6 Best Arctic Cruises: Adventure and Wildlife in 2023

arctic cruises

If you’re someone who enjoys outdoor activities and the excitement of exploring new places, then Arctic cruises may be just what you’re looking for. The polar regions offer some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world with unique wildlife and unforgettable experiences.

Arctic cruises have gained immense popularity among outdoor enthusiasts, offering a unique blend of adventure and exploration. These expeditions provide an unparalleled opportunity to witness the breathtaking beauty of polar landscapes while encountering diverse wildlife species in their natural habitats. With numerous cruise lines venturing into this pristine region, it is essential for potential travelers to be well-informed about various aspects related to Arctic cruising.

Lastly, as COVID-19 continues to pose challenges for expedition cruises worldwide, we explore its implications on the Arctic cruise industry along with future prospects post-pandemic. Stay tuned as we unveil our top picks for best Arctic cruises featuring exciting itineraries and prices slated for 2023.

Top Arctic Cruises for 2023: Itineraries and Prices

Explore the Arctic’s pristine landscapes, natural phenomena, and diverse wildlife with these top Arctic cruises in 2023.

Hurtigruten Expeditions

hurtigruten arctic expedition boat
Photo: Hurtigruten Expeditions

Hurtigruten Expeditions has expanded its offerings in recent years, providing travelers with a wider range of expedition cruise options to various destinations around the world. While specific details may have changed since my last knowledge update in September 2021, I can provide you with an overview of the types of expeditions and destinations that Hurtigruten Expeditions typically offers:

Arctic Expeditions: Hurtigruten Expeditions offers voyages to the Arctic region, including Svalbard, Greenland, Iceland, and the Russian Arctic. These Arctic expeditions offer travelers the chance to discover the distinct terrains, wildlife, and cultures of the region. You can witness polar bears, walruses, seals, whales, and awe-inspiring Arctic vistas on these trips.

Antarctic Expeditions: Hurtigruten Expeditions operates voyages to the Antarctic region, providing travelers with the chance to witness the incredible beauty of the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands. These voyages provide chances to observe penguins, seals, whales, and other Antarctic fauna while also discovering breathtaking glaciers and icebergs.

Norwegian Coast Expeditions: Hurtigruten Expeditions has a long-standing tradition of operating cruises along the Norwegian coast. These voyages offer a unique way to explore the stunning fjords, coastal landscapes, and charming towns of Norway. Passengers can experience the Northern Lights, visit remote communities, and immerse themselves in Norwegian culture.

Northwest Passage Expeditions: Hurtigruten Expeditions provides voyages through the legendary Northwest Passage, a historic and challenging sea route through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. These expeditions offer a glimpse into the history, wildlife, and breathtaking landscapes of this remote region.

South America Expeditions: Hurtigruten Expeditions has expanded its offerings to include voyages to South America, allowing travelers to explore the wildlife-rich Galapagos Islands, the Chilean fjords, and other iconic destinations in the region.

Hurtigruten Expeditions’ cruises are designed to provide immersive and educational experiences, with knowledgeable expedition teams, comfortable accommodations, and a focus on sustainability and responsible travel.

For the most up-to-date and detailed information about Hurtigruten Expeditions’ current offerings, including specific itineraries, departure dates, and ships involved, I recommend visiting their official website or contacting their customer service. They will be able to offer you detailed information customized to your interests and travel itinerary.

  • MS Maud: Discover Greenland’s Disko Bay and Ilulissat Icefjord from $7,000 per person (12 days).
  • Norwegian Coastal Expedition: Sail along Norway’s picturesque fjords from $4,500 per person (11 days).

Lindblad Expeditions’ “Exploring Greenland & Canadian High Arctic”

The expedition typically begins in either Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, or Reykjavik, Iceland, depending on the specific voyage. From there, the ship navigates through the picturesque fjords of Greenland, allowing passengers to witness massive glaciers, towering icebergs, and breathtaking Arctic scenery. In this area, you might come across diverse Arctic fauna such as polar bears, seals, whales, and a variety of bird species.

