While some adventure cruise lines sail this region all year long, the most popular time to sail is summer, with its long hours of daylight. Early in the season, itineraries tend to be a bit shorter and more southerly as winter ice continues to melt. Sailing during July or August will give you the experience of high summer in the Artic, with warmer temperatures and the tundra in full bloom. You may spot polar bears and other Artic wildlife raising their young, too. In September, the ice begins to advance again and ships return to more southerly routes.
Cruises of the Norwegian Arctic depart from a variety of North Sea ports, including Hamburg and London (Southampton). Typically, cruises are 10 nights or more, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the beauty of the region. Ships sail along the west cost of Norway, threading in and out of gorgeous fjords and calling on historic towns, like Bergen and Trondheim, before crossing the Arctic Circle.
Within the Arctic Circle, popular stops include Spitsbergen (also called Longyearbyen), capital of the Svalbard Archipelago of islands. Scenery and wildlife are the stars here. There are jagged, snow-covered mountains and windswept tundra populated by artic fox, reindeer and polar bears. You can visit the Global Seed Vault and the Svalbard History Museum, or trek over Longyear Glacier – don’t be surprised if your guides carry rifles to protect against unexpected wildlife encounters.
Most itineraries also include the city of Tromso, which has a spectacular setting enhanced by the beautiful Artic Cathedral, a stunning structure of concrete, steel and glass. The Polar Museum, housed in a restored 19th-century warehouse, contains exhibits on Tromso’s history as a base for hunting expeditions and polar explorations. Take the cable car to the top of Mt. Storsteinen for panoramic views, or ride behind the friendly husky dogs at a wilderness camp.
To choose a cruise of Arctic Norway – and get advice on what to pack – talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.
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