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The Arctic summer coincides with the European one. Although the temperatures even during this season are quite low here, the sea is open for navigation. The cruises to the Arctic start in April, when the polar night slowly transforms into the polar day. The end of the cruise season comes in September when the polar night once again overtakes its reign.
During the summer solstice (approximately 21st of June) the sun shines high in the sky on the North Pole, at the point of 23.5 ° over the horizon. This is the zenith of the polar day. From this date to the day of the equinox in September the sun slowly moves towards the horizon, before completely setting down and leaving the North Pole in absolute darkness. But in June the sun still shares its' warmth with this distant part of the Earth, so usually it's quiet warm here.
By July and August in most regions of the Arctic the surface completely frees itself from the snow and absorbs up to 80% of solar energy. Inland areas of Greenland, as well as in the spring, enjoy plenty of sunny days and receive the largest amount of solar energy, compared to other Arctic regions. The average temperature in July (the warmest summer month) in the Arctic basin varies from 0 to 1 °C near the coast up to 6-10 °C in continental areas.
In September and October the days rapidly grow shorter, and in the northern parts of our planet the sun already has completely disappeared from the horizon. The air temperature drops. The sea starts covering with ice. Fresh snow falls on the ice and reflects the largest amount of still penetrating sunlight. In November, in most of the Arctic winter is already in full sway, and a small amount of solar energy which is received in the edges of the region comes almost unnoticed.
Our recommendation is to bring “arctic quality” clothes that will fit into a layered clothing scheme. For example, packing “arctic quality”, light-weight long-sleeve t-shirts, turtlenecks, and a water-proof shell is better than packing five big, cotton sweaters and two huge “winter-down” coats. Three to five pairs of active-wear pants, and then a pair of waterproof pants such as ski or snowboard pants, which is designed to respond to temperatures variations, is much better than seven pairs of jeans. Keep in mind that you may experience anything from t-shirt weather to artic, sub-zero snow-squalls (if you are lucky), so, each day’s temperature might change quickly without any time for you to change your clothes – layers are essential. Of course, your dinner clothes are your decision. Please read the following article designed to give you an understanding of how to dress. The tips and Packing List, below, will act as a guide in the packing process.
Why being layered is so important? Temperatures may be warmer in the day than you expect, which will cause you to sweat. Your sweat will make for a cold feeling and once you get wet, your body will lose its natural temperature at a higher rate than before. If you are dressed appropriately, you can remove a light-weight layer and carry it with you. Second, your body works hard due the climate. The cold weather, snow, and natural adjustment of your body require a significant output of physical energy other than just walking. You will want to be able to take off and put on layers as needed. It can’t be stated enough here; layers are the key to comfort in a Polar climate.
Being waterproof is also essential. Although summer temperatures are generally mild, you should expect wind, clouds, and precipitation. It is also possible that water will spray up on passengers during Zodiac cruising. We can say with certainty that if your clothes are not waterproof on the outer layer, you will get cold. In this regard, we recommend being mindful of having waterproof shoes as well. Trust us, having a water-proofed outer layer can make or break your travel experience.
Beware of tight clothing that doesn’t let your body “breathe”. Part of being insulated is a system of letting the natural warm air of your body counteract the cold air you encounter. If your clothes are too tight, and don’t allow for insulation, you can get cold easily. Also, remember that cotton isn’t really an insulator. So, we recommend more modern artic designed clothing.
Finally, remember the “wind-chill factor” and plan accordingly. A stiff wind on a polar plain can sweep away any generated body heat in a second, and it’s important that your clothes are windproof. A good, warm wind-proofed shell will keep your chill to a minimum, so make sure any shell you bring is insulated, water- and windproof.
The following tips will help you be comfortable in cold weather
You should look for a lightweight, wind and weather-resistant shell with insulation. Bright colors are more visible, and safer in polar environments. Traditionally, Polar travelers wear red.
