The Norwegian archipelago of Spitsbergen sits merely 1,000km south of the North Pole, directly north of the Scandinavian mainland. This is by far the most popular and easily accessible Arctic springboard since it is inhabited and boasts excellent expedition infrastructure. Yet the ease of accessibility isn’t the only thing that lures people to Spitsbergen: this is one of the top 2 polar-bear spotting hotspots in the Arctic (the other being Canada) and boasts innumerable ice-covered islands that attract both land and marine wildlife en masse. Given its high latitude, Spitsbergen is also the prime hub for expeditions to the North Pole. All of this, coupled with the highest concentration of Arctic expedition ships, also means you’ll find the widest array of ship availability and cruise budgets. All up, you’ll find Arctic cruises that circumnavigate Spitsbergen, options that also include Iceland and, most famously, East Greenland, the reputed ‘wildest’ Arctic coast of all.
Find out all there is to know about Arctic Cruises from Spitsbergen.
Iceland and Greenland
Iceland is a stunner in every which way, least of all for the fact it offers the shortest Arctic cruises to Greenland, one of the most rewarding Arctic destinations of all. Although, Greenland doesn’t have much infrastructure to offer many expeditions off its own shore. Most, but not all people who want to visit, must arrive here aboard an expedition ship that departed somewhere else. Iceland, being so close, is the most obvious choice. Aside from its genial location right across the Denmark Strait from Greenland, however, Iceland offers plenty of its own highlights, including dramatic fjords, stunning glaciers and, of course, a wealth of breath-taking waterfalls and volcanoes inland. Iceland and Greenland cruises are the most popular multi-country cruise options in the Arctic.
Discover more on our Iceland and Greenland page.
Baffin Island, Canada
The Canadian High Arctic is a remote corner of the Arctic and, for this precise reason, one of the most astonishing. The ‘headquarters of Arctic cruises in Canada is Baffin Island, the 5th-largest island on earth, located west of Greenland and directly north of Labrador and Newfoundland. Baffin is lapped on the east by famous Baffin Bay, one of the renowned ‘whale highways’ in the Arctic, in the north by the infamous Northwest Passage (one of the most coveted cruising challenges in history) and in the south by Hudson Bay, whose coast is revered for being the very best polar-bear sighting hot-spot in the whole region. Yes, the Canadian Arctic may be remote, isolated, hard to reach and expensive but, unsurprisingly, is also considered the holy grail of Arctic expeditions.
Learn more about Arctic cruises in Canada.
Arctic expeditions in Russia explore inarguably the most remote corner of the region and are considered the ultimate ‘bucket-list’ journeys to the north. Highlights here include the crossing of the Barents Sea, home to the largest cold-water reef on our planet, which attracts millions of sea birds, as well as whales, seals, walruses and narwhals every year. You can also visit the wildlife-brimming, isolated hubs of Franz Josef Land and Wrangel Island, and take on a Northern Sea Passage, perhaps the most awe-inspiring sea route in the world. Sipping a glass of champagne as you cruise right at the very top of the world, is something else. North Pole expeditions are surely the ultimate dream of avid seafaring explorers.
See more about Arctic expeditions to Russia.