Icebreaker Cruises & Luxury Expeditions

Explore the polar regions' furthest, most extreme reaches, inaccessible to regular ships, on a luxury icebreaker cruise.

Introducing Icebreaker Cruises

Icebreaker cruises offer a thrilling opportunity to explore some of the planet's most remote, ice-covered regions that would otherwise be inaccessible by a regular expedition ship.

These intrepid voyages aboard specially designed icebreaking ships explore awe-inspiring destinations from the ice-covered North Pole to Antarctica, the Northwest Passage, Arctic Canada and East Greenland. Icebreaker cruises are suited to those looking to witness extraordinary places that few have ever seen that were inaccessible only a short time ago. 

Modern Icebreaker cruises offer unrivalled levels of comfort that you would expect on a luxury cruise ship, with well-appointed cabins, gourmet food and onboard luxuries such as hot pools and spas. Icebreaker cruise ships are also some of the most sustainable ships on the planet, using hybrid technology to reduce environmental impact.

Best Icebreaker Cruises

Prins Christian Sund Greenland Ponant
Explorers Club
Reykjavík, Iceland - Nome Alaska
12/08/2024 to the 05/09/2024
24 Nights

Price from per person

£37,130
ITTOQQORTOORMIIT INUIT PONANT
No Single Supplement
Reykjavík, Iceland - Reykjavík
16/05/2024 to the 28/05/2024
12 Nights

Price from per person

£16,040
polar bear on an icebreaker cruise
No Single Supplement
Reykjavík, Iceland - Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen
21/06/2025 to the 07/07/2025
16 Nights

Price from per person

£24,420
Le Commandent Charcot in Ittoqqortoormiit
New for 2025
No Single Supplement
Reykjavík, Iceland - Nuuk
21/03/2025 to the 05/04/2025
15 Nights

Price from per person

£18,500
Emperor Penguin in the Weddell Sea
No Single Supplement
Ushuaia to Ushuaia
Nov 11 - Nov 24 2025
12 Nights

Price from per person

£19,050
North East Greenlands Unexplored Sea Ice PONANT
No Single Supplement
Reykjavík, Iceland - Reykjavík
11/06/2024 to the 25/06/2024
14 Nights

Price from per person

£18,710

Highlights Of An Icebreaker Cruise

Why Visit?

1

Access Inaccessible Polar Regions

Icebreaking ships are built to navigate thick sea ice, allowing access to inaccessible areas. You can get closer to polar landscapes, wildlife, and unique geological features that are otherwise unreachable by a conventional ship.

2

Explore The Unexplored

Some destinations, such as the North Pole, are only accessible by an icebreaker. Other destinations, such as East Greenland, are only accessible by icebreaker at certain times of the year, for example, during the spring, allowing you to explore at a time that was previously impossible.

3

Wildlife Encounters

Icebreaker cruises offer excellent opportunities for wildlife sightings. The polar regions are teeming with unique wildlife. Witness polar bears on the frozen sea ice on our North Pole and East Greenland Icebreaker cruises. In Antarctica, expect to encounter abundant penguin species, whales, orcas and elephant seals. 

4

Unparalleled Exploration With Expert Guides

Icebreaker cruises provide unparalleled adventure for those seeking to push the boundaries of exploration. Led by expert guides, icebreaker cruises take you to places where few have ventured, offering a sense of pioneering discovery. Only a few people can say they have visited the North Pole or crossed the frozen Arctic Ocean on an icebreaker cruise. 

5

Educational Discovery

A part of any icebreaker cruise is to learn about the unique environment you are exploring. Expert naturalists and scientists are part of the expedition team accompanying icebreaker cruises. They provide informative onboard lectures and shore landings to enhance your understanding of these unique ecosystems.

6

Luxury Icebreaker Experience

Gone are the days when exploring by icebreaker meant travelling on a working ship. Today, luxury icebreakers offer outstanding levels of comfort, plush cabins, and fine dining, with the benefit of exploring on a go-anywhere icebreaker.

