Students on Ice Is a Cool Way to Explore the Arctic

Lucy Izon is a Toronto-based freelance writer; Internet

Among the newest, most interesting opportunities for student travel is in the Arctic by way of expedition ship. Students on Ice, a Canadian company that introduced this style of student travel to the Antarctic last winter, is scheduled to run its first Arctic expedition Aug. 15 to 26. Space is still available.

The company is using a 350-foot, ice-class expedition vessel called the Akademik Ioffe, which the Australian expedition company Peregrine leases for tourism from the Russian Academy of Sciences. The 75 students will fly from Ottawa to Nanisivik, where they will begin sailing through parts of the Northwest Passage, with stops at Pond Inlet and Beechey Island. (This is where Sir John Franklin’s expedition wintered over in 1846, and is the final resting place for three of Franklin’s crew; their bodies were exhumed 138 years later.) The ship will then make its way along the coast of Baffin Island and across to Greenland, where, after visiting the world’s fastest-moving glacier (8 feet a day) in Ilulissat ], it will sail south to dock at Kangerlussaq and fly back to Ottawa.

The teaching staff for the expedition comprises world-class oceanographers, marine biologists, meteorologists, historians and botanists. Participating on this journey is oceanographer Don Walsh, who was a presidential appointee under both the Carter and Reagan administrations to the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere. He is best known for making oceanographic history in 1960 with Jacques Piccard, by descending 35,800 feet to the bottom of the Marianas Trench--the deepest place in the world’s oceans.

As on the Antarctic expedition, the students on this trip will look for evidence of climatic change and work with scientists on various experiments and activities.


The fee is about $3,650, which includes air fare from Ottawa. The trip is open to students 15 to 18. Contact Students on Ice at (613) 236-9716. Details are available on the Internet at

Biggest Hostel

The world’s largest youth hostel has opened in China. The new 1,000-bed facility, which is affiliated with Hostelling International, is at the Qingxin Hot Springs resort in Guangdong province, the southern gateway to mainland China, used by many travelers who visit via Hong Kong.

The resort is a joint venture between Hong Kong and China and is a national football training base. The hostel has mostly six-and eight-bed rooms with private baths.


Hostel guests can use the tennis courts and swimming pools free of charge but must pay for other activities. For further information, visit

Rail Discounts

BritRail has announced a 25%-off summer sale for all BritRail Classic Passes. This includes Brit-Rail Youth Passes and Freedom of Scotland Travel Passes.

BritRail Classic Passes are valid for unlimited travel in England, Scotland and Wales for a predetermined number of consecutive days. The attractive feature is that you don’t have to make plans. You jump on and off as you choose at any of the 2,400 rail stations in the system.

The BritRail Classic Youth Pass, available to travelers younger than 26 years, is valid for standard-class travel. Eight days of travel is $161, 15 days is $209, 22 days is $266 and one month is $314.

The Freedom of Scotland Travel Pass is valid for standard-class rail, bus and ferry transportation within Scotland. You don’t have to travel on consecutive days to get full value. Any four days of travel within an eight-day period costs $101, eight days of travel within 15 days is $126, and 12 days of travel within 20 days is $164.

These passes must be purchased before you leave North America (available from travel agents).

To get these special rates you must buy before July 31. For more information, call BritRail at (877) 677-1066 or visit