The Arctic Circle is a huge place, encompassing territories from multiple northern countries. Areas like Alaska, Greenland, Svalbard, Lapland, and others, ensure that you can plan your Arctic cruise without risking boredom.
Inspired by Northern Lights in Iceland, Cez and Agness of eTramping contributed some essential do’s and don’ts for your next Arctic trip. They’ve traveled the world far-and-wide – so heed their advice!
Do: Bring Binoculars
Camera zoom functions aren’t always reliable when you’re trying to get a good look at the wildlife. Binoculars are better suited for true explorers, in every respect. Imagine spotting a whale in a distance. Who wouldn’t want to get a better glance of these gentle giants?
Don’t: Disturb the Wildlife
In Antarctica, penguins curiously jump at the opportunity to observe you. The little tux-wearers are pretty sociable. The Arctic, however, is maybe not that friendly in terms of wildlife. Even if there were such friendly creatures, it’s still advised not to feed, handle, or otherwise mess with the animals. That goes for our aquatic friends as well.
Plus, keep in mind that many Arctic animals are protected by law, as they are endangered (or near-threatened). Walruses, polar bears, caribous, and many others joining in. Hey, that’s why you brought binoculars along. Observe and admire them from afar.
Do: Go Dog (or Deer) Sledding
While the wildlife is basically off-limits, animal lovers can still get their daily dose of fuzziness in the cold North. If you visit Greenland, for example, you won’t sit around on the Arctic cruise ship all the time. You’d be missing out on all the fun!
In any case, there are not many paved roads – wherever you decide to visit. As such, your only methods of transportation are going to be snowmobiles, or sledges. Most of the time it’ll be carried by dogs (Huskies, Samoyeds, and others).
Of course, if you visit the Lapland area in Finland, you have the opportunity to go reindeer sledding! In fact, you can do it in most Northern European countries. We mentioned Finland mostly because you can also visit Santa in Rovaniemi almost all year long.
Don’t: Touch Fossils or Relics
It’s not often that travelers just stumble upon fossils out of nowhere. Archaeologists usually pick the place clean wherever possible. In the unlikely event that happens, contact your Arctic cruise captain, you little “Indiana Jones”!
All jokes aside, what you should look out for are all the protected sites in the Arctic. And we’re not even talking about easily recognizable ones (like derelict whaling stations). In Svalbard, for example, you might come across piles of wood – remnants of very old mining stations that have collapsed.
Even if they don’t look like much, they’re still a part of the history of the place – and unfortunately many people don’t understand that. It’s not uncommon for unwary travelers to start bonfires from such relics.
Do: Enjoy the Different Cultures of the Arctic Circle
As we mentioned in the beginning, you could potentially take several Arctic cruises and still not experience everything the Far North has to offer. Russia probably has half of them, including such peoples as the Ainus or Yakuts.
As you move further to the West, you can encounter the Sami people – mostly in Northern Scandinavian countries, Finland, and Murmansk in Russia. Then, of course, you have the Inuit people of Greenland, northern Canada and Alaska. All in all, if you’re a “people’s’ person” and like to experience new cultures, any Arctic cruise you take can hold new surprises.
Don’t: Leave Trash Behind
We’re sure this is common sense for many people, but it still seems to be a problem nowadays. These lands are mostly untouched by human intervention. The natives live in relative harmony with their surroundings. At the very least, you can bring a roll of plastic trash bags along to collect any litter you would otherwise leave behind.
Do: Enjoy the Northern Lights
The Aurora Borealis is probably one of the most iconic symbols of the northern polar region. It’s worth having a venture to the far north at least once in a lifetime just to see this natural light show. Of course, that means you need to visit in the winter months.
There’s this effect called the midnight sun which would impede you from seeing the Lights. In essence, during the summer months (or April through August for Svalbard), the sun never sets. Conversely, the sun never rises during winter months. The perfect conditions to admire the Aurora in the Arctic!
Don’t: Forget to Bring Extra Layers
The bravest of travelers probably think they can withstand the sub-zero temperatures very easily. It’s just a little snowfall! Until you realize the chilling winds of the North (figuratively) cut to the bone. THEN you start thinking about how nice an extra wool shirt would feel.
But seriously, don’t try to act tough when facing Mother Nature herself. Pack those extra socks, thermal leggings and shirts – there are plenty of recommendations online. Some basic clothing tips we have:
- Don’t wear anything cotton – it gets wet really fast and stays that way; good luck trying to get it dry after that!
- Don’t get waterproof jackets for your outer layer – it should allow your body to breathe, lest you start sweating and all your extra layers will become useless.
- Get mittens instead of gloves – you probably know how hard it is to get wet gloves off your hands already. These are easier to slip on and off.
Do: Have Fun!
These have been just a few tips from a couple of travelers that have been on the road for the past few years. What could they possibly know?! Our last tip would just be to have fun – because if you aren’t, why are you even traveling?
- First timer’s guide to Tromso
- One week in Northern Norway
Have you ever been on an Arctic cruise before?
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