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At the tip and toe of the world lie two meccas for adventure seekers. The Arctic and Antarctica are extreme in the true sense of the word – remote wildernesses where the landscape astounds and the wildlife captivates. One is a continent surrounded by oceans, the other an ocean surrounded by continents, but both promise a cruise you’ll never forget.

So, how do you decide which of the poles is right for your holiday? Here are the highlights to help you.

Why an Arctic cruise?

Arctic wildlife

The Arctic earnt its name from the bear-shaped constellations overhead, but it’s also famously home to the polar bear. You can see this snow-white predator roaming the sea ice in the winter, but also spot it venturing inland during the summer along the coast of the Northwest Passage.

There are many more hardy animals to admire during your Arctic cruise, so keep your camera ready. Above water, you may see reindeer, the Arctic fox, lemming, muskox and the Arctic hair. Below the water you’ll find orca, narwhal and beluga whale. Meanwhile, seal and walrus move easily between the ice, land and sea.

Arctic landscapes

The Arctic encompasses the Arctic Ocean and its surrounding coastlines – including territories of Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Russia and the USA. So, you can expect a broad range of landscapes to enjoy during an Arctic cruise. Within the Ocean, ever-shifting sea ice and drifting ice bergs mean you’ll rarely follow the same course twice. On land, iridescent glaciers, towering mountains and sparkling fjords promise endless, dramatic photo opportunities.

At night, keep an eye on the sky. The land of the North Pole is one of the best places to witness the aurora borealis (northern lights). This natural light display dazzles with its shapeshifting waves of colour, and people flock to the world’s most northerly reaches to witness it.

Arctic people

Around four million people live within the Arctic Circle, including indigenous communities who have called this chilly region home for millennia. A cruise here is the perfect opportunity to visit these remote towns, meet their resilient inhabitants and learn about their ways of life. We can arrange shore excursions to everywhere from the tiny town of Longyearbyen, Svalbard, to charming Sisimiut, Greenland.

Why an Antarctica cruise?

Antarctic wildlife

The world’s coldest continent is home to a surprising array of wildlife; it’s one of the major draws of a cruise to Antarctica, with animals often easier to spot than in the Arctic. Almost every species of penguin under the sun is here, including gentoo, rockhopper, chinstrap, Adélie, king and emperor – all dependably delightful. Seal both great and small are in their element zipping through these freezing waters, while pretty sea birds soar overhead – including the albatross, with its record-setting wingspan. Antarctica is a renowned whale watching spot, too. Here you can see the humpback, orca, southern right, minke, fin, sperm, and even blue whale – the largest animal to have ever existed on Earth.

Antarctic landscapes

Despite its size and age-old rumours of its existence, Antarctica was only discovered in the 19th century by pioneering explorers. That reveals just how challenging expeditions to this southern region once were. Now, thanks to expedition-grade vessels helmed by seasoned navigators, you can experience this continent in relative safety and comfort. Most of Antarctica is covered in ice thousands of metres thick, so for stunning ice-scapes, there’s nowhere better. You can also see jutting ice-free peaks called nunatak and deep berg-filled bays. Camp at the South Pole, hike over glaciers, take Zodiac trips across the water and experience an environment that is even more dramatic up close.

Why cruise with A&K?

Whether you decide on Antarctica or the Arctic, there are many reasons to choose A&K for polar cruising, not least our decades of expedition experience. With us, you’ll be aboard a five-star expedition vessel such as Le Lyrial equipped with the most advanced technology. You’ll also benefit from travelling alongside an expert crew, including specialists in their field on hand to offer insights into the amazing environment in which you’ll be immersed.

Feeling inspired?

Ready to start planning your adventure? See our upcoming polar cruise dates, or speak to one of our dedicated polar cruising specialists today.

Still looking for inspiration?

We have a huge range of destinations, experiences and hotel options available.

Learn more about our luxury tailor-made holidays and unparalleled escorted tours to Antarctica & the Arctic

Interested in this destination?

Call us on 01242 386 477