Arctic Cruises & Tours
For the truly adventurous traveller who wants to spend their next trip crossing the Arctic Circle, a polar cruise or tour to the Arctic makes for the perfect getaway! As a wide-spanning region, a trip to the top of the world is certain to be a high-energy experience you won’t soon forget.See all Arctic cruises & tours
When to visit
Places to visit in the Arctic Circle
The Arctic Circle encompasses eight countries, so if you’re planning a visit to this remote destination, the first question you’ll have to answer is: where do you want to go? Think carefully about the kind of activities you’d like to do and the animals and sights you’d like to see in order to make the best decision for you.
This Scandinavian country is home to about 5 million people, living amongst mountains, glaciers, and fjords. Visit museums such as the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo to see perfectly-preserved 8th-century ships from the days of the Vikings, or, if you’d rather spend your time outdoors, enjoy the world-class hiking and skiing! Many Arctic cruises depart from Bergen and travel north along Norway’s coast, providing visitors with incredible views and plenty of chances for adventure.
The northernmost region in Finland, Lapland is a sparsely-populated area with big attractions. As the unofficial home of Santa Claus, expect to see plenty of reindeer and cosy cabins! Lapland is a great place to experience the Northern Lights and the midnight sun.
Despite its massive size, the Danish territory of Greenland is only home to about 56,000 people! If a trip spent crossing glaciers, gaping at massive icebergs, and discovering unique wildlife sounds like your dream come true, a visit to Greenland absolutely must be on your list!
Also known as The Land of Fire and Ice, Iceland is a country that’s hugely grown in popularity in recent years, and it’s very easy to see why. Between sightings of the Northern Lights, encounters with Icelandic horses, and adventurous days spent exploring waterfalls, lava caves, and black-sand beaches, Iceland will have you returning again and again!
One of the northernmost inhabited places in the world, Svalbard is the perfect destination for the traveller who really wants to explore off the beaten path. Here, the polar bears outnumber the people! Enjoy a ride on a dog sled, embark on a polar bear expedition, or just take in the unspoilt frozen beautify of this Norwegian archipelago.
The largest and most sparsely-populated American state, Alaska is home to some of the country’s best rugged beauty. A major destination for skiing, hiking, kayaking, and cycling, Alaska’s gorgeous trails and pristine natural wonders are the perfect place for outdoorsy travellers looking to find their zen.
While not all of Canada is constantly plunged into temperatures below freezing, travellers looking for an Arctic experience here are certainly able to find one! Visit Churchill, Manitoba for a glimpse at the city’s most famous residents: polar bears! Or, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, explore the country’s three Arctic territories.
The Northwest Passage is a sea route which connects the Pacific and Arctic Oceans, travelling through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. While conditions in the Northwest Passage can be rough, it’s an amazing place to see the rugged beauty of the Arctic up close and personal.
Polar bearsPolar bears can be found in Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, and Svalbard. The best time to see polar bears is in the summer when some of the Arctic ice has melted away and the bears spend most of their time on shore. Polar bears in the wild are an incredible sight to behold, but make sure you always listen to your guide’s advice and practise reasonable safety precautions when you’re anywhere near them.
ReindeerThere are 15 subspecies of reindeer, and most of them live above the treeline (the point after which trees cannot grow) in the Arctic. You’ll find these famous animals in places like Norway, Alaska, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, and Russia.
NarwhalsThese mysterious and strange creatures live only in the coldest waters, extremely up north where the Arctic ice meets the sea. You’ll have the best chance of seeing narwhals in the summer, in northern Canada and Thule, in Greenland’s north.
Arctic foxesLook closely if you want to spot these adorable creatures! In the winter, their grey fur turns pure white, allowing them to seamlessly blend in with the snow around them. The Arctic fox is the only mammal native to Iceland, and visitors can even explore the Arctic Fox Centre in Sudavik, home to two live Arctic foxes rescued as pups in 2015.
