties of marine mammals in the world, with seals, polar bears, walruses, bowhead whales, grey whales… This sea is an essential habitat for species that depend on ice, and is home to the largest population of elegant belugas. It is also a legendary place where Captain Roald AMUNDSEN finally managed to clear himself a path to reach the Bering Strait. It is easy to understand why many explorers were fascinated by this Sea: to love these places and landscapes is to loathe restrictions and dream of the absolute.
2 September 2016 – Herschel IslandArrival 02/09/2016. Departure 02/09/2016.
The Canadian Arctic Archipelago is composed of a myriad of islands and reveals landscapes you will only see at this far end of the world. Come and discover the small canadian island of Herschel, a frozen paradise located in the Beaufort Sea, within the Ivvavik National Park. During an expedition in 1826, Sir John Franklin was the first european to lay eyes on these unique places and their inhabitants, the Inuvialuit, the nordic cousins of the Inuit. It was during this trip that he named the island after one of his friends, John Herschel, a brilliant british astronomer and scientist. Herschel Island is a landmark in the West Arctic and has since served alternately as a whaling station, a relay station and a refuge for travellers.
3 September 2016 – At seaArrival 03/09/2016. Departure 03/09/2016.
During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness centre. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.
4 September 2016 – Crossing The Bering StraitArrival 04/09/2016. Departure 04/09/2016.
5 September 2016 – Little Diomede (Alaska)Arrival 05/09/2016. Departure 05/09/2016.
You’ve now arrived in the heart of the Bering Sea, between Alaska and Russia. Your ship sets sail for Little Diomede, an American island inhabited by an Inuit community numbering fewer than a hundred people. You will disembark at Inalik, a village gripping the steep slopes of this lost piece of rock. Here, around twenty dwellings are curled up against each other, mounted on stilts and accessible by small staircases. You will be warmly welcomed by the Inupiak, who will be keen to introduce you to their culture, traditions and day-to-day life. Only 3 kilometres away, on the other side of the International Date Line, is the island of Big Diomede, belonging to Russia.
6 September 2016 – SavoongaArrival 06/09/2016. Departure 06/09/2016.
During one of your Zodiac® outings, we invite you to discover the village of Savoonga. Located on St. Lawrence Island, at the southern entrance of the Bering Strait, it provides a great glimpse into the lifestyle and traditions of the Yupik people. You will probably be greeted by a number of smiling villagers, happy to spend a few hours with you. Savoonga’s 800 inhabitants mainly subsist on walrus and bowhead whale hunting. Traditional singing and dancing are also part of daily life for the villagers, who are masters at the art of walrus tusk sculpture.
Nome, AlaskaDisembarkation 07/09/2016 at 08H00 .
Located along the Bering Strait at the westernmost point of Alaska, Nome offers the rustic charm of a former gold-mining town, set in the middle of magnificent wilderness. As you weave in and out of the brightly coloured houses, you will discover the pioneering legacy that still marks local traditions. Fishing, reindeer rearing, sledge-racing... People here live from their manual labour. The surrounding plains provide stunning vantage points for observing Arctic fauna.
The information below is current but subject to change at any time without advance notice from government authorities. Please consult your respective government agencies for visa and health information.
Passport valid for at least six (6) months beyond the completion of your trip. Passport must contain at least two completely clear, blank, unused visa pages for each visa required, not including any amendment pages. Visa pages with stains or ink from other pages in the passport are not usable. Guests who deviate from the scheduled embarkation or disembarkation port should research the foreign entry requirements for the port country. Due to government regulations, regrettably, Ponant will have to deny boarding to any guest who fails to obtain the appropriate travel documentation for this trip.
We remind you that all our ships have a doctor on board and medical facilities. However, these cannot, under any circumstances, be compared to any medical structure on land. Given the remote areas in which we will be sailing for a number of days, safety requirements mean that we are obliged to ask each passenger signing up for this program to provide us, no more than 45 days before departure, with a medical certificate from their GP, as well as the completed medical questionnaire received during registration.
