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Eco-Friendly Arctic Travel

The Arctic is very easy to get to via Scandinavia, Canada, Alaska or Greenland, and those holidays are becoming far more accessible to us all. Its polar bears, whale watching, glacier walks and magnificent scenery are just some of the incredible things you can experience there.

We recently told you about the fabulous luxury expedition cruises that are now taking adventurous passengers to the Arctic and Antarctic (as well as other fragile environments like the Galapagos Islands.) Many cruise operators take steps to limit their impact on these environments, but a new report focusing on the Arctic warns that more needs to be done, and that serious research is required to ensure measures taken are as effective as possible.

The report is the work of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) and Visit Svalbard (among others) so it reflects the industry’s commitment to conservation.

According to Cruise Industry News, “The report proposes a number of possible solutions to challenges connected with tourism. Some of the solutions proposed by researchers and stakeholders include the following:

  • Tools and policies to ensure sustainable management of visitors, which could include mapping sensitive areas, enhanced management of capacity thresholds, and a holistic consideration of the number of visitors as well as their distribution by category, season and activity.
  • Enhanced management of private sail boats and yachts.
  • Mandatory training and certification of all guides.
  • Using drones to map impact of tourism and traffic on vegetation.”

 

Responsible Cruises

We’ve seen how “overtourism” and large numbers of cruise ships are damaging waterways in places like Venice and its clear that ships visiting the Arctic and Antarctic must take major precautions to avoid doing similar damage.

ResponsibleTravel.com points out that bringing tourism to previously untouched areas can be a very good thing – especially when it generates income and creates jobs – and just needs to be well-managed to prevent doing any damage.

If you do go on an expedition cruise, the operator should have information available about the steps they take to protect the environments they sail to and through, and future plans to continue conservation efforts.

 

How To Go

Cruise Critic advises visiting the Arctic during the summer months, when temperatures are less extreme and the sun shines through the early hours of the morning and late evening – or even all night, if you pick the right dates. They also recommend focusing on one or two highlights, as there are so many options in the Arctic and you need to choose your specific destinations accordingly.

Packing appropriately is also important – Cruise Critic notes that this will depend largely on the cruise ship you choose. Remember to check whether heavy duty jackets and boots are available to use or hire.

 

Would you visit the Arctic circle to walk on a glacier, see the Northern Lights, or stay in an ice hotel? Remember to list all those details when you purchase your travel insurance to make sure you have the appropriate activity cover!