As the expedition progresses, the ship crosses the Davis Strait and enters the Canadian High Arctic. This region includes destinations such as Baffin Island, Devon Island, and the Northwest Passage. These regions are renowned for their abundant history of discovery, breathtaking scenery, and distinct fauna. Travelers can experience visiting isolated Inuit settlements, discovering ancient archaeological sites, and learning about the cultural legacy of the native people who have lived in these areas for generations.

During the voyage, Lindblad Expeditions’ expert team of naturalists, historians, and photographers provide educational presentations, lead wildlife spotting activities and guide excursions on Zodiac boats for up-close encounters with the Arctic environment. The objective is to provide a thorough comprehension of the natural marvels, cultural importance, and environmental issues in the region.

Please note that the exact itinerary and ports of call may vary depending on the departure date and other factors. Lindblad Expeditions ensures that the expeditions follow strict environmental guidelines to minimize their impact on the fragile Arctic ecosystem.

If you’re considering this expedition or any other specific details, I recommend visiting Lindblad Expeditions’ official website or contacting their customer service for the most up-to-date and detailed information about the “Exploring Greenland & Canadian High Arctic” itinerary.

  • Lindblad Expeditions – Exploring Greenland & Canadian High Arctic: Starting at $16,990 per person (not including airfare)

Poseidon Expeditions’ “Wrangel Island: Across The Top Of The World” 

Sea Spirit Expedition Cruise in the Arctic

Poseidon Expeditions’ “Wrangel Island: Across The Top Of The World” is an expedition cruise that focuses on exploring the remote and pristine region of the Russian Arctic, including Wrangel Island and the surrounding areas. Poseidon Expeditions is a reputable company specializing in polar cruises, offering unique and immersive experiences in some of the world’s most extraordinary destinations.

The journey usually starts in Anadyr, a town located in the Chukotka area of Russia. The route heads north towards Wrangel Island, which is situated in the Arctic Ocean between the East Siberian Sea and the Chukchi Sea. Wrangel Island is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is renowned for its extraordinary variety of flora and fauna, as well as its pristine natural splendor.

During the expedition, passengers have the opportunity to explore the diverse ecosystems of Wrangel Island, which include tundra landscapes, polar deserts, and rugged coastlines. The island is inhabited by a variety of wildlife, including polar bears, walruses, Arctic foxes, reindeer, and several bird species such as the rare snow owl. There are also opportunities to witness migrating gray whales and visit walrus haul-outs.

In addition to the unique flora and fauna, Wrangel Island holds historical and cultural significance. It is one of the last places where woolly mammoths survived, and it has a rich indigenous heritage. The expedition may include visits to archaeological sites and encounters with the local Chukchi people, providing insights into their traditional way of life.

The expedition is facilitated by a team of expert naturalists, historians, and expedition leaders who provide educational lectures, lead guided excursions, and share their knowledge about the region’s ecology, history, and wildlife. Zodiac cruises and landings allow passengers to get closer to the wildlife and explore the remote corners of this Arctic wilderness.

  • Poseidon Expeditions – Wrangel Island: Across The Top Of The World: Starting at $13,995 per person (not including airfare)

Quark Expeditions: Disko Bay

disko bay in greenland during arctic cruise
Photo by Acacia Johnson ( Quark Expedition-Disko Bay)

Disko Bay is a prominent destination in Greenland known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse wildlife. The bay is situated on the west coast of Greenland, above the Arctic Circle. It is known for its impressive icebergs, towering glaciers, and plentiful marine wildlife, making it an intriguing destination to explore.

An eight-day cruise around Disko Bay with Quark Expeditions would likely provide passengers with an opportunity to explore this remote and breathtaking region. You may have the chance to witness the calving of enormous icebergs, visit small coastal villages, and encounter wildlife such as whales, seals, and seabirds. The exact itinerary and activities would depend on the specific cruise and departure date.

