A Svalbard cruise takes you to an Arctic archipelago north of Norway, only about 600 miles from the North Pole. It was most likely discovered by Viking or Russian explorers in the late 12th century, but was not settled until the early 1600s. Since 1925 it has been a territory of Norway, and today it is home to about 2,700 people, mostly Norwegians and Russians.
The landscape is sparse and rugged, much of it covered by glaciers and ice pack. A variety of wildlife can be seen during a tour of Svalbard, from the millions of birds that breed on the islands each year to reindeer, walruses, seals, belugas, minke whales, and polar bears.
The best time to plan a cruise to Svalbard is during the warmer summer months—but even in summer, temperatures only average around 40°F, so those traveling to the area should dress appropriately. The summers also bring several months of midnight sun, which is experienced between April 20 and August 23 each year.
Visitors to Svalbard can enjoy a number of activities, from hiking through the beautifully remote mountains to snowmobiling, and from dog-sledding to kayaking the Arctic waters. Those wanting to explore cultural artifacts can also visit the Svalbard Museum, the Svalbard (art) Gallery, or historic coalmines.