In a year when the demand for once-in-a-lifetime destinations is strong, cruises to polar regions are creeping to the top of many bucket lists.
Trendsetter Travel founder and owner, Adrienne Witteman said that her clients have been keen on booking cruises to the Arctic, with some of the most in-demand lines being Aurora, Silversea and Hurtigruten.
Ms Witteman added that people tend to travel to the Arctic after they have been to Antarctica.
Panorama Travel owner, Caroline Sage also had clients book cruises to the Arctic region. Her clients were particularly interested in the Northern Lights.
“I’ve got future Viking cruises booked for the Northern Lights. A couple of passengers leave on the 2nd of August next year on the Iceland and Norway Explorer from Bergen on the Viking Saturn.
“I also have clients booked from London to Bergen on the Viking Venus on the In Search of the Northern Lights itinerary on the Viking Venus on the 12th of February.”
The Arctic region includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Alaska and parts of Canada. It has one of the world’s most impressive and unique ecosystems.
But there are strict limits on the number and size of vessels that can enter the Arctic and view its unique wildlife: polar bears, Caribou, Snowy owls, Arctic hares and foxes, walruses and much more.
When is the best time to visit the Arctic by cruise?
The best time to visit the Arctic is between May and September – the summer months in the northern hemisphere.
In May there are plenty of opportunities to take photographs of the most impressive icebergs, while in June and July you can expect to see polar bears and walruses.
Unfortunately, these months are the least-likely time to see the northern lights. While it’s not guaranteed, if you are hoping for a chance to see them, book a cruise at the beginning or end of this time.
Best cruise lines for Arctic sailings
Hurtigruten’s 11-night Arctic Winter Expedition cruises from Dover in the UK to Tromsø and passes through fjords and UNESCO-listed sites in Norway, including some of best places to spot wildlife.
Svalbard has a huge number of polar bears and you can see them in their natural habitat. If you’re lucky you might even spot some cubs playing.
When is it? November 17-27, 2022
How much is it? Prices start at $5,091
Try spotting polar bears, seals and other wildlife as you follow in the steps of explorers aboard Ponant’s Geographic North Pole 18-night cruise. All this while experiencing first-class service and dining on gourmet meals.
One of the highlights of this voyage is the chance to have a go at ice fishing. The naturalist guides will assist and help you find the best spot to cut a hole in the ice so you can try to catch fish using an ancestral method.
When is it? July 7-27, 2023
How much is it? Prices start at $41,760
Scenic’s 12-night immersive discovery of Arctic landscapes cruise sails from Reykjavik to Greenland, where you’ll catch a flight back to Copenhagen.
Depending on the weather, you’ll have the chance to participate in a Zodiac, kayak or nature walk excursion in the East Coast Fjords with the captain and a discovery leader sharing their knowledge of the area.
When is it? August 2-13, 2023
How much is it? Prices start at $17,309 per person
Viking’s 15-day Iceland and Norway Arctic Explorer offers the chance to learn about the local culture during your journey.
Amongst their notable shore excursions is a visit to the Svalbard Museum. The award winning museum contains numerous artefacts from when the town was first settled and shows the relationship between nature and human cultural history. The museum’s major exhibit is ‘Life in Light and Ice’ which covers the history from the first whalers to the current society which is based around mining, research and tourism.
When is it? May 23-June 6, 2023
How much is it? Prices start at $9,595
While Aurora Expeditions sells several cruises to the Arctic, the one that stands out is the Iceland Circumnavigation 10-night round trip itinerary which departs from Reykjavik, Iceland.
During this exceptional trip you will visit Vatnajokull National Park, which features Europe’s largest glacier, glacial lakes scattered with icebergs, black sand beaches and incredible wildlife such as reindeer and native birds.
When is it? 4-14 June, 2023
How much is it? Prices start at $12,746
Silverseas’ Silver Wind takes explorers on an 18-day journey from Nome, Alaska to Vancouver, British Columbia. In Unga Village, Alaska you’ll have the chance to board a Zodiac cruise where you will see the petrified logs and stumps alongside the ocean’s shores.
You’ll see the last remains of a sequoia or metasequoia forest that was buried as a result of volcanic activity during the Tertiary Period, around 66 million years ago.
When is it? September 17-October 5, 2022
How much is it? Prices start at $27,500
The largest island in the world is Greenland which stretches from the North Pole towards the Arctic Circle in the south. Seabourn Venture departs Reykjavik, Iceland on June 4, 2023 and arrives in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland before you catch an included flight back to Iceland on 19 June.
Greenland is known for its exceptional wildlife including muskox, foxes, Arctic hares, lemmings and short-tailed weasels, not to mention its scenic fjords which the Venture will sail through.
When is it? June 4-19, 2023
How much is it? Prices start at $19,999 per person