Expedition trips to the poles are a different experience than a standard cruise. You typically don’t see casinos, no need for fancy clothes, size is usually much smaller (usually limited to about 175 passengers given it more of a yacht-like feel), and there is more of a learning environment (think lectures on the various wildlife) vs a party environment. Call it a “luxpedition” if you will!
In the Arctic, if you ever wanted to see polar bears in their natural habitat, from May – September are the best months for wildlife viewing in Svalbard. And for adventure travelers, Greenland is now a bucket list destination similar to what Iceland was 15 years ago! Scoresby Sound for example, has the largest multi-branch fjord system in the world…along with icebergs, reindeer farms, Viking ruins, and hot springs! But Iceland is still a popular hot spot for tourists due to amazing experiences like the Blue Lagoon and for its safety record. According to the Global Peace Index, Iceland is the safest country in the world for the past 14 years.
Although going to the both the Arctic and Antarctica might seem like similar experiences, they are quite different! You can expect to be a bit chillier (coldest and windiest place on earth) in Antarctica! The Antarctic summer season is Feb – Mar with peak whale watching in February/March and peak penguin spotting in December/January. No polar bears in Antarctica! Most expeditions depart from the tip of Argentina, Ushuaia, and involve a multi-day crossing of the Drake Passage. Smaller ships are a must! Many of the larger cruise lines can’t actually “dock” so smaller, expedition like ships are the way to go!