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Destination focus: Canada and the Arctic Circle

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With plenty of stunning sights and the world’s longest coastline, Canada is an exciting option for cruise passengers. They can also sail further afield on a thrilling trip to the Arctic Circle, as Heidi Fuller-Love discovers.

The world’s second-largest country – crossing no fewer than six time zones – Canada is a paradise for cruise lovers, where they can  enjoy French-influenced gastronomy, spectacular scenery, and astounding wildlife in some of the country’s 42 national parks.

Canada also makes an ideal departure point for cruises to the Arctic Circle. Here passengers can explore pristine landscapes with a chance to see breaching whales, polar bears or maybe even spot the fabled, unicorn-like narwhal.

Viking’s head of sales Neil Barclay explains: “A few of our itineraries cross into the Arctic Circle, so guests do not need to travel to the other side of the world to have an adventure. Viking’s new itinerary, Alaska and the Inside Passage, which sets sail from Vancouver, has been extremely popular with our guests from the UK.”

Land of the Midnight Sun

Known as The Land of the Midnight Sun because of its latitude, the Arctic Circle covers the Canadian Arctic and seven other countries, including Norway and Greenland. The most popular Arctic cruises leaving from Canada will navigate the legendary Northwest Passage, linking the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, making port calls at Baffin Island, renowned for its wildlife, Juneau, and Greenland’s Ilulissat Icefjord, home of the huge Jakobshavn Glacier.

Main ports of call on other Canada cruises can include the very French city of Montreal, Quebec City, with its charming cobbled streets and main square, on the mighty St Lawrence River, and Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia. Here disembarking passengers are greeted by the 78th Highlanders, who serenade their arrival with bagpipes.

“From the multi-cultural beauty of Vancouver to the delights of sophisticated Victoria and the magnificent wilderness that is Alaska, Canada has something for everyone,” says Cunard’s sales director, Gary Anslow.

The Canada/New England cruise season runs from May to October, with the greatest number of ships sailing between August and October to take advantage of the fall foliage. Arctic Circle cruises generally sail between May and September, with some companies, including Fred Olsen, offering year-round cruises for passengers who long to see the Northern Lights.

Cruise lines such as Hurtigruten and Seabourn also make port calls further afield in Greenland or Iceland.

“We are seeing an increased interest in exploration-type cruises, such as those visiting the Arctic Circle, which shows that more guests are looking to push the boundaries of their holidays and to reach more remote destinations away from the crowd,” says Fred Olsen’s head of destination experience and itinerary planning, Martin Lister.

Cunard, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Fred Olsen and Viking also offer Arctic Circle cruises out of Canada.

Celebrity’s head of sales UK and Ireland Nicola McNeish says: “Cruising is one of the very best ways to explore northern Canada, the Arctic and in particular Alaska. The region has such a huge variety of natural wonders, including temperate rainforests to towering glaciers and an abundance of wildlife on land and in the air and sea.

“In such a vast and wild region, cruising makes the destination incredibly accessible and provides an awe-inspiring perspective of the mountains, glaciers and frozen landscapes.”

Canada, Arctic Circle, cruise, cruising, Quebec City,
Quebec City.

Example itineraries

Travel in style

Cunard’s ten-night Vancouver to Alaska cruise, departing Vancouver on 21 May 2019, calls at Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point , Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, and ends in Vancouver. Prices from £3,809pp for a balcony stateroom, including flights.

Total eclipse 

Celebrity Cruises’ seven-night Alaska Hubbard Glacier fly/cruise round trip departing Vancouver on 15 September 2019, calls at Icy Strait Point, Juneau and Ketchikan. Prices from £2,579pp for an ocean view stateroom, including flights.

Epic exploration

Seabourn’s 45-day Atlantic Isles Quest departing Dover on 16 July 2019 calls at 29 ports including Reykjavik, Jakobshavn, Akpatok Island, Saguenay and Montreal. Prices from £15,605pp for an ocean view stateroom, including flights.

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