Many Harper subscribers have expressed strong interest in travel to the opposite end of the world. Whereas Antarctica is a continent surrounded by ocean, the Arctic is frozen ocean surrounded by continents. Most of the inquiries I get about the Arctic focus on polar bears. Here are cruise options that will address that passion.
Although Lindblad offers several Arctic itineraries, they have crafted two that focus on “the king of the ice.” Both will take you to the Svalbard archipelago, which lies between Norway and the North Pole. On the Zodiac landings other animals may also be seen, including walruses, whales, seals, Arctic foxes and reindeer. And, as in Antarctica, there will be icebergs. The 11-day “Land of the Ice Bears” trips are set for June 4, 11 and 18 on the 148-passenger National Geographic Explorer. The 17-day itinerary includes Svalbard, as well as explorations of the Norwegian coast with its dramatic fjords. These are scheduled for July 2 and 15 and will be on the 102-passenger National Geographic Orion.
Category 5 Accommodation, $27,220 for two; Category 5 Accommodation, $39,520 for two. Both cruises will have a full expedition staff of naturalists, a photo instructor and a National Geographic photographer on board. Tel. 800-397-3348.
Silversea, too, has several Arctic programs, with five 10-day journeys centered on Svalbard, which has proven to be a place where polar bears are sighted with reliability. All voyages are on the 130-passenger Silver Explorer with a full expedition team of specialists who will lead Zodiac landings and provide on-board lectures and programs. At the time of writing, the early cruises with departure dates of July 3 and July 13 show availability, while the seven-day July 23 and 14-day July 30 trips have waiting lists.
Veranda Suite for 10-day voyage, $20,970 for two. Tel. 888-978-4070.
There are many Arctic options in the Ponant schedule with four cruises journeying to the main island of the Svalbard archipelago, Spitsbergen. Currently, the eight-day “Set Sail for Spitsbergen” cruise, which leaves from Tromso, Norway, on June 27 and two eight-day “Best of Spitsbergen” cruises, which depart on July 4 and 11, are still available. All of these voyages are aboard Le Boréal, which accommodates up to 264 passengers and has a full staff of naturalists and specialists.
Deluxe Stateroom on Set Sail for Spitsbergen cruise, $14,440 for two; Deluxe Stateroom on Best of Spitsbergen cruise, $15,300 for two. Tel. 888-400-1082.
Abercrombie & Kent charters Le Boréal for one 15-day Arctic cruise that commences August 2 in Spitsbergen and then journeys to Greenland and Iceland. A&K’s expedition team will be on board.
Deluxe Stateroom, $32,990 for two. Tel. 888-611-4711.