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Arctic cruises provide unique experience.

An Inuit-owned cruise line is ready to set sail to the Canadian Arctic July 10, making it an affordable and authentic way for tourists from around the world to visit the north.

Cruise North Expedition's 66-passenger cruise ship will be the only passenger ship to dock in the Arctic. With cruises departing from Kuujjuaq, Que. on the Koksoak River near the south end of Ungava Bay, passengers will then begin the Arctic experience.

The cruise package includes a short two-hour flight from Montreal to Kuujjuaq on Cruise North's sister company First Air at a price half the cost of other Arctic Expeditions. Prices for a seven-night package start at $2,500, including the cost of the flight. In addition to those savings, additional value is built into the trip with abundant wildlife to be experienced, as well as the opportunity to access the cultural heritage of the Inuit. The ship will have guides and naturalists on board to explain to tourist's points of interest in regards to wildlife colonies and Inuit villages.

Cruise North is offering a series of eight one-week cruises, available from July 10 through Sept. 4. They will offer three itineraries.

A second tour is called Hudson's Wake. Tourists will be able to explore an Arctic wilderness where little has changed over the centuries. They will visit the people and places surrounding the story of the legendary Henry Hudson.

The third itinerary includes excursions and special-interest tours that take place during the cruise that include two or more nights ashore in lodges or tent camps before or after the cruise.

"The whole idea is to get off the ship, like an eco-adventure, and travel," said Cruise North Expeditions President Dugald Wells.

Wells said the idea for this cruise line was to create a catalyst that would encourage the development of local products and services in the tourism industry.

Cruise North Expeditions is owned by the Makivik Corporation, a successful business operated by Inuit people to administer compensation monies on behalf of the Inuit in Northern Quebec.

"They invest for profit but, of course, they invest in businesses that have some potential that will bring opportunities and benefits to their own people," said Wells.

The cruise line, for example, will provide employment opportunities for Inuit. Travellers will eat fine cuisine prepared with ingredients that are from local sources. That, in turn, will support local hunters and fisherman. The gift shop will be stocked with handcrafts made by local artisans.

"We want to be profitable and we want those profits to float to the local communities," Wells said. "To be completely honest, having a successful business is an obvious key goal, but to have tourists explore these hidden communities and to generate revenues for these communities is significantly important."

Cruise North has been working with the people who organize the Toronto International marathon, which is a major running event with about 8,000 participants every year.

"They have joined up with us to promote and organize an Arctie marathon that we will base in one of the small communities in Nunavik, called Kangiqsujuaq," Wells said.

The deal was finalized May 5 and it will initially run as part of the cruise. The runners take part in the Arctic experience along with the other tourists. Wells suggests that in the near future, the runners will have a cruise dedicated for marathon purposes.

"This is a great opportunity for travellers to experience something new as well as the wildlife and the unique surroundings," Wells said.

Wells has arranged with Travel Network, a large travel agency in Toronto, to provide the booking facilities.

For more information on how to book your cruise, go to www.cruisenorthexpeditions.com or call Travel Network at 1-866-263-3220.

"Besides creating employment opportunities, we hope that we will see the people who live and work in the North also booking cruises and also getting the chance to see a little more of their own environment," Wells said.

BY LAURA STEVENS

Windspeaker Staff Writer
COPYRIGHT 2005 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:All My Relations
Author:Stevens, Laura
Publication:Wind Speaker
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jun 1, 2005
Words:665
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