The Polar Routes Blog

Our Routes

18 August 2022
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Arctic, Quark Expeditions, Svalbard, Uncategorised, Wildlife

Our Routes in… Svalbard with Senior Marketing Executive, Laura We are delighted to be launching the polar edition of a new and revealing Our Routes series dedicated to sharing travel experiences from our experts all over the polar regions. Our debut blog begins with a feature on Senior Marketing Executive, Laura Radford, who recently enjoyed a wonderfully wild trip to Svalbard and couldn’t wait to tell us all about it! YOUR MAIN DESTINATIONS?  Svalbard and Oslo. HOW DID YOU GET THERE?   Flew from London to Oslo and stayed overnight at an airport hotel. The next morning, I took a charter flight to Longyearbyen in the heart of Svalbard.  FIRST TIME OR REPEAT TRIP? First-time ever visiting Svalbard, the furthest north I had journeyed previously was Tromso in the Arctic Circle. FAVOURITE LOCATION?   This is really difficult to say as each place we sailed past/landed on the expedition cruise with Quark was unique. From polar…

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Top Five Activities On An Aurora Expeditions Cruise

4 August 2022
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Antarctica, Arctic, Aurora Expeditions

Ever wondered what activities and experiences might be on offer on an expedition cruise to the Antarctic? Whether it’s a taste of adventure on land, or on the water, when you cruise with Aurora Expeditions there’s a whole host of incredible experiences to get stuck into when you venture to the polar regions, such as the polar plunge, which, exactly as the name suggests, is not for the faint of heart!  Below we’ve chosen five of our personal favourites, which ones will you be trying? Snorkelling It may spring to mind as a holiday activity to enjoy in tropical waters, surrounded by colourful fish, but did you know it’s a popular experience in the polar regions as well? It’s a great way to get up close and personal with seals as they rest on ice floes, as well as an opportunity to see penguins swimming. But perhaps the most impressive thing about…

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Iceland Highlights

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Arctic, Iceland

The elemental forces that continue to shape this geothermal wonderland are a constant reminder of nature’s artistry and power. If you are lucky enough to have booked a trip to Iceland, then be sure to venture as far and wide as possible to enjoy the highlights we’ve put together here for your visit. Golden Circle Iceland’s most well-known tourist route takes its name after Gullfoss, aka the ‘golden waterfall’, and straddles the tectonic plates of North America and Europe on the North-Atlantic Ridge in Thingvellir National Park. Take the opportunity to channel your inner cowboy by saddling up on an Icelandic horse to take you across this vast landscape in style. Make sure to head over to the Strokkur Geyser which erupts up to 130ft every 5-10 minutes! Dettifoss Waterfall Accessible from the north side’s Route 862 and one of the main stops on the Diamond Circle Tour, Dettifoss in Vatnajokull National Park is Europe’s second most powerful waterfall. The 144ft crescendo ends with a colossal crash into Jokulsargljufur Canyon below, creating one of Iceland’s most spectacular and dramatic…

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The Amazing Science Behind Polar Colours

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Antarctica, Arctic

It’s not just the sheer magnitude of Antarctica and the Arctic Circle that commands a traveller’s attention. The planet’s polar regions are nature’s canvas for a colour scheme not seen anywhere else on earth!  Glaciology Optics Glacial ice is a very different beast from the cubes floating around in a summer cocktail. The eye-popping blues, turquoises and aquamarines owe their super cool looks to the ice density of glaciers which absorb every other colour of the spectrum, except blue. Crystalline structures compacted over aeons channel blue light in a different way to what human eyes normally interpret ice properties. When glacial ice initially freezes, it fills with air bubbles. As that ice is buried and compressed underneath younger ice on top, the older ice starts to take on a blue tinge. As the ice grows denser, the bubbles eventually reduce to tiny levels. Without the scattering effect of these air bubbles, light can penetrate…

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Svalbard With Silversea

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Arctic, Silversea, Svalbard

It’s been several years since I last travelled to the Arctic, mainly due to a certain pandemic which has stopped anyone travelling anywhere for the last couple of years! So, when a last-minute opportunity arose to join a select group of agents aboard the Silver Cloud for a 6-night expedition cruise around Svalbard, I jumped at it!  I would like to say the Arctic welcomed me back like an old friend, but it was actually the opposite! We landed in Longyearbyen in 40-knot winds, which were so strong they blew the aircraft door open! It felt a bit like the Arctic was angry with us for staying away so long! As we arrived at the port our expedition leader greeted us; “we normally like to do the Silversea bit first, and then the expedition. But today it’s going to be the expedition bit first, and then Silversea!” It transpired the wind was too strong…