What To See On An Icebreaker Cruise

Epic Ice

The ice-covered seascapes of polar regions are nothing short of breathtaking. Icebreaker cruises provide front-row seats to witness towering icebergs, massive glaciers, and serene ice-covered oceans. Watch in awe as the mighty bow of the icebreaker pushes through the sea ice on a journey into the undiscovered.

Polar bears on a Svalbard icebreaker cruise

Polar Animals

The polar regions are home to an abundance of diverse wildlife. Choose an Arctic icebreaker cruise to see Polar Bears, Walruses, Beluga Whales and Narwhals. Choose an Antarctica icebreaker cruise to see five penguin species, including the largest, the Emperor penguin, elephant seals and albatrosses.

exploring captivating scenery on an Antarctica icebreaker cruise on Le Commandant Charcot

Captivating Scenery

Experience exhilarating, seldom-seen polar wilderness from the snow-capped mountains and the steep-sided fjord of Greenland to the never-ending glaciers, frozen peaks and sea ice of Antarctica.

Dog Sledding in Greenland on an icebreaker cruise

Inuit Traditions

Exploring East Greenland on an icebreaker cruise, you will encounter Inuit traditions as you venture into otherwise inaccessible places shrouded by sea ice. Participate in local activities such as dog sledding and ice fishing.

Getting To Your Icebreaker Cruise

Icebreaker cruises depart from various ports that are easily accessible by air.

North Pole icebreaker cruises depart from Longyearbyen in Svalbard with flights from Paris, which is well connected to the rest of Europe and the world.

Trans-Arctic and Northwest Passage icebreaker cruises arrive or depart from Nome in Alaska with flights included to Seattle in the USA for onward connections.

Greenland Icebreaker cruises depart from Reykjavik in Iceland, with significant international connections to Europe and the USA.

Canada Icebreaker cruises in the winter depart from Quebec, which has regular flights to Canada, the USA and Europe.

Antarctica Icebreaker cruises depart from Ushuaia in Argentina and Lyttelton in New Zealand.

When To Go On An Icebreaker Cruise

Icebreaker cruises take place all year round, and the best time to go depends on the destination and itinerary that suits your preferences.

Greenland icebreaker cruises occur early in the season, during April and May, when the sea ice locks the coast of East Greenland, offering excellent opportunities for winter activities such as dog sledging and polar treks.

North Pole Icebreaker cruises occur between July and September when the sea ice is most accessible, the temperatures are mildest, and the wildlife is most active.

Canada icebreaker cruises take place during the height of the winter months in January and February when the St Lawrence River is at its most frozen.

Antarctica icebreaker cruises occur during the southern summer months between November and February, when the wildlife is most active.

Types of Icebreaker Cruises

Luxury Icebreaker Cruises

A luxury icebreaker cruise offers a chance to explore the furthest reaches of the polar regions in the utmost levels of comfort.

Nuclear Icebreaker Cruises

Reach the geographic North Pole on a working nuclear powered icebreaker for an authentic expedition experience.

No Single Supplement Icebreaker Cruises

Are you a solo traveller looking to join an icebreaker cruise? Check out our latest voyages with no single supplement here.

Places To Explore on An Icebreaker Cruise

North Pole

Reach the most northerly point on Earth on an icebreaker cruise to the North Pole.

Greenland

Explore the vast sea ice of East Greenland and encounter Inuit traditions or encounter Disko Bay with its immense icebergs.

Antarctica

Explore the sea ice of the Weddell Sea at a time when it is impenetrable to other ships on an Antarctica icebreaker cruise.

The Northwest Passage

Transit the most northerly route of the fabled sea passage on a Northwest Passage icebreaker cruise.

Canada

Explore the majestic frozen St Lawrence River in the heart of the winter when it is off-limit to regular ships.
Trans Arctic Icebreaker cruise to the North Pole

Trans-Arctic

Cross the top of the frozen world via the North Pole on a Trans-Arctic icebreaker cruise from Svalbard to Nome in Alaska.

Svalbard

Join an icebreaker cruise to explore Svalbard from East Greenland early in the season through the never-ending sea ice.

