North to Nunavut
After a flight of more than two hours directly north from Ottawa, our ageing 737 touches down on the super long former military airstrip at Iqualuit, known in Cold War times as Frobisher Bay. On a line between the Canadian capital and the North Pole, it's roughly half way.
The pre-trip anticipation among the expeditioners is always palpable at this time. Some are making their first trip to the Arctic while others are well into double figures. The spread of nationalities on these departures is always intriguing and it's clear from the excited chatter that we have a mini United Nations awaiting the Zodiac transfer to Akademik Ioffe waiting at anchor in the bay.
If you count Alaska, this will be my sixth Arctic adventure aboard ship and my second with the venerable company, One Ocean Expeditions, who carry on their explorations in the time-honoured fashion by utilising the f ormer Soviet oceanographic vessels which pioneered the modern era of commercial polar cruising soon after the Berlin Wall came down.
In more recent times, the new wave of flashy 'champagne expedition' ships have shone a somewhat disparaging light on these proud and rugged vessels, but they have shown their mettle with decades of continuous reliability, a testament to their original robust and purposeful construction. What they lack in opulence, they more than make up for in sheer dependability and fit-for-purpose design.
In fact, it was on Ioffe's sister ship, Akademik Vavilov, that I made my first expedition cruise in the Antarctic almost 20 years ago. How time flies.
First Air 737-400 on the tarmac at Iqaluit (YFB) (R Eime)
View across Frobisher Bay toward township (R Eime)
Our vessel awaits (OOE)
Expeditioncruising.com is travelling as a guest of One Ocean Expeditions with support from Destination Canada
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