Polar bears, cultural diversity & the quest for the unknown
The Arctic differs from the southern polar region geologically, biologically and politically. The Arctic is served by regional airports with connections to international airports in well-populated areas. Arctic expeditions vary in duration and cost. There is something for everyone.
For centuries humans searched for the Northwest Passage, the elusive route to Asia. Many died trying. At the same time, the Northeast Passage, from Russia’s Far East to Scandinavia, drew adventurers from safe harbors into the high Russian Arctic, in search of fortune and fame.
The quest to reach the North Pole was equally as tragic and prolonged as the quests for northern trade routes. The controversial feat was accomplished less than a hundred years ago. Reaching the top of the world is still a relatively rare occurrence in the 21st century.
It is said that the single-tusked narwhal inspired the legend of the unicorn. The polar bear continues to be an Arctic icon, as does the walrus. Many, then, are drawn to the Arctic to encounter the region’s unique wildlife in their natural habitat.
Many visitors explore the Arctic by ship. They gather at staging points such as Ottawa, Canada or Anchorage, Alaska. Some make their way North alone, boarding ships in out-of-the-way ports like Resolute in Canada’s Far North or Murmansk in northern Russia.
Getting to the Arctic can be as simple or as complicated as you choose. Some expeditions include the flight from a well connected city to the community where the ship is at anchor. Others give travelers the option to purchase a pre-arranged flight or make their own arrangements. Read the description of your expedition carefully to determine if air transportation is included.
Expeditions to the Arctic are diverse in style and cost. Three elements affect the cost of a voyage: the duration of the expedition; the passenger capacity of the vessel, and the activities included.
Invest wisely, choose an expedition operated by a company with a solid reputation, and ships that are purpose-built for polar waters. Choose an icebreaker expedition if you want to reach the highest latitudes, including the North Pole. Adventure ships are for travelers who enjoy hiking, kayaking and exploring small bays and channels.