When cruising the Arctic, size really does matter! Smaller ships mean bigger experiences and here’s why…
The 2019 Arctic season is just wrapping up and soon the very north of our world will be cocooned in darkness until the thaw of European summer breaks this midnight spell.
Occupying a huge one-sixth of the world’s surface and with territories in eight countries, the Arctic is a place of culture, history, wildlife and, of course, environmental discussion, so travelling there in a sustainable way is the only way.
Accessible from Norway, Iceland, Russia and Canada, the addition of an Arctic expedition will satisfy those looking for something different from their annual exodus to the northern hemisphere.
SMALLER IS BETTER
When it comes to polar expedition cruising, good things sail in small packages.
‘Small ships’ of under 200 passengers are sovereign – they can access isolated areas with less impact than a larger ship and allow guests a more intimate and peaceful experience on shore.
Even in the summer months of June to September, the Arctic environment is challenging in terms of temperature, conditions and landscapes. You need to connect with it to understand its fragility, and this is best done without hordes of others disturbing your idyll.
A small ship Arctic expedition returns you richer in experience and knowledge – time aboard is split between sightseeing via zodiacs/shore landings and filling your snow boots with lectures from the onboard expedition crew, who are passionate about this delicate landscape and how the outer world is affecting it.
NOT A PENGUIN IN SIGHT
While an Antarctic cruise offers them in abundance, you are assured that any glimpse of a black and white bird in the Arctic is not a penguin.
What it lacks in the penguin department, it makes up for in other areas – look-out for polar bears, reindeer, Arctic fox, walrus, seal species and myriad bird varieties.
Spotting Arctic wildlife takes a little more patience and stealth; you are at the mercy of circumstance here and if your expedition leader spots a polar bear on land, there is no way that a shore landing is going ahead.
Trust them on this one. This is all part of the excitement that being in such a remote wilderness brings and watching the polar bear action unfold from the safety of the deck or your zodiac is seriously the best place to be.
MIDNIGHT SUN VS NORTHERN LIGHTS
Travelling in the Arctic between June and September will have you checking your watch batteries. Welcome to almost 24-hour daylight, an ethereal but wonderful phenomenon which makes those late-night cocktails in the ship bar feel all the merrier.
A 3am wake up call for a polar bear sighting is even more surreal when you realise how light it is out on deck!
If the famed Aurora Borealis, aka Northern Lights, are what you seek from the Arctic then choose September to March to travel – this is when the velvet touch of night spills over the Arctic once more so this coveted spectacle can come out to play.
Latin America and Polar Travel Specialists, Chimu Adventures offer Australia’s largest range of small polar ships and itineraries. Their Destination Specialists can navigate all tastes and budgets to find the perfect itinerary and see you return as an advocate for all things Arctic.
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