We've put together 10 weird and wonderful facts we bet you didn’t know about The Arctic Circle.
The Arctic is home to a dizzying variety of wildlife, have a read to see some of its more unusual residents.
Packing for The Arctic can seem daunting so we here's a list of what we consider essentials.
M/V Plancius - Arctic Cruise
Best for: Highlights, Spectacular scenery, Wildlife
Originally built in 1976 as a Dutch oceanographic research vessel, the M/V Plancius boasts a rich history exploring some of the most remote corners of the world. Re-built in 2009, this polar expedition vessel offers excellent guiding in the Arctic.
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The M/V Plancius has been a member of the well-regarded Oceanwide fleet since it was purchased from the Royal Dutch Navy, which it sailed for from its construction until 2004. Today, it has been thoroughly re-fitted to accommodate 116 passengers in 53 cabins, accompanied by 47 crew members. All of the comfortable cabins are equipped with en-suite facilities and have either portholes or windows. There are quadruple, triple, twin and double options so that solo travellers, couples and families or groups of friends are well accommodated for alike.
The focus on board the M/V Plancius, as with any vessel operated by the Oceanwide group, is on exploration and education and as much time is spent ashore or in zodiacs as possible. There is a highly experienced expedition team comprising an expedition leader and five lecture guides are on hand to give you the very best experience possible. When aboard, guests can enjoy the Arctic sun out on the open deck spaces, offering panoramic views and excellent opportunities to spot wildlife and admire the incredible landscapes. Adventurers will be pleased to hear there are an incredible amount of activities on offer such as hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing and mountaineering, making for a truly unforgettable Arctic experience.
When to go
Cruises depart for Svalbard, Greenland and the Russian High Arctic during the northern hemisphere's summer, when explorers enjoy 24 hour days and favourable conditions. Travel in June and July and you'll admire spectacular frozen sculptures and seas of pack ice. From late July to August, the wildlife is most active and whale watching trips to the west coast of Greenland and voyages to the Russian High Arctic begin. In late August and September, sail through magnificent fjord scenery and catch the aurora borealis as the nights descend. Whether you travel early on in mid June or in September as the season draws to a close, you have good chances of spotting the iconic polar bear.
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Things to do
Disembark & return to Reykjavik
Today your Arctic adventure ends back in Akureyri, on Iceland’s northern coast, where your transfer will be waiting to drive you back to the capital city of Reykjavik.
Sail the Continental Shelf
Having explored the ice edge in the northern reaches of Svalbard, your captain will make a turn west, bound for the continental shelf that lies approximately 40 nautical miles west of Spitsbergen. Keep your eyes on the water - this is a mecca for whales.
Scoresbysund & Danmark Island
Day 3: Today you’ll cross the glaciated Volquart Boons Kyst bound for Danmark Island, home to the remains of an ancient Inuit settlement. Get up close to the vast glacier face on a Zodiac trip on the icy waters of Scoresbysund.
Disembark at Longyearbyen
Arriving back in Longyearbyen, farewell your expedition team and fellow passengers as you disembark and begin your onward journey.
Turner Sound and Rømer Fjord
Day 7: Unobstructed by glaciers, today you’ll sail through the calm waters of Turner Sound and Rømer Fjord, spotting pods of narwhals and polar bears stalking the scree-laden slopes and edges of the ice floe.
Forlandsundet or Isfjord
As your Arctic adventure comes to a close, you’ll head for the walrus haul-out at Forlandsundet or perhaps anchor at the mouth of Isfjord, characterised by the mighty peak of Alkehornet. Take your final tundra walks, looking out for native wildlife.
Liefdefjorden & Monaco Glacier
If weather conditions allow, today you’ll sail into Liefdefjorden, ‘The Love Fjord’, in search of the mighty Monaco Glacier with its sheer ice faces and turquoise caves and seracs.
Head south through the wild seas of the Hinlopen Strait, home to a myriad of nesting seabirds, before cruising past the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya, and making a shore landing on Nordaustlandet in search of wildlife.
Set Sail from Longyearbyen
Today you will meet your crew and fellow passengers in Longyearbyen, the largest settlement in the Svalbard Archipelago, ready to board your expedition ship for your incredible journey into the Arctic.
Røde Ø or 'Red Island'
Day 4: Icebergs are the focus of today’s zodiac expedition to Røde Ø, a stunning red sandstone island that is often described as resembling mars. The red slopes provide a stark contrast to the white and blue ice monoliths that float past the island.
Day 5: With your cameras at the ready, today you’ll get up close to some of the Arctic’s most colossal icebergs. Many of these ice giants are stationary, anchored to the floor of Scoresbysund that only reaches 400 metres in depth.
Cross the Arctic Circle
Day 2: Bound for East Greenland, you’ll spend today at sea. From the ship’s observation deck, keep your eyes on the sea, looking for the whales that frequent these chilly Arctic waters as you cross the Arctic Circle.
Reykjavik to Akureyri & set sail
Day 1: Departing Reykjavik, you’ll travel by road through northern Iceland to Akureyri, the embarkation point for your expedition ship.
Hurry Inlet & Ittoqqortoormiit
Day 6: Board zodiacs for a tundra landing at Hurry Inlet, before visiting Ittoqqortoormiit, Scoresbysund’s largest inhabited settlement, with a population of 500. The people of this remote outpost rely on the bounty of the Arctic to sustain themselves.
Sail the Denmark Strait back to Iceland
Day 8: Leaving the spectacular landscapes of east Greenland behind, the ship will chart a course bound for Iceland once more. Spend your day at sea reflecting on the incredible adventures you’ve had inside the magical Arctic Circle.
Today you’ll make for the northernmost corner of Svalbard, the Seven Islands, crossing the 80° north parallel. This frigid landscape is almost permanently frozen, due to its proximity to the North Pole, and is prime polar bear country.
Bound for Raudfjorden, or ‘red fjord’, so named for its russet-tinged slopes and beaches, you’ll sail through a vast ford rimmed with might glaciers, looking out for the resident ringed and bearded seals that haul themselves out on the ice.
Holiday ideas including a stay in this property
When anyone embarks on an Arctic cruise, they hope to catch sight of its snowy king: the mighty polar bear. This week-long voyage takes you from Longyearbyen, sailing to the north, a place characterised by epic landscapes, seas of pack ice and incredible wildlife encounters.