Svalbard, Greenland, Iceland, the Canadian High Arctic, the Russian Far East and the North Pole provide exceptional experiences for all who visit. We’ve selected the best ships to deliver you to these wondrous wilderness areas. You have the choice of Expedition, Luxury-Expedition, Luxury and Icebreaker vessels.
WHILE DIFFERENT SIZES, ALL SHIPS HAVE KEY CHARACTERISTICS IN COMMON:
All the Arctic cruise ships and their operators are well known by us and we know they will safely deliver a high quality operation. For the safety of guests, crew and the environment, all vessels have two engines (or in the case of Ocean Nova an auxiliary engine that can bring the ship back to port).
All ships are AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators) members, as is Arctic Travel Centre. All operate with a high ratio of crew to guests.
These luxurious ships combine more traditional-style cruising with an Arctic adventure. They offer large, very comfortable cabins with en-suite facilities; many suites have private balconies. Excellent cuisine options are available on board. Zodiac dinghies and an expedition team enable you to explore the High Arctic and come home to an exquisite ship. A luxury ship puts greater emphasis on the on-board experience. On-board these larger luxury ships there are limitations on the number of landings made as at most sites the limit of people ashore at one time is 100.
As the name suggests these ships are a hybrid of an Expedition Ship and a Luxury Ship. Some are small ships with close to 100 guests and can offer two landings a day and focus on maximising opportunities for exploring as on an expedition vessel but with the added comfort of having larger, more comfortable cabins and common areas. Those with up to 200 guests generally offer one off ship excursion a day (largely due to time factors associated with the 100 passenger ashore limit) and still have an adventurous soul. Generally cabins are larger or perhaps the ship is newer than an Expedition ship. Meals are a mix of buffet and served courses and the cuisine is of a very high standard.
Generally expedition ships have a greater emphasis on maximising time off the vessel or out on deck than on a larger more ‘luxury’ ship. On most days an Expedition ship will offer two off ship excursions. The expedition team works closely with the ship’s captain and crew to deliver a high level of service and a flexible approach which means they can react to local circumstances; like a group of feeding whales, if possible they will stop and launch the zodiacs. The cabins are comfortable, the food of a very high standard.
An expedition client is someone who wants to maximise their opportunities to get off the ship and learn. Guests onboard are of all ages however you will be physically able to climb some relatively steep stairs and get in and out of a Zodiac.
With incredible strength of hull and weight to literally crush a path all the way to the North Pole the 50 Years of Victory and Le Commandant Charcot are able to venture where rarely any other ships can. Both making the attempt to reach the North Pole, where on the way back from reaching the top of the world, the ships visits the remote archipelago of Franz Josef Land which is home to polar bears, walrus, beluga whales as well as excellent birdlife.
The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) regulates the frequency and number of guests visiting all sites. At most sites, no more than 100 guests can land at the same site at the same time. If you choose a ship with less than, or close to, 100 guests all guests will be able to go ashore the same time.
Ships with up to 130 guests will often have kayakers (not going ashore) which means the remaining clients can all land.
Whilst only 100 guests can go ashore at most places at the one time, ships with under 200 guests can still visit most sites. Zodiac cruises are often offered whilst waiting for the first 100 clients to explore ashore.
Large groups ashore should be divided into small groups to enhance the experience and communication and make it easier to ensure that all visitors know how to act. Choose an adequate group size according to the actual site, usually less than 30 unless guidelines states differently.
We are proud to be Associate Members of AECO.
AECO was founded in 2003 and since its creation has become an important organisation representing the concerns and views of Arctic expedition cruise operators. AECO’s aim is to responsibly manage the concerns of environmentally friendly and safe tourism in the Arctic and to strive to set the highest possible operating standards.
The association’s geographical range is set to encompass the Arctic area north of 60 degrees north latitude. The main areas are Svalbard, Jan Mayen, Greenland, Arctic Canada, the Russian Arctic National Park and Iceland.
AECO has set up guidelines for landing sites in order to not inflict negative impacts on the environmental and cultural remains of the regions.
Zodiac excursions can be used either for a cruise or a shore landing; throughout the course of your Arctic expedition, you’ll have the chance to visit historic huts used by the explorers of old, scientific research bases and whaling sites – all of which is made possible thanks to our sturdy Zodiacs. Zodiac cruises will enable you to explore icebergs, get up-close with whales or walrus hauled out on the ice, as long as taking you as close as possible to Polar Bears. On ships with over 100 guests Zodiac cruises are often onboard whilst other clients are ashore.
Immerse yourself in the incredible scenery of the Arctic on-board a kayak. Cruise past ice formations and see wildlife swim past as you glide along. You will be in groups of up to 12 with an experienced kayak guide who will take you to interesting locations, many that can only able to be reached by kayaks.