Reasons to take an Arctic voyage

  1. The Arctic has few hotels. For a vast area largely devoid of infrastructure, traveling by ship - which acts as your floating hotel - is ideal
  2. The antithesis of a traditional cruise, these small ship expedition voyages are active, adventurous and fully immersive
  3. Traveling by ice-strengthened ship under a flexible itinerary affords both the ability to access remote regions and to make the most of the wildlife and weather opportunities
  4. Daily off ship excursions on foot and by zodiac allows you to experience the Arctic environment up close and personal
  5. Accompanying you is a team of Polar experts who provide a strong educational dimension and are a source of great stories!

What is expedition cruising?

Expedition cruising is about as far from a traditional cruise as possible. These trips are educational and active, with daily landings to get off the ship and explore. Itineraries are adaptable, so if humpbacks suddenly make an appearance, you might stick around to watch them, and if the ice conditions change, you'll just try a new landing site. This flexibility is all part of the adventure!

Ships vary from fairly basic to verging on opulent, but every single one that we partner with has a strong expedition focus. These are ship-based expeditions designed to allow you to delve into the heart of the Arctic.

Arctic Cruises

Passengers set off in zodiacs in Karrat Fjord

What will I do on an Arctic expeditionary cruise?

Choosing your Arctic expedition cruise

Due to all the variables it is crucial that you chose the right ship and itinerary. Things to consider include:

  • Size of the vessel, not just how many people it carries but its physical size too.
  • ice-class rating, a higher class will allow for more exploration.
  • The number of specialists on board.
  • The style of trip: relaxing or adventurous, basic or luxurious.
Arctic Cruises

Spot bears on the ice floe

  • To see polar bears, Svalbard often tops the list, but recently the Russian Far East has seen some of the most spectacular sightings.
  • Wildlife abounds in the Arctic - keep an eye out for whales, seals, and birds.
  • Each destination has its own individual history and culture including ancient sod houses in the Northwest Passage, colourful Greenlandic towns, and research stations in Svalbard.
  • As the geology of each region varies, so does the way you interact with the ice, crashing through it to the North Pole or following the edge of it in Svalbard.
Arctic Cruises

Sunrise in the Northwest Passage

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Swoop says

We hope that there is plenty of information on these pages to inform your plans but that you will also get in touch to ask us more questions. Between our team, we have over 50 years experience of polar expedition cruising to help you choose the very best trip and ship for you.

Our best Arctic cruises

Svalbard Polar Bear Safari

This early season Svalbard voyage is a ‘classic’ providing ample time for near guaranteed polar bear sightings, alongside encounters with the region’s other plentiful wildlife and exploring its dramatic scenery. Phippsoya, 14th of July glacier and Hinlopen Strait are all…

  • 11 Days
  • $9,495
Northwest Passage, Ellesmere & West Greenland

Traversing west to east this voyage takes you to iconic sites such as Cambridge Bay, Lancaster and Smith Sounds and Ellesmere Island, before exploring the fjords and towns of West Greenland. Bears, narwhal, musk ox, beluga and northern lights are…

  • 17 Days
  • $11,995
Spitsbergen Circumnavigation

Maximise wildlife sightings with the chance to circumnavigate Spitsbergen island. Search for walrus, arctic fox, whales and of course the ‘King of The Arctic'. Sail through the Hinlopen Strait and visit abandoned trapping stations and experience glaciers up close all…

  • 11 or 13 Days
  • $10,317
Svalbard, Greenland & Iceland Polar Quest

Introductions to the High Arctic don’t come much better. Traverse the High Arctic between wildlife-rich Svalbard, via East Greenland’s towering icebergs and autumnal tundra then onto Iceland. Aurora sightings are possible at any point. The longer trip also includes Jan…

  • 15 - 18 Days
  • $10,495
East Greenland Express

Saving three days at sea by flying both ways, East Greenland’s towering icebergs, vivid displays of the Aurora Borealis and autumn tinged landscapes have never been more accessible. Highlights include exploring Scoresby Sund, the world’s largest fjord system, and the…

