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Activities in the Polar Regions

To truly explore the Arctic and Antarctica, you have to get off the ship and participate in excursions ashore, in the water or in the air! Below we list many of the optional activities offered by various operators. Some of the polar activities are inclusive in your expedition package while others are additional costs charged in advance or on board your expedition ship.

ACTIVITIES: Hiking | Sea Kayaking | Zodiac Cruising | Photo Workshops | Snowshoeing | Polar Plunge | Camping in Antarctica | Mountaineering | Flightseeing Antarctica | Alpine Heli-tracking Antarctica | Stand-up Paddle-boarding Antarctica | Scuba Diving in Antarctica and the Arctic | Ski Mountaineering in the Arctic | Submarine excursion in Antarctica | Science Programs


All operators offers landings with hiking excursions. You can hike over spongy tundra, crusty snow or sandy beaches in remotes parts of the Arctic and Antarctica. By exploring polar regions ashore, you get an intimate up-close experience of landscapes and wildlife. You also connect through unique experiences with your fellow explorers. Life-long friendships made with like-minded travelers you meet on expedition cruises is quite common.

Sea Kayaking

Most expedition operators offers sea kayaking in both the Arctic and Antarctica. It is one of the most intimate ways travelers can connect with the polar regions - at water level and up close to nature and wildlife. Sea kayak programs enable a small group of individuals to forge bonds as they explore fjords, glacial faces or icebergs. See the varied birds and seals, and maybe even the whales in their natural habitat under the supervision of experienced kayak guides.

Zodiac Cruising

Zodiacs are used for transferring you ashore for exciting landings. Zodiac cruising is much more than that as you navigate among icebergs, whales, seals and seabirds. During the zodiac cruising expedition, you will be up-close to wildlife and nature while you visit remote and isolated sites. The zodiacs are large, heavy-duty inflatable vessels and are extremely safe. Zodiacs are the workhorses of Polar expeditions with flat bottom design. This permits the craft to land directly onto the cobble and ice-strewn beaches that you will encounter on your polar expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctica.

Photo Workshops

Many operators offers photo workshops which will help you add incredible photos to aid your memories. On select voyages, professional photographers will help you get the best pictures out of your personal camera equipment with a photo workshop. Arctic and Antarctica.


Snowshoeing is a popular activity which enables you to hike across soft, powdery snow without the hassle of sinking into deep snow. Hence, you can walk up gentle slopes to reach unique vantage points. Snowshoeing is as basic as hiking and you do not need to have previous experience. The snowshoe program is not intended to take place during all landing activities, but rather when the weather, terrain and snow conditions are appropriate. Typically, snowshoeing is offered in Antarctica from November to December and in Arctic Svalbard in June.

Polar Plunge

Most operators arrange a Polar Plunge which usually takes place onshore or from the gangway or a Zodiac. Depending on the location, participants wear a tethered harness and plunge into the polar waters from the side of Zodiac or safety of the gangplank cheered on by fellow passengers and an expedition team. Guides in survival gear circle the area in Zodiacs as guests take their turn jumping or cannon-balling into the polar waters. Arctic and Antarctica.

Camping in Antarctica

Several operators offers an Antarctic camping expedition adventure. It may be a night under the open skies, cuddled up in a warm, snug and weatherproof sleeping bag. You may listen to the sounds of distant whale blows, penguins’ squeaks and shifting icebergs. The Antarctic Open Air Camping is truly a memorable experience.

Usually after dinner onboard the ship, the expedition team will take you to shore, where you prepare your camp for the night. Camping in Antarctica is limited in number. For the ultimate camping experience, many operators use a wind and waterproof yet still breathable bivy bag. This offers you the possibility to watch the amazing Antarctic night skies.


A few operators offers this excursion. Oceanwide recommends you are in good enough shape to walk for four or more hours over fairly rugged terrain that includes hills. Mountaineering hikes may take you into glaciated areas. These areas can possibly expose you to crevasses, which require a little more caution than non-glaciated ground. As you hit more vertical climbs you’ll switch out your snowshoes with crampons (spikey boot additions) which will be supplied for you. Also, you’ll be roped together for your protection around the glacier crevasses. View Oceanwide Expeditions Voyages.

Flightseeing Antarctica

Quark Expeditions new ship Ultramarine has two twin-engine helicopters used for sightseeing in polar landscapes. Typically in groups of 7 to 9, you will experience an unforgettable aerial tour with stunning views of the Antarctic during a 10- to 15-minute flightseeing excursion that’s included in the cost of the voyage. Additional helicopter activities may also be available for purchase onboard. Naturally all helicopter operations are weather- and logistics-dependent. View Quark Expeditions Ultramarine Voyages.

Alpine Heli-tracking Antarctica

Quark Expeditions takes you on an active adventure high up in the Antarctic landscape. An intimate group of adventurers board one of Ultramarine's two twin-engine helicopters for a trekking excursion in an area only safely accessed by air. The helicopter flight alone rewards guests with unforgettable views of the expansive polar landscape down below. On land, during an invigorating walk, hike or snowshoe trek, you’ll be rewarded with equally stunning views of remote ridgelines, glaciated terrain, and snow-topped peaks. This once-in-a-lifetime heli-adventure will leave you marveling at the overwhelming beauty of the Antarctic. View Quark Expeditions Ultramarine Voyages.

Stand-up Paddle-boarding Antarctica

Quark Expeditions was the first company to bring this waters sport to Antarctica. Paddle-boarding combines the immersive experience of kayaking but in a standing position. Participants, if they prefer, can kneel, sit or even lie down and stare up at the Antarctic sky. Because of their wide base and tail fins, SUP boards are quite stable, enabling participants to admire the surrounding scenery. Imagine seeing Gentoo penguins gliding below you, or making eye contact with a Weddell seal lying on a piece of ice as you paddle by. View Quark Expeditions Voyages.

Scuba Diving in Antarctica and the Arctic

Oceanwide’s polar voyages give you an unparalleled adventure below the waves. Take one of their Arctic or Antarctic diving cruises and explore some of the most scenic dive sites in the polar regions. View Oceanwide Expeditions Voyages.

Ski Mountaineering in the Arctic

Oceanwide offers ski mountaineering trips that give you an invigorating up-close experience of the rugged peaks and majestic mountains flanking the high Arctic fjords. View Oceanwide Expeditions Hondius Voyages.

Submarine excursion in Antarctica

Viking offers submarine trips on “Fred” that give you an up-close experience of Antarctic wildlife from below. The submarine comfortably accommodates 6 guests and a pilot for an incomparable undersea experience. The revolving seats plus nearly 270° spherical windows offer an undistorted view in all directions for every guest. View Viking Voyages.

Science Programs

Hurtigruten’s expedition ships are the perfect platform for scientific research. Guests are invited to participate in science activities to develop a greater understanding of the region in which they travel. Among other things, scientific research aboard in Antarctica study seabirds habitat, whale and sea leopard behavior, cloud covers, and phytoplankton. View Hurtigruten Expeditions Voyages.