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Arctic Safari On Wrangel Island

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Arctic, Wrangel Island

The overland safari is one of the best-known and most iconic travel experiences in the world today. Its popularity and fame are in part due to its conception around the art of photography itself; the wildlife encounter that must be shared. The safari sits as an experience for most bucket lists and is of course framed around the observation of the so-called Big Five animals of Africa. The lion, rhino, Cape buffalo, elephant and leopard. It’s a word that immediately conjures up very specific visual reference points, learned from glossy travel brochures, glorious high-definition nature documentaries and first-hand experiences. But the safari, as with everything in travel, has evolved as the appetite for discovery has widened. And in this blog, I take you to a very faraway place from the Big Five of Africa. A place that defines the phrase, ‘off-the-beaten-track, and one that is rarely seen at the dinner…

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Q&A With Quark Expeditions

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Q&A, Quark Expeditions

We sat down with Quark Expeditions‘ Business Development Manager to discover more about their brand new ship the Ultramarine and to learn what sets them apart from their competitors… What are the features of Ultramarine that set her apart from other expedition ships in the market? Ultramarine’s design embodies our 30+ years of expertise operating exclusively in the Polar regions. It’s our first purpose-built expedition vessel, designed to go beyond the familiar in polar exploration, to discover new places and immerse our guests in the best the polar regions have to offer. Carrying just 199 passengers, she’s equipped with two twin-engine helicopters, which means our guests have the opportunity to explore even further. 20 quick-launching zodiacs, deployed from the water-level zodiac hangar allow guests to get off the ship in half the time of other vessels, which means more time to the destination and faster deployment during opportunistic wildlife encounters. The ship offers the category’s…

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Five Reasons To Travel With Poseidon Expeditions

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Antarctica, Arctic, Poseidon Expeditions

With 22 years of leading Polar expedition cruising behind them, Poseidon are one of the finest operators we work with. We look at some of the reasons that set them apart from the rest and why you should consider them when planning your Antarctica adventure… Small Expedition Vessel It may be an obvious statement, but the vessel you choose to embark on an Antarctica cruise needs to be able to comfortably match the nautical challenges that the unforgiving continent presents. Constructing a vessel capable of facing the harsh climates of the world’s last wilderness is no easy feat but to do so without compromising on luxury comforts for passengers is an incredible accomplishment – and that is exactly what Poseidon’s M/V Sea Spirit offers. Truly one of the finest ships that sail the Antarctic waters, the Sea Spirit caters for only 114 guests, who can enjoy a smooth sailing experience whilst staying in spacious,…

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Top 5 Reasons To Visit Svalbard

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Arctic, Svalbard

If you haven’t been to the Polar regions, Svalbard is the perfect place to start, it offers everything from incredible wildlife, fascinating human history and some of the most spectacular glaciers and Arctic landscape on the planet. It is often known as Spitsbergen, the name of the archipelago’s largest and only permanently populated island, Svalbard is an archipelago that could easily be described as an Arctic fairy-tale of a destination. It’s a dramatic wilderness of glaciers and mountains, ice fields and barren tundra, extremities of light and dark, and is home to more polar bears than people, yet people it has – making this a destination in which you can truly experience life in the high Arctic. Polar bears Search for the mighty Polar Bear – also known as the King of the Arctic – There are now estimated to be around 3,000 bears in the area of Svalbard and Franz Josef land. Polar bears hunt on sea ice, and with over 100,000km of total coastline…

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Q&A With Alastair Newton

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Antarctica, Ponant, Q&A

Q&A with Ponant’s Expedition Leader and Director of National Geographic Partnership, Alastair Newton Alastair Newton brings years of polar exploration experience and expertise to his role as Ponant’s Expedition Leader and director of their partnership with the prestigious National Geographic. We wanted to find out more about Alastair’s extraordinary life exploring Antarctica… What is the role of an expedition leader and what do they do? An Expedition Leader is responsible for creating the remarkable and memorable experiences of the Expedition. It is a huge responsibility as it is these moments that the guests will treasure. These can include; adapting to a sudden opportunity, such as turning the ship around to watch whales bubble-net feeding in Alaska, helping the guests leave their preconceptions behind so they can experience new cultures openly, or changing the whole itinerary due to changing weather and creating a new program as we see what opportunities present…

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