Polar Cruises with Secret Atlas
Join Secret Atlas on one of our polar cruises to explore the most remote regions on Earth. Choose from one of our small ship cruises and experience the natural wonder of Greenland or the spectacular wildlife of Svalbard. Our unique voyages take just 12 guests and are led by a team of expert expedition leaders.
Polar adventure isn’t necessarily the first thing that springs to mind when you read the word cruise. But Secret Atlas doesn’t offer your average cruise. We offer something completely different – polar cruises on a micro-expedition vessel, transporting guests to remote destinations that larger tours don’t go.
Imagine unplugging from daily life and escaping to the High Arctic? You could be hiking through the wilderness in search of polar bears on Svalbard archipelago, or getting up close to towering glaciers in Greenland. Maybe you want to travel Antarctica, the most uninhabited continent on Earth to see Emperor Penguins. Whatever is drawing you to take a polar cruise, it’s going to be the trip of a lifetime.
Polar Cruises With 12 Guests
Secret Atlas began with a vision to make polar cruises more personal, more sustainable, and, with lower impact. Which is why we run expedition micro-cruises around northern Norway, Greenland, and (coming soon), Antarctica with just 12 guests. Travelling by small ship, without a large crowd is better for our guests, and much better for the incredible polar regions we visit.
Smaller ships are more flexible, so we can adapt our course depending on conditions, which is all part of the adventure. When conditions allow, we can head to the edge of the sea ice north of Svalbard, or change course for better wildlife watching opportunities. From standing where explorers began their journey to the North Pole, to hiking through untamed and rugged islands and just basking in the Arctic silence – polar cruises are a transformative experience.
Svalbard is an archipelago of nine islands in the north of Norway. Its name translates as ‘cold shores’ – and with a latitude of 78˚north, you’re certainly going to encounter frozen coasts. Svalbard is filled with glaciated landscapes, rugged coasts, snowy mountains, and an abundance of incredible wildlife.
It’s amazing to think that you can escape to the Arctic wilderness and visit the most northerly settlement in the world by taking a short flight from mainland Norway. Our voyages depart from Longyearbyen which has its own domestic airport and flights arrive daily from Oslo and Tromso and take around three hours.
There are no roads that connect Svalbard’s islands, so taking an expedition micro-expedition is the ultimate way to experience to get close to glacier fronts and see polar bears in the wild. By travelling in a small ship with only 12 guests, our voyages offer a more flexible and personal way to visit this remarkable polar destination than as part of a larger tour group.
Small ships can change course depending on conditions, which could mean a better chance of spotting wildlife or sailing to reach the edge of Svalbard’s sea ice which stretches all the way to the north pole – it’s all part of the adventure.
Smaller vessels like ours can also reach places that larger ships can’t get to, like areas with shallow anchorages and fjords. But while our vessel as comfy and warm – our polar holidays to Svalbard are active, and all about exploration.
We make regular shore landings, in the Zodiac landing craft, led by our expedition leader and expert guide who are trained in polar bear protection and have deep knowledge of the wildlife, history, and environment of Svalbard.
We frequently see polar bears, walruses, whales and an array of birdlife on our trips, and visit areas such as Isfjorden, which is an important area of conservation, as well as Ny-Ålesund – where Roald Amundsen launched his historic expedition to the North Pole and the mountainous and rugged island of Prins Karls Forland.
Our Svalbard polar cruises run between April and August.
Another incredible polar destination we visit is Greenland – the largest island in the world, and one of the most sparsely populated countries on Earth, with fewer than 60,000 inhabitants. It’s not surprising that much of it is uninhabited – over 80 per cent of its landmass is covered by a massive ice cap called the Greenland Ice Sheet.
Like Svalbard, there aren’t many roads on Greenland – so joining one of the micro-expedition cruises with only 12 people is the chance for an immersive trip where you’ll experience Arctic landscapes, see wildlife, and experience local culture in small settlements. We’ll be exploring remote and rugged places like Scoresby Sund, home to towering icebergs and stunning fjords.
Greenland is also home to an abundance of wildlife including polar bears, narwhals, humpback whales, muskoxen and many species of birds. We’re often welcomed by locals in Nuuk, Greenland’s tiny capital as well as more remote settlements.
Our polar cruises to Greenland run between June and September. Find out more
We have made many exciting voyages to frozen, northerly latitudes. But from 2022, we’re excited to take small groups on a trip of a lifetime to Antarctica, the most remote continent on Earth. This will be a fly and polar cruise trip from South America to an Airbase in Antarctica which means we avoid having to cross the Drake Passage.
This is an extremely rare opportunity to visit this south polar destination, the last frontier with no permanent inhabitants. Our expedition micro-cruises will explore the Antarctic peninsula on trips that range between 7 and 14 days where we’ll witness stunning landscapes, and get up close to lava flows and crystal clear glaciers.
We will also have the opportunity to witness Antarctica’s abundant wildlife up close, including vast numbers of Emperor penguins, as well whales, Arctic terns and elephant seals.
Find out more about our upcoming polar cruises to Antarctica
Five Reasons to Take a Polar Cruise with Secret Atlas:
People join our polar cruises for all kinds of reasons, including adventure-seeking, wildlife watching, nature photography or a desire to experience lesser-known parts of the world. Here are five great reasons to join one.
1. An opportunity for escapism and adventure
Joining a small polar cruise is the chance to have a transformative trip to some of the most remote and little-known destinations in the world. From the rugged shores and soaring bird cliffs of Svalbard to frozen, and colourful settlements and glaciated landscapes of Greenland, and soon the southern wilderness of Antarctica – each expedition micro-cruise is a complete escape from everyday life.
2 . Small ships offer a more intimate and authentic experience
These days larger expedition ships can hold up to 350 passengers. But we believe smaller polar cruises are better for our guests, as well as the places we visit. Secret Atlas expedition micro-cruises only take 12 guests and a small crew comfortably. Smaller polar cruise ships are a better option for independent travellers, who don’t want to spend time in large tour groups or wait around to get ashore. Another advantage is that smaller ships have is that they can reach places that larger ships can’t access too like the fjords in Svalbard and remote settlements in Greenland.
3. Visit hard to reach destinations
There are very few roads in places like Svalbard archipelago or Greenland. So taking a polar cruise on a small, but comfy, warm, and ice-strengthened vessel is the ideal way to get explore rugged coastlines, stunning Arctic nature, and witness an abundance of wildlife.
4. Flexible routes and itineraries
Small ships are also much more flexible than larger expedition cruises. We can change our route according to weather and ice conditions, which is great for wildlife watching and attempting reaching the edge of the sea ice for more exploration.
5. Smaller polar cruises leave less of an impact
People who join our polar are active, adventurous, and independent. They also want to see incredible destinations without leaving behind a huge footprint or disrupting local eco-systems and wildlife. And in one expert guide for every six guests – you’ll have a more enriching and personal experience too.
For more on all our upcoming polar cruises in 2021 and 2022 visit here