Cruise North Expeditions
- Cruises focus on Arctic wildlife
- Provides unique exposure to Inuit culture
- Offers itineraries to remote destinations avoided other expedition lines
- Modestly priced for an expedition company, with discounts for kids
OnboardEditor's note: Cruise North Expeditions was acquired by Adventure Canada in 2011. Sailings, now aboard Sea Adventurer (Lyubov Orlova is no longer in service), are marketed by both companies.
Cruise North sailings are very much focused on destination and wildlife, and life onboard is casual and relaxed. You won't find anything fancy or formal -- and forget anything like production shows. Instead, the emphasis is on learning, with lectures on topics that range from the ecology of the poles to the life cycle of thick-billed murres. Expect one or two stops each day, sometimes with shore trips before breakfast, and accept that itineraries will be altered, based on the changing weather and ice conditions.
About Cruise North ExpeditionsFounded in 2005, Cruise North provides a refreshingly unique alternative within the expedition cruise industry. Inuit owned and funded, the company combines no-frills expeditions to some rarely visited Canadian Arctic regions with a strong emphasis on Inuit culture and wildlife. There is no formality onboard -- the friendly, often folksy, atmosphere trickles down from the top; with only a handful of full-time employees, the company is as small and noncorporate as you can find in today's cruise industry. The chartered Lyubov Orlova is decidedly basic, but that helps to ensure that passengers are self-selecting and don't need luxuries to appreciate the experience.
A large part of Cruise North's mission is to take conservation to heart, whether that be in promoting Inuit culture or looking after the environment. The company employs members of the Inuit community to make presentations about their culture and arrange visits to local communities; at the same time, the Inuit employees learn about the tourism industry.
In addition, the ship and its crew spend five days or so at the end of the year involved in an Arctic cleanup project. Corporate volunteers sponsor a return to a destination in need of some cleaning, which ensures the company leaves the Arctic in a more pristine state than it was at the start of the season.
Cruise North Expeditions FleetAfter operating the first year with a smaller, older ship, Cruise North upgraded and began chartering the Lyubov Orlova in 2006. Completed in 1976, this Cook Islands-flagged ship is slightly ice-strengthened and features plenty of open deck space -- important for expedition ships, which often have all passengers gathering on deck simultaneously for wildlife sightings. However, the ship's interiors and facilities are very basic and are far below what most mainstream cruise passengers have come to expect.
Fellow PassengersFellow passengers come mostly from Canada, with the rest split between the U.S., Germany, the U.K. and France. One or two kids are usually on each trip, as Cruise North encourages families to travel onboard.
Rates are more reasonable than many of the high-end expedition operators, and the average pax tends to be in his or her 50's or 60's. Passengers are active and curious and take an avid interest in learning about the region they are visiting.