  • Quark Expeditions – Disko Bay: Starting at $5,495 per person (not including airfare)

Silversea’s Northwest Passage Expedition

Silversea Arctic Expedition Cruise

Silversea offers an expedition cruise called the “Northwest Passage Expedition” that explores the iconic Northwest Passage—a historic and remote sea route through the Arctic Archipelago of Canada. Silversea is a luxury cruise line known for its high-end travel experiences, and their Northwest Passage Expedition is designed to provide guests with a luxurious and immersive journey through this challenging and awe-inspiring region.

The Northwest Passage is a legendary route that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, passing through the Canadian Arctic.. This expedition typically begins in Greenland or Alaska and follows the route through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, visiting remote communities, historical sites, and stunning natural landscapes along the way.

During the cruise, guests have the opportunity to witness breathtaking ice formations, massive glaciers, and pristine Arctic scenery. Wildlife encounters are also a highlight, with the possibility of spotting polar bears, whales, seals, Arctic foxes, and various bird species.

Silversea’s Northwest Passage Expedition features expert expedition leaders, naturalists, and guest lecturers who provide educational presentations, lead excursions, and share their knowledge about the Arctic environment, history, and culture. Onboard amenities and services are of high quality, ensuring a comfortable and luxurious experience during the voyage.

  • Silversea – Northwest Passage Expedition: Starting at $34,200 per person (including flights)

Viking Ocean Cruises: Iceland & Norway’s Arctic Explorer

Viking Ocean Arctic Cruise

Viking Ocean Cruises typically offers Arctic cruises during the summer months when the region is more accessible due to favorable weather and ice conditions. These cruises often focus on exploring destinations such as Norway’s North Cape, Svalbard, Greenland, and the Canadian Arctic.

On these trips, travelers can witness the breathtaking beauty of Arctic scenery, observe exceptional wildlife, and gain knowledge about the history and culture of native communities in the area. Viking Ocean Cruises emphasizes a cultural enrichment experience, providing onboard lectures, presentations, and activities that showcase the destinations’ natural and cultural highlights.

  • Arctic Adventure: Explore Iceland, Norway, and Svalbard on an expedition cruise for $7,000 per person (15 days).

Whether you’re interested in seeing polar bears or the northern lights, these arctic cruises offer something for everyone. Book your trip now to experience the beauty of the Arctic Circle.

Get Fit for an Arctic Cruise Adventure

Don’t let a lack of physical fitness hold you back from enjoying the thrill of an Arctic expedition cruise – get in shape with these tips.

Assess Your Fitness Level

  • Compare your activity levels with the cruise operator’s requirements.
  • Discuss any health concerns with your doctor before attempting activities on the cruise.
  • Try similar activities at home to gauge your comfort level.

Prepare Physically

  1. Cardio: Run, swim, or cycle at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes to build stamina.
  2. Strength: Build your strength by lifting weights or doing bodyweight exercises 2-3 times per week to target major muscle groups.
  3. Flexibility: Incorporate yoga or stretching to prevent injuries and improve agility.

Being physically prepared is essential to fully enjoy the unique experiences an Arctic cruise offers.

Environmental Impact of Cruise Ship Tourism in Polar Regions

Arctic cruises are gaining popularity, but their environmental impact is a growing concern, with more ship passengers visiting fragile ecosystems and generating sewage and oily bilge that contribute to environmental damage.

The Rise in Passengers Visiting Fragile Ecosystems

Increased foot traffic from tourists can lead to soil erosion and habitat destruction for native species like polar bears and seals, while more ships mean an increase in pollution from fuel emissions and waste disposal that can harm marine life.

