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An ideal time to experience remote northern areas by cruise ship is during the summer when temperatures are comfortable, the scenery is surreal and polar regions are accessible. In particular, Norway is a trending destination for cruises, so many new ships and itineraries are being offered. Here are seven upcoming cruises to consider for those heading north.
Norway with Holland America's Newest Ship
Holland America's newest ship, the ms Koningsdam, debuts in April and will reposition to Amsterdam in May, 2016 for a series of seven-night voyages. Norwegian ports of call on the "Viking Sagas" itinerary include Flam, where cruisers can hop aboard the railway for majestic views of the countryside; Stavanger, home to cobblestone streets, fjord boating trips, and medieval monasteries; Kristiansand, the fifth largest city in Norway with a picturesque boardwalk; and the bustling metropolis of Oslo. Sailing dates include May, June and August, 2016.
READ MORE: Top Ten Reasons To Visit The Arctic With Quark
Adventure Canada's Arctic Explorer Itinerary
Journey into the land of the midnight sun beginning in Qausuittuq, a national park in Canada's northernmost territory. Guests will experience 24 hours of daylight before reaching Beechey Island, where remnants of the HMS Erebus, part of the famed Franklin expedition, were discovered.Other stops include Mittimatalik, an Arctic region that's home to the elusive narwhal, and Niginganiq (Isabella Bay), where cruisers will encounter the world's first Inuit maintained marine sanctuary. The ship then crosses the Davis Strait to Greenland and navigates the stunning Karrat Fjord on its way to a stop at the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Ilulissat Icefjord. The 198-passenger Ocean Endeavour sets sail from August 15 to 26, 2016.
Circumnavigation of Iceland with a New Company
Iceland Pro Cruises (the sister company from Iceland Pro Travel) first started operating in 2015, but the owners have more than 20 years of experience in Iceland tourism. Refurbished in 2012, the Ocean Diamond carries 224 guests and sails a nine-night "Iceland Circumnavigation" itinerary with nine ports of call - including an overnight in Akureyri - the island's second largest city.
Excursions (not included in the fare) range from glacier tours by snow cat, horseback riding (on Iceland's miniature horses) and golfing inside a volcano. Departure dates are available throughout the summer from Reykjavik at significantly lower rates than competitors.
Hurtigruten's Coastal Norway on a New Ship
The spanking new MS Spitsbergen debuts in May 2016 for 12-day Norwegian coastal voyages, and in lieu of the evening ports of call common on Hurtigruten cruises, the ship will spend a few more hours in ports during the day.
The 320-guest ship will feature modern creature comforts like fresh local food from Norway's Coastal Kitchen, a lounge, Jacuzzi, fitness center, bistro and arcade. The cruise ferry departs round-trip from Bergen to Kirkenes with the majority of stops within the Arctic Circle. Excursions range from educational trips about Viking history, action-packed ATV and hiking adventures and encounters with wildlife. Sailing dates are currently available between May 2016 and March 2017.
NCL's Baltic Capitals Cruise
One of NCL's newest ships, the Norwegian Getaway, will be sailing a 9-day, round-trip voyage from Copenhagen, Denmark between May and August 2017. The cruise overnights in St. Petersburg, Russia, but also includes Berlin (Warnemunde), Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; Helsinki, Finland; and Stockholm, Sweden. Onboard, passengers will find a quarter-mile outdoor promenade lined with restaurants and bars, an aqua park and sports complex, dinner theater and Broadway shows.
Viking Ocean Cruises to Scotland and Norway
Those who enjoy a low-key voyage with superb service and all-inclusive pricing will appreciate Viking's ocean cruises. The new Viking Sea embarks from London on a 15-day journey to Bergen, Norway and will first cross the North Sea for three stops in Scotland.
The cruise then heads to Norway for five additional ports with a journey through Norway's stunning Inside Passage. Excursions are included at every stop, and onboard amenities range from a Nordic spa and fitness center to an infinity pool and theater. A few staterooms are still available for the June 2016 cruise, or book in advance for sailing dates in June and July of 2017.
READ MORE: Extreme Canada: 11 Adventurous Reasons to Head North
Ponant's Cruise to the Other Side of Alaska
For cruisers who have experienced the routes of Southeast Alaska and want to try a different side of the "Last Frontier," Ponant's cruise from Nome is one for the books. This rare itinerary crosses the Bering Strait to Russia before returning to Alaska for explorations in Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea and the volcanic Aleutian Islands. The 11-day "Between Fire and Ice" voyage aboard Le Soleal embarks August 11, 2016 and ends in Seward.
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