Venture into a remote wilderness of overwhelming beauty, to a place rich in wildlife and one of the last remaining untouched areas on planet earth. Welcome to the Arctic Circle: a land of midnight sun and polar bears; of intrepid explorers and bountiful marine life; of reindeer sleighs and other-worldly landscapes; a land of unforgettable adventures.
Imagine travelling back in time to the most northerly point of the ancient world. Emerging from the mists, the frozen ocean, pallid sky and snow-white land come slowly into focus, as you travel beyond the edge of the map. This is the fabled land of Thule, where mysterious white beasts roam the ice-covered landscape; where there are no nights in midsummer and no days in midwinter. This is the Arctic Circle.
Nothing will prepare you for the stark ice-white beauty of the frozen tundra, jagged white mountains, deep fjords and crystal-clear waters of the Polar Ice Cap. The wind howls across scree-laden slopes, glaciers creak as they calve icebergs into the frigid turquoise water and there’s a definite taste of salt in the air. If you are tempted to experience this incredible place for yourself, an Arctic cruise on one of our specially chosen expedition ships will give you the opportunity to visit one of earth’s last unconquered frontiers.
Binoculars are essential to spot the prolific wildlife. Look out for whale, seal, grazing reindeer, the skittish Arctic fox and the colonies of lumbering walrus, making a huge song and dance as they vie for space on the coastline. The steep cliffs and scree slopes provide the perfect environment for the huge numbers of nesting seabirds, such as guillemots, rare ivory gulls and fulmars. But the star attraction is the polar bear, and the jagged broken edge of the ice cap is the best place to see these magnificent beasts stalking the frozen sea in search of seal.
Building on our experience and successful cruise programme in Antarctica, we’re delighted to offer Arctic cruises using the same trusted expedition-style ships, which we believe give our guests the opportunity to truly immerse themselves in this wild, polar landscape. Discover this unique environment at a deeper and more enriching level than you would on a large passenger cruise liner, whilst cruising in comfort and safety. All our captains and expedition leaders have the knowledge and experience to navigate the weather and sea ice, adjusting the route to optimise the viewing of both the wildlife and scenery. While guests can sit back and enjoy the spectacular surroundings from the platform of the ship, there is also the opportunity to take an inflatable zodiac boat ashore to wander the wilderness and explore historic sites such as old whaling camps, abandoned mining towns, trappers’ cabins and the former staging areas from where attempts to conquer the North Pole were made.
Expeditions depart from either Iceland or Norway, during the short Arctic summer when the sea ice has melted sufficiently for the expedition ships to carve a path through the frigid waters. During the high summer months of late June and early July, there is 24-hour daylight. Norwegian cruises embark from Longyearbyen, the capital of the Svalbard archipelago, located on the island of Spitsbergen and one of the most northerly settlements in the world. The town lies within the Arctic Circle and the archipelago is the final strip of land separating Norway from the North Pole. From here, cruises include the chance to explore the waters of Spitsbergen, where there are more Polar bears than human inhabitants, as well as the small islands that make up Franz Josef Land, part of the Russian High Arctic, while cruises from Iceland explore the east coast of Greenland and the rarely visited volcanic island of Jan Mayen.
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