Icebreaker Cruise Ships

Le Commandant Charcot

245 Guests Guests
PC2 Icebreaker
150 Meters
Le Commandant Charcot is a groundbreaking icebreaker notable for its cutting-edge technology, exceptional design, and luxurious onboard experience. As the first hybrid electric and LNG-powered icebreaker, it offers the most environmentally friendly way of reaching the North Pole.

50 Years of Victory

160 Guests Guests
Icebreaker
160 Meters
50 Years of Victory is one of the most formidable icebreakers in the world, designed to navigate through the thickest Arctic ice. Used as a working ship during the winter months to keep sea lanes open, during the summer months, it offers guests a unique experience to journey to the North Pole on an authentic nuclear-powered ship.

Plan Your Icebreaker Cruise

Choose the destination you wish to explore. We offer groundbreaking (or icebreaking!)  voyages to explore The North Pole, Antarctica, Greenland, the Northwest Passage, or Canada.

We recommend booking well in advance. Icebreaker cruises are in significant demand with a limited amount of cabins available every year.

Contact our friendly Travel Experience Team to get the best advice on cabins and itineraries and ask any questions you may have. 

Please make your reservation with our friendly Travel Experience Team. All bookings made through North Pole Cruises receive 100% financial protection, and we include supplier failure insurance at no charge to you for extra peace of mind.

Before your expedition, we will send you lots of helpful advice about planning your voyage, including the best travel insurance, places to stay before and after your journey, advice on travel requirements and a packing list.

Enjoy your once-in-a-lifetime expedition.

Frequently Asked Questions

Take an Icebreaker cruise to reach the furthest point north on the planet and stand on the sea ice at 90° North as few have done before. Highlights of an icebreaker cruise to the North Pole include unprecedented polar wilderness, an excellent opportunity to see wildlife, including polar bears, and 24-hour daylight on a journey like no other.

New itineraries offer the chance to visit the North Pole, Svalbard and Scoresby Sund in East Greenland, home to the remote community of Ittoqqortoormiit and awe-inspiring landscapes. Or a chance to cross the entire Arctic and visit both the geographic and magnetic North Pole from Nome in Alaska to Svalbard. 

  • An icebreaker is the only way to reach the North Pole by sea due to the thick sea ice that surrounds it all year.
  • Reaching the North Pole by icebreaker is only possible during the Arctic summer.
  • New itineraries include Scoresby Sund in East Greenland or crossing the Arctic Ocean from Nome in Alaska to Iceland. 

Encounter the less explored parts of Antarctica on an icebreaker cruise that journies deep into the previously unexplored pack ice of the Weddell Sea early in the season. Follow in the footsteps of explorer Ernest Shackleton and encounter the vast expanse of pack ice. This genuine one-of-a-kind expedition aims to find Emperor Penguins that live deep inside the ice flows. 

Other Antarctica icebreaker cruises offer the option to explore from South America to New Zealand on an epic expedition through the seldom-visited Ross Sea.

  • An icebreaker cruise to Antarctica allows unique access to the pack ice of the Weddell Sea in a rare early-season expedition in search of Emperor penguins.
  • Antarctica icebreaker cruises make it possible to reach seldom-explored extreme southerly latitudes that regular expedition ships can’t get to.
  • Voyages occur during Antarctica’s spring and summer months from November until February.

The cost of an icebreaker cruise can vary depending on several factors, including the cruise destination, the duration of the expedition, the cabin type, the level of luxury and amenities offered, and the cruise operator. Prices in 2024 start from £14,570  ($17,800, €16,700) for a ten-night Icebreaker cruise to East Greenland. 

Generally, icebreaker cruises are among the most expensive due to their unique nature and the specialised equipment required for polar exploration.

In 2024, North Pole Icebreaker cruises start at £36,390 per person price for a stateroom and rise to £81,170 for a deluxe suite aboard the luxury icebreaker Le Commandant Charcot, which offers an outstanding 5-star experience. Expeditions to the North Pole are at the higher end of the price spectrum due to their extreme remoteness, the limited number of places per year, and the need for icebreaking capabilities.

Antarctica Icebreaker cruises start at £19,120 per person for a stateroom and rise to £41,930 for a deluxe suite on a 14-night sailing in 2024 from Ushuaia to Antarctica and back onboard the luxury icebreaker Le Commandant Charcot.

