Best time to visit the Arctic
The Arctic summer is not as bitterly cold as you might think, with almost 24-hour sunshine and wildflower-filled tundra.
July-August is – for many – the loveliest time in the Arctic, as the sea ice has melted, leaving open waters to cruise through, while migrating whales breach the chilly surface. The Gulf Stream flows up Svalbard’s coast, creating a strangely mild oasis 1,200km north of the Arctic Circle. Earlier on the recently calved icebergs are more colossal, but the later you travel, the further north you can sail. By late September, however, the ice creeps southward again, and the Northern Lights begin to glow. Canadian and Russian cruises barely skim the Arctic Circle; the climate is much chillier, bringing ice – and polar bears – considerably further south.
When to go to the Arctic, month by month
Our Arctic cruising Vacations
If you'd like to chat about Arctic cruising or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
More about Arctic cruising
Our Arctic cruises travel guide reveals why the best way to explore is a small ship expedition cruise, and compares the different Arctic areas - with Northern Lights, Inuit art, dog sledding,and - of course - polar bears.
There are several Arctic cruise itineraries available, focusing on different regions and activities - wildlife features on any Arctic cruise, but use our interactive map to find out which species you are likely to see and where.
On a typical Arctic cruise the amenities are quite basic as the aim is to spend a lot of time on land - optional activities in the Arctic range from nature hikes to kayaking and even the chilling ‘Polar Plunge’!
Arctic wildlife cruises, with superb biologists and wildlife guides accompanying them, will help you spot polar bears, enormous walrus, fluffy Arctic foxes and several species of whales, plus birds, seals and orca.
The big ticket attraction on Arctic cruises is the chance to see polar bears and while sightings can never be guaranteed certain locations are more likely than others - read on to find out where to see polar bears on an Arctic cruise.
With at least 17 species seen in Arctic waters at different times of year, responsible whale watching in the Arctic has immense potential, and onboard experts are always at hand to explain what species and behaviours you’re witnessing.
An Arctic cruise is likely to be one of the most memorable vacations of your life, so it’s important to get it right - here's our advice on choosing a ship for an Arctic cruise so you have all you need to know before making a decision.
What will the sleeping and eating arrangements be, how many fellow passengers can you expect, but most importantly, what will you be doing each day - read on to find out what life onboard ship on a typical Arctic cruise vacation involves.
With comfortable but compact cabins, and various practicalities that you’ll need to prepare for, knowing what to pack for an Arctic cruise is essential to make the most of the space in your suitcase and ensure you bring all you need.
Deciding whether you ought to save or splurge on an Arctic cruise vacation is likely to be one of the biggest issues you face during the planning process - here are some of the ways you can either cut costs or supersize your trip.
Read on for the best Arctic cruises travel advice offered up by our vacation experts who have spent years working in the far north, with tips on which regions to visit, recommendations for twitchers and health and safety advice.
Responsible tourism in the Arctic is a thorny issue but taking a responsible Arctic cruise can help strengthen this region, its communities and wildlife against exploitation, climate change and land grabs - find out more below.