The great secret about the Arctic is that there is an "Elsewhere." Vast in scope and spectacular in view, the Arctic sits above 60 degrees north and stretches across the entire top of the world, from Russia's Far East to Spitsbergen, on Svalbard Island to Arctic Norway to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Canada's Ellesmere and Baffin Islands and to Greenland and Iceland. Above the Arctic Circle is an area where summer dusk turns almost immediately into summer mornings, and winter nights last forever. Covered in ice pack for most of the year, it is during those short summer months that the Arctic opens its vast secrets and offers an opportunity to witness the diverse scenery, unusual wildlife and interesting peoples of the Arctic. Whether you are just a history buff, an avid adventure who likes to explore natural wonders, or a student of amazing cultures, there is voyage for everyone in the land of the "Midnight Sun."
The High Arctic is best explored from July to September, as the pack ice recedes. From the deck of an ice breaker, to a luxury cruise ship, there is a wonderland of natural beauty and wildlife to explore. Enormous turquoise colored glaciers, iridescent ice burgs, polar bears, walrus, seals, arctic foxes, monster whales leaping their entire length above the water’s surface, millions of seabirds breeding and raising their young on rocky ledges and barren islands, all visible from your ship’s deck.
Traveling the routes of the early Arctic explorers, you can cruise Svalbard archipelago, located halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. Many ships have Zodiac craft that can take you right up to the shore line where you can walk along rocky beaches where groups of walrus have hauled themselves out to take advantage of the sun’s warmth. Ivory sea gulls and puffins will be your constant companions. You may even encounter Minke and beluga whales along the way. This is also the land of the king of the ice, the gigantic polar bear, who begin to emerge from their snow dens to introduce their new young to the snowy world outside, or search for food before their icy pathways melt in the warming temperatures.
A visit to Iceland is an adventure into the grand opposites of nature, as the island presents itself in both fire and ice. In this snow and ice covered land mother nature has combined volcanoes surrounded by lava fields, and the resultant geothermal mud-pots, steam vents, sulfurous deposits, boiling springs and fumaroles. Just miles away are bays filled with glacial ice and floating icebergs, and mighty water falls. Whales, dolphins and porpoises ply the waters in their aquatic simplicity. Make sure you have your cameras ready as you pass by the glacier-covered volcano Snaefellsjokull, made famous in Jules Verne's classic "Journey to the Center of the Earth." A trip to the top of the world is an adventure long to be remembered.