A cruise to the Arctic can prove one of the greatest trips of a lifetime; travelling to the lands north of the Arctic Circle you will see some of the most spectacular and breathtaking geological features on earth. With vast fjords, midnight sun, quaint port towns, rugged coastline and great glaciers, this is a destination best enjoyed from the comfort of a cruise ship. Visitors can enjoy sightings of the majestic species of wildlife that reside in the region, relax in Iceland's therapeutic hot pools, or simply take in the awesome scenery.
At the other end of the earth, the Antarctic is one of the most intimidating and forbidding places on earth. It is becoming an increasingly popular cruise destination, enjoyed by travellers looking to explore the unknown from the comfort of a luxury cruise liner. Home to seal colonies, countless penguins, whales, plenty of bird life, and majestic ice cliffs, the Antarctic is a sprawling yet peaceful wilderness.
For a land famed for its rugged natural wilderness, the Arctic has plenty to offer travellers. There are a great many archaeological sites from ancient Viking times for visitors to explore on the coasts of Greenland and eastern Canada, at ports such as Hvalsey and L'Anse Aux Meadows. Iceland's volcanic geology has produced a number of thermal springs and pools that serve as the countries chief attraction.
Naturally, one of the greatest appeals of an Arctic cruise for nature lovers is the opportunity to spot whales while at sea. White-beaked dolphins, minke, humpback and orca whales can all commonly be seen in the waters around this region. A great highlight for cruise passengers is to relax while at port and take in the spectacular wildlife around. Aside from whales, the region is home to seals and polar bears; Akpatok Island, Canada, is a fantastic site to spot polar bears and Skjoldungen, Greenland is prime for seals.
The coastlines of all the destinations in this region are equally beautiful. The dramatic rugged landscape pockmarked with quaint, colourful lodges, the imposing mountains and the striking fjords are enough to attract even the most cynical cruise passengers.
Most cruises to the region run from, or at least visit, the various ports on the Patagonian Peninsula, such as Ushuaia. The Argentinean town is within an easy proximity of some beautiful national park lands and the looming Martial Glacier.
The South Shetland Islands and the Falkland Islands frequently prove highlights of the region. A visit to the lush terrains and colonial villages of the Falklands will make travellers feel a world away from anywhere, and the South Shetlands, home to huge numbers of seals, are perfect for wildlife enthusiasts.
There are plenty of stops around the lands of Antarctica itself, so cruise passengers can fully experience its rugged wilderness. Popular landing sites include Half Moon Island, a pleasant strip of the Antarctic Peninsula backed by striking surrounding mountains and often flanked by whales offshore, and Cuverville Island, a rocky terrain that plays host to an astonishing number of penguins.
Popular ports of call on a cruise of the Arctic include Akpatok Island, Battle Harbour, Red Bay, L'Anse Aux Meadows and Rigolet, Canada; Ilulissat, Kangerluassuaq, Nuuk, Paamiut, Sisimut and Skjoldungen, Greenland; Akureyri, Grundarfjordur and Reykjavik, Iceland; Alesund, Bergen, Bodo, Geiranger, Honningsvag, Molde, Olden and Tromso, Norway; Murmansk, Russia.
Popular ports of call on a cruise of the Antarctic include Antarctic Peninsular, Commonwealth Bay, Cuverville Island, Half Moon Island, Neko Harbour, Paradise Harbour, Pleneau Island and Port Leckroy, Antarctica; Buenos Aires, Puerto Madrin and Ushuaia, Argentina; Hobart (Tasmania), Australia; Punta Arenas and Santiago, Chile; Port Stanley, Falkland Islands; Christchurch, New Zealand; Montevideo, Uruguay.
Some routes focus mainly of the Norwegian ports, allowing passengers to explore the landscape above the Arctic Circle. Many lines run between Canada and the remote areas of Greenland and Iceland.
Most lines either run round trips from Ushuaia and Buenos Aires, or trips round the peninsular between Buenos Aires and Santiago, although Orion Expedition Cruises run their cruises from Australia and New Zealand. Some cruises to the region voyage from as far as Cape Town or Rio de Janeiro.
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