Reaching the North Pole

Image courtesy of Poseidon Expeditions

Exclusive and legendary, the geographic North Pole, 90° north latitude, sits atop the Arctic Ocean and is covered with a spider web of pressure ridges and drift ice, as much as 10-feet thick in some spots. The destination is remote and the journey is demanding, but for a few hundred intrepid and fortunate adventurers each summer, the top of the world is attainable.

At the start of each summer, when the light starts to linger and the temperatures creep up slightly, a single nuclear-powered icebreaker by the name of 50 Years of Victory is readied for the journey to Earth’s apex.

Powered by two nuclear reactors generating 75,000 horsepower, this working ship can crush a path through sea ice up to 10 feet thick. Yet it is one that is also surprisingly comfortable and accommodating in such a harsh environment. While onboard, passengers can relax with fellow guests and expedition staff in the lounge, hit the gym, immerse themselves in rich history in the Polar library, and take the unique opportunity to tour the engine room on 50 Years of Victory.

Passengers board in Murmansk, Russia, and 50 Years of Victory navigates north through the Barents Sea, where walruses, bowhead whales, and polar bears are increasingly prevalent. With 24-hour daylight, shimmering ice is a constant occupant of the vast horizon and is sometimes accompanied by fogbows—the stunning silver cousin of the rainbow.

Undying daylight also offers opportunities for another rare experience—helicopter flightseeing. This elevated perspective provides astounding views of the incredible ship and the vast polar backdrop, rich with the icy pinks and blues of the sky.

Finally, after three days at sea and in the ice, it is time to experience the long-anticipated moment of standing at the top of the world.

Passengers from across the globe gather at our planet’s northern-most point, about 700 miles from the nearest land mass. Here, they walk hand-in-hand around the world during an International Round Dance. The day-long celebration continues with a festive barbeque on the ice. More-daring guests are also invited to take an exhilarating and memorable polar plunge into the chilling Arctic Ocean.

Poseidon Expeditions leader Jan Bryde, who has traveled to the North Pole 32 times, says reaching the top of the world is the highlight of his career—each and every time.

‘I go back because it’s the most remote, starkly beautiful place on our planet,’ Bryde said.

‘I love seeing the magical ’90.00.000°’ suddenly register on the bridge’s GPS and sharing this unique polar environment with our guests.’

Leaving the North Pole festivities does not mean the adventure is over, however. The way back south is highlighted by an exploration of the rarely visited Franz Josef Land Archipelago. Poseidon Expeditions is one of only two polar cruise operators currently offering tours in this mysterious and remarkable group of 191 unpopulated islands, which, until recent decades, were almost completely off-limits to foreign travelers.

Nimble, inflatable Zodiac landing craft are quickly deployed here, allowing for exploration of these islands, some of which were the base camps for North Pole expeditions during the Heroic Era of Arctic exploration in the late 19th– and early 20th-centuries.

Now a nature sanctuary, the stunning archipelago is home to polar bears and other quintessential High Arctic wildlife: Arctic foxes, walruses, several rare whale species, and colonies of migratory seabirds such as guillemots, dovekies, and ivory gulls.

Franz Josef Land is also home to fascinating geological features, such as the mysterious stone spheres on Champ Island. Collectors of geographical extremes distinguish Cape Fligely on Rudolf Island as the northernmost point of land in the Eastern Hemisphere.

From the extraordinary journey and the unparalleled access to the Arctic wilderness, to setting eyes on some of the planet’s rarest and most precious creatures, an icebreaker cruise to the North Pole is full of exceptional and enduring moments. Reaching the North Pole is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that few others will ever have the opportunity to experience!

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