The Arctic is a polar region located in the far northern extremes of the planet. Encircling the planet, the region consists of the Arctic Ocean, parts of the far north of Alaska, Canada, Russia and Scandinavia. From a point of view of cruising, there are three key areas regions within the Arctic region.
For many years, explorers speculated about a potential northerly route from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean that would provide an alternative to the long and dangerous journey around Cape Horn. Many famous names, including James Cook and Sir Francis Drake, tried and failed to successfully find a route through. In 1903, it was the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and six other brave men set out in a tiny boat and travelled from east to west, drawing on the vast experience of the Inuit people, successfully reaching Alaska in 1906. Such is the incredible nature of this journey that Hurtigruten named a ship after Roald Amundsen - the ship occasionally undertakes this voyage to this day.
A journey through the Northwestern Passage is a true adventure. Meet local Inuits in remote communities, spot magnificent Arctic wildlife, with a good chance that you'll encounter polar bears, whales and walrus. You'll also be awe-struck as you join an elite number of humans who have viewed the beautiful, pristine landscapes of mountains, fjords & icebergs.
There's an old saying...'When you've seen the world, there's always Greenland' which gives a humorous, yet accurate description of the allure of travelling to Greenland. A destination for travel connoisseurs, Greenland offers a rich cultural history, incredible wildlife and scenery that will almost defy your ability to comprehend it. It is a vast, remote natural wilderness, offering stunning landscapes as well as natural phenomena including the ethereal Aurora Borealis. The natural landscape is hope to a dizzying array of wildlife includes whales, seals, reindeer and seabirds. The capital city, Nuuk, is one of the smallest in the world, yet manages to offer a range of interesting cultural highlights. Other towns also exhibit a unique mix of Danish and Inuit heritage and create a Greenlandic culture of their own.
These three Norwegian destinations are located in the extreme far north of the country. Svalbard is the furthest north - actually, one of the most northerly inhabited areas - and a cruise to Svalbard takes you to locations that few humans ever get to venture. At up to 81°N, this really does feel like the end of the earth, yet you'll be far from alone, though, with incredible bird and aquatic life, plus the opportunity to see polar bears.
The farthest reaches of the Norwegian mainland is a truly stunning place to visit. Experience the midnight sun between May & July, or venture here in the winter months as this remains one of the best places to view the elusive Northern Lights. Marvel at the natural beauty from 1000ft above sea level, discover the fascinating visitor centre and pause and reflect that, at 71°N, you're only around 2,100km from the geographic North Pole.
Even by Norwegian standards, the Lofoten Islands are beautiful. Known for their pretty fishing villages with brightly coloured houses that dot the coastline. You'll experience deserted beaches, dramatic mountains and scenic bays; the islands also offer plenty of opportunity for amazing hiking, kayaking and cycling.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office provides information about visa requirements and up to date travel advice. Visit: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice