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Top Trip Memories

  • Viewing the spectacular view of Mt.  McKinley or Denali, North America’s highest mountain along with other natural wonders is Denali National Park, Alaska.
  • Exploring the areas and wildlife around it by snowmobile excursion or sledding tour.
  • Taking a small ship expedition style cruise in Arctic waters to view snow-covered mountains, fjords, glaciers, and icebergs.
  • Spotting the many varied types of wildlife and birds that inhabit the Arctic such as polar bears, whales, dolphins, fur seals, musk ox, walruses, and puffins.
  • Viewing the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights) as they illuminate the sky with swirling streaks of green, red, and other vibrant colors. 
  • Driving your own sled dog team in Alaska, Greenland, Northern Scandinavia, and other polar regions.
  • Spending time with the locals in a small village in Greenland, gaining insights into their culture and day-to-day lives.
  • Sleeping overnight in an igloo or ice hotel.
  • Visiting a reindeer farm and enjoying a ride on reindeer-pulled sleighs, or steering s sleigh yourself.
  • Taking a brief dip in the chilly polar waters and earning a certificate from your ship's crew, honoring your feat.
  • Standing on your ship's deck after dark, basking in the solitude of one of the world's last wildernesses.
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Tour Tips

  • While Iceland, northern Scandinavia, and northern Canada are easily accessible by air from the United States; Greenland and some other Arctic areas are not-- so the best way to explore the Arctic regions is often by small, expedition-style cruise ships.
  • While any trip to the Arctic is adventurous by nature, you don't have to rough it. Some ships come with five-star amenities, while some land-tour operators offer luxury tent camping. 
  • While there are few "cheap" voyages to the Arctic, look for value adds such as included airfare, helicopter flights into the interior, and gratuities for the ship’s crew.
  • Prices do vary considerably by length of trip, cabin, ship amenities, month of travel, and other factors.
  • Some Arctic land tours - primarily those that fly into the interior - offer adventurous options such as camping, skiing, mountaineering, and trekking.
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Arctic Travel Reviews & Ratings

4.8 out of 5

100%

recommend

119 Reviews

  • Excellent 97
  • Great 21
  • Average 1
  • Disappointing 0
  • Terrible 0

Rating Details

  • Value
    4.8
  • Guide
    4.8
  • Activities
    4.8
  • Lodging
    4.8
  • Transportation
    4.8
  • Meals
    4.8

Tour Reviews

Trip of a lifetime seeing the Arctic in a week

Arctic Complete - M/V Polar Pioneer

5.0
January 2017
Explore!
Recommend: Yes
I travelled as a solo traveller and was relieved to find that about half the boat was also solo travellers. It was a great adventure - on a ferry board for a week with the most amazing panoramic views around us every day. We were regularly out on smaller boats to see the bird cliffs up close, or to go onto land to walk around. We saw lots of amazing wildlife including walrus, blue whales, beluga whales, endless species of birds, and of course Polar Bears! The week went by too quickly. It was a great mix of wildlife and landscapes. Each day there was a different guide giving a presentation of everything from the biology of a polar bear, to the fauna found in the arctic circle. You could join in for as little or as much as you wanted. Definitely recommended.
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SPITSBERGEN IN DEPTH

Spitsbergen in Depth

5.0
November 2016
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
An incredible trip of a lifetime.  Stunning scenery with an abundance of Polar Bears, Walruses, Seals, Reindeer, Foxes and birds.  All accompanied by friendly, world class experts and best in class tour leaders on a great ship with the best bar/lounge viewing - 3 walls of windows to watch the world go by when it gets chilly outside.
Mette's bar talk on her times in Afghanistan.  A humourous take on an incredible life spent helping others, and she expert on the polar regions too!
The Polar bears, especially mother and 2 cubs which came right up to the ship were great too!  

Paul was excellent, driven to get the best out of any opportunity.  His photographs of the trip are simply stunning, challenging you to try different things.

Buy or borrow a good lense, minimum 400mm.  Use with a tripod tall enough to get over the ships bow.

