Today, more cruisers are wanting to visit less accessible parts of the world and experience new adventurers and cultures. Enter the Arctic. About as far away from the Mediterranean as you can get, the Arctic is a frozen wilderness where giant musk ox roam the tundra and polar bears hunt on the endless sea ice.
It comes as no surprise therefore, to learn that the Arctic is becoming one of the most popular expedition cruise destinations in the world. But how to choose your perfect Arctic cruise? Stretching all the way from North America to North Scandinavia, this question is not the easiest to answer.
Don’t panic, to help you plan your unforgettable adventure, I’ve listed the Arctic’s top 5 unmissable cruises!
- The North Pole Expedition Cruise
Let’s start with a bang. The North Pole cruise is pretty much the most epic cruise on earth. At $28,000 though, it also comes with an epic price tag! In fact, I’m going to use the word epic a lot here because there’s only one ship epic enough to take the job on and that’s the Nuclear-powered 50 Years Of Victory. One of the most powerful ice-breakers on the planet, you can hear her coming before you see her!
This once in a lifetime cruise takes two weeks and departs from Murmansk, Russia. Along the way you sail through the Franz Josef Land archipelago which offers up fantastic wildlife including whales, polar bears and seabirds. Once you arrive at the top of the world, you’ll be greeted with champagne and, should you wish, a hot air balloon ride! Just make sure you pack something warm!
- Iceland, Greenland, and Svalbard
The Iceland, Greenland, and Svalbard cruise is a your quintessential Arctic cruise. Also known as the ‘Jewels Of The Arctic’ itinerary, the cruise offers you the chance to see three magical countries in one journey. Although you can choose to do any of the three in isolation, combining them creates a cruise you’ll never forget.
Landscape lovers will love Iceland’s ever-changing scenery, from waterfalls and snow-capped peaks, to volcanoes and bright-blue rivers. Wildlife lovers on the other hand will be graced with polar bears and walrus in Svalbard, and huge musk ox in Greenland. Sailing from one to another also gives you the perfect opportunity to spot numerous marine species such as seals, narwhal, and orca.
- Eastern Siberia
Yes, it’s true, there are cruises to Eastern Siberia. What else is true is that they’re absolutely awesome! Probably one of the best kept secrets in expedition cruising, Russian Arctic cruises are a fairly recent addition to the cruise scene thanks to melting sea ice and a warming political climate. They aren’t cheap though and will cost you at least $10,000.
So what do you get for your dollars? Well, for one thing, you get to see brown bears and polar bears on the same trip! The Kamchatka region is full of brown bears whilst, Wrangel Island, is full of polar bears (not to mention walrus and musk ox). In fact, whale carcasses on Wrangel Island have been known to have over 200 polar bears eating from them at the same time!
- Baffin Island Cruise
Located in the Canadian Arctic, Baffin Island is one of the 35,000 islands that make up the regions archipelago. So why this particular island? The answer is simple – wildlife. With polar bears, musk ox, walrus, caribou, wolves and over 70 species of seabird, the island is one of nature’s last true strongholds! I forgot to mention the numerous whale species also such as beluga, narwhal, and bowhead whales.
With so many species on one island, it’s easy to see why there are a host of expedition cruise itineraries that focus their efforts here. Prices start at around $7,000 for 10 days, but a better option may be to combine your cruise with one that also visits Greenland. These are slightly more expensive, but you’ll visit a lot more islands and cover a lot more distance.
- The Northwest Passage
Like Eastern Siberia, the Northwest Passage has only recently become an option thanks to global warming and melting sea ice. The Passage now offers up the chance for passengers to take one of the greatest and most infamous sailing routes of all time! Take a ship all the way from Greenland, across the Canadian Arctic and into North Alaska, following in the footsteps of some of histories greatest explorers, including Sir John Franklin and Roald Amundsen.
The full itinerary takes two weeks and costs at least $10,000. It’s worth it though as you’ll see incredible wildlife, visit native Inuit communities and witness the remains of the Thule Culture dotted along the ragged coastline. Be aware though that this cruise is only available in August and September when the ice is at its lowest.
For more information on these cruises, please check out www.expeditioncruise.net