BAFFIN ISLAND, NUNAVUT, CANADA – There’s a spectacular piece of theater awaiting adventurers who take advantage of a cruise to “The Top of the World”—where you’ll also get one of the best seats in the “house.” The show, one of Nature’s finest, is a total solar eclipse, as the moon passes between sun and earth, casting a shadow across the earth’s surface.
You’ll observe this rare natural phenomenon during a 13-day cruise aboard the Akademik loffe, Scandinavian built for the Russian Academy of Science. This active adventure from Iqaluit, Baffin Island to Resolute Bay via Greenland, includes positioning of the ship to afford a view of the eclipse. En route to this nocturnal rendezvous are opportunities for kayaking, as well as cruises in Zodiacs along the base of bird cliffs and hikes of tundra-carpeted hills.
This cruise is offered by The Great Canadian Travel Company, North America’s foremost experts in travel to some of the world’s least-traveled regions—especially to northern destinations that include Alaska and Canada’s north, as well as Greenland, Iceland and Baffin Island. Departure is set for July 22, 2008, with the eclipse occurring in the early hours of August 1.
Designed to travel quietly during hydro-acoustic research, the ship is exceptionally stable, yet maneuverable, with external stabilizers and a built-in trimming system. The vessel, designed to carry 110 guests plus 53 staff and crew, has an ice-strengthened hull and a cruising speed in open water of 14.5 knots.
It also is high on creature comforts. All cabins have exterior views and a lounge and bar is open late afternoon and evening with a wide selection of wines and spirits. It features a dining room with unreserved seating, a theater-style presentation room, library with a collection of polar-themed books and a gym, sauna and swimming pool.
Cost is from US$5,990 per person (based on twin-shared cabin), with 12 nights’ accommodation onboard the Akademik loffe and all meals. Charter flights from Ottawa to Iqaluit and from Resolute back to Ottawa are available at US$1,350 per person.
Highlights include a visit to Monumental Island, where the presence of pack ice attracts walrus and polar bear, and crossing into the Arctic Circle to enter a world of virtually continuous daylight. At Pangnirtung on Baffin Island there is a visit to the Artists’ Co-op to learn about the importance of print-making and weaving to the local economy, as you learn how Inuit art is coveted by art collectors world-wide.
Pangnirtung is the only community on the shores of massive Cumberland Sound, which stretches 155 miles long by 49 miles wide. This is a favorite habitat of Beluga and Orca whales.
Greenland produces more icebergs than any other Arctic region. Ilulissat, one of the most productive icefjords, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While you sail to Greenland via Baffin Bay, the Expedition Team will deliver illustrated presentations about Arctic wildlife, its indigenous people and the life cycle of ice. At Dundas Harbour, you’ll explore an abandoned Royal Canadian Mounted Police outpost, nestled among tundra-covered hills.
The Expedition Leader will be reviewing charts and weather reports to identify the best location to view the solar eclipse. According to NASA, the event should occur August 1, 2008 at 04.20. The goal will be to go ashore on the northeastern tip of Somerset Island, near Port Leopold. This is considered an excellent vantage point.
Following the eclipse—and a morning nap—there is a visit to Prince Leopold Island’s towering limestone cliffs. They are renowned as a breeding ground for many species of Arctic seabirds. If the conditions are right, you’ll see thousands of birds.
Reservations and additional information available from The Great Canadian Travel Company, 333 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 712, Chicago, Illinois 60601, 800-661-3830, www.greatcanadiantravel.com or www.topoftheworldtours.com.

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