Polar Travel FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Polar Holidays has compiled our most frequently asked polar travel questions here! Don't see what you are looking for? Reach out to our team for more information.

Is it possible I will be seasick?

Yes, it is possible. If your expedition travels through the Bering or Denmark Straits, then you should anticipate some rough seas. It is generally said that the Arctic has calmer waters than the Antarctic, and most find the trip to be pleasant.

Can I go ashore on each of the expeditions offered?

Yes, of course. The cruise ship will be our starting point or basecamp. Unpack your things only once and be at ease. You will be able to visit an exciting range of places, because the ship moves from place to place. The ships are equipped with inflatable landing crafts known as Zodiacs, which we will use for shore landings and ocean-level cruising.


There are a myriad of activities offered on the shore and throughout the summer. In the Arctic, you may visit Inuit in their home communities. You will hike carpeted tundra valleys or the beautifully glistening ice fields. Optional activities may include kayaking, cross-country, camping, skiing and mountaineering depending on the time of summer, the vessel, and location. Please contact us if you have any further questions regarding the activities.

Is there a laundry on board?

Laundry service is available on every ship and the costs are reasonable. The cost of excess baggage is more than the cost to do laundry aboard the ship, so we would suggest packing a bit lighter and anticipating to do laundry.

Is there a doctor or clinic on the ship?

Our team does include a doctor, who is responsible for the health of the entire ship and some of the vessels will have full clinics. Our clinics are equipped to handle minor emergencies. We carry emergency supplies of medication. It is important that you bring sufficient prescribed medicines with you, however.

What’s the difference between an ice-strengthened hull and an icebreaker hull?

The structure of the ship is based on the function of the ship. Icebreakers are designed to ride up over the ice using its weight to crush the ice beneath. This is beneficial to ships that may take a similar path as the crushed ice may remained crushed. A ship with an ice-strengthened hull can navigate in waters dotted with ice, but cannot crush new ice. These vessels can take a beating, but have trouble with giving the beatings out!

I will be traveling alone. Am I welcome?

Don’t worry about traveling alone, on most trips there are several solo travelers!

What documents must I complete to participate in the expedition?

Guests must complete a number of standard travel forms when they travel with us. The forms should be completed as soon as possible after receiving them and returned to us:


  1. Personal Information Form – one for each person traveling.
  2. Medical Information Form – one for each person traveling.
  3. Cruise Contract – signed.
  4. Flight information form – we need to know when you will be arriving by air and when you will be departing.
  5. Parka Form – one for each person traveling.
  6. Visa Express Kit – only required when traveling through Russia.

How do I get the best deal? Should I wait?

People who wait to book their expedition until the last moment often pay the most for airfare and for extra hotel nights, because available flights require layovers. This is not a standard location to travel to so flight prices generally don’t fluctuate down. You may be able to save some money on last minute cruise packages, but the costs to fly will likely eat up your savings. We definitely recommend booking earlier. Book early and save.

What is the food like aboard the ship?

We pride ourselves on the meals we serve aboard our ships. Our chefs are internationally trained (and we don’t mean Canada!). And our service style is too! The menu changes every day. Breakfast is buffet style. Lunch often features a buffet. Dinner is plated service, with the choice of 3 main dishes. A vegetarian choice is always offered as well. The desserts are decadent. Tea, with pastries or cookies, is provided about 16:00 (4 PM) every day. Pastries arrive fresh and warm from the oven at about 06:00 (6 AM). You will not starve while aboard your cruise!

Should I pack a suit, suit jacket or tie?

Leave the jacket and tie behind if you prefer. Our expeditions are informal. However, the Captain and their officers will dress in their uniforms for the embarkation and disembarkation cocktail parties on some of our ships. So, you may want to pack a dress shirt and a pair of casual slacks for the occasion.

What is there to do on the ship? Are there any activities?

Our cruises have educational classes/courses that prepare you for the landings and your visits to research stations/communities. These formal presentations are delivered on the ship. Informal shipboard activities range from birding and whale watching to movies with popcorn in the evening. The open air decks are great for photography. There are board games to play in the lounge. You can chat with new friends over a drink in the bar. There is always something to do.

What are the people like who travel on your ships, and will I fit in?

We get a real grab bag of travelers! They are just like you – curious, adventure seekers, who love to travel off the beaten path. Their ages range from 20 to 80, with the majority between 45 and 65 years. Our guests come from around the world, multiple ethnicities and possibly languages. Many departures have several nationalities onboard. All programs, however, are delivered in English.

What does “good health” mean?

The polar regions are beautifully vast and foreign to most. The resources of these locations are not the same as yours at home. These are remote areas without access to sophisticated medical facilities, you should not join the expedition if you are suffering from a life-threatening condition. Our expedition cruises require sufficient independent mobility to negotiate steep gangways while onboard. The terrain is rough in both polar regions for the shore activities. If you have difficulty walking or need an assistance device to move about, our trips may not be for you. Please call us and we can help you evaluate if this is a good experience for you.


Please note that we try to provide a range of activity levels to meet the needs of our guests when they go ashore, not everyone has to hike!

How much luggage should I bring?

Baggage allowances are shrinking. Check with your airline to confirm what you are allowed to carry. Please note that baggage allowances on international flights are often greater than domestic flights. We suggest that you pack for the segment of the flight with the smallest baggage allowance. The ship has laundry facilities so you don’t need to overpack.

What additional major expenses will I incur?

Transport to the place where the expedition begins (the staging point) and from the place where the expedition ends is not included so be prepared for this expense. We can arrange flights at your request, please ask if you would like us to help.


Wearing the right clothes is essential, weather is definitely variable. You may need to purchase additional outdoor clothing, gloves, etc. 


Gratuities or tips are always at your discretion. We recommend that you budget $10 to $15 per person per day, if you are pleased with the service on board. Gratuities are collected anonymously at the end of each voyage. They are distributed among staff and crew. Payment can be made in cash or charged to your shipboard account, whichever is more convenient.


It is a condition of booking any voyage that you and all members of your party have comprehensive travel insurance coverage, with a minimum of $50,000 of emergency medical coverage.

Please note that we try to provide a range of activity levels to meet the needs of our guests when they go ashore, not everyone has to hike!

Flights to the Polar Regions

Our polar specialists can help to arrange flights from your home to the embarkation point (the city in which your expedition begins). And back from the city where your expedition ends. Our specialists will research for you, the best available connections and prices based on your personal criteria and desires.


Getting to remote communities like Anchorage, Alaska, often requires a connecting flight. Our specialists are familiar with the special needs of polar travelers such as yourself, and are eager to share their knowledge and advice with you.

Ready to Book Your Polar Expedition?

Ready to find your dream cruise?  Have questions? Contact Polar Holidays to schedule a free consultation with one of our booking specialists today!