Polar bear on ice, Arctic

Arctic

A vast, untameable wilderness where Polar bears prowl the ice under the midnight sun

Arctic Adventures

A pristine wilderness for only the most intrepid of travellers, the Arctic offers an adventure like no other. Filled with rugged landscapes, varied wildlife, Indigenous communities and incredible history, the Arctic offers something for everyone.

 

ARCTIC DESTINATIONS:  

Spitsbergen

The remarkable islands of the Svalbard archipelago are part of Norway, lying far to the north of the mainland and high above the Arctic Circle. They total an area of some 62,000 sq km (about the same size as Ireland), mostly in the form of three larger islands – Spitsbergen, Nordaustlandet and Edgeøya – plus a number of smaller islands and outcrops. The larger landmasses rise to form a group of wild and rugged mountains, with much of their highland areas covered in ice and snow. 

Meaning 'jagged peaks', the name Spitsbergen was given to the archipelago's largest island by Dutch explorer Willem Barents, who discovered it while searching for the Northern Sea Route in 1596. Combining a great variety of flora and fauna with stunning remote landscapes, a visit to Spitsbergen is a must for wilderness and wildlife enthusiasts.

Russian Arctic

The eastern seaboard of Russia dominates the North Pacific yet is so remote very few ever visit it. This isolation has protected one of its most valuable assets - a vast wilderness inhabited by Kamchatka Brown bears, Red fox, Sea otters, whales and an astonishing array of birds.  The isolated and pristine Wrangel Island, untouched by glaciers during the last ice age, is a treasure trove of Arctic biodiversity and is perhaps best known for the multitude of Polar bears that breed here. 

From the breath-taking glaciers of Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land to the stark, secluded islands of the icy Kara Sea, the remarkable features of this isolated wilderness will leave you awed and inspired. From ice-capped peaks to historical sites to iconic Arctic wildlife, there’s no shortage of amazing adventures to be had in the Russian High Arctic.

North Pole

It doesn’t get more dramatic than a voyage to the North Pole where you are – literally – on top of the world. Trips here will leave you feeling more than a little humbled as you take in the gargantuan glacial landscape, from a place where all directions face south. Join the ultimate Polar voyage sailing 90º North aboard the world’s largest icebreaker, The 50 Years of Victory. There’s a helicopter onboard, offering you the chance of an aerial viewing. There will be time to perform the shortest possible circumnavigation of the globe before heading south to explore the remote Franz Josef Land. With its massive flat-topped islands and steep basalt cliffs, this archipelago is a birdwatcher's paradise. This is a voyage without comparison.

Greenland

Greenland is the world’s largest island, and home to a staggering coast-to-coast ice sheet that covers 80% of its land and reaches depths of three kilometres. For many people, Greenland trips are the ultimate in Polar adventures. Towns cling to its rocky coastline, pristine fjords eat into the landscape and vast glaciers slowly carve their way through the mountains.

In the short summer season, the Midnight Sun brings 24-hour daylight to the island, and it’s a wonderful place to spot wildlife such as Polar bears, Humpback whales, Musk oxen, walruses, reindeer and Sea eagles. And, due to the country's isolation and northerly position, Greenland offers excellent chances of seeing the Northern Lights during the winter months.

 

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Arctic Adventure Holidays

WHAT TO EXPECT ON AN ARCTIC VOYAGE

These voyages are designed to be as flexible as possible, taking advantage of circumstances and events as they occur, as well as passengers’ wishes and particular interests wherever possible. The atmosphere onboard is relaxed and friendly with expedition staff, including naturalists and polar experts, on hand and the opportunity to mingle with people from all over the world. The ship is kept warm, clean and comfortable with a wet / mud room in which to hang gear and store boots ready for the next adventure.

All Polar itineraries should be treated as a guide only - it is possible that, amongst other things, the capricious nature of wind, visibility and ice, intelligence from previous sailings, changes in local landing regulations or the expert opinion of the crew onboard may lead to adjustments to the route published.

Zodiac Cruises:

Zodiac excursions from the ship allow you to explore the many bays and channels as well carrying you to the landing sites each day. On the longer Zodiac cruises you will be sitting still for most of the time with the potential for some sea spray and a cold headwind - if you are not dressed appropriately you will get cold. However, the chance to see Polar bears hunting on ice floes and cruising past bird cliffs with thousands of birds flying overhead more than make up for the cold!

Landings:

On the shore excursions, most of the landings are ‘wet’ which means that the Zodiacs beach and you are helped to slide into the ankle-deep shore break before walking up onto dry land (wellington boots are issued to all passengers). There are, of course, no paths, so be prepared for slippery, rough terrain and sometimes fairly deep snow. The expedition team will be there to advise where you are free to explore during a landing and make suggestions as to what you can see. On some landings there may be the option to do a guided walk – the expedition team will let you know the details in advance.

Presentations:

We work with many fine Expedition Leaders and Polar Experts, bringing a diversity of interests including zoology, Polar history, geology, ornithology and ocean sciences. During the time at sea, a series of presentations will be scheduled to prepare you for the coming adventure.

Optional activities:

In addition to regular shore landings and Zodiac excursions, on some departures in the Arctic there are other optional activities on offer which you may wish to experience.

Sea kayaking

On many of our Arctic voyages there is the chance for some members of the party to take regular sea kayak excursions in place of the Zodiac excursions. There are a limited number of kayaks on each ship and you must book and pay for this option in advance. All kayak trips are expertly guided and are subject to suitable locations and weather conditions. Should the kayaking not be possible, a place on a Zodiac is always available.

Paddling Excursion

Explore the ocean from a more intimate vantage point on a sit-on-top kayak. No experience is required to manoeuvre these very stable kayaks, allowing you to enjoy an unforgettable experience on the water, taking in breath-taking landscapes and wildlife. Whether it’s your first time in a kayak or you want greater flexibility to try other Adventure options, this shorter excursion is for you.  
Paddling in the Polar Regions is highly weather-dependent and a one-time experience. Your kayak guides will attempt to take you out on the water for 1-1.5 hours of paddling. Offered on most voyages, spaces are limited. All equipment, guides and instructions are provided. 

Hot Air Ballooning

On our Journey to the North Pole voyage, clients can sign up for tethered hot air ballooning flights during the voyage. Flights will be carried out using a basket that can carry three guests plus the pilot. The basket has a door that makes access very easy. We aim to deliver these flights right at the North Pole; however, weather conditions will dictate the exact location. Each flight will be around 15 minutes in duration. There are only 50 places available for each voyage.

 

ARCTIC POLAR FLEET

Small ships make the difference. The key to really making the most of your time in the Arctic is to ensure maximum shore and Zodiac time. Ships with more than 200 passengers often find their landing sites are limited, and the logistics of disembarking the ship’s complement into Zodiacs can be slow. Our small expedition ships generally offer twice daily ‘off-ship’ activities – both morning and afternoon – with waiting time being almost non-existent.

Our Polar Adventure ships are all ice rated vessels well qualified for Polar waters and are able to travel to areas that other ships only dream about accessing. Food and staff are excellent and every guest will benefit from the technical advances of this superb fleet.

The 50 Years of Victory is an actual icebreaker – an enormously powerful ship, carrying the highest ice rating in the world, and equipped with helicopters for aerial sightseeing. Some of our most extraordinary journeys are only made accessible on this very grown up Polar-Class icebreaker.

For more information on our Polar Fleet, please click here.

Such a privilege, travelling on a nuclear-powered Russian icebreaker which spends most of the...

Isabel Draper, 2019 Journey to the North Pole
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