Beautiful scene of the Spitzbergen Mountains in isfjord

Discovering the Arctic with Scenic Eclipse


Welcome to the Arctic, a land where enchanting animals rule, icebergs drift on emerald seas, and day and night blend into one.

Life at the top of the world is as magical as you’ve always dreamt. Polar bears, glaciers, whales and fjords, they’re all here, and our Discovery Team can help you experience them all.

Join us on board Scenic Eclipse and prepare for a journey into the unknown. Our discovery yacht features pioneering safety and navigation equipment to bring you closer to the wonders of the Arctic than ever before, and all in unparalleled six-star luxury and comfort.

Whether you’ve always wanted to witness arctic wildlife or experience the wild tundra of the polar regions, discovering the Arctic with Scenic Eclipse promises to be a journey like no other. To give you a taste for what awaits on our Arctic ocean cruises, we’ve put together this guide to some of the region’s choice highlights.

Geographical Landmarks

Nowhere on Earth has geography so breath-taking as the Arctic. Even without its incredible wildlife the region would be an enthralling place to travel, its glaciers, mountains, fjords and frozen seas providing an extraordinary backdrop for your journey. Here are a few highlights to look out for along the way.

Mountains and Peaks

Mountains in Iceland, aerial view with clouds
Greenland and the Svalbard archipelago are among the most mountainous regions in the Arctic Circle, with rugged landscapes of unfathomable splendour and scale. Spitsbergen, the largest island of Svalbard, is home to the region’s tallest mountain, Newtontoppen, which stands roughly 1,700 metres above sea level. Meanwhile, in Greenland, the colossal Mt. Gunnbjörn is affectionately known as the ‘Top of the Arctic’, owing to its 3,700-metre height. Majestic and inspiring, these Arctic ranges overlook lands of otherworldly beauty, their ancient foothills descending beneath enchanting fjords, vast glaciers and frozen seas.

Glaciers

Iceland Glacier

Glaciers have influenced the landscape and climate of the Arctic for millions of years, and their slow descent towards the sea continues to sculpt and change the very foundation of the land today. The Svalbard region is home to over 2,100 glaciers, with the largest stretching for mile after mile through the landscape. Indeed, Svalbard is home to one of the world’s largest glaciers, the cathedral-like ice cap of Austfonna, which covers an area of 8,450km2 on the island of Nordaustlandet. Greenland itself has some 200 glaciers, the largest of which is Jakobshavn, which has thickened considerably in recent years.

Islands

Island in Iceland
The Svalbard archipelago comprises hundreds of islands, some small in scale and others vast. The principal isles of this Arctic region are Spitsbergen, Nordaustlandet, Kong Karls Islands, Prins Karls Forland and Barentsøya, all of which are covered in ice for much of the year. Easily one of the most famous isles of Svalbard is Bjørnøya, or Bear Island, a protected nature reserve revered as one of the best places in the region to catch sight of polar bears. Indeed, on Bjørnøya and across the entire Svalbard region, these majestic creatures outnumber people – so there’s a chance of encountering one during your voyage.

Fjords and Lakes

From Bergen to Scoresby, glacial fjords and lakes pepper these Arctic lands, providing moments of supreme natural wonder. Formed by glaciers over hundreds of years, these deep waterways are among the most beautiful features of Norway, Greenland and Svalbard, their mirrorlike surfaces reflecting back the frozen landscape around them. The most beautiful fjords of Svalbard are found in inner Spitsbergen, where a diverse array of flora grows in the summer months. Elsewhere, Greenland’s vast Scoresby Sound remains the world’s largest glacial fjord, while Norway’s UNESCO-protected Geirangerfjord is considered one of the world’s most beautiful lakes.

Permafrost and Icebergs

Icebergs and permafrost, Iceland
Permafrost blankets every inch of Svalbard, creating a frozen wilderness as hostile as it is beautiful. So cold is the climate in this region of the Arctic that even during the summer months, only the top metre of ice thaws, meaning that these islands sustain little in the way of vegetation. The same is true of Greenland, where some areas of ice descend to a depth of a mile beneath the surface. Icebergs are a common sight around the archipelago and off the coast of Greenland, and their huge masses are a tremendous sight to behold from the seas. With Scenic Eclipse, you’ll have the chance to get close to these floating giants during guided zodiac and kayak trips, to witness first-hand their vast scale and kaleidoscope of colours.