For more intrepid explorers looking for a 28-night expedition from Ushuaia to New Zealand via the Ross Sea on a remarkable adventure, the price per person starts at £37,340 for a stateroom. It rises to £84,290 for a deluxe suite. 

For a 24-night Icebreaker cruise to traverse the entire Northwest Passage from Reykjavik to Nome in Alaska, prices start at £34,210 per person for a stateroom and rise to £129,800 per person for an owner’s suite.

If you want to explore the magical sea ice of East Greenland on an icebreaker cruise, prices in 2024 start at £13,360 per person for a stateroom and £52,950 for the owner’s suits.

An advantage of booking with us at North Pole Cruises is that we will research and compare itineraries for you, ensure the best price from the operator at the time of booking and carefully review the inclusions for you.

Booking well in advance is advisable, as icebreaker cruises often have limited availability and can fill up quickly.

Icebreaker cruises, like other forms of polar travel, can be environmentally responsible, and here at North Pole Cruises, we strive to work with partners that are deeply committed to offering sustainable experiences with sound environmental practices, new sustainable technology implemented into shops that reduce the overall impact of the expedition on the fragile polar ecosystems. 

Here are some considerations:

Eco-Friendly Ship Technology

We work with icebreaker cruise partners who have invested in eco-friendly ship technologies to reduce their environmental impact. For example, newer icebreakers like Charcot have hybrid propulsion systems that produce fewer emissions and consume less fuel. These innovations contribute to a more environmentally responsible operation.

Environmental Regulations

Icebreaker cruises in polar regions are subject to strict environmental regulations to protect fragile ecosystems. Our partners adhere to these regulations and take measures to minimize their impact, such as properly disposing of waste and avoiding disturbing wildlife.

Educational and Conservation Efforts

A part of an icebreaker cruise is to learn about conservation efforts. Our cruises have onboard naturalists and scientists who provide information about the polar environment, wildlife, and climate change. Guests are encouraged to develop a greater understanding of and appreciation for these regions.

Limited Access

Icebreaker cruises typically visit remote and less-visited areas of the polar regions. By doing so, they minimise the impact on more heavily travelled locations, reducing the overall environmental footprint of their voyages.

Responsible Tourism Practices

Responsible tourism practices, including maintaining a safe distance from wildlife, respecting cultural and indigenous communities, and using eco-friendly expedition gear, are emphasised by our cruise operators to ensure minimal environmental disruption.

Conservation Contributions

Our partners contribute to conservation efforts in the regions they visit. This may include supporting local conservation projects, funding research initiatives, or contributing to organisations dedicated to polar preservation.

Carbon Offsetting

Our cruise operators offer guests the option to offset their carbon emissions from the trip by investing in carbon offset programs, which can help mitigate the environmental impact of the journey.

Our cruise operators are committed to environmentally responsible practices. Guests interested in an ecologically responsible icebreaker cruise will have peace of mind we only work with operators with strong environmental policies and a track record of sustainable practices.

Ultimately, the responsibility for environmentally responsible travel in polar regions also rests with passengers. Guests should follow guidelines provided by the expedition team, respect wildlife and ecosystems, and be mindful of their environmental impact during the expedition.

 

Explore the fabled Northwest Passage, the famous sea route sought by explorers for centuries that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through the remote Canadian Arctic. Follow in the footsteps of Norwegian polar explorer Amundsen, who first completed the passage in 1906 on an Icebreaker cruise of a lifetime. 

An icebreaker cruise through the Northwest Passage offers a chance to encounter the stunning wilderness of Arctic Canada, visit remote Inuit settlements and encounter unique Arctic wildlife. 

  • An icebreaker cruise gives you a greater chance of navigating the Northwest Passage.
  • Voyages that transit the entire Northwest Passage occur during the later summer months. 
  • Icebreaker ships allow you to visit regular expedition cruise ships that can’t reach, such as the most Northerly route, often blocked by thick sea ice.

Explore the mystical ice-locked coast of East Greenland early in the season. Previously inaccessible, icebreaker cruises now allow intrepid explorers to encounter East Greenland’s sea ice, once only seen by Inuit hunters on dog sledges. 

