Cruise season begins this week in Iqaluit

By Lisa Gregoire, Nunatsiaq News - July 17, 2017

The 1,000-plus passenger Crystal Serenity might be the largest cruise ship to visit Nunavut this summer, but it won’t be the only one.

From the end of July to early September, more than a dozen ships carrying more than 3,000 passengers will make stops in 12 different Nunavut communities, according to a master 2017 itinerary published by Nunavut’s economic development and transportation department.

The Crystal Serenity, seen here during a stop in Cambridge Bay in 2016, will visit Pond Inlet and Cambridge Bay this summer. (Nunatsiaq news file photo)
The Crystal Serenity, seen here during a stop in Cambridge Bay in 2016, will visit Pond Inlet and Cambridge Bay this summer. (Nunatsiaq news file photo)

Nine of those ships will stop in picturesque Mittimatalik — Pond Inlet — four of them two times as they loop in and out of Nunavut waters.

With an anticipated 2,500 summer visitors to the North Baffin hamlet over the course of about six weeks, Pond Inlet will be the busiest Nunavut community for cruise ship traffic this year.

Five ships will stop into Cambridge Bay this summer, including the Crystal Serenity and the Canada 150 C3 Expedition, a Students on Ice initiative travelling on board the Canada Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Prince.

The Canada 150 ship will be sailing for an estimated 150 days from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage. The journey is split up into 15 segments, with different people on board for each one, for a combined total of 300 passengers by journey’s end.

Vicki Aitaok, who used to coordinate cruise activities in Cambridge Bay, has handed the job over to the hamlet this year.

Cathryn Epp, who has worked with, and been trained by Aitaok, has taken over cruise ship coordination.

Reached in Cambridge Bay July 14, Epp said the community plans to offer the same type of activities and tours to visiting ship guests as in years past.

Epp said last year’s visit of the largest ever cruise ship, the Crystal Serenity, was like a trial run and by all accounts, it went well.

“Speaking to people that I have approached to help again this year, they’ve all offered up suggestions on what can be tweaked or what can be added but everyone I spoke to said it was fine, that they enjoyed it,” Epp said.

“Vicki did great. She organized it down to a science. I’m following a lot of her directions this year. I’ve spoken to her a lot and she’s helped me a lot.”

As in previous years, Epp will put together tourism packages for cruise ship operators to look at and purchase.

Based on what they choose, Epp will then hire local people to provide a variety of services including tours, transportation, traditional food sampling, fashion shows, Arctic sports demonstrations and cultural entertainment.

“I’m trying really hard to involve as many companies in town as I can, so I’m not just using one company to do all my transportation needs, say. I’m trying to approach everyone I can think of to say, ‘Hey, this is what I need. Are you interested in helping?’ ”

Six ships will be stopping into Iqaluit starting July 18 with the Adventure Canada’s 198-guest Ocean Endeavour. Guests are expected to come ashore for a while and then the ship will depart the same day.

You can find out which ship is visiting a community and when in a master itinerary posted on the ED & T website here.