What You Need to Know About Cruising in the Arctic

What You Need to Know About Cruising in the Arctic

Cruising in the Arctic offers the chance to touch the top of the world and experience a landscape that few will ever see. Follow in the footsteps of pioneers, polar scientists, and only the most intrepid of explorers. Wander in the land of the midnight sun, journey through frozen landscapes and meet some of the world’s most resilient people and animals.

Arctic cruise itineraries can be complex, offering an array of options in places that many will be unfamiliar with. Here we break down what you should expect from an Arctic cruise, and the extraordinary places you might want to visit.

Where is the Arctic?

Generally described as everything north of the Arctic Circle, the area is spread across the Arctic Ocean. The Arctic spans eight countries including Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and the USA (Alaska), as well as Sweden and Finland.

Over 4-million people call this harsh land home. Its people have descended from a variety of cultures and traditions including Viking explorers, Northwest Passage pioneers and indigenous groups. In addition to the region’s fascinating wildlife, the Arctic also has a surprisingly rich cultural heritage.

Best time to visit

Arctic expedition cruises will generally operate during the Northern Hemisphere summer. This is when the ice is more broken up and easier to navigate. The days are longer, the temperatures more favourable and this is also generally when the wildlife is most active.

Which region should I visit?


The most popular destination for Arctic cruising, Svalbard is easily reached from mainland Norway. Swan Hellenic’s Svalbard in Depth cruise is 11 days in duration. On this tour you will cruise this remote archipelago seeking stealthy polar bears and lazing walruses. You’ll witness gargantuan glaciers, beautiful fjords, and dazzling icefields. You’ll also visit some of the world’s most northern settlements and meet the hardy people who have built a life at the coldest edge of the world.


Explore the land of sharp contrasts on our Iceland tour. Fiery volcanoes, frozen tundra and endless summer nights await you on this 8-day tour. More than just a visual delight, the island’s insular existence has created a rich and unique culture. The Icelandic foodie scene has also had a wonderful resurgence in recent years, successfully marrying traditional food preservation techniques with modern methods and ingredients. A healthy population of Atlantic puffins, alongside whales and arctic foxes also live here.

Arctic ships

Our Arctic tours take place aboard our new SH Vega expedition cruise ship. Named after the first ship to cross the Arctic Northeast Passage, this comfortable and stylish vessel has been designed specifically for smooth, comfortable journeys through some of the world’s most isolated and difficult to access regions. The ice-strengthened hull breaks through the ice-logged Arctic archipelagos with ease, allowing guests up-close experiences and sublime views.

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