Nunavut set to see another busy cruise ship season

The Akademik Ioffe, which ran aground last summer near Kugaaruk, is not among the ships returning to Nunavut this season.

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A file photo shows the Akademik Ioffe before it ran aground in the Gulf of Boothia on Aug. 24, 2018. The schedule of cruise ship visits to Nunavut communities in 2019 was recently announced. (Nunatsiaq News file photo)

Nunavut communities should expect the usual influx of summer visitors arriving by ship this season.

The Department of Economic Development and Transportation announced in a news release on the first day of summer, on Friday, June 21, that the cruise ship season is approaching.

The department has posted an online database showing which communities the cruise ships will be visiting and on what dates.

According to the news release, this information will be updated frequently.

Pond Inlet will receive by far the largest number of cruise ships this year — 17 — compared with Cambridge Bay’s five, Iqaluit’s four and Arctic Bay’s two.

Notably absent from this year’s schedule of visiting cruise ships is the Akademik Ioffe, which ran aground near Kugaaruk last August.

According to a May 2019 news release from Expeditions Online, “The Russian government has of this moment unexpectedly commandeered the vessel for modernisation.”

No doubt cruise ship operators are hoping for better conditions this year compared with last year’s heavy ice conditions in the Arctic, which were described by Gilles Langis, a senior ice forecaster with the Canadian Ice Service, as “very challenging” — in parts of Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, Baffin Bay and at various choke points in the Northwest Passage.

In early September, the operators of the cruise vessel Hanseatic turned around and headed back east through the Northwest Passage, having decided that ice conditions were too bad to continue on to western Nunavut.