In Crystal Cruises®, Destination Adventures

Unexpected Adventures Part II – Beechey Island

Perhaps because they’re untouched by humans, desolate places can be some of the most beautiful. Beechey Island is one such example. From its steep snow-capped cliffs to its sharp shale beaches meeting the rounded cove of turquoise water, it’s a destination demanding respect. It’s certainly a pretty place, but the first impression it gives off is a palpable sense of sadness.

Markers on the shores of Beechey Island recognize the explorer who perished.
Markers on the shores of Beechey Island recognize the explorer who perished.

Upon landing on Beechey Island, one’s eyes are immediately drawn to the highest point on the beach. It’s not a grove of trees or a welcome sign. It’s a row of tombstones. They mark the graves of a few men from John Franklin’s unsuccessful expedition to find the Northwest Passage in 1845. All 130 crewmembers and their captains perished, mostly from starvation and illness, not far from this spot. It’s easy to imagine the skeletal remains, forlorn and frozen, scattered around Starvation Cove.

“This was where the rescue crew left supplies in case Franklin’s men were alive and returned to where they had wintered,” said Hector Williams, the Crystal Cruises historian who guided guests on their unexpected adventure—a visit to Beechey Island. He pointed to what remained of a building’s foundation. Rusted cans and rotted wooden planks littered the ground. “The men never arrived, and bears broke in and stole most of the supplies,” Edgar continued. “We know it was bears because they ate everything but left the jugs of rum untouched.”

“It was an incredibly moving experience,” remarked one guest as she got off the after her morning visit. Like the rest of the guests in her zodiac. Snow began to fall by the afternoon and Crystal Serenity sailed on. In the background, Beechey Island looked as beautiful as ever.

Keep following the Crystal Insider for Katie’s dispatches from the Northwest Passage, or subscribe to get the latest delivered directly to your inbox.

If the updates of these epic adventures spark your wanderlust, book your 2017 Northwest Passage journey now for the best value!

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Posted on September 10, 2016



  1. Fran
    5 years ago

    Wow! Thank you….

  2. Edele Johnstone
    5 years ago

    My son and his wife were on this outing today and they emailed me of this experience. So glad to also have this report from Katie. What a terrific trip they are having and I am with them every bit of the way on my computer.

  3. Joy Davis
    5 years ago

    We were supposed to be on this cruise, but I canceled when my husband passed away in March. These “insiders” are very important to me as are the many websites I am following. Thanks for this great feature.

  4. Sharon Collins
    5 years ago

    Thank you Katie for these wonderful “insiders”, the trip sounds amazing. Curtis, the ballroom dancer onboard is our son so we have been following your report and feel we are sharing a part of the cruise with him.

    Thanks again!

    Sharon Collins

  5. Bonnie Childs
    5 years ago

    I am following this Crystal Serenity Northwest Passage sailing with great interest. I booked several guests on this one and it is so exciting to me to see the adventure unfolding each day. Thank you for sharing. Best to all!
    Bonnie Childs

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    5 years ago

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