The community of Ulukhaktok sits on the western coast of Victoria Island, and it is our first stop in the Northwest Territories. We arrived bright and early and were so happy to see dozens of community members on shore to greet us. Elders, children, and guides of all ages welcomed us with smiles and handshakes. Many of them wore traditional clothing and took the time to tell us how they prepare the materials and sew their garments.

From the beach, we fanned out for hikes to a nearby viewpoint and for tours of the town. By 11:00 a.m., we gathered in the arena – the old curling rink – for a show and celebration. We saw two different drum and dance groups, each with a different style of song and drumming. Voices and drumbeats filled the hall and gave our guests a chance to study the dancing styles… until we were invited up to join them. By the last dance, we had dozens of guests brave enough to try a few moves and join the performers in celebrating and sharing their culture.

We had a rush to the artisan tables after that, as well as a demonstration of some Arctic Games by two young athletes from the community. It was hard to say goodbye after a short but sweet visit.

Back on National Geographic Endurance, we settled in for an afternoon at sea. In recent days, the sea ice we have become so accustomed to seeing – and hearing – has been in short supply. Today, however, as we sailed west towards U.S. waters, we returned to the familiar sight and sound of the ship navigating through ice. Albeit not as thick as it was last week, it was still a pleasure to sail through and see numerous seals. Luckily for us, Steve was on hand with his marine mammals of the Northwest Passage lecture to ensure that we knew what we were spotting! Furthermore, what better way to sail through sea ice than with an ice cream party, courtesy of the infallible Hotel Team.

As evening approached, we thanked the weather gods for another smooth sailing in glorious sunshine. We are sad to leave behind the landings and communities we have visited, and we look forward to some unknowns in the coming days at sea…