Addressing Concerns About Pollution Generated by Ships

  • Eco-friendly technologies: Some cruise lines are adopting hybrid propulsion systems or solar panels to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Cleaner fuels: Using cleaner fuels like liquefied natural gas (LNG) instead of heavy fuel oil (HFO) helps minimize air pollution caused by ship emissions.
  • Sustainable practices: Implementing recycling programs or banning single-use plastics onboard is another way cruise lines can lessen their environmental impact.
  • Awareness campaigns: Educating passengers about responsible tourism through awareness campaigns ensures they understand how their actions can affect the environment.

Choose cruise lines that prioritize sustainability and responsible tourism practices to help protect these fragile ecosystems for future generations to enjoy. For further details on sustainable cruise vessels, take a look at this compilation of eco-friendly cruises.

The pandemic has posed significant challenges for arctic tourism as many expeditions were canceled due to health concerns and restrictions imposed worldwide.

New ocean-going explorer ships are scheduled to launch soon, allowing fully vaccinated travelers onboard once again.

In this section, we’ll discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the Arctic cruise industry and explore future prospects for expedition cruises post-pandemic.

Impact of COVID-19 on the Arctic Cruise Industry

As COVID-19 spread across the globe, countries closed their borders and implemented strict travel restrictions.

This resulted in a massive decline in demand for cruise vacations, especially in remote regions like the Arctic.

Many operators had no choice but to cancel or postpone their sailings indefinitely.

The financial strain led some companies to downsize their fleets or even file for bankruptcy protection.

Future Prospects for Expedition Cruises Post-Pandemic

With vaccination rates increasing worldwide and countries gradually reopening their borders, there’s hope that arctic expedition cruises will make a strong comeback in 2023.

To ensure passenger safety while maintaining an enjoyable experience, cruise lines have implemented various health protocols such as mandatory proof of full vaccination before boarding, frequent testing during voyages, social distancing measures throughout ships, and increased sanitation procedures within common areas and cabins alike.

Newly built vessels, like those from Hurtigruten Expeditions, are designed with advanced safety features and enhanced health measures to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

As a result, travelers can look forward to exploring the breathtaking Arctic landscapes while enjoying peace of mind.

FAQs in Relation to Arctic Cruises

What is an Arctic cruise?

An Arctic cruise takes you on a wild adventure through the polar regions, exploring remote destinations like Greenland, Svalbard, and the Canadian Arctic.

When should I go on an Arctic cruise?

The best time for an Arctic cruise is during the summer months of June to September when temperatures are milder, daylight hours are longer, and wildlife viewing is optimal.

Do cruises go to the Arctic?

Yes, many expedition-style cruise lines like Hurtigruten Expeditions and Viking Ocean Cruises offer voyages into the heart of the pristine wilderness in various parts of the vast region known as The High North.

Why do tourists go to the Arctic?

Tourists visit the Arctic for its unique landscapes filled with glaciers, fjords, and tundra, diverse wildlife like polar bears and walruses, opportunities for adventure activities like dog sledding and kayaking, cultural experiences with indigenous people, and witnessing natural phenomena like the midnight sun and northern lights.


Are you ready for an unforgettable adventure? Arctic cruises provide a one-of-a-kind chance to discover stunning and isolated areas.

But before you set sail, make sure you’re aware of physical fitness requirements, environmental impact concerns, and geopolitical conflicts that can affect your itinerary.

From Hurtigruten Expeditions’ MS Maud to Silversea’s ice-strengthened hulls, there are plenty of options for outdoor enthusiasts looking to experience the beauty of the Arctic.

With careful planning and consideration, you can have an unforgettable adventure unlike any other.

  • Physical Fitness: Some cruises require a certain level of physical fitness, so make sure to check before booking.
  • Environmental Impact: It’s important to be mindful of the impact your cruise may have on the fragile Arctic ecosystem.
  • Geopolitical Conflicts: Keep an eye on any geopolitical conflicts that may affect your itinerary, such as border disputes or military activity.

But don’t let these concerns deter you from experiencing the beauty of the Arctic. With the right preparation, you can have an adventure of a lifetime.

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