The Arctic Circle covers many countries and territories belonging in the northernmost regions of the Earth. It encompasses northern European nations, Russia, and North America.
When to Go
Contrary to general perception, Arctic cruises are available throughout the year. You only need to decide as to the kind of polar adventure you like: Midnight Sun in summer or Northern Lights in winter. Of course, the best time to go is summer, when the sun continues to shine 24 hours straight, and the Arctic flora is in full bloom. But if you want to witness polar animals in action, it’s best to come in early spring, when snow is melting.
Where to Go
Due to the vastness of the Arctic Region, cruises are divided into three:
1. Classic Norway and Spitsbergen
This cruise usually departs from British or Scandinavian ports aboard large, mainstream cruise ships. It generally lasts up to 14 nights, traveling to Norway at the Lofoten Islands, sometimes past North Cape to as far as Svalbard Archipelago or Magdalena Bay.
2. Greenland and Canada
Although Norway cruises may sometimes cover Greenland, the Greenland and Canada cruise offers a more comprehensive expedition in the Arctic, sailing from Kangerlussuaq to Canada’s Arctic territories.
3. Svalbard, North Pole and Beyond
This is the only cruise that brings you to the northernmost part, across the top of the world. Only ships fitted with ice breakers offer this cruise, which sails for two weeks coming from either east in Canada or Alaska or from the west in Iceland or Greenland.
How to Maximize Your Arctic Cruise
1. Narrow Your Cruise Itinerary
It’s impossible to see all of the Arctic in one go, so choose a small region that you like best. Norwegian trips are best for novice explorers. If you want to watch polar bears, do the Greenland-Canada cruise.
2. Be Fit for the Expedition
Some expeditions such as zodiac excursions and hiking trips require a more fit and healthy body to endure the trip. So check your fitness and physical endurance.
3. Pack the Right Stuff
It can be awfully cold in the Arctic, so make sure you have enough warm clothes that’s windproof and waterproof to keep you safe and well during the trip.
Photos by: Gordon Tarpley, Tavis Jacobs, Hop Phan (last 2 images)