Canoe North Adventures offering cruises around Iceland

April 21, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

In 2012, Canoe North Adventures (CNA) was awarded the status of the Canadian Experience Signature Collection (SEC) for excellence on every issue of the wilderness canoe tours they have run in the far North of the country. Of the Signature Experience designation, it has been given to only 200 businesses.

Over many years, CNA has increased their customer base and broadened the scope of their reputation for life-changing experiences in the lands and rivers where they have brought their enthusiastic clientele.

Now they also sell cruises, to circumnavigate Iceland with Adventure Canada, a cruise ship company that also specializes in softer, one may say, wilderness adventures.

It happened this way as Lin Ward told the Citizen, “We were in London, England at Canada House in Trafalgar Square. Our job is to be ambassadors for tourism in Canada. We met the people there from Adventure Canada.”

Like CNA, Adventure Canada is a family-owned business, the Swan family and also one of the SEC designates.

“You find you have similar values,” Ms. Ward observed. “You care about the people travelling with you. Theirs is also a family business. As it happens, it is a lot harder to sell our canoe trips but it’s easy to sell cruises.

“When we came back from the London trip we decided, ‘Now we’re in the canoe and cruise business.’”

To sample the experience of travelling with Adventures Canada, Lin Ward and Al Pace took a cruise along with others to Greenland and Wild Labrador in 2019. They were delighted with the trip.

In fact, as a business, Canoe North had been interested in offering other types of adventures. Some people have been their customers for years.

“Generally, we have 20 and 25 people travelling with us and we have hosts. Al and I are hosts,” she said, noting. “Maybe there are others wanting the northern adventure but who didn’t want to do canoe trips.”

Adventure Canada’s ship is named Ocean Endeavour and can carry 180 passengers. Typically though, Ms. Ward informed us, there 150 passengers on board. It is an ocean liner. The upcoming trip will circumnavigate Iceland, stopping in the harbours of towns and to see the remote places in Iceland. 

“Not too many people would go there,” said Ms. Ward. “When you come to a community you can get off on the dock. Otherwise, they usually use a Zodiac to reach shore.”

Because cruise ship travel is easier than paddling a canoe, a real variety of people go on these cruises, bringing with them a variety of health or condition restrictions which can be accommodated on board ship.

“The wonderful thing about the ship for me,” she said, “in order to see these places in by boat but to get into the depth of what Iceland is – that’s the beauty of it.”

The Iceland cruise is “pretty well sold out.”

What makes the Canoe North Adventure so much fun is they offer a personal touch and camaraderie within it. Chances are that Canoe North adventurers will find each other while on the Ocean Endeavour.

While Ms. Ward and Mr. Pace don’t host every cruise trip, they do offer the advantages of booking cruises “through us. If there is no host and just the passengers, generally there’s a group that have booked with us.”

By way of an excellent recommendation, Ms. Ward informed us that one in three clients repeat the experience of wilderness travel with them.

On the cruises, every place a person goes, there are options as to excursions. 2023 will see travel to Iceland and in 2024, the ship sails to Antarctica. Singles and couples book to sail with it.

With travel restrictions being lifted, people are flocking to travel north on canoe trips; to date, 17 are booked this summer with only two spots left on the Mountain River and the Horton. Four years ago, Canoe North was granted a license to take tours through the iconic Nahanni [River] National Park for the first issued license since 1976.

Of the two years with no trips to book, Ms. Ward said, “Managing seasons when you don’t run seasons is harder work than when trips are running. Al goes up on May 11 [to Norman Wells, their base in the north, where they have accommodations and an outfitting centre] and [their son and business partner] Taylor and I are going up in June. There is so much buzz about the opening.”

People are so ready to travel is the message, to do a wilderness trip is just part of what people want to do. Canoe North Adventures is booking into 2023 now.

For those who hesitate about going on such a trip, people watch travelogues and hear about the north but think “I could never do that-”

She told us, “Most of our clients come from Ontario. There is an appreciation for wilderness; it is just part of our nature all those years camping as kids, going to cottages. Our trips have different rivers for different levels,” she said, “We work hard to find what they want and what they can do.”

Philosophically, Lin Ward explained the difference. “The North is so unknown to people. You can’t book these trips online. You have to talk to people.

“We want people to know as much as possible about us and us to know about them.”

For all the information and to inquire about booking or learning about the adventures by canoe or cruise call 519-941-6654 or email

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.