Without doubt one of the most epic expeditions on earth, the North Pole cruise is a once in a lifetime adventure.

​​Little known fact: the first human to ever reach the North Pole was only in 1948 – after centuries of failed attempts via sled, ship, aircraft and even balloon.

Luckily, these days it's a little easier. You can take a voyage to the far reaches of the North by way of the formidable 50 Years of Victory – a nuclear-powered (and safe) ​ice-breaker vessel.

The 50 Years of Victory has enough power to plow through thick multiyear pack ice. Hear the ice cracking and crunching as you steadily sail north to your ultimate goal - 90°N.

​Not only this, you'll get plenty of shore landings on the islands leading to the North Pole. Once at ​the ​top of the world, you can explore a landscape that few people have ever seen. ​You can then expereince the North Pole like no other with a helicopter tour or hot air baloon ride. Have some champagne whilst looking down on the icy Arctic Ocean. 

This memorable expedition t​o the North Pole is ​simply one of the greatest cruises in the world. You'll be one of the lucky 250 people who visit this point on earth each year. Just imagine adding your name to the small number of other explorers who’ve stood defiant on the top of the world before you.

​To help you get the most out of your epic cruise, or to decide if this cruise is right for you, we have written a detailed guide below.

​North Pole Cruise: ​Map

North pole cruise map 2

​​​North Pole Cruise Itinerary

​Below is a typical itinerary to the North Pole. Please note that visiting certain islands is not guaranteed due to the changing weather and ice formations. When sailing to the North pole, you sail by the weather's law. 

DAY 1: Murmansk, Russia

DAY 2: ​Murmansk, Russia / Embark

DAY 3-6: ​Voyage to the North Pole

DAY 7: ​North Pole

DAY 8-10: ​Franz Josef Land

DAY 11-12: ​The Voyage South

DAY 13: Murmansk, Russia

​North Pole Cruise: Wildlife

Whilst the wildlife at North Pole is sparse, Frans Josef Land offers up a diverse array of species that will keep photographers and wildlife lovers very happy!

Most notable among these is the polar bear. Although not always spotted, there is a good chance of seeing these majestic creatures.

For people wanting a purely wildlife based cruise then we would suggest an itinerary such as Wrangel Island or the Svalbard cruises

​Types of Wildlife

​Polar Bear

North Pole cruise wildlife polar bear

​​Probably the animals most people want to see.

Huge and stoic, the polar bear is often seen around the Barents Sea area of Franz Josef Land.


North Pole cruise cruise wildlife walrus

​Walrus are great fun to watch. They are also far bigger than many people imagine with the large males weighing twice what a male polar bear would. 

Seen often on Heiss Island and other areas within the archipelago.

​Arctic Fox

North Pole cruise cruise wildlife fox

​​​Arctic foxes can be spotted pretty much anywhere within the Franz Josef Land archipelago. 

​The best place to spot them is near nesting bird colonies.


North Pole cruise cruise wildlife whales

​​​Due to the high number of marine creatures, the waters around the Franz Josef Land archipelago are now a marine reserve.

Expect to see minke, humpback and beluga whales. If you're lucky you'll see narwhal and orca.


North Pole cruise - wildlife - arctic tern

​​​The Franz Josef Land archipelago is known for its seabird populations.

You'll see fulmars, Arctic terns, little auks and many more species!


North Pole cruise - wildlife - seal

​Not including walrus, there are several species of seals found in the archipelago. These are the harp and bearded seal.

Of the two, the harp seal is far more common and you may be lucky enough to see a polar bear hunt one!

​​North Pole Cruise: Things To Do

​​Hot Air Baloon Ride

things to do on a North Pole cruise - hot air baloon

One of the greatest things you can do during your North Pole cruise is to take a hot air ballon trip!

This is a once in a lifetime experience that you won't forget. You'll get 15 minutes high above the North Pole looking down on the beautiful and icy landscape. 

This activity does come at an extra charge and there is only 50 spaces per visit - so please book early!


things to do on a north pole cruise - photography

The bleak landscape of the North Pole, mixed in with the dramatic landscape and wildlife of Frans Josef Land means that photographers won't be short on photo opportunities!

On top of this you'll get a dedicated photography workshop with one of your guides.

Your guides will also always be there to give you advise, show you the best shot and even help with the post-editing of your pictures. 

​​Wildlife Watching

things to do on a North Pole cruise - wildlife watching

The Franz Josef Land archipelago is a magical place for wildlife and one you won't want to miss. 

We suggest bringing a good pair of binoculars to get the best out of the trip. 

Expect to see polar bears, whales such as humpback and minke and Arctic foxes stalking the bird colonies. 

​​Helicopter Tour

things to do on a north pole cruise - helicopter

One of the best bits about the North Pole cruise is the option to take helicopter trips. 

Several of these trips are included in the price, but extra ones are also available. 

This is by far the best way to understand the incredible landscape around you and get to grips with the geography. 

North Pole Cruise Packing List

As you well know, the North Pole is not a warm environment. this means wearing the appropriate clothing.

If you live in a cold environment already then you'll probably have the right clothes.

For people coming from warmer climates, you may well need to purchase some key pieces of clothing mentioned below. 

​Items To Consider

Clothing: You'll need to consider items such as base layers, fleeces and shell jackets. A parka will be provided by your cruise operator. 

Footwear: The right footwear is very important as you'll be making wet landings and also walking on snow/ice frequently. 

Headgear: Keeping your head warm is paramount and you'll want certain headgear items such beanies. 

Gloves: Bringing good-quality gloves is a must. your hands will thank you! Special photography gloves may also be needed.

Bags and Daypacks: You'll have some gear with during your shore landings such as snacks and photography gear. So you'll want a good day pack. 

Important Accessories: From water bottles to ear plugs. There is a whole host of little accessories that will make your journey more enjoyable. 

​North Pole Cruise Highlights

B​ell Island

bell island

Bell Island offers up several fascinating historical sites such Benjamin Leigh-Smith’s expedition hut from 1881. The hut is in excellent condition and can visited by tourists. There is also an older Russian wood hut which may pre-date when the archipelago was discovered. 

​Cambridge Strait

Cambridge strait

Because seals gather in the Cambridge Strait, polar bear are frequently seen here. If you're very lucky, you'll witness a hunt. Although it's rare for a polar bear to catch a seal, just seeing the hunt is fascinating. 

​Northbrook Island

Northbrook island

Northbrook Island was a haven for Arctic explorers during the 19th and 20th centuries with over a 100 expeditions passing through. because of this, there are many remains here and crosses and memorial stones are scattered across the land. 

​​Hall Island

Hall island

Hall Island has a beautiful landscape and is common hiked when polar bears are not in the area. The island is a breeding ground for seabirds and the cliffs are teeming with species such as little auks and fulmars. 

​Champ Island

Champ island

Champ island is famous for two things. Firstly, it's beautiful tundra flowers that are in full bloom during the summer. Secondly, and far more mysteriously, the island is home to large, perfectly rounded stones. These stones are a mystery and can be up to 2m in diameter! 

​​Rudolf Island

rudolph island

This is a fascinating island as many Arctic explorers have passed through. It has wreaked havoc for many travellers and there are several shipwrecks around the island. An abandoned polar station also lies here. 

​Cruise Insurance

​In our article – Arctic Travel Insurance – we have provide all the information you need to find your perfect insurance policy. Alternatively, you can get a quote straight away with our rcommended specialist below. ​

North Pole Cruise ​FAQ

​How much does the cruise cost?

​​What is included?

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North Pole Cruise Video

Below is a short video by the Great Canadian Travel Group showing the wonders of a North Pole cruise!

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