A busy cruise ship season lies ahead for Nunavut

Eighteen ships are scheduled to call in Pond Inlet alone.

By Jane George, Nunatsiaq News - August 8, 2018
Zodiacs like this one, which helped bring hundreds of passengers off the Crystal Serenity cruise ship to Cambridge Bay in 2016, are set to become common sights in many Nunavut communities this month and next as cruise ships call on Nunavut communities. (Jane George / Nunatsiaq News)

If you live in Pond Inlet, you might want to prepare to sell some arts and crafts this Saturday.

On that day, three cruise ships and about 500 passengers are due in town, where there will be many opportunities to make some money as visitors tour the sights of this north Baffin community of about 1,700.

Ships in Pond Inlet set to arrive on Aug. 11 are Adventure Canada’s Ocean Endeavour with 198 passengers, Hapag-Lloyd’s MV Hanseatic with 170 passengers and Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Explorer with 148 passengers.

Pond Inlet, with its spectacular scenery and national park infrastructure, looks to be the big draw for cruise ships this year. Some 18 different ships are scheduled to call there, including a newcomer to Canadian Arctic cruising, Hurtigruten, the big Norwegian cruise, ferry and cargo operator.

The Hurtigruten’s Fram recently secured a positive screening decision from the Nunavut Impact Review Board for its Northwest Passage cruise called “In the Wake of Great Explorers.”

Stops on the cruise include Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Fort Ross, Beechey Island, Dundas Harbour and Pond Inlet, and then in Greenland, Ilullissat, Sisimiut and Kangerlussuaq.

The 10-year-old ship, named after the Fram — sailed by Norwegian mariner and explorer Fridtjof Nansen — has a capacity of 318 passengers, who will pay roughly $15,000 and upward for the experience.

This year, Cambridge Bay and Gjoa Haven, also located along the Northwest Passage, remain top destinations for cruise ships. Cruise ships are also scheduled to stop in Grise Fiord, Resolute Bay, Arctic Bay, Clyde River, Qikiqtarjuaq, Pangnirtung, Iqaluit, Kimmirut, Cape Dorset and Kugluktuk.

To better prepare the visitors for their shore time, Arctic cruise operators have come up with a set of guidelines.

The guidelines include simple — and you might think self-evident — rules on how to behave, such as:

• Talk to, and not about, the people you meet.

• Think of yourself as an ambassador for your country and culture, as the locals are for theirs. “Politeness and good manners are always appreciated.”

• If at all possible, use toilets for human waste.

• Never enter a private house without an invitation.

• Do not walk on graves.

Another tip recently circulated on social media included this advice to visitors in Nunavut: take off your footwear when you’re invited into a home.

But, to help out, there should be more Nunavut residents working on board the cruise ships this season, thanks to a Nunavut cruise ship training boot camp held in 2017.

The two-week course, a pilot project organized by the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Economic Development, Parks Canada and the Nunavut Fisheries and Marine Training Consortium, set students up to drive zodiacs, help with shore landings for community visits and act as bear monitors for off-ship hiking excursions and visits to heritage sites.

The 10 Nunavummiut who took part — five men and five women — now have the seven different certificates needed to work on commercial passenger vessels.

These include small-vessel operator training, marine basic first aid, basic marine emergency duties, communicating with a VHF radio, passenger safety modules, and a firearms possession and acquisition licence.

You can find more information on the 2018 cruise ship schedule on a master online itinerary prepared by the Government of Nunavut.

A look at the list of ships shows that the 250-meter-long Crystal Serenity, the largest passenger vessel to ever transit the Northwest Passage, first in 2016 and again in 2017, will not return to Canadian Arctic waters in 2018.