Cruise The Svalbard Archipelago
A remote, rugged and inhabited archipelago deep in the Arctic Circle is the only thing that stands between the European mainland and the North Pole.
Administered by Norway but existing very much in a world all its own, Svalbard and its main island, Spitsbergen, are the ultimate springboards for Arctic cruises in Europe. Why? Because this is not only conveniently north of the Arctic Circle, but it’s also considered the ‘polar bear headquarters’ in this part of the world.
Famously home to more polar bears than people, Spitsbergen is both an entire Arctic destination of its own accord and a fabulous springboard for further explorations. From Svalbard wildlife cruises to comprehensive Arctic multi-country journeys that take in the best of Greenland and Iceland too, Spitsbergen offers a wealth of cruising options, whether you have 8 or 18 days at your disposal.
Svalbard has historically been the jumping-off point for polar explorations in the north, from the days of Wilen Barents (who accidentally discovered these islands in the 1500s) right up until the present day. Longyearbyen cruises (that’s Spitsbergen’s main town) are the most popular option for those who want to sail in the Arctic – partly because the Arctic wildlife concentration on this archipelago is phenomenal and partly because choices are extensive and prices competitive.
Spitsbergen may be renowned for its resident polar bears (over 3,000 are believed to live in these islands) but throughout the archipelago thrive a myriad of wildlife. On land, you can see Arctic fox, reindeer and thousands upon thousands of migratory sea birds whilst, on the seas between the islands, is where whales, walruses, several species of seals retreat to during the northern summer.
Spitsbergen cruises offer, by far, the most wide-ranging itineraries in the entire Arctic region and are widely considered to offer the best bang for your sailing buck.