Designed to leave a lower impact on the environment, the Arctic cruises from Secret Atlas offer a more intimate way to explore the North Pole. Rose Dykins reports
Founded in 2019, expedition cruise line Secret Atlas has launched several “micro cruises” for just 12 guests to discover the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard.
Secret Atlas’s smaller ships offer a more eco-friendly alternative to larger ships visiting the polar regions in increasing numbers. The company’s intimate voyages are targeted at travellers seeking authentic adventure in the Arctic and Antarctica as part of a small group expedition.
Passengers travel on board ice-strengthened, purpose-built expedition vessels with greater manoeuvrability than larger cruise ships, which gives access to remote corners of unspoilt wilderness, and gets travellers closer to wildlife and fascinating historical locations.
In addition, there is space for all guests in the Zodiacs, meaning everyone can head ashore together (rather than waiting on board for their turn), maximising the time spent exploring the polar environment at an unhurried pace.
The micro cruises also offer the one of the best-in-industry ratios between guides and guests (1:6) so travellers receive high-quality service from the Secret Atlas team.
Among the new micro cruises is Natural Wonders of Svalbard, a ten-day expedition on board M/V Villa with departures from the Arctic town of Longyearbyen during May, June, July and August – timed to experience the natural phenomenon of 24-hour daylight.
The cruise is priced from £6,800 per person for full board in twin cabin with bunk beds (bathrooms are shared with one other cabin.)
Aside from being of the best places in the world to see polar bears, Svalbard is also home to walrus, whales, Arctic foxes, reindeer and an array of bird species, making it an attractive destination for wildlife enthusiasts, environmentalists and photographers.
During the micro cruise, Chase will share his skills and expertise with guests and support them in taking the best wildlife shots possible during their journey, with photography workshops and feedback sessions included in the price of the trip. The voyage is priced from £7,000 per person.
There is also the option to charter a private cruise with Secret Atlas. Groups and families of up to 12 people can board one of the company’s microvessels for a customised private motor yacht expedition to Svalbard that lasts between eight and 15 days.
Available between May and September, these private expeditions – led by an experienced team – can incorporate walrus haul-outs, wilderness hikes, calving glaciers capitivating scenery and rich wildlife. Prices for a private cruise with Secret Atlas are shared on application, and itineraries can be tailored to suit all fitness levels.
Included in the price of all Secret Atlas voyages is the knowledge and expertise shared by on-board expedition leaders who are passionate about the polar regions, as well as lectures on the areas visited; use of Zodiacs boats; full board accommodation in a twin cabin, dinner (with alcohol); and return transfers to Longyearbyen.