An Introduction to The Arctic
Join the still relatively small number of adventurers and travel above the Arctic Circle to a region of wild beauty, teeming wildlife and frozen wastelands. In some of the most sophisticated vessels afloat, follow in the footsteps of the early explorers, many of whom perished in their quests for discovery and knowledge in simple wooden boats. Many of these voyages will also visit sites of these early expeditions and encounter some of the current human population, many native to these remote lands.
Polar Bears, Walruses, seals, Bowheads, Narwhals, Belugas and other whales and dolphins roam the icy seas of the north, whilst the landscape holds mammals such as Musk Ox, Elk, Reindeer and Arctic Foxes. A myriad of birdlife can be seen including Ivory, Ross’s and Sabine’s Gulls and breeding seabirds and shorebirds galore; species dependent on the itinerary. Photographic opportunities, both wildlife and landscape, are usually superb. For bird and wildlife enthusiasts, our annual Spitsbergen tour, led by Dick Filby, offers one of the best itineraries available in this region or join him for our ‘budget’ Scotland to Spitsbergen voyage (The North Atlantic Odyssey), an ideal introduction to Expedition Cruising. Make the most of the 24 hours of daylight, marvel at skies with their unique light and cloud patterns unseen in lower latitudes.
WildWings are agents for many of the vessels that visit this vast area, and generally recommend the ‘small expedition ships’ (up to 110 passengers or so) for the best Arctic wildlife experience. Tourism has been increasing in the last few years and all our vessels are members of AECO and collectively work to ensure the continued protection of these unique environments. Nearly 20 years experience of sending travellers to the far north allows us to offer unrivalled personal advice, the best choice and the best prices. We are selective about the ships we work with, we do not necessarily offer all the vessels our partner shipping companies operate, we only offer the ones that give the best bird and wildlife experiences!
All our recommended ships carry a team of expedition staff, whose services are available to all passengers. The Expedition Leader is the person who runs the trip from the passenger side, and decides where you will go each day and supervises the rest of their team and the landing staff. The captain is ultimately in charge and safety is of paramount importance. Exact itineraries are subject to weather and ice conditions on the day, no ship ‘guarantees’ the exact planned itinerary but in practice most make the majority of planned landings and alternative sites are usually never far away. An optional series of lectures and film shows on the region are shown onboard to make your Arctic experience as complete as possible. The team usually includes a specialist for birds and marine mammals, the exploration history of the region and geography and geology. Briefings are made usually before each landing and most evenings, the team will hold a recap of the day’s events. You will be sent a souvenir log of your voyage after you return home, often illustrated with images to help you treasure your memories. Members of the team go ashore with you for the Zodiac landings. In general terms, you will have more time ashore than during Antarctic voyages, with opportunities on occasion for a good hike for those that want one. Please note though that you have to stay in groups ashore, the major wildlife highlight for most people is also a serious threat! Sea conditions throughout most of the region are mostly calm in summer.
Comprehensive pre-trip information will be supplied, giving details of clothes and footwear etc required. In practice you will not have to go out and buy a lot of new gear, the ‘layer’ principle is the key, along with a pair of wellington boots and a wind and waterproof jacket (a number of vessels now provide these for your use onboard).
Pick up the phone and call us to discuss your plans, our advice is free and honest, 0117 9658 333 (UK office hours).