Swoop Tips on Choosing the Right Arctic Ship

Swoop have over a decade of experience in polar cruises and can guide you towards the ship that’ll suit you best. Get started with our quick tips then give us a call for expert advice.

  1. Make a list of what matters most to you - Is it size of ship, passenger capacity, stability, comfort level or activities on offer?
  2. Medium sized ships (for 80 to 116 passengers) are popular and there’s a wide range to choose from. These don’t feel too big but have generous public areas and a decent choice of cabins.
  3. For stability, larger ships are a good bet as they perform better in rough seas.
  4. Smaller ships (for less than 100 people) offer a more intimate experience. It’s easier to get on and off and everyone can land at once.
  5. Comfort levels on all Arctic ships have improved over the last decade. Now you can have an adventure without the hardship. Selected cruises come with Nespresso machines, balcony suites, gourmet dining and even butler service.
  6. Several cruises offer adventure activities including diving, snorkelling, kayaking and photography. Let us know your interests and we’ll find the cruise that incorporates those activities.

John says

Choosing an Arctic Ship - what should I consider?

Arctic Ship Comparison

Arctic Ship Comparison

Authentic Expedition

Polar Pioneer

  • ​Passenger capacity: ​54 passengers
  • Ice​ class rating: KM*ULA2
  • Size​:71.6m long x 12.82m wide
  • Built in​/Refurbished in​: Refurbished in 2000
  • Other key feature: Arctic Scuba Diving is offered.

M/S Expedition

  • ​Passenger capacity: 134 passengers
  • Ice​ class rating: 1B
  • Size​: 103m long x 18.9m wide
  • Refurbished: 2009
  • Other key feature: gym, sauna and mud-bath, all cabins outward facing.

Akademik Vavilov

  • ​Passenger capacity: 92 passengers
  • Ice​ class rating: Lloyds Register 1A, Canadian Type B
  • Size​: 117m long x 18.2m wide
  • Built in: Finland, 1988
  • Other key feature: Top Deck for 360 degree views, Spa and Fitness Room

Akademik Ioffe

  • Passenger capacity: 96 passengers
  • Ice​ class rating: Lloyds Register 1A, Canadian Type B
  • Size​: 117m long x 18.2m wide​
  • Built in: Finland, 1989
  • Other key feature: Top Deck for 360 degree views, Spa and Fitness Room

Ocean Nova

  • ​Passenger capacity: ​68 Passengers
  • Ice​ class rating: 1B (Casco 1A)
  • Size​: 73m long x 11m wide
  • Built in​: Denmark, 1992
  • Other key feature: Panoramic lounge with almost 360 degree views


  • ​Passenger capacity: 176 passengers
  • Ice​ class rating: Polar Class 6 (equivalent 1A Super)
  • Size​: 108m long x 8m wide
  • Launching: Summer 2019
  • Other key features: Large Observation Lounge and Separate Lecture Room


  • Passenger capacity: 114 passengers
  • Ice​ class rating: Lloyds class 100A1, Ice Class 1D
  • Size​: 89m long x 14.5m wide
  • Refurbished: 2009
  • Other key feature: Observation Lounge and Lecture Room

RCGS Resolute

  • Passenger capacity: 146 passengers
  • Ice class rating: Lloyds A1s
  • Size: 122.8m long x 18.0m wide
  • Built in: Finland, 1993
  • Other key features: high staff to passenger ratio, fully equipped gym, sauna, spa and steam room.


  • ​Passenger capacity: 120 passengers
  • Ice​ class rating: UL1 (1A equivalent)
  • Size​: 91.25m long x 17.61m wide
  • Refurbished: Poland, 1989
  • Other key feature: Helipad for helicopter excursions

Spirit of Enderby

  • ​Passenger capacity: 50 passengers
  • Ice​ class rating: Russian register KM Ice Class
  • Size​: 71.6m long x 12.8m wide
  • Built in: Finland, 1984

Akademik Shokalskiy

  • ​Passenger capacity: 48 passengers
  • Ice​ class rating: RMRS UL
  • Size​: 71.06m long x 12.82m wide
  • Built: 1982

Comfort & Adventure

Ocean Endeavour

  • ​Passenger capacity: 199 passengers
  • Ice​ class rating: Ice class 1B
  • Size​: 137m long x 21m wide
  • Built in: Poland, 1981
  • Other key feature: Unique experiences like mountain biking and yoga classes

Ocean Adventurer

  • ​Passenger capacity: 132 passengers
  • Ice​ class rating:  Ice Class 1A
  • Size​: 101.1m long x 16.2m wide
  • Refurbished: 2016
  • Other key feature: Library and Lounge


50 Years of Victory

  • ​Passenger capacity: 128 passengers
  • Ice​ class rating: LL1
  • Size​: 150.7m long x 30m wide
  • Refurbished: Russian Federation, 1989
  • Other key feature: World's most powerful nuclear icebreaker, Helipad for flightseeing and wellness centre.

Sea Spirit

  • ​Passenger capacity: 114 passengers
  • Ice​ class rating: 1D
  • Size​: 90.6m long x 15.3m wide
  • Built in: The Bahamas, 1991
  • Other key feature: Club lounge, Library and Gym



  • ​Passenger capacity: ​20 Passengers
  • Ice​ class rating: Reinforced bow
  • Size​: 46.0 m long x 6.5m wide
  • Built in​/Refurbished in​: Netherlands, 1991
  • Other key feature: 3 Masted Schooner

Rembrandt Van Rijn

  • ​Passenger capacity: ​33 passengers
  • Ice​ class rating: Reinforced bow
  • Size​: 56.0m long x 6.65m wide
  • Refurbished in​: Netherlands, 1994
  • Other key feature:  3 Masted Schooner


Le Boreal, Le Soleal and L'Austral

  • Passenger capacity: 264
  • Ice​ class rating: 1C ice class
  • Built in: 2010
  • Other key features: a 5* experience without the high price tag, 95% of the suites have a private balcony, advanced stabilizing system

National Geographic Explorer

  • ​Passenger capacity: 148 passengers
  • Ice​ class rating: DNV Ice-1A
  • Size​: 112m long x 16.5m wide
  • Refurbished: 2008
  • Other key feature: Observation Lounge/Lecture Room/Lounge/Library

Swoop Says

How We Can Help You

We'll guide you throughout your Arctic journey - from making the right choices when booking, to packing the correct clothing and equipment - offering sound, impartial advice and support at every stage.

  1. Find Your Perfect Expedition

    We work with all the main Arctic small ship operators, offering 15 different vessels and over 40 Arctic voyages and land-based expeditions.

  2. Help you decide when to take your trip of a lifetime

    We can help you decide which month will suit you best and advise when to start planning ahead for the best choice of trips and voyages.

  3. Arrange your pre and post-Arctic travel

    We can help you book your flights, so you’re entire adventure is taken care of and runs seamlessly.

Ready to Book Your Arctic Adventure?

  • Swoop Arctic Expert John
  • Swoop Arctic Expert Alex
  • Swoop Arctic Expert Loli

Our team of experts are ready to help you with any questions about a trip to Arctic. Call us now to start your journey.