Special-interest holidays worldwide
Arctic and Antarctic Holidays


Summer Arctic expedition cruises

Cruising through Hornsund
Zodiac and Whale - © Rinie van MeursPurple saxifragePolar bear swimmingLittle AukSvalbard Reindeer

From the early days when Island Holidays started to operate to Spitsbergen (Svalbard) there has been significant 'product development' in terms of the tour options available. At first it was Svalbard and Svalbard only - a wonderful destination in anyone's books which remains a firm favourite - especially for Polar Bear, Ivory Gull and Walrus. Here, just 800 miles south of the North Pole, the vibrancy of the Arctic summer can be seen to full effect.

Bird life in Svalbard is wonderful, both for the sheer numbers and for the species which you won't find further south such as Little Auk and Ivory Gull. We'll visit breeding colonies and look out for such tundra species as Grey Phalarope. To top it all there's the lovely Arctic flora. Due to the warming influence of the Gulf Stream temperatures are relatively high and there is an amazing variety: in addition to the typical tundra vegetation of mosses and lichens, there are also 250 species of fungi, 7 species of ferns and 164 flowering plants. We don't ignore the man-made aspects of the islands which have a fascinating heritage going back to the days of the whaling ships and the (misguided?) efforts to fly to the North Pole in a hot air balloon.

As you explore Spitsbergen, there will be daily shore excursions along with an excellent programme of lectures from the expedition staff which enhances the experience and adds a gentle educational angle to the holiday. There's also the opportunity of a totally new experience connected with some these voyages - kayaking. What better way to get really close to wild life and experience the majesty of the arctic scenery? It's really worth trying.

Then there's the scenery. Glaciers contrast with tundra, ice with water - and all in that singular light which the extreme north provides. With 24-hour daylight the only problem is when to get some sleep - nobody ever wants to miss anything! All in all, Spitsbergen is considered by many to be the jewel in the Arctic crown.

We work with Oceanwide Expeditions whose experienced guides and crews know just where to go to share with you the very best of this amazing part of the world, not yet ruined by global warming.

Click on the tour titles in the menu above right for detailed itineraries, maps and prices.