Often described as the last natural frontiers, the North Pole and South Pole offer a new world of adventure to the keen traveller. Stunning landscapes and rare wildlife are all common sights and encounters when visiting these isolated destinations. A personal travel manager can equip you with the knowledge of what to expect (aside from the cold!).
While both ends of the world share similar temperatures, the experiences and sights to be seen vary greatly. The style of vessel also plays a critical role in determining what you will see and the overall on board experience you will receive. At both poles, the cruising options are broken down into three primary categories; luxury expedition trips, expedition ships and speciality ships. Luxury ships typically hold 100 to 200 passengers while expedition ships cater to 60 to 150 passengers and specialty ships keep numbers low with 10 to 100 passengers. Each category of ship still delivers comfort and service as the key point of difference is the size of the vessel, which determines exactly how close you can get to the shoreline. As would be expected, the smaller ships are more nimble and can get closer to the shoreline. Larger ships can still visit the shoreline through the use of deployable zodiacs which are kept on board. Smaller ships also have an emphasis on education with lecturers on board to share insights into the ecosystems.
When visiting the North Pole, travellers will be exploring an isolated landscape full of wildlife, stunning night skies and picturesque glaciers. Russia is a popular point to begin the journey up through the Arctic Basin as the ice breaking cruise ship edges its way through the ice pack. A key site along the journey to the North Pole is Franz Josef Land with its volcanic mountains, glaciers and history. Franz Josef Land is an isolated archipelago located in the Arctic Ocean, Kara Sea and Barents Sea. Despite a tumultuous past with varying claims of ownership emerging from Norway and Russia, the area is now a nature sanctuary and part of the Russian Arctic National Park. Orcas, humpback whales, walruses and varieties of seals are all sights that are usually seen when cruising through the archipelago.
While still offering the same level of excitement and exposure to the wild side of the world, the South Pole is a different adventure for travellers. Cruises depart from Southern Hemisphere locations such as South Africa, Tasmania and Argentina; offering travellers a number of departure locations. Visiting in December allows travellers to see Antarctica during its summer months providing clear skies and slightly warmer temperatures. A highlight of the Antarctic lies on the west of the peninsula Antarctica in the appropriately named area of Paradise Bay. The site is home to enormous icebergs and pristine water that reflects the colours of the glaciers around it. Paradise Bay is also one of the best regions to see the wildlife as guests are able to disembark and explore the landscape.