Follow in the footsteps of intrepid explorers like Roald Amundsen with an Arctic cruise. You’ll head north of the Arctic Circle to see snow-capped peaks, icy landscapes and towering icebergs all with the Northern Lights overhead. Are you a wildlife lover? Get ready to get up close and personal with walruses, narwhals, musk oxen and reindeer along with a bevy of birds you won’t find at lower longitudes. Explore during the long Arctic summer, when tundra burst into bloom, or take the ultimate adventure expedition to the North Pole.
You can visit the Arctic region during the summer months, generally between May and August although some itineraries will extend into September or October. This is the time of year when there’s enough daylight to have a wander. The pack ice melts in spring, opening waterways like the Northwest Passage and channels around Svalbard and Greenland. These are strewn with icebergs even in the summer, giving you a real sense of adventure! Temperatures are mild enough in the height of summer to view nesting birds and visit Inuit communities. However, a winter cruise gives you the chance to see the legendary Northern Lights.
Most people visit the Arctic for its natural beauty and wildlife. This starts off in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, where you’ll be able to spot polar bears and glaciers like the stunning Austfonna ice cap. Venture over to Greenland to visit tiny traditional villages, go dog-sledding or explore the Icefjord. Its capital city is Nuuk, which boasts an array of outdoor recreation and a thriving gastronomy scene. Within Norway’s upper reaches, you can enjoy the cultural scene in Tromsø, a bustling university town with lively nightlife. And for pure adventure, take an expedition to the North Pole or sail through the Northwest Passage.
The entry requirements will naturally vary depending on the itinerary you choose; several countries extend into the Arctic region including Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Canada and Russia. From the UK, most depart from Norway which doesn’t require a visa – you’ll just need your passport! You might also depart from Denmark, which also only requires a valid passport for British citizens. Greenland is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, so there’s no need to acquire a different visa for entry here. However if you’re planning to enter Russia or Canada, you’ll need to apply for a visa or Electronic Travel Authorisation in advance.
Although when you think of the Arctic you may picture nothing but snow and ice, this region features its own pantry of natural ingredients from fresh seafood to wild berries. These are all used in colourful, imaginative ways. Mussels are a favourite food in the Arctic, but you can try some more unusual dishes if you’re feeling brave! For example, whale meat is a typical dish in Greenland, where it’s dried or cured. Cod fish plays a starring role in many dishes, but it’s also typically salted and dried before used as a base ingredient in hearty stews.