Comparing the Ultimate Arctic Expeditions: Northwest Vs. Northeast Passage

The allure of the fabled Northwest and Northeast Passages, which crisscross the planet’s northernmost reaches and link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, has long enticed the world’s most legendary explorers. These life-defining journeys traverse the vastness of Russia’s northern coast and the icy labyrinth of the Canadian Arctic archipelago. They pass through the realm of the mighty polar bear, larger-than-life walrus and other millenary creatures that commune within this unforgiving environment of infinite shades of white and blue. This is expedition cruising at its very finest!

“As two of the world’s greatest expedition voyages, these are truly unique experiences. They take you to some of the planet’s least visited, most remote destinations.”

Stefan Kredel, Expedition Leader for Silversea’s First Northeast Passage Crossing

Read on for a head-to-head comparison of these two remarkable Arctic expeditions.

Comparing the Northeast Passage and the Northwest Passage

The Northeast Passage

Having departed on August 10, 2019, Silversea’s first ever crossing of the Northeast Passage offered guests a once-in-a-lifetime expedition. The Arctic expedition retraced the routes taken by the famous explorers of yesteryear, including Nordenskiöld, Nansen, DeLong and Amundsen. Travelers aboard this expedition voyage journeyed between Nome (Alaska) and Tromso in Norway. They traveled deeper in the hope of witnessing captivating wildlife, remote islands, and enchanting culture—for which this isolated part of Russia is revered. Guests had the chance to meet Yupik people in Provideniya, explore the landscapes of UNESCO World Heritage Site Wrangel Island, and journey to extreme Arctic latitudes, among other unforgettable experiences, but few things about this unique itinerary were guaranteed: the ice is unpredictable in this remote part of the world and the conditions are mercurial. The Northeast Passage offers polar adventure at its very best.

Departing August 22, 2020, Silversea’s Silver Explorer will undertake the cruise line’s second crossing of the Northeast Passage. Guests will journey between Nome (Alaska) and Tromso, Norway, over 25 days. They will call at up to 27 unforgettable destinations in three countries.

The Northwest Passage

Accompanied by an industry-leading Expedition Team and possibly polar bears, musk oxen, seals, narwhals, and walrus, travelers will venture in to the remote reaches of the High Canadian Arctic on Silversea’s next Northwest Passage crossing. Departing August 21, 2020, Silver Cloud will journey between Kangerlussuaq (Greenland) and Nome (Alaska) on a 24-day itinerary. Incorporating calls at majestic fjords, crystal clear glaciers, and isolated villages, this remarkable expedition will pass through some of the sites visited by Franklin and Amundsen on their pioneering attempts to cross the famous Northwest Passage.

What do Silversea’s Expedition Experts Say?

In a recent interview, Stefan Kredel – Expedition Leader and Silversea’s Senior Director Expedition Development and Operations – shared stories from past experiences of crossing the Northwest Passage. He also looked ahead to Silversea Cruises’ first ever Northeast Passage crossing.