  • 10 Days
  • $6,695
Chukotka and Wrangel Island Explorer

For sheer remoteness and incredible wildlife encounters, this voyage is very hard to beat. Wrangel Island is not only a significant polar bear denning site, it also holds the world’s largest population of Pacific walrus - but this is to…

  • 16 Days
  • $10,400
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What our customers think of Arctic Cruises

The Arctic feels like a parallel universe and it was a privilege to go. It showed me that there is so much more to explore and I can’t wait to do that. Read the full review

Travelled: June 2022

Helen Starkie Camejo - UK

It was just wonderful. The small ship, the guides, the food, excursions, scenery. Magical. Read the full review

Travelled: June 2022

Pamela White - UK

Safety was the priority of our guides. The most memorable was cruising above 80° and "floating" among the ice and icebergs. Stunningly beautiful and an experience to behold forever!!!!! Read the full review

Travelled: June 2022

Carol Copeland - USA

Swoop did a fantastic job helping us select a voyage. The ship and our cabin selection were perfect for us and more than met our expectations. Our pre-departure information arrived in a timely manner. Read the full review

Travelled: September 2018

Elaine Green - United States Of America

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The trip was good, the light gorgeous, the icebergs fantastical, and the wildlife wonderful with more polar bears than expected. The traditional villages made us think about their future, and we met new friends. Read the full review

Travelled: August 2018

Carol & Gerard Yorke - United States Of America

The expedition staff were second to none. Could not fault them, so informative and experienced in their fields. Read the full review

Travelled: July 2018

Dianne & Jim Spry - United Kingdom

We didn't expect to have such experienced and professional guides. Their knowledge of the fauna, flora and environment was outstanding, as well as their communication skills. Read the full review

Travelled: July 2018

Aurelio & Maria Jose Hernandez - Spain

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We were delighted with the recommendation made by Swoop regarding the trip we eventually booked. We'd been overwhelmed with the amount of information and choice of trips available when we looked on the internet so being able to explain what we were looking for and for them to come back with a limited choice, any of which would have hit the mark, was very helpful. Read the full review

Travelled: July 2018

Kay & Richard Howells (Baker) - United Kingdom

Swoop recommended a great voyage, their staff are so knowledgeable about the differences in the ships and the voyages. Read the full review

Travelled: July 2018

Natalie & Michael Whitehouse - United Kingdom

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Zodiac cruises were great fun. Some amazing wildlife sights with the seabird colonies probably the most dramatic. Getting up close to the glaciers was another highlight. Landings for shore excursions gave us a close-up view of the bleak tundra and the plant life. Read the full review

Travelled: July 2018

Steve & Tina O'Shea - United Kingdom

Review:

Choose your cruise region in the Arctic

Svalbard Cruises

Svalbard Cruises

North of the Arctic Circle and halfway between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard’s dramatic coastline and fjords are largely ice-free during high summer providing incredible …

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Northwest Passage Cruises

Northwest Passage Cruises

This labryinthine waterway was long sought by early adventurers as a sea route linking the Northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Canada's Arctic archipelago is therefore no …

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Greenland Cruises

Greenland Cruises

Greenland assaults your senses with pure air, crystal waters, blue ice, staggering fjords, a fascinating past and a welcoming present. Whether you are whale watching in Disko …

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Visiting The North Pole

Visiting The North Pole

Whether it’s travelling due north by icebreaker or flying in by helicopter on an express trip, to reach 90 degrees north is a dream shared by many, but achieved by very few. …

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Russian Arctic Cruises

Russian Arctic Cruises

The Russian Arctic is wild, rugged, rarely visited, totally isolated, desolate and utterly stunning. That isolation has lead to flourishing wildlife and pristine landscapes that …

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Arctic Guide

The Arctic is so vast and diverse that one of the biggest challenges is knowing where to begin. Our exclusive guide will help you get started with your travel plans.

Download Guide

Ready to Book Your Arctic Adventure?

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Listen

Listen

We'll spend some time listening to your aspirations, then discuss the kind of experience that might suit you.

2
Match

Match

Next we'll discuss the options, shortlist the best trips for you and present you our impartial recommendations.

3
Reserve

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We'll place a 24 hour hold on your preferred option - without obligation - whilst we talk through the details.

Our team of experts are ready to help you with any questions about a trip to the Arctic.