The Arctic cruise region includes the Eastern and Western Arctic and Hudson’s Bay. Over the last few years, the Arctic region has moved into a mature cruise market with increased numbers of vessels, more demanding routes and more regular and predictable patterns of cruise activities. With regard to marine terminal facility operators, the Arctic regions have relatively rudimentary levels of marine transportation infrastructure. Cruise lines travelling in this region are dominated by exploration / soft adventure cruise brands that operate relatively small vessels (120 to 300 passengers) and do not require extensive marine terminal type infrastructure. In 2013, the Arctic had 38 cruise visits with over 4,500 passengers.
Increased demand for travel to remote places, increased popularity of the Arctic region and changing waterway conditions will influence the need and pace of Indigenous tourism opportunities. The frequency of cruise ship visits to a specific community, the size of vessel and resulting passenger volume and the level of marine transportation infrastructure will impact the scale of shore-based Indigenous tourism opportunities in the region. It takes high volume of passengers to generate significant benefits for local communities, which then need well-organized tourism products. Communities that serve as embarkation and debarkation ports will be in a better position to benefit quickly from cruise potential. The relatively long cruise itineraries may also present opportunities for Indigenous tourism experiences onboard a vessel. For example, Adventure Canada has Indigenous Culturalists on board their ships. There are also opportunities for pre and post land tours from ship passengers. Cruise ships visiting these areas have a high return rate for visitors coming back to do a land trip.
In the summer of 2016, Crystal Cruises will become the first large luxury cruise ship to sail all the way through the Northwest Passage. Scheduled stops are planned for the communities of Ulukhaktok, N.W.T., Cambridge Bay, NU and Pond Inlet, NU. The cruise line will carry approximately 1,000 passengers but no more than 250 people will be on shore at any one time.
The duration of the Arctic summer cruise season (July to September) various depending on the location. Given the cruise region’s distance from European or North American homeports the region is included in cruise itineraries that range from just under two weeks to more than a month.
Cruise vessels are flexible with their itineraries in cruise offerings; therefore stops and visits to communities can vary depending on weather. The following communities have been included in cruise itineraries: Nunavut – Arviat, Cambridge Bay, Cape Dorset, Clyde River, Gjoa Haven, Grise Fiord, Iqaluit, Kimmirut, Pangnirtung, Pond Inlet, Qikiqtarjuaq, Resolute Bay; Northwest Territories – Sachs Harbour, Tuktoyaktuk, Ulukhaktok.
Average Vessel Size
120 - 300 passengers