Canada: travel by sea - The eTA is not required for US, Australian and British citizens. Other nationalities: a Visa may be required, please contact Canada consulate website for details. http://www.canada.ca/en/index.html
USA: Depending on your nationality, an ESTA or Visa may be required. Please contact USA consulate website for details. A copy of your visa or ESTA must be sent to PONANT at the very latest 45 days prior to your cruise date. In case the ESTA is sufficient to enter the USA, we also ask you to keep a copy of your ESTA with your passport throughout the duration of your trip.
Discover the unique concept of PONANT polar expedition cruises: explore the world’s extreme regions while enjoying luxurious comfort and service.
A luxury expedition voyage
Choosing a PONANT expedition cruise means choosing a state of mind: the alliance of elegance and authenticity, of exploration and comfort, of adventure and refinement… The comfort of your ship and your stateroom, personalised and attentive service, refined gastronomy: a very special atmosphere that we take great care to maintain. In the heart of the ice floes of the Arctic and the Antarctic, our luxurious services will ensure that your expedition cruise is an unforgettable experience.
PONANT, polar specialists
With almost 20 years of experience in the extreme regions, PONANT, the world’s number 1 polar cruise company, is a real polar specialist. PONANT will take you to the most remote regions in total safety: our Captains and crew are professionals, specially trained to sail in icy waters. Our latest-generation fleet has the most modern technology to guarantee both your safety and respect for the regions visited. The size of our ships means we can get as close as possible to areas that are difficult to reach, offering a privileged access to preserved sites. Our flexibility enables us to adapt to the surprises inherent to these expedition itineraries.
Professional expedition teams, varied activities
After scouting missions in the field, our Expedition Leaders and their teams of naturalist guides design exceptional itineraries in the polar regions. During the cruise, they organise daily outings and shore visits in Zodiac® dinghies and hikes on land so as to get as close as possible to nature and wild fauna. In the Arctic and in Alaska, the close relationships that our teams have been able to build with the local communities will enable you to understand the life of these peoples of the Far North, and to share it for a few hours. On board, the naturalist guides will share their knowledge during various conferences on fauna, the history of the great explorations, geology and climatology…
Expeditions programs include activities such as Zodiac® outings (often with "wet landing"), moderate walks to more active hikes. All this accompanied by your expedition team of naturalist guides. Calls, landings & zodiac® cruises will depend on weather conditions, position of ice (during polar cruises) and winds and the state of the sea. These can force a change of plans at any time.
Taking into consideration the unusual and exceptional character of expedition itineraries, the calls shown are an indication only. The final route will be confirmed by the Captain and Expedition Leader, who will take into account the touristic quality of the sites and above all, the safety of the passengers. Their decision will be subject to that of local authorities and the expert pilots present on board during the navigation in polar and /or isolated zones.
Travelling to polar/isolated regions is an exhilarating experience. The raw beauty and untouched wilderness offer an unusual chance to experience a place where there is little evidence of human presence. Inevitably, there are some consequences that come with such remoteness: please remember that you are far from modern hospitals with full medical facilities, thus evacuation is highly expensive. Without the necessary medical coverage, all expenses will have to be immediately paid for with your personal funds. We urge you to subscribe a full coverage insurance, choose your insurance company very carefully and be extremely vigilant and ensure your insurance is fully comprehensive.
- Water-resistant parka offered on board (for adults only) on Expedition cruises where the stamp “Parka gift” appears
- Half calf rubber boots with non-slip soles, which will allow you to land in 20 cm of cold water, keeping your feet dry for walks and visits on steep paths. You can also bring water-resistant hiking boots. A boots rental will be offered onboard (for adults only) on Expedition cruises where the stamp “Boots offered” appears
- Comfortable pants: classic Winter pants, warm cotton tracksuit
- Water-resistant windbreaker over pants - COMPULSORY
- Winter pants with water-resistant over pants is the ideal combination: water-resistance and comfort suitability of pants are essential
- Pullover, sweat-shirt or fleece jacket
- Fleece muffler and fleece cap or thermal beanie covering ears (avoid scarfs which do not stand still)
- Water-resistant and supple gloves
- Polarized sunglasses with high UV filter
- Mosquito repellent
- Walking sticks (highly recommended)