Voyages sail from Iceland into the pack ice off the coast of East Greenland during the springtime when the ice is most abundant. It’s a unique and captivating chance to visit remote settlements cut off from the sea ice to the outside world for most of the year.

  • An icebreaker is the only way to reach Scoresby Sund and the remote settlement of Ittoqqortoormiit by ship during the springtime when vast ice floes lock the area. 
  • Enjoy Zodiac rides and kayaking in amongst the large rafts of sea ice.
  • A unique chance to meet the local hunters and dogsled in places seldom encountered by others. 

 

Icebreaker cruises are considered safe as they are undertaken on purpose-built icebreaking ships with highly experienced captains, crew, guides and logistical support. Icebreaker ships and their operations have to meet strict maritime regulations to ensure they deliver a safe experience for our guests.

Icebreaker cruises come with unique challenges due to the extreme environments in which they operate. Safety is a top priority for expedition operators in the polar regions, and they take extensive precautions to ensure the well-being of passengers and crew. It’s essential to understand that icebreaker cruises explore remote areas where getting assistance in a medical emergency can take much more time. It is good to be prepared for the conditions you may encounter. Here are some safety considerations:

Expert Crew

Icebreaker cruises are staffed by highly trained and experienced crews well-versed in polar navigation and safety procedures. These professionals are essential for safely navigating through icy waters.

Specialized Equipment

Icebreaker ships have reinforced hulls, icebreaking capabilities, powerful engines and advanced navigation systems designed to handle extreme conditions. These features enhance the safety of the vessel.

Safety Drills

Guests will participate in safety drills and briefings by the crew upon embarkation. These drills cover lifeboat procedures, emergency evacuation plans, and how to dress appropriately for polar conditions.

Weather and Ice Conditions

Polar regions are known for rapidly changing weather conditions and variable ice conditions. Cruise operators closely monitor weather forecasts and ice reports to make informed decisions about routing and activities.

Medical Facilities

Icebreaker ships are equipped with medical facilities and have medical personnel on board to address minor health concerns. However, in a severe medical emergency, evacuation to a more comprehensive medical facility may be necessary, which can be challenging due to the remote location. We advise all our clients to carry comprehensive medical insurance that covers emergency evacuation. 

Cold-Related Hazards

Exposure to extreme cold is a significant risk in polar regions. The expedition team onboard an icebreaker cruise will ensure the safety of all guests. Guests are advised to dress in appropriate clothing and follow guidelines for staying warm and avoiding frostbite or hypothermia.

Wildlife Safety

While wildlife encounters are a highlight of icebreaker cruises, it’s essential to maintain a safe distance from animals to prevent accidents and disturbances to the animals. The expedition team ensures all guests view wildlife safely and sustainably. 

Itinerary Flexibility

Icebreaker cruise itineraries are subject to change based on weather and ice conditions. Guests should be flexible and understand that adjustments may be necessary for safety reasons.

Travel Insurance

Adequate travel insurance is essential for all polar icebreaker cruises. Ensure your policy covers trip cancellations, medical emergencies, and evacuation from remote locations.

While icebreaker cruises are considered safe, it’s crucial to be well-prepared, in good physical health and prepared for polar travel. 

At North Pole Cruises, we only work with highly experienced operators with an outstanding safety track record and deliver a first-class experience for our guests on every expedition.

If you need any advice about the safety of Icebreaker Cruises, please contact our Travel Experience Team. 

While both icebreaker and regular expedition cruises offer adventurous experiences, there are key differences:

Navigational Capability

Icebreakers are specially designed to break through sea ice, allowing them to access ice-covered regions. Regular expedition ships may not have icebreaking capabilities and are limited to areas with less ice.

Remote Destinations

Icebreakers can take you to more remote and ice-choked areas like the North Pole, East Greenland or deep into the Weddell Sea in Antarctica, which regular expedition ships cannot reach.

Do you need help planning your expedition?

Our friendly and knowledgeable Travel Experience Team is ready to assist you.

North Pole Cruises – a brand by the Expedition Collective Limited

© 2024 The Expedition Collective

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