Arctic Tundra

Autumnal Flora, Norway
Away from the frozen coast, the inland areas of Svalbard, Greenland and other areas within the Arctic are covered in tundra – wild, unkept heathlands which emerge during the Polar Summer. Arctic tundra supports a huge diversity of life, from Svalbard reindeer to rare bird species like the Arctic tern, snow goose and little auk, placing it among the most precious ecosystems on Earth. Svalbard itself has several major tundra regions, particularly along its coastal strandflat region, which is home to several species of wading birds.

Extraordinary Wildlife

Polar bears, narwhals, walruses – it’s incredible that a hostile region like the Arctic is home to such a rich and diverse array of life. Discover some of the extraordinary animals you can encounter below.

Polar Bear

The polar bear has come to symbolise the wild wonder of the Arctic. These majestic beasts are the largest land animals on Earth, and spend most of their lives wandering the sea ice in search of food, which often comes in the form of seals and young walrus. Greenland and Svalbard have the highest concentrations of polar bears in the Arctic Circle, with around 3,000 animals roaming through Svalbard alone. It’s possible to encounter polar bears all year round throughout Greenland and northern Norway, so there’s a chance you’ll see one during a Scenic Eclipse discovery experience.

Beluga

The beluga whale is an icon of Arctic waters, its distinctive white skin and bulbous forehead setting them apart from other whales in the region. Like many whales, belugas travel vast distances during their annual migration, but always return to the Arctic in the spring and summer months when the sea ice has retreated. Known to be exceptionally sociable, belugas travel in large pods and have been known to approach small boats and kayaks out of curiosity, making it likely that you’ll come across one on the seas.

Narwhal

One of the most unusual and enchanting marine mammals to call the Arctic home; narwhals are a whale species easily identifiable by their long, spiralling ivory tusk. These unusual animals can be found in high Arctic regions, where they negotiate the labyrinthine ice flows with the help of their unicorn-like tusks, which scientists have recently discovered contain thousands of nerve endings. Narwhals are notoriously elusive, but with their numbers improving in recent years, there’s every chance you might encounter one whilst kayaking through the waters of Svalbard and Greenland.

Walrus

After the polar bear, walruses are the animal that most people associate with the Arctic. These colossal landlubbers are recognised for their magnificent size and distinctive tusks, which sets them apart from their closest cousin, the seal. Walrus use their huge, sharp tusks for piercing the ice as well as fighting, while their bodies are covered in a thick layer of blubber which protects them in the frozen waters. Despite being hunted close to extinction in the 18th century, walruses are now a common sight on Svalbard and Greenland, and their huge size means they’re an unmissable feature of the landscape.

Svalbard Reindeer

Svalbard Reindeer
Svalbard reindeer are native to several islands on the archipelago, including Spitsbergen, where they have no natural predators. Thousands of reindeer roam these lands, from the tundra to the coast, and have even been known to enter Longyearbyen in search of food and shelter. Indeed, in Svalbard’s largest city, reindeer can often irritate drivers by wandering out in the road, and several locals have reported finding a small herd grazing in their gardens. These majestic creatures make for an enchanting wildlife encounter away from Svalbard’s hostile coastline.

Seals

Seals on iceberg
Seals are among the most numerous animals of the Arctic Circle, and they provide food for predators like polar bears, wolves and orca. Six types of seal live in the Arctic, and the most numerous species you’re likely to encounter are ringed seals, bearded seals and common harbour seals. Huge groups of seals can often be spotted lounging on frozen beaches and lowlands, and these congregations often attract larger predators, so always be on the lookout.

The Scenic Experience

Scenic Eclipse

Scenic invites you to the top of the world, where our world’s first discovery yacht can help you uncover the enchanting wildlife and spectacular natural wonders of the Arctic. Our Journey Designers have pieced together a handful of unforgettable itineraries in these frozen lands, where our expert Discovery Guides will be on hand to make sure you get the most from your visit to this majestic region.

Whether searching for polar bears via helicopter, kayaking through ice flows or dipping beneath the waves on board Scenic Neptune (our state-of-the-art discovery submarine), your Arctic experience will be all the richer and more immersive thanks to our pioneering discovery and excursion vessels. With our help, you can go beyond the horizon, where few others have travelled, and experience the wild wonders at the edge of the world.

Inspired to visit the Arctic? Our collection of Scenic Eclipse ocean cruises to the far north promise memories that will last a lifetime. Click here to view our full collection of Arctic ocean cruises or call our team today on 0808 250 8477.