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.
For decades The White Sea was of huge strategic naval importance for Stalin’s Red Army and this region housed many of his Gulags. These islands are difficult to access on a normal holiday to the White Sea, so an adventure cruise will enable you to visit with relative ease.
During the summer months when the bitter cold has subsided, this 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 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
The only time to go 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.
As you would expect, the temperatures are quite cool even at the height of the summer, but with luck you will enjoy long hours of sunshine late into the night. 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.