MuskoxVisitors looking to see this impressive animal should head to the north of Canada, Alaska, Greenland, and Russia, with a small population in Scandinavia. They are one of the few large mammals able to live in the Arctic year-round! If you’d like to see calfs, they’ll appear in late April or May.
WalrusesA smaller species of Atlantic walrus can be found in Svalbard and Greenland, as well as certain regions of northern Canada. However, the world’s largest species of walrus can be found in the Pacific, in Alaska and Russia’s east. You’ll find walruses relaxing on the beach when the sun is out, so try to time your visit with the midnight sun!
Things to do in the Arctic
Choose your Arctic cruise
Luxury Arctic cruises
What is a fly and cruise tour?
Fly and cruise tours allow you to discover Arctic in different ways. Given the nature of exploring this region, in some instances, you will fly to a region and then sail to a sightseeing destination. Some tours will give you the option to save on sailing time with a flight option one way and a cruise option the other. It all depends on the type of tour you pick.
How much does an Arctic cruise cost?
Depending on your budget and desired experience (including things such as preferred destination, time, and activities), an Arctic cruise can vary in price. At TourRadar, prices can begin at under $1,000 USD and can go on to exceed $30,000 USD.
How risky is polar travel?
Weather and ice can cause problems on shore and on the ship but cruise operators will always prioritize the safety of their guests and crew, eliminate most if not all of the risk. The ships are designed and built for the polar region, equipped with GPS and other necessary technology, and are manned by a highly experienced crew. Arctic cruises are scheduled during the summer to ensure a successful expedition.
Do I have to be in good shape for a polar tour?
To enjoy the trip in full, you should be in good general health and able to walk reasonable distances, sometimes over uneven terrain, and be able to get in and out of a zodiac with ease. For those who are seeking more adventure, some cruise operators offer one or more activities such as sea kayaking, cross-country skiing, camping, snowshoeing, mountaineering, or diving. A higher level of fitness is required depending on the activity but you are always welcome to stay on board if you prefer.
What is there to do on the ship?
There are plenty of activities to choose from while sailing to the polar regions. Depending on the selected itinerary and cruise operator, you will be able to learn about the history and environment by attending on-board lectures conducted by regional experts. There are also other activities available, such as board games to play in the lounges and fully-stocked libraries.
What documents must I provide in order to join the expedition?
Forms may differ depending on the tour operator and destination. Generally, you will need to sign a cruise contract and fill out medical forms. Your tour operator might also ask for your flight information to arrange a pickup. Keep in mind to always check visa requirements before your departure.
Can I extend my stay in the disembarkation city?
An extension of stay is usually possible, but it can vary depending on the tour operator. If you wish to have extra time exploring the disembarkation city, contact your tour operator and ask for possible options.
What additional major expenses will I incur?
In most cases, you will have to arrange transportation to the embarkation and disembarkation point. If you wish to extend your trip you will also have to cover any additional cost of accommodation. You might also have to purchase outdoor clothing suitable for polar conditions. Some tours will include a complimentary parka, so double-check with your tour operator beforehand.
Are single travellers welcomed?
Single travellers are welcome on Arctic cruises and tours! You will be assigned a room with a traveller the same gender as you, or, if you prefer to travel alone, you may also be allowed to pay extra for a single room. Solo travel to an exciting destination such as Arctic Circle is a great way to meet like-minded travellers!
Are there family polar tours?
Although children are not discouraged from taking a polar trip, some cruise operators won't accept passengers who are under 6, 12 or 18. Please check with your TourRadar Polar Specialist for cruise operators who offer family expeditions.
How far in advance should I start planning my trip?
When it comes to cruises, we recommend travellers book their tour 12-18 months in advance. Booking in advance allows you to secure your preferred cabin size and choose any additional activities you may wish to take part in. Depending on the cruise, you might opt to kayak, camp, or hike. Keep in mind that the Arctic is accessible only between late June to August, with each month offering different highlights. Plan in advance to be able to enjoy your dream cruise.
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