In 1845, Captain Sir John Franklin and his crew departed England for the Arctic aboard two ships, the H.M.S. Erebus and H.M.S. Terror. The expedition was Franklin's fourth, and—to the world's dismay—would also be his last. The doomed Franklin expedition never returned, and in the years to come, multiple search parties would be launched. Evidence of Franklin and his men eventually turned up, but one attempt after another yielded no signs of the two ships themselves. It was not until 2014 that the H.M.S. Erebus was at last discovered. Two years later, the wreck of the H.M.S. Terror was found in excellent condition and preserved by 80 feet of cold water, most of its windowpanes still intact.
On this once-in-a-lifetime Arctic cruise, we'll trace the routes of the early explorers who first navigated these waters as they sought out the fabled Northwest Passage, learning more about "the man who ate his boots" and his extraordinary wife, Lady Jane, an intrepid adventurer who sponsored seven expeditions to track down her husband's ships. The writer Paul Watson describes it as “the longest, broadest, and most expensive search for two lost ships in maritime history.” There is much to explore for polar history buffs and wildlife lovers alike. Our itinerary includes a visit to one of the largest migratory bird sanctuaries in the world, and we hope for frequent sightings of seals, beluga whales, polar bears, and even rare narwhals. You'll have the chance to meet expert mariners, scientists, and historians as you share an experience unlike any other.
This trip is not exclusive to Atlas Obscura. Our small group Atlas Obscura explorers will be joining a group of 96 adventurers from all across the world. We look forward to delving into the history and science of the Arctic, learning its unique stories and mysteries, and getting to know our shipmates.
Excursions off-ship are optional, but they're often the most exciting part of the day. Anyone with an average level of mobility can come aboard the inflatable boats we use for on-shore excursions, but for any kayaking (available at a supplementary cost of $695), basic kayaking experience is required and physical fitness is essential. All final decisions on excursions will be made by the Expedition Leader. We will provide kayaks and neoprene wet suits, but kayakers will need to bring their own personal gear. Kayaking is subject to weather and prevailing ice conditions.
There are multiple accommodation options available onboard, subject to availability at the time of booking. These vary in cost and include:
Triple shared cabin: $7,450 per person, based on three people sharing the cabin. Located on the third deck of the ship, these cabins feature two lower berths and one upper berth. One lower berth can be converted to a comfortable sofa during the day. Washroom facilities are shared with guests in other cabins. There is a washbasin in the cabin, a writing desk and chair, and storage for all cabin occupants. These cabins are efficient and well-appointed, with two portholes (one of which opens).
Twin semi-private cabin:$8,500 per person, based on two people sharing the cabin. (The single-occupancy cost is $12,700.) Located on the fourth deck of the ship, these cabins have two lower berths, one of which can be converted to a sofa during the day. These cabins have tall wardrobes with internal shelving for storage, a writing desk, chair, bookshelf, and a window which can be opened. Facilities are semi-private, meaning you share a washroom with the adjacent cabin.
Twin private cabin: $10,075 per person, based on two people sharing the cabin. (The single-occupancy cost is $15,113.) Located on the fourth and fifth decks of the ship, these spacious, well-appointed cabins feature two lower berths, with private washroom facilities (sink, shower, toilet and bathroom cabinet). There are tall wardrobes with internal shelving for storage, a writing desk, chair, bookshelf, and a window which can be opened.
Superior cabin: $11,330, based on two people sharing the cabin. (The single-occupancy cost is $16,995.) These very large cabins are located on the sixth deck, and feature two lower berths, a loveseat, writing desk and chair, ample storage and private washroom facilities. All cabins have a window which can be opened. These cabins provide convenient access to the outer observation decks and ship’s bridge.
Please note that you will need to arrive in Edmonton by the night of August 10. The following day, the group will convene in Edmonton in the early-morning hours for a charter flight to Resolute. On August 20, the final day of the trip, the group will return to Edmonton in the evening. Your flight home should not depart Edmonton any earlier than 9 p.m. on August 20.
The Akademik Ioffe is modern, comfortable, safe, and ice-strengthened. From small group sessions to briefings for all passengers, there are public spaces onboard ideally suited for every need. A separate lounge and bar, as well as a library provide ideal places to sit and relax or catch up on some reading. The sumptuous meals prepared for you by the ship's culinary team are enjoyed in the dining room, which can host all passengers in a single seating. Additional facilities include a theater-style presentation room, gift shop, fitness room, massage room, hot water spa, sauna, and plunge pool. There’s also a dedicated expedition "mud room" where you will prepare for your off‑ship excursions.
Because of the exploratory nature of these voyages, we do not have a set itinerary. The final decisions on our daily program will make the best use of local ice and weather conditions, spontaneous opportunities, and wildlife. The notes in this itinerary are designed to give you a good idea of our intentions, and what your days will look like.