A cruise to either the Arctic or Antarctica gives you the chance to observe some of the most enchanting, remote and untouched areas on earth. A true voyage of adventure and wonderment, a cruise to this region presents the unique opportunity for you to discover somewhat mysterious destinations and isolated regions which harbour some of the world’s rarest and most fascinating wildlife species.
Polar Regions cruises offer once-in-a-lifetime chances to see polar bears, whales, and penguins in their natural environment, all from the comfort of your intimate and cosy cruise ship as you navigate the icebergs and chilly seas, floating amongst mighty and majestic glaciers that sparkle under the sun. Although cruises to the Polar Regions have been scarce until recently, these destinations are now becoming major ‘eco-tourism’ locations, and more and more cruise lines are offering sailings, or expeditions, to these stunning hidden gems.
Arctic cruises circumnavigate the North Pole, taking in destination such as Alaska and Canada, or places closer to home such as Finland, Greenland, Spitsbergen, Norway, and Iceland. While enjoying an Arctic cruise, you’ll find yourself immersed in wild, unkempt, rugged wilderness locations that are typically very sparse, barren, and yet completely fascinating.
Some amazing ports of call that you can’t afford to miss out on include the uninhabited Canadian Akpatok Island, home to the magnificent murres, and Russia’s Murmansk, home to amazing colonial architecture (check out the train station for a great example of this), and the imposing Alyosha Statue, widely considered to be the symbol of the city.
A popular time to take an Arctic cruise is during the winter and spring months when there’s a rare chance to view the mystical Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights. A true natural phenomenon, the Northern Lights really are a sight to behold with continuous strips of green, often accompanied by blues and reds that swirl and cascade from the sky. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee travellers will see them, but an Arctic cruise is widely considered to be one of the best ways to catch a glimpse of these enchanting and bewitching illuminations.
While Arctic cruises are about marvelling at the wonderful landscapes, Antarctic cruises are a chance to experience the greatest wildlife show in the world. Do a spot of whale watching, see snow-covered icebergs littered with literally thousands of King Penguins, catch a glimpse of massive seal colonies and a vast array of birdlife including the might albatross - the opportunities are endless so be sure to have your camera at the ready.
Ports of call include Commonwealth Bay (believed to be one of the windiest places on the planet!), Paradise Harbour (one of just two ports situated in Antarctica itself), and the Falkland Islands, which display a definite ‘home away from home’ quality thanks to British ruling. These destinations are favoured due to their isolation and one-of-a-kind opportunities to approach remote islands in small tender boats - places many people will never even heard of, never mind visit.
If you take an Antarctic cruise, do consider booking an excursion that allows you to fully explore these secluded and concealed locations.
It probably comes as no surprise that temperatures can be extremely low in these parts of the world and passengers are advised to prepare for bad weather - particularly cold and windy conditions. However, depending on the time of year you choose to cruise, you may actually find the weather to be more favourable than you may expect. You will certainly need your sunglasses in the summer months as the sunlight is strong, but you’ll find that the weather will still be a little chilly. In the summer months you can even sit out under the phenomenal midnight sun when taking an Arctic cruise.
Arctic cruises that sail around Norway and the North Cape often leave from Southampton, making them ideal for those who don’t want to venture too far from home, or those who prefer not to fly. Antarctic cruises often sail from Australia and New Zealand, taking in plenty of interesting ports along the way. If you’re short on time, you can even fly directly to the Polar Regions, and pick up a dedicated Polar Regions ship that sail routes exclusively within the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
A Polar Region cruise is a true adventure, exploring remote places that only small ships can reach. Sailing on a small ship is a totally different experience from the major cruise liners that sail through the Mediterranean and Caribbean. The experience is much more intimate, with plenty of chances to socialise, unwind, and appreciate the local beauty.