Journey above the Arctic Circle into the High Arctic and enter the realm of the polar bear. Touchdown in Norway’s northernmost city of Longyearbyen and tuck into a reindeer steak before setting sail on a small ship cruise towards the Svalbard archipelago. Watch the seals lazing on ice floes and keep your fingers crossed for a horned narwhal as you tour past plunging fjords, icy mountains and calving glaciers. Learn about ancient Sami culture and go husky sledding or reindeer sledging. Venture west to Greenland’s rugged coast or swing south to the volcanoes, fjords and waterfalls of Iceland. Visit in summer and experience the midnight sun or wrap up warm for winter and gaze up for the Northern Lights.
Top of the Arctic food chain and the main attraction for so many visitors, the High Arctic is the realm of the Polar Bear. Roaming the ice majestically in search of its next meal, the bear’s primary food source is the seal which can be spotted lazing on ice floes. As polar bear cubs stay with their mother for two years, you’ll have the chance to see both younger and older cubs as they interact with their mother and siblings.
Finding their home in the icy waters of the Arctic, you're likely to spot the various whale species that frequent these waters on their journeys north. If you're lucky, you may even encounter the rare horned narwhal. A pack of walrus will brighten anyone's day as they tussle with one another to get comfortable on shore and the High Arctic is also the land of the reindeer and arctic fox, who astound with their ability to survive in such a harsh environment.
Bird life is also very impressive, particularly around the towering cliffs of Little Auk's, where thousands of guillemots together with their fledgling young gather in colonies.
Arctic trips involve cruising on small, agile, expedition ships. Within that, you can choose a cruise ship based on its level of comfort, ice breaking capability, viewing possibilities and any optional activities offered. With a range of itineraries and activities on offer it is important to pick the right Arctic trip that suits you, which is where our advice can help you decide.
Your personal taste may demand a certain level of luxury, or your spirit for adventure could make the kayaking or snow shoeing a must for your trip. If photography is your thing or you wish to share this experience with your teenage family there are dedicated specialist departures to suit.
Whichever itinerary you take, you’ll be guided by the ship’s crew, guides and lecturers who share the same passion and excitement and will explain more about the landscape, sea life and wildlife as you make this extraordinary journey. On most trips, you’ll be able to encounter wildlife up close in Zodiacs – small craft that can get closer to animals and birds.
Most people choose to visit the Arctic during its summer (June –September). Like all weather systems, conditions in the High Arctic can be a little unpredictable. If you travel in the earlier months of the season, June specifically, the ice is often still too thick, so circumnavigation of Svalbard for instance, may not be possible.
Instead you may spend time exploring the fjords further south where the experiences will be just as magnificent and rewarding. There is a common understanding that in the High Arctic you have to work to see your wildlife, but the knowledge and dedication of your crew and guides make each individual trip incredible in its own right.
As most people head into the Arctic Circle between June and September, the first thing you’ll notice is the 24 hour daylight. Being so northerly the Arctic Circle experiences long hours of daylight during its summer and conversely short, dark days during the very cold winter months.
After that you’ll notice the cold, and at times the wet and the wind. This ever-changing weather impacts on the course you take and the experience you have, and makes your own trip so much more special and unique.
Being well dressed and prepared for changing climate will ensure you get maximum enjoyment from your trip. When the sun shines and the wind drops, the absolute calm is simply beautiful. You can hire waterproofs and wellington boots on board and thermals are a must.
We can arrange your flights and accommodation to coincide with your cruise start and end points, and can also arrange any additional tours that may be of interest to you.