The Arctic region encompasses a vast area of continent, ocean, islands and ice-sheets, lying north of the Arctic Circle. Our range of holidays to the Arctic focuses on small ship voyaging to this incredible region, which encompasses parts of Canada, Alaska, Greenland, the Svalbard archipelago and Siberia as well as the iconic North Pole.
About the Arctic
Visitors are drawn by the breathtaking scenery of the Arctic region and the wildlife and history associated with it. Much of the land is carved out by massive glaciers, leaving eroded mountains and deeply scored valleys. Huge icecaps cover large parts of it, fringed by glaciers that dip into transparent fjords, calving icebergs of all shapes and sizes.
Permafrost reaches hundreds of metres in depth and only the top layer of soil melts in the brief summer. Yet with 24 hours of summer daylight and at times surprisingly mild temperatures, moss, lichen and flowering plants thrive.
Traces of many former cultures can be seen in the Canadian Arctic and Greenland, a fascinating heritage of a people who understood perfectly how to thrive in harmony with their harsh environment. Today’s Inuit communities maintain strong links with their centuries-old traditions, while embracing the conveniences of modern living. They still hunt, trap and fish by dog sledge and kayak, yet snowmobiles, helicopters and satellite phones ensure that life is not as isolated as it once was.
Defined by its natural grandeur Greenland is a land of vast proportions. The world’s largest island is dominated by the world’s second largest icecap. Midway along the rugged east coast Scoresby Sund extends inland as the largest fjord in the world while further south Gunnbjorns Fjeld forms the highest peak north of the Arctic Circle. In terms of wildlife, herds of wild musk ox graze on the sweeping tundra and offshore the rare yet distinctive narwhal is among the cetaceans that frequent the waters.
Spitsbergen, the largest island of Svalbard, is a true high Arctic destination with an almost romantic allure. Considerably smaller than its neighbour to the west, its landscape is both dramatic and varied with jagged mountain peaks, numerous sweeping glaciers, deep fjords and vast areas of tundra. Its wildlife is prolific including large concentrations of seabirds, polar bears roaming the icy coastline and large groups of walrus lazing on beaches or at sea.
Maps of the region are peppered with names like Bering Strait, Franklin Bay and Amundsen Gulf, which are linked with tales of incredible hardship, heroics and often tragedy. Today’s Arctic travellers can follow in the footsteps of the early explorers on our adventurous cruises, which by using ice-strengthened vessels and polar ice-breakers are able to travel safely in polar seas. You can even journey aboard an icebreaker to that most legendary of Arctic locations - the North Pole.
Holidays at a glance
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The diversity of wildlife makes this trip so memorable as you're never quite sure what’s round the corner.Dawn & Sean Collins, Spitsbergen voyage