Sailing the Frozen Seas: 6 Epic Polar Expeditions by Cruise Ship

Polar expeditions offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the geographical uniqueness of the world’s most remote regions. 


Top cruise lines now offer various epic polar exploration cruises, allowing travelers to explore the planet’s most extreme climates and landscapes. And the best news is that these expedition cruises are more readily accessible than ever.


If you dream about exploring the Antarctic or Arctic regions, here are six polar expeditions by a cruise ship that you won’t want to miss.

Travel to the Antarctic Peninsula

If you dream about having the best cruise in Antarctica, consider going on an expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula.


The Antarctic Peninsula is a popular tourist destination, harboring diverse and endemic marine plants and wildlife. The landscape is characterized by towering glaciers, icebergs, and snow-covered mountains, giving it unforgettable beauty.


You’ll encounter penguins along your journey, including Gentoo, Chinstrap, and Adelie penguins. If your expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula takes you further south, you might even get to spot humpback whales, seals, and killer whales.


The best time to visit the Antarctic Peninsula is during summer, between November and March. Take advantage of the 24 hours of sunlight to take amazing pictures of the surrounding landscape.


There are tons of uninhabited islands to visit while cruising the Antarctic Peninsula. They include:


  • Deception Island: For its extraordinary landscapes and wildlife.
  • Cuverville Island and Neko Harbour: Enjoy stunning views of icebergs, glaciers, and pristine waters.
  • Elephant Island: Home to one of the largest colonies of chinstrap penguins!
  • Paulet Island: Has a large colony of penguins. Parts of this island have no ice.

Visit Spitsbergen

Spitsbergen is the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic. Norway’s unique and remote area is so close to the North Pole that temperatures tend to dip to -30℃ during wintertime. 


We recommend packing enough windproof outerwear, warm winter boots, mittens/gloves, and a hat to keep you warm. Also, pack a good camera to take some fantastic pictures of the stunning sea ice and animals in this region.


Spitsbergen offers an amazing variety of wildlife, including puffins, walruses, and reindeer. You’ll also find glaciers, fjords, and mountains—all waiting to be explored. The most remarkable sight in this region is polar bears, who wander the stunning landscape and whose curiosity often leads them up close to expedition ships.


Ensure you immerse yourself in the local culture by participating in cultural events and festivals or visiting local bars, restaurants, and museums.

Sail Around Greenland

Greenland is one of the world’s most spectacular and remote destinations. It is known as the ‘Land of the midnight sun’ because it never gets dark during summer.


Despite melting ice sheets, Greenland is still home to stunning Arctic landscapes, glaciers, and icebergs that offer a magical experience for visitors. The local Inuit people are also very welcoming, and their traditional hospitality will give you a taste of the culture.


Summer is the best time to visit Greenland as it’s warmer. It begins in May, but most cruise ships arrive in June. You can take part in activities like kayaking and whale watching during this season. During summer, you’ll also see tons of reindeer, musk ox, and sea birds.


Few cruise ships visit Greenland during winter, but this is the best time to see the beautiful Northern Lights. There’s minimal light pollution in winter, making it ideal for photographers to take the best shots of the aurora borealis.

Cross The Antarctic Circle

Crossing the Antarctic Circle is one of the few expeditions that will earn you bragging rights. Only a few polar travelers have ever made it across the Antarctic Circle. The Antarctic Circle marks the boundary of the South Polar region and is located at 66°33’S.


Crossing the Antarctic circle requires a lot of planning. You’ll need to pack for cold temperatures and storms. In high summer, the Antarctic Circle experiences 24 hours of sunlight, which offers excellent opportunities to take photos of the beautiful landmarks in this region.

Sail The Drake Passage

For seasoned travelers who’ve seen it all, a polar expedition is incomplete without a sail through the Drake Passage.


The Drake Passage is the body of water between Cape Horn, Chile, and Antarctica, where the Pacific and Atlantic oceans meet. It is one of the world’s most extreme and unpredictable sailing routes, with waves reaching up to 10 feet in height.


The Drake Passage is also home to many seabirds, whales, seals, and dolphins. The best time for whale watching is during summer when humpback whales swim around.


It takes 48 hours to cross the Drake Passage by boat, and the voyage can be very rough. However, modern-day boats have stabilizers that make the ride safe and much smoother. We recommend packing enough seasickness medication for this passage, get some air, and take time to interact with other passengers on your cruise ship.

Explore The Northwest Passage

The Northwest Passage is a sea route that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It was first explored by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen in 1906 and is one of the most famous polar expeditions in history.


The Northwest Passage is famous for its spectacular landscapes, such as fjords, icy channels, and glaciers. The passage also hosts tons of wildlife, including beluga whales, narwhals, minke, and seals.


In summer, ships can explore the passage from July till October, when ice conditions are at their best. Some activities to enjoy during summer include kayaking, hiking, and wildlife watching.

Embark On A North Pole Expedition

A polar expedition offers an unforgettable experience for travelers. Polar regions are home to unique wildlife and breathtaking landscapes and are a real treat for photographers and explorers alike. 


A polar voyage to the North Pole will take you across Arctic and Antarctic landscapes, such as icebergs, fjords, glaciers, and small islands. You will also be able to spot some of the Arctic’s unique wildlife, such as walruses and polar bears.

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