Expedition Cruises With A Difference

Our expedition cruises take 12 guests in total making it a truly unique experience. As interest in the polar regions increases so does the size of the expedition vessels with the latest now taking 350 passengers. At Secret Atlas, we do things differently. We use small expedition ships and have one expedition leader and guide onboard offering the best ratio available.

Our expedition cruises are all about exploring. Not only will you cruise tranquil fjords and witness remote glacier faces, but our expedition team will take you ashore to explore on a daily basis. Our expedition cruises are an authentic adventure in comparison to larger ships carrying hundreds of passengers.

Our Top Expedition Cruises

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svalbard photography tour

A polar bear seen from an expedition cruise in Svalbard by Chase Teron. You can join a photo tour of Svalbard with Chase here. 

Inside our expedition cruises

Going on a cruise isn’t normally associated with adventure. Luckily for the curious and bold traveller, taking an expedition cruise is nothing like a normal holiday at sea. A voyage with an expedition cruise is the chance to broaden your horizons, in all sorts of ways. On-board expedition guides are ready to share their knowledge. So you’ll come away with lots of interesting information about the Arctic climate, landscape, and wildlife that you’ll be encountering.

svalbard yacht expeditions cruise shore excursion

Exploring the sea ice on one of our expedition cruises.

There will be plenty of opportunities to explore on foot too, with daily shore landing by Zodiac landing craft for guests to explore the shore, and hike through the wilderness. Join us on trips including the ultimate Svalbard cruise, get up close to Arctic nature during the summer months of 24-hour daylight. We’ll witness the calving glaciers, get up close to an abundance of wildlife, visit historical sites, and explore the shore. There are no crowds or waiting around to go ashore either – our expedition cruises small, just two expert guides and 12 guests.

5 reasons to do an expedition cruise

1. A holiday with real adventure

Expedition cruising isn’t like a normal holiday. It’s the chance to visit some of the most remote, unspoilt places on Earth and have a real adventure, albeit a relatively comfortable one. No need to prepare for camping out in extreme temperatures – you’ll be hiking and walking in some amazing places, and sleeping in the comfort and warmth of an expedition vessel.

Every day is different on an expedition cruise. We’ll cruise past huge glaciers, watch wildlife, and go ashore on the Zodiac landing craft. On land, we’ll explore incredible landscapes, learn about Arctic exploration, and visit historic sites and remote settlements.

2. Small ships for a more interesting and independent experience 

Some modern-day cruise ships are enormous, carrying thousands of passengers which take a pretty heavy whole on the environment. Expedition ships are much smaller, but the larger ones hold a couple of hundred people. Our Secret Atlas expedition vessels only take 12 guests, with an expedition leader and guide on board too.

Smaller ships are a better option for independent travellers. One of the main advantages is they can access places where larger ships can’t pass like the shallow anchorages and winding fjords of  Svalbard or remote villages in Greenland. Expedition micros cruises are perfect for people who want to experience amazing places first-hand but don’t want to join a large tour group or cruise ship.

yacht expedition in svalbardsvalbard

Guests exploring one of Svalbard’s glacier faces by Zodiac

3. Access remote places that can’t be reached by land

An expedition cruise is the only way to see most of the places we visit. For instance, Svalbard archipelago has no roads connecting its islands, so the only way to visit these beautiful, remote, and in many cases, uninhabited places is by an expedition cruise. It’s an immersive experience that lets you get much closer to the stunning Arctic wildlife and nature than land-based activities. Svalbard is one of the best places in the world to see polar bears in the wild, and the perfect way to do that is by taking a micro expedition cruise.

expedition cruise to explore svalbard

A guest enjoying a moment of Arctic silence in Svalbard free from large tour groups. 

4. They are more flexible and spontaneous

Smaller expeditions offer the change to be more flexible and spontaneous than larger, more mainstream cruise ships. Arctic conditions from the weather to the tides and ice conditions all dictate our route planning. But, part of any adventure is adapting based on what comes up, so we often change course from our planned route if there is a good opportunity to get a closer look at wildlife like polar bears and walruses.

Guests returning from a shore landing in Svalbard 

5. Smaller is better

People who want to have amazing experiences far from home generally aren’t looking to hang out in big crowds. Micro expedition cruises are perfect for people who want to get as much as possible from a one-off kind of holiday. With one guide to every six guests on our trips, there’s space to enjoy group camaraderie, and quieter moments to experience the Arctic silence.

small group tour to svalbard

A small group of guests gives more flexibility for exploring 

What you can expect on a Secret Atlas trip

Micro expedition cruises – small ship cruises with 12 guests

Our micro expedition cruises only take 12 guests, offering a more authentic and sustainable travelling experience to larger cruise ships that now reach up to 350 passengers. Smaller ships are far better at accessing remote locations, the small vessels can travel to places larger expeditions can’t reach. So you can see more, do more, and get closer to the incredible natural wonder you came to witness.

Our Expedition Cruise Destinations


Svalbard is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean with nine main islands to the north of Norway and about 800 miles (1316 km) from the North Pole. It’s home to the northernmost settlements on Earth, and it’s one of the best places in the world to see Arctic wildlife including polar bears, walruses, reindeers, and many species of birds.

Our expedition mini cruises run from April to August, taking advantage of the 24-hr daylight during the summer months, with better conditions and visibility to get closer to glaciers, settlements, and wildlife.

Wildlife Photography Holidays

The majestic polar scenery of Svalbard captured by Chase Teron. You can join a photo tour of Svalbard with Chase here. 


Greenland the world’s largest island, and is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark. Over 80 per cent of the country’s landmass is covered by an ice cap and it’s one of the least densely populated countries in the world. It’s perfect for experiencing Arctic locations, culture and incredible landscapes.

Our micro expedition vessels take groups of 12 to explore the towering icebergs (some as high as skyscrapers) and remote glaciers of Scoresby Sund, as well as the area’s only settlement 8 home to 400 locals. You can also visit the colourful settlements and pristine Arctic landscapes of Disko Bay. Although you can see wildlife in Greenland including humpback, minke, and pilot whales, Svalbard and Antarctica are better for seeing wildlife up close.

cruise to greenland ice fjord


We’re excited to add to a brand new micro expedition cruise to Antarctica, the most remote continent on Earth. From 2022, we’ll take guests on a fly and cruise trip from South America to an airbase in Antarctica – so there’s no need to cross the notorious Drake Passage.

It’s a rare chance to explore the Antarctic peninsula on tours ranging between 7 and 14 days, with just 12 guests on boards. Discover stunning scenery filled with layered sandstone, lava flows, and glacier. You’ll also encounter spectacular wildlife, with the opportunity for whale watching, and observing penguins and elephant seals.

Polar Cruises small ship cruises to Antarctica

As a member of AECO we ensure all our voyages do not have a negative effect on the environment. Find out more here. 

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