We've been on a lot of great holidays but this was the best tour we've ever done

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SPITSBERGEN IN DEPTH

Spitsbergen in Depth

4.0
November 2016
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
The Arctic can be a place of uncertainty.  But the weather, the ice  and the wildlife (polar bears, foxes and millions of birds) did all the right things at the right time in the right places
There were several.  Seeing a mother bear with two cubs out on the pack ice, miles from land, just after they had eaten a seal.  The birds, the rock cliffs and the resulting scenery at Alkefjellet.  Enjoying the silence and the remoteness, floating motionless in a Zodiac (with ten other adventurers and the engine turned-off) enveloped in fog with the ship out of sight

Graham 'Woody' Wood is a resourceful, pragmatic and flexible group leader with many years' experience of the Arctic and its many changeable moods and conditions.  Whatever had happened to change last night's plans for today, Woody always came up with a satisfying alternative that filled our day and enhanced our experience and enjoyment of the location - the landscape, the environment, the vegetation, the inhabitants, the sea and the ice - that we were in on that particular day.   His enthusiasm inspired us all, passengers and other team members alike.

Go prepared to be surprised.  Whatever happens to change the proposed programme, something else always turns up to fill your day and your senses.  The Arctic and Svalbard in particular is a place like no other on Earth.  Empty your mind of any preconceptions and drink in the special atmosphere and all that it contains, remote from the pressures and chaos of 'civilisation', to refresh your soul and your mind  

Under the influence of Woody and his equally enthusiastic team an atmosphere of camaraderie and social inclusion quickly develops.  The joy of sharing your (new) experiences with like-minded people with shared interests from several parts of the world greatly enhances the pleasure and sense of fulfilment that comes form such an adventure  

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SPITZBERGEN IN DEPTH

Spitsbergen in Depth

5.0
November 2016
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
A true experience
The Arctic and the Svalbard Archipeligo is simply a magical place. The wild life, serenity,and the feeling of "adventure" makes this a very special experience.  Put this on your "Bucket List"

First Class.  A bit bossy at times but he had to be, especially when our safety was / could be under threat from Polar Bears.

Yes, GET OFF THE SHIP AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY or you will miss a lot of the magic.

All of the Exodus planning worked well for us ...everything was where it should have been.

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SPITSBERGEN IN DEPTH

Spitsbergen in Depth

5.0
November 2016
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
To travel through the pack ice under the wide sunny arctic skies is magical.  To do so in comfort on a ship that the Captain can position to the foot (or possibly inch) required, together with a group of extremely knowledgeable and energetic guides all working hard to show you, at close hand, Spitzbergen and its wildlife adds up to the trip of a lifetime.  And you return with spectacular photos!
There were so many!  "A few" include:
- sighting several polar bears on our first day in the ice - and so close! 
- spending over two days with a polar bear and its kill, and his interaction with a hungry female, until he left the carcass and swam off to the north, ten minutes before the ship was due to leave
- travelling through the noisy brash ice in zodiacs at the foot of a magnificent glacier which calved in front of us (at a safe distance!)
- watching a young bear exploring basalt cliffs occupied by 60,000 guillemots 
-  spending time watching and photographing an arctic fox on a rocky outcrop

Paul is hugely energetic and enthusiastic and quickly built a team spirit.  His advice and inspiration for photography is invaluable.  He sets the tone for the other experts, who are all impressive, as well as the equally cheerful competent adventure guides.  Perhaps a special mention for Noah, our ornothologist, who had the best pair of spotting eyes, and impressed on us all the beauty of the ivory gulls.  He withstood the ribbing from Paul well!

This is billed as not a cruise: true, except there is a Captain's dinner.  Remember to pack something other than base layers!
Take your laptop and lots of memory cards. 

It is tough getting back to "the real world" after this ...

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Top Tour Operators and Travel Companies


Arctic Trips & Tour Advice

The Arctic -- the polar region lying above the Arctic Circle (66 degrees latitude north) -- is best explored by small ship and expedition-style cruise vessels. Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Canada and the United States all have Arctic lands; Greenland, a largely self-governing Danish territory, is another prominent Arctic region (the Arctic Circle just skirts the northern edges of Iceland). Popular Arctic cruise routes include Canada's Northwest Passage; Scandinavia to Greenland via Iceland; and to the far north Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. 

