Five things to pack for your polar cruise

Expedition: Hurtigruten

So you’ve got a guest who’s interested in an expedition voyage? But what do they need to pack? Is specialist equipment provided? We asked Hurtigruten’s managing director Kathryn Beadle to tell us exactly what expedition gets should take on that trip of a lifetime.

 

Always prepare

1) I know it sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people just assume that if they are heading to a polar region it will be cold. Check the likely temperatures for the area and time of year you are visiting. You won’t need thermal underwear in Northern Norway during the summer months, but you will be very grateful for it when you are standing out on deck on a winter’s night!

 

Thin layers

2) Weather in the extreme north and south can change very quickly, so whatever time of year you are travelling, choose lots of thin layers with a breathable waterproof outer layer. That way you can add or remove them if you need to. Check with your cruise line how formal the ship is. Hurtigruten’s ships have an informal atmosphere so you don’t need to change for dinner (unless you wish to) – which helps keep packing to a minimum.

 

What’s provided?

3) Check whether specialist clothing is provided. Hurtigruten issue all passengers on the MS Fram with a wind and waterproof jacket. You will need to wear rubber boots for all landings in Antarctica as transporting soil on your boots could contaminate the environment. They are available to rent quite cheaply on the ship, which I’d recommend as they are bulky to pack.

If you are heading to Norway during the winter, you won’t need the specialist boots, but I’d recommend you take some rubber ice grips for your shoes. They really do help to stop you from falling over.

 

Get snap happy!

4) The camera on your phone just won’t cut it in a polar environment – especially if you want to photograph the Northern Lights. Make sure you take plenty of memory cards and don’t forget a spare battery – they don’t last as long in cold conditions. Take a digital SLR camera if you have one or can borrow one. You might also find a tripod useful, but it is by no means essential. If you are a novice, I’d recommend researching which settings to use for your camera in advance of your trip. You don’t want to be working it out when a polar bear appears or the Northern Lights start a majestic display.

 

Think about your excursions

5) A small backpack or rucksack is ideal for landings and shore excursions. That way, you have somewhere safe to put your camera and binoculars, but can still keep your hands free for climbing on and off boats or during a hike.

Make sure it is waterproof to help keep your valuables dry and take sunglasses. The sun is at a low level and the glare as light bounces off the snow and ice can be really quite strong.

Sam Ballard

Sam Ballard is the publisher of CRUISE ADVISER and has been writing about the cruise industry for a number of years. His CV includes the likes of shipping magazine International Cruise & Ferry Review and the digital publication Cruise News. He can be contacted on:sam@cruise-adviser.com.

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