Arctic Cruises – What to Expect


The weather in the Arctic isn’t necessarily the same as the images that you see of the great explorers on their way to the North Pole through blizzards, deep snow and frost bite, certainly not during the summer months when the cruise ships take to the water in any case.

Cruises to the region generally run between June and September, summer in the northern hemisphere and a place where the sun never set at this time of year.  There is twenty four hour daylight and the area is full of new life whether it be beautiful wild flowers or the young birds and mammals that have just been born.  There are two main areas that are covered by Arctic cruises, the area around Spitzbergen, Greenland and Finland, and the area to around Alaska and Russia.  Cruises to both areas are often on small group cruises from 4 to around 20 people maximum and are covered by only a few ships.  The ships vary their itineraries rather than repeating the same route each week which means that some of these itineraries only happen once or twice a year, so the most popular sell out very quickly.

What to expect from a cruise to Spitzbergen, Greenland and Finland

Cruises can start from either Longyearbyen in Spitzbergen or Reykjavik in Iceland and sail way above the artic circle.  They give passengers the opportunity to see a variety of landscapes from glaciers and mountains to the inhospitable tundra of Greenland.  Wildlife includes colonies of Little Auk and Kittiwakes estimated to be over 200,000 in number, artic foxes, walrus, whales and polar bear.  Excursions are by zodiac and on foot and usually include a trip to Scoresbysund, the world’s largest fjord and the volcanic Westman Islands off the coast of Iceland for some rare photo opportunities.

What to expect from a cruise to Alaska and Russia

This is probably a more remote experience with the journey starting from Nome or Anchorage in Alaska, ships travel across the Bering Strait to the Chukotka Peninsula in Russia home of the Yupik Eskimo people who still live and work there throughout the year.  Also travelling through the Beaufort Sea and the Amundsen Gulf there is usually a stop for a day or two at Wrangel Island the preferred place for polar bear mothers to give birth and nurture their cubs

Many of the cruise ships that operate in the area are members of Arctic Cruise Operators (AECO) who abide by codes of conduct to help preserve the environment.  As well as codes of conduct they support conservation initiatives such as the Polar Bear Study, raising money to fit the bears with tracking devices to try and understand the migration patterns, and the Albatross Campaign which is aimed at stopping the death of birds due to improper fishing techniques. So if you choose you cruise company carefully not only will you have an unforgettable cruise but you will also be helping to raise awareness of the diminishing polar resources.

Related posts:

  1. Greenland Cruises: Exploring the Arctic Seas
  2. Spitsbergen Cruise Holidays – Arctic Adventure
  3. Arctic Cruises – What to pack
  4. G.A.P Adventures : Eco-tourism Cruising
  5. Quark Expeditions: Polar Cruises

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