Northwest or Northeast Passage? Watch our expert Webinar.


As two of the most challenging and legendary sea routes on Earth, the Northwest and Northeast Passages offer unique opportunities  for expedition voyages, venturing where very few people have been before.

Follow in the footsteps of the early Arctic explorers Franklin, Amundsen and Larsen, as you discover one of the world’s last frontiers, the famous Northwest Passage. Few have cruised along this sea passage through the heart of the Arctic and across the world's most northerly countries. Encounter remote fjords, glaciers, harbours and uninhabited islands that dot the archipelago of Canada’s High Arctic.

In the Russian Arctic of the Northeast Passage traverse nine time zones across the top of Siberia and Russia, pushing through ice-laden waters to Arctic Islands so remote few, if any humans have ever visited. Take in wild landscapes along the planet’s greatest migration paths, where birds in their millions fly north to breed on lush river deltas and wind-swept sea cliffs. Step back in time when woolly rhinoceros roamed the Great Arctic Plain and feel the weight of a mammoth tusk in your hands.

Discover some of the amazing highlights you can experience in each of the different sea passages 

1. Encounters with the Ice Bear

There are few wildlife experiences that are as powerful as seeing polar bears. Across the Arctic, we spot them hunting seals, walrus, even beluga whales from pack ice. They migrate through areas where we visit, often with cubs in tow. Wrangell Island on the Northeast Passage has the highest density of polar bear dens in the world. 

2. Wildlife wonderland assured 

On both voyages you will witness walrus, arctic fox and beluga whales, plus hundreds of thousands of seabirds including puffins, guillemots, kittiwakes and dozens of other species along major migratory pathways. You’ll discover exquisite tundra flowers to photograph and delicious summer berries to taste – cloudberries are sensational.

3. Northwest Passage

Explore UNESCO World Heritage-listed Disko Bay, where massive icebergs calved from Sermeq Kujalleq, the world’s fastest and most active glacier, fill Illulissat Icefjord with grinding ice castles. Sail to Pond Inlet, Baffin Island where sheer granite walls rise from the sea and Inuits share their life and culture.

Visit Beechey Island, where the ill-fated 1845 Franklin Expedition, wintered over and laid to rest three of its crew. At Gjoa Haven, named for Amundsen’s yacht on the first successful crossing, visit the resting place of Franklin’s HMS Erebus and HMS Terror.

Cruise beneath spectacular 869-foot-high limestone cliffs of the Prince Leopold Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Train your in-suite binoculars on the home of half a million nesting birds, including thick-billed murres, northern fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes. 

Delight in wonders found nowhere else on Earth, like dozens of beluga whales shedding skin on sand banks of Cunningham Inlet, narwhals chasing Arctic char and polar bears feasting on whales trapped in the rocky shallows of Coningham Bay, Prince of Wales Island.

4. Northeast Passage

It’s so ecologically significant, Wrangell Island enjoys Russia’s highest degree of environmental protection. Unscoured by glaciers during the last Ice Age, its tundra boasts incredible plant diversity, and mammoth tusks. Home to the largest population of Pacific walrus helps account for Wrangell having the planet’s highest concentration of polar bear dens.

Explore one of the last great undiscovered wilderness areas. Meet Chukchi reindeer herders and walrus hunters on Ayon Island. Enjoy kayaking near long-tailed ducks and bearded and ringed seals in the Medvezie (Bear) Islands. Walk to imposing rock spires of Chetyryokhstolbovy Island and Zodiac cruise below bird cliffs where thousands of kittiwakes nest.

Severnaya Zemlya (Northern Lands) was the last territorial discovery on Earth, with much still to discover. Hike up to glaciers. Take a Zodiac cruise through fjords, aflutter with Brant geese, snow buntings and Arctic skuas. Novaya Zemlya (New Lands) features a glistening ice cap, vast walrus haulouts and bristling bird cliffs. See calving glacier fronts with bearded seals and polar bears.

Explore Franz Josef Land, the world’s northernmost archipelago. Home to five million seabirds, polar bears and walrus, it’s also been the staging post for polar explorations by Nansen, Amundsen, Tegetthoff and others striving for the North Pole and Northeast Passage. Ship cruise the soaring bird cliffs of Rubini Rock and admire perfectly round geodes at Cape Trieste.

Learn more with our Expert Webinar

Hear from our Discovery Team Experts, Terence Christian and Jason Kelly, about their experiences in the Northwest and Northeast Passages. They have more than 50 years’ experience between them and offer amazing insight into these legendary sea routes. You'll also learn more about Scenic Eclipse, The World’s First Discovery YachtsTM and the seamless marrying of ultra-luxury and discovery on board, with a wealth of world-class facilities for unrivalled exploration.

Start planning your Scenic Eclipse cruise

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