Ski pants are suitable if you have them. Otherwise, bring any sturdy trousers that can be layered between your long underwear and rain over-trousers
А pair of water-resistant “rain-pants” made of coated nylon are essential. These are worn like shell for your legs. Look for Gore-Tex and other synthetic fabrics that are waterproof and “breathable”. These materials keep out wind and water without trapping excess heat. This is probably the most important clothing you can pack for a trip.
You should select medium to thick thermal underwear; long sleeve thermal top, trousers and socks. Most people prefer a ightweight version – but this depends on your personal thermostat. Polypropylene fibres are warmer when damp or wet, than silk or wool, although the CSIRO has recently developed a fine wool product called Sportwool.
Wool sweaters or a polar fleece jacket of medium weight are recommended.
Bring several practical turtlenecks or t-shirts for layering and use around the ship.
Keeping your hands warm and dry is an important challenge. Thin polypropylene gloves should be worn underneath warm mittens so you can take off your mittens to operate your camera and maintain some level of protection against the cold. These should be loose enough to permit good blood circulation. It’s a good idea to bring an extra pair of wool mittens to wear if your other pair gets wet or lost.f
A warm cap to protect your ears.
A warm scarf can help you to protect your neck
Sturdy, tall wool (or other thick material) socks should be worn over a thin pair of silk, polypropylene or cotton/wool socks which provide enough insulation for your feet. Bring several pairs of outer socks, as your feet will inevitably get wet.
They will keep your feet warmer when sitting in the Zodiac for long periods.
A pair of pull-on rubber, unlined and completely waterproof boots that are mid calf or higher (12-16", 31-41 cm high) with a strong, ridged non-skid sole is essential for landings. You may have to step from the Zodiac into icy water up to 10" (25 cm) high on some landings. Also, expect poor footing on the ice and ashore. Do not bring heavy, cumbersome boots that make it difficult to walk. Boots with waffle soles like those on a hiking boot or running shoe tend to give the best footing. Ideal boots are «Wellies» or «Viking» boots. Remember that you will be wearing these boots a lot. So they must be comfortable for extended wear and walking. The boots should not be too tight or too sloppy. If they are too tight you will get cold feet.
For maximum warmth, wear loose-fitting boots and two pairs of socks. Try out your boots before the voyage.
Dress on the ship is informal. Clothing on board is usually jeans, corduroys, casual slacks or trousers, long sleeve shirts or t-shirts, fleece and a parka in hand during the day. Lightweight walking shoes/boots are comfortable and some people like to take them ashore.
A waterproof nylon backpack, rucksack, or similar bag for carrying your camera and other gear. Make sure your primary shore-landing bag has shoulder straps so that your hands are free, when boarding the Zodiac. It is very important that you have some way to keep your camera dry, particularly while you are on the Zodiacs.
High quality sunglasses with U.V. filter are recommended even on cloudy days, as the U.V. reflects powerfully, even when you don’t expect it. We do not require “glacier glasses”; your normal sunglasses will suffice, but polarized sunglasses are most effective. Tinted ski/snowboard goggles are also be useful if conditions are windy, snowy, etc.
Protective sun-block lotion for your lips, hands and face. The reflected glare from water, snow and ice can be intense and will burn the skin of passengers in certain conditions. In any regard, it is highly recommended.
Camera, battery charger. It is advisable to bring an extra camera in case of malfunction or accident.
Those who wear contact lenses should also bring glasses because salt and wind can irritate the eyes.
For hotels, aboard some ships and (just maybe) a polar plunge.
Prescription medicines and other remedies such as seasickness medication. Be prepared for rough water – also, please bring a signed and dated letter from your physician stating any health problems and dosage of medications, for emergency use.
A pair of binoculars for spotting whales and seabirds from deck is highly recommended.
Zip lock plastic bags for your camera.
Earplugs may be useful if you are sharing a cabin with a snorer.
Don't forget this important aspect of your trip – your personal style is our best advice.
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Visit ice-covered fjords with breathtaking mountain scenery and glaciers. Spend time exploring the natural wilderness searching for polar bears hunting seals.