The Arctic Highlights

The Arctic -- the earth’s northern polar region, 66 degrees latitude north and above -- ranges across a number of countries including much of Scandinavia, Russia, and North America. Unlike Antarctica, its southern counterpart, it has no penguins, but it does have polar bears and more marine mammals. The Gulf Stream and generally warmer temperatures than in Antarctica help make Arctic exploration more accessible, offering a number of choices for experiencing life above the Arctic Circle. Travel is restricted only by the laws of the various countries and the relative scarcity of transportation.

An ideal way to explore the Arctic is by expedition-style cruise vessels. More routes are opening up to cruising, such as the Northeast Passage from northern Norway to Siberia and Alaska via the Russian Arctic. 

Greenland is ground zero for climate change, as its glacial ice – representing about eight percent of the world’s supply – is rapidly melting, threatening to raise ocean levels and temperatures. But much of its interior remains a wonderland of white, and icebergs still fill its bays. Fascinating towns and small settlements dot both west and east coasts, which you can visit either by small cruise ship or via land and air transportation. 

Only a tiny fraction of Iceland lies above the Arctic Circle, but this volcanic land of black lava, geothermal pools, moon-like landscapes, and neat, brightly painted houses is one of the far-north’s most visited areas. Part of Europe but lying a third of the way toward the North American continent, Iceland boasts one of the world’s most literate populations and is easily accessible by air as well as sea. 

The Arctic coast of Norway is accessible by the half-cruise, half-cargo ships of the Hurtigruten, which makes two-week round trips between Bergen and Kirkenes, near the Russian border. With its views of fjords, snow-capped mountains and tiny remote villages, the Hurtigruten is one of the world’s most beautiful voyages. In both Arctic Norway and Finland, you can ride in reindeer sleds and visit the Sami, the nomadic people who drive their reindeer herds through the frozen wilderness. The Finnish town of Rovaniemi lies directly on the Arctic Circle and claims to be the home of Santa Claus. 

Small ships now make the journey to Spitsbergen (Svalbard), a Norwegian island archipelago hundreds of miles north of the top of continental Europe. Spitsbergen is home to some of the farthest north settlements in the world, as well as glaciers, icebergs, and an array of wildlife including polar bears, walruses, and flocks of seabirds.

One of the top places to view the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) is in Abisko National Park near Kiruna in northern Sweden, where skies tend to be clear despite frequent overcast in the region. A chair-lift leads up to a lookout tower at the Aurora Sky Station for the best viewing. 

Be Among the First

Transiting the Northeast Passage – from Europe to Asia via the Russian Arctic – represents a new thrill in Arctic exploration, now available by expedition-style cruise ships with high ice-class ratings. Until recently, this area was off limits due to both political and climatological reasons. The cruises visit Murmansk, the largest city north of the Arctic Circle, and continue through the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean to Russian Siberia until reaching Nome, Alaska. Expect to see polar bears, whales and seals along the way. 

Northern Canada is a far cry from the urbanity of the cities lying near the U.S. border that harbor most of this huge country’s population. The town of Churchill in northern Manitoba is the place to see polar bears and Beluga whales, while the vast, remote province of Nunavut beckons adventurous travelers to encounter Inuit villages that include the northernmost permanent settlement in the world. Cruises through Canada’s Northwest Passage sail the coast of northern Nunavut east to Greenland or the reverse, with generally excellent wildlife viewing on remote islands. 

Most visitors to Alaska confine themselves to cruises along its southeast coast or inland trips to Denali National Park, but the state’s remote Aleutian Islands and far northern tundra area stretching north to Nome offer adventurous travelers an entirely different experience in the “Last Frontier.” You can go dog sledding in Arctic Alaska, fish for salmon in far northern waters, watch for bears and birds, and get around by small plane (or properly equipped vehicles along rough roads).

 

Related Guides

Continent:             

Antarctica and the Arctic

Local Attraction:  

Manitoba, Canada; Svalbard, Norway; Iceland; Lapland, Scandinavia; The North Pole and Many More

Top Activities:      

Wildlife SightseeingExpedition Cruises, Dog Sledding & Experience Aurora Borealis 

Similar Destinations:                    

AlaskaNorwayRussiaCanada, Sweden, Finland, Greenland
 

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