The Arctic is shrinking fast, both in terms of the ice and glaciers retreating and how expedition cruising is exploring ever deeper into this wonderful area
From breaking through the pack ice on a Russian ice breaker and taking a helicopter flight to the North Pole or flying over the largest glacier outside Antarctica this region has so much to offer.
Some of the most diverse wildlife anywhere on earth, fascinating native peoples, and the natural phenomena of the Northern Lights a midnight sun partnered with staggering scenery make this region of our planet an unforgettable place to visit.
When crossing the Arctic Circle for the first time you may be greeted by King Neptune who baptises you with ice down your neck but it’s worth it!
How To Get There (From the UK)
Many of the expedition cruises that visit the Norwegian Arctic will depart from either Tromso or Longyearbyen. Flights from the UK are via Oslo and an overnight stay is often required prior to your embarkation day.
When To Go
The cruising season usually covers from June to October but surprisingly enough in some areas you can taste the Arctic all year round. The sea ice in the winter months makes the remoter parts such as Greenland and Spitzbergen impossible and most of the adventure ships transfer to the Antarctic.
However, Northern Norway is accessible throughout the year.
What To See
Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole and adventure cruising centres on the island of Spitzbergen. One of Europe’s last great wildernesses it is a rugged, remote terrain of glaciers and frozen tundra with summer bringing the “midnight sun”—sunlight 24 hours a day.
Polar bears are the big draw but you can also see fascinating historical sites connected with the great names of polar exploration such as Amundsun and Nansen.
The sparsely populated capital of Longyearben is also a Tax Free area so you can stock up when you leave!
Greenland assaults your senses with the largest glacier outside of Antarctica producing icebergs that can weigh up to 7 million tonnes each. There’s also superb whale watching and native Inuit villages dotted along the coast where the inhabitants still live their lives much as they have done for a thousand years before.
Musk oxen and reindeer roam the hills and surprises like an extensive sand desert above the spectacular fiords that take you deep into the interior are always just around the corner.
Do try and get a window seat because you fly over the world’s largest island’s ice cap for an hour before you land an unforgettable sight.
Iceland is land of contrasts, not for nothing is it known as “The Land of Fire and Ice” Volcanic springs, pools such as the famous Blue Lagoon and lava fields are everywhere and all surrounded by towering snow capped mountains.
Yet there are also lush valleys, huge rivers, deserts with dunes of black volcanic sand and the gigantic and spectacular waterfalls that are found everywhere including the once seen and never forgotten Godafoss.
The waters around Iceland hold some of the best places in the world to see Blue Whales and the capital Reykavbik with its corrugated iron and tin rooved houses is a delight.
Bathed in the warm waters of the Gulf Stream the ports and waters of Arctic Norway are open all year making them perfect for seeing the Northern Lights as well as staying in an Ice Hotel!
The coast is served by a large number ships many of whom offer adventurous activities such as taking husky sled rides deep into the forests to see the Lights and high speed RIB adventures across rapids and whirlpools.
This adventures are also available in the summer months and you are bound to see the majestic Sea Eagles who live amongst the coastal islands and fiords.
Arctic Wildlife Highlights
Although not as abundant as the Antarctic the wildlife in the Arctic is far more varied. Whales can include Minke, Belugas, Narwhal, Orcas, Blue and Humpback to name just a few whilst the seals can include Bearded and other species with the majestic Walrus taking the crown.
Polar bears are the ultimate land predator and they share the terrain with Musk Oxen, Arctic Fox, Elk and Reindeer whilst in Northern Norway you could see Wolverine and Brown Bear and in the Canadian Arctic around Baffin Island packs of wolves still hunt.
The seabird colonies on the high cliffs are incredible in terms of numbers and noise. Little Auks, Gannets, Puffins, Guillemots and the graceful Arctic Terns who have flow here from Antarctica are all breathtaking whilst Sea Eagles and Skuas are constantly looking for their next meal.
You simply never know what you are going to see next.