The White Sea is one of the most isolated areas of the world due to its location within the Arctic Circle. For much of the year, key cities are inaccessible from the water, because the sea remains frozen for more days throughout the year than not.
Gateway to the North Cape Plateau, Honningsvaag boasts infinite views over the vast expanse of the Arctic Ocean and is reportedly the world’s northern-most city. Neighbouring Hammerfest is also frequently and deservedly visited; this area was of particular significance during the Second World War when it fell into German hands due to its strategic location near to the Soviet Union. The north Norwegian town of Tromso is also a staple of these itineraries, not least because of how well it illustrates how modern architecture can sit comfortably alongside traditional and beautifully preserved old buildings. It is from here the majority of White Sea cruises start and finish.
During the winter months, the main attraction to Norway and the North Cape are the Northern Lights. This unrivalled natural phenomenon that occurs in the Arctic Circle is most visible during winter. For you best opportunity to experience this extraordinary once in a lifetime experience you really should take a cruise – getting you far away from any light pollution.
During the summer months when the cold has subsided, the White Sea region becomes home to much marine and birdlife and areas such as the Solovetsky also have their own microclimate enabling farming of vegetables and fruit. And it is during the summer that a White Sea cruise will enable you to enjoy this rarely experienced destination.
The 24 hours of sunlight experienced in the Arctic Circle during the summer months is not only a remarkable experience in its own right, but also has a highly practical benefit as well; you will not miss a moment of the tranquil beauty of this region.
Day 1 - Fly London to Tromso. Embark MS Caledonian Sky
Day 2-3 - The North Cape. Two days to explore the wilderness area known as Finnmark. See untouched islands, picturesque fjords and learn about the customs and culture of the local Sami people
Day 4 - At sea
Day 5 - Archangel. Learn about the city's fascinating wartime history
Day 6-8 - Solovetsky Islands. A UNESCO site of outstanding natural beauty, this archipelago is home to birdlife, beluga whales and also a fascinating monastery, cathedrals and botanical gardens
Day 9 - Dvina River Delta & Severodvinsk. See the Stalin era houses in this military ship-building town
Day 10 - At sea
Day 11 - Murmansk. Visit the National Museum to learn of the region's history
Day 12 - Cruising the North Cape. A chance to further explore the fjords and visit Syltefjord, home to a large number of bird species and the local havert seals
Day 13 - Fly Tromso to London
Day 1 – Bergen. Embarkation
Day 2 – Ålesund. Navigate through the skerries and islands to the town renowned for its beautiful Art Nouveau architecture, Ålesund. We recommend the excursion to Mount Aksla for a perfect winter panoramic view
Day 3 – Trondheim. Visit Norway’s first capital. The storehouses along the river built on wooden stilts are a colourful contrast to the pure white snow that covers the city during winter
Day 4 – Arctic Circle & Lofoten Islands. As you cross the Arctic Circle the hunt for the Arctic light begins. This occasion is marked with an Arctic Circle baptism on deck. You have the chance to learn more about the Aurora Borealis and to experience an authentic Lofotr Viking Feast
Day 5 – Tromsø. After a morning stop in Finnsnes, you continue to the Arctic capital Tromsø. Perhaps take part in a polar dog sledging excursion or a trip to Polaria. There is a chance of seeing the Northern Lights and you’ll gather on deck to search for this breathtaking phenomenon
Day 6 – Honningsvåg & the North Cape. Visit the nearest port to the North Cape and at the next port, Kjøllefjord join a snowmobile trip to Mehamn, where you might see the Northern Lights on a clear, starlit sky
Day 7 – Kirkenes. Just 10 kilometres from the Russian border, Kirkenes is home to the fantastic Snow Hotel and the base for several exciting excursions, including dog sledging and King Crab fishing. Depending on the weather conditions, take an ice-dip in the Arctic Ocean!
Day 8 – Hammerfest & Tromsø. Take part in a very special musical experience, the Arctic Catherdal Midnight Concert
Day 9 – Vesterålen & Lofoten Islands. Enjoy the stunning views of sheltered bays and glorious mountain landscapes. As a tribute to the fishing history in Lofoten, the chef shows how to fillet the catch of the day on deck
Day 10 – Seven Sisters. As you cross the Arctic Circle again you’ll sail past the famed peaks of the Seven Sisters
Day 11 – Trondheim & Kristiansund.
Day 12 – Bergen. Disembarkation
The only time to visit the White Sea is during the summer when the ice has thawed, as many of these ports of call are inaccessible by sea for over 200 days of the year.
You can sail on Northern Lights cruises from October to March but the best months are usually January and February as the skies are normally clear of cloud cover.
As you would expect, the temperatures are quite cool even at the height of the summer. For any Arctic cruise, layers and thermals are essential, as well as good quality sunglasses, and high factor sunblock. This destination is all about the scenery and very appealing to photographers – remember to come well equipped as you are unlikely to be able to get everything you need locally.