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It seems like it should be impossible. But it’s not – in 2021, you can board an ice-breaking cruise ship and visit the Arctic. Within five days of leaving the Russian subarctic, you can set foot in a place where a century ago, only fearless explorers dared to tread.
But how exciting is an Arctic cruise really? In this post, we’ll talk about all the things you can see & do on this amazing adventure.
Get to Know Murmansk
Before you set off on the holiday cruise of a lifetime, you’ll land in the Siberian city of Murmansk. Now you could sit in your hotel until your cruise embarks – but what fun would that be?
With over 300,000 people, the city of Murmansk is the largest in the Russian Arctic. Since the late 19th century, it has been a key port, as its waters remain ice-free year-round. As such, it was a flashpoint during the Second World War. The Alyosha Statue, a massive 42-metre (~130 feet) high memorial, commemorates the sacrifice of soldiers who died defending the city.
Murmansk is also home to several museums. Covering topics ranging from arctic research to regional culture, they’re a great way to kill a few hours. However, be aware that displays are often in Russian only – because of this, we advise downloading the Russian language pack for Google Translate before visiting.
Sailing Through the Barents Sea
Once you embark on your cruise, there will be nothing but ice-covered ocean for five days. But that doesn’t mean things will be dull – far from it. As Murmansk disappears behind you, keep an eye out for whales.
Get far enough north, and you start encountering pack ice. At this point, you’ll get to experience what it’s like slicing through ice that’s over a dozen feet thick.
Get Above It All
But as cool as being on an ice-breaker is. that’s just the start. On select Arctic cruises, you may be to go on a helicopter tour. From the sky, you’ll be able to get a bird’s eye view of your ship. At that moment, you’ll understand how far from civilization you are.
Go for a Polar Bear Dip
At first, it’ll be anticlimactic. Once your cruise reaches 90 degrees North, things won’t look any different than any other day on your voyage. But at that moment, you will have arrived at the North Pole.
Once there, you’ll disembark onto the sea ice. At this latitude, there’s nothing to fear – ice floes here are dozens of feet thick, so they’ll easily accommodate an entire landing party. But between the floes, patches of exposed ocean open up during the summer months.
If you dare, you can take a dip. Some wear survival suits, whilst others go in their swimsuits. And many others are content to just watch the spectacle unfold before them.
Explore Franz Josef Land
Arctic cruises aren’t 100% at sea. On your way back, you’ll get a chance to visit Franz Josef Land, an archipelago 750 kilometres off the Russian coast. On these rocky isles, you’ll get to see wildlife like walruses, polar bears, and numerous species of birds.
You’ll find geological oddities here as well. During your visit, you may get a chance to check out some curiously round stone spheres, as well as set foot on the northernmost land in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Knock the Arctic Off Your Bucket List
You’re overdue for an adventure. And as adventures go, an Arctic cruise ranks up there. So, if you’re ready to break out of your routine, look into booking a polar cruise in 2021 – you won’t regret it!