Polar Voyage - Ship Guide

Welcome to our definitive guide to Polar Vessels, where we have documented what we consider to be the best small ships and sailing ships in the industry to navigate the Polar Regions, including Antarctica, Arctic, Greenland, Canada and Norway. Having guided and spent time onboard these vessels, Aqua-Firma are happy to share their firsthand knowledge with you and answer any questions you may have. Please Contact Us to chat through the options with a polar expert.

Whilst all sailing ships carry a maximum of 33 passengers, all motor ships carry between 12 and 200 passengers and are among the smallest and friendliest ships exploring polar waters.  This creates an intimate atmosphere onboard, which combined with like-minded passengers with similar aspirations, makes for a wonderful setting to appreciate the most remote and wild corners of our planet.

Ships vary from comfort level, from the more basic, yet comfortable expedition ship to a more luxurious cruise with en-suite cabins, private balconies and excellent cuisine.  All ships however, maintain the prime objective of maximising time spent off the ship with daily landings ashore, zodiac cruises, informative presentations and expert guiding.

Many vessels also specialist activity options onboard, from sea kayaking, camping (Antarctica only), mountaineering, snowshoeing, photography and scuba diving.

Aqua-Firma has the expertise to help you extend your travel plans in whichever part of the world your polar voyage takes you to and are specialists in tailor made travel with Argentina and parts of Latin America as well as Norway and Svalbard (Spitsbergen).

Motor Ships

Akademik Shokalskiy

Akademik Shokalskiy carries just 48 passengers. She is an ice strengthened ship, originally built for polar and oceanographic research. All cabins have outside views, some of which also have en-suite bathroom facilities... more

M/S Balto

M/S Balto carries just 12 passengers and is an elegant ship, designed to explore the remote fjords of Greenland, offering an exclusive experience. All cabins are en-suite with porthole or window. She has a sauna and 2 zodiacs... more

Douglas Mawson

M/V Douglas Mawson is a brand new state-of-the-art expedition vessel, launching in 2025. She will carry 154 passengers to some of the most remote corners of the world and will offer large cabins and luxurious facilities... more

M/S Expedition

M/S Expedition carries 134 passengers. She has spacious, en-suite cabins, each with windows or portholes.  There is a bar and lounge, restaurant, library, computer room and even a sauna, perfect after a day of polar exploration... more

Fram

M/S Fram carries 250 passengers (200 in Antarctica). She was recently upgraded with new suites, more environmentally friendly engines and a total makeover of the public areas, including new restaurants and high-tech Science centre... more

Greg Mortimer

M/V Greg Mortimer carries 132 passengers and provides a high standard of accommodation.  She boasts the patented X-BOW™, which is an inverted bow concept and is the first cruising  vessel  to  utilise  this  technology... more

Hebridean Sky

M/V Hebridean Sky carries 111 passengers and is a luxury vessel. There is an elevator, licenced doctor, library and gift shop. Complimentary beer and wine is served with dinner.  En-suite cabins have outside views, some with private balconies.. more

Hanseatic Inspiration

Hanseatic Inspiration boasts luxury and space, carrying 199 passengers in her beautifully appointed suites. With the highest ice class rating and extensive deck space, she is a comfortable ship for navigating the Polar Regions... more

Heritage Adventurer

Heritage Adventurer is spacious, comfortable and well appointed ship, carrying just 140 passengers. She boasts the highest passenger ship ice class rating, making her the ideal vessel for navigating the Ross Sea... more

Hondius

M/V Hondius carries 170 passengers and is one of the most structurally and technologically advanced class of polar cruise ship.  Equipped with stabilizers, she is suitable for advanced, innovative exploratory voyages in the polar regions... more

Janssonius

M/V Janssonius carries 170 passengers and is one of the most structurally and technologically advanced class of polar cruise ship.  Equipped with stabilizers, she is suitable for advanced, innovative exploratory voyages in the polar regions... more

Le Commandant Charcot

The World's only luxury hybrid-electric icebreaker, Le Commandant Charcot carries 245 passengers (200 in Antarctica) with a spa, sauna, two restaurants and two pools. Fitted with a PC2 hull, she can sail between sheets of drifting sea ice to reach the most remote and isolated regions... more

Magellan Explorer

M/V Magellan Explorer carries just 73 passengers. She offers luxury accommodation and spacious public areas. Most cabins have a private balcony. There are also dedicated single cabins.  There is a library, gift shop, sauna and gym...  more

Ocean Adventurer

M/V Ocean Adventurer carries 128 passengers.  All cabins are en-suite with exterior views.  There is  a clinic  with  licensed  doctor,  a  gym,  library, two bars, spacious observation deck, gift  shop and onboard massage therapist... more

Nordstjernen

Nordstjernen was originally built in 1956 and has since been modernised extensively, yet still retains her traditional splendour. She carries 104 passengers and offers a budget friendly option to explore the High Arctic... more

Ocean Albatros

Ocean Albatros carries 169 passengers. All cabins are en-suite with private balcony. She has 12 dedicated single (no single supplement) and has more than a 50% lower carbon footprint than traditional expedition ships... more

Ocean Atlantic

M/V Ocean Atlantic carries 198 passengers. She offers elegant and spacious cabins and common areas. She has a pool, sauna, gym, shop and library.  All cabins re en-suite with outside views ... more

Ocean Diamond

M/V Ocean Diamond carries 189 passengers. She features an elevator, clinic with licensed doctor, a massage and wellness centre, pool and gym. She offers kayaking, photography and snowshoeing, mountaineering and skiing... more

Ocean Explorer

Ocean Explorer is a brand new purpose built ULSTEIN X-BOW® Expedition vessel. She carries just 138 passengers, boasts a stunning two story light filled library and offers luxury cabins, most with balcony... more 

Ocean Nova

M/V Ocean Nova carries 68 passengers (78 in Arctic) in spacious outside cabins.  There is an onboard clinic, library, observation lounge, gym and polar boutique. Kayaking, snowshoeing can also be facilitated... more

Ocean Victory

Ocean Victory carries 174 passengers, boasting the highest ice class rating. Many of the spacious cabins have their own balcony. She ship was designed with an emphasis on reducing environmental impact... more

Ortelius

M/V Ortelius carries 108 passengers.  She has the highest ice-class notation and is very suitable to navigate  in  solid  sea  ice  and  loose pack ice. She  carries 2 helicopters for specific Weddell Sea and Ross Sea Voyages... more

Plancius

M/V Plancius carries 108 passengers, ice strengthened and was recently internally refurbished to a high standard, but not a luxury vessel.  Cabins are en-suite with outside views. She boasts large open deck spaces and walk-around deck... more

M/S Quest

M/S Quest carries just 53 passengers. All cabins benefit from exterior views and private bathrooms.  She is a comfortable expedition ship with a panorama lounge, spacious observation deck, lecture theatre and library... more

Sea Spirit

M/V Sea Spirit carries 114 passengers.  Cabins are en-suite with exterior views (some with balconies).  There is a restaurant, bar, outdoor  bistro, library, gym, hot  tub, infirmary, elevator and presentation room... more

Sea Venture

M/V Seaventure carries 139 passengers, offering a spacious and luxurious Antarctic experience.  There is gym, heated pool and sauna. Complimentary alcoholic beverages are included, as well as expedition jacket to take home... more

M/S Sjøveien

M/S Sjøveien was formerly a training ship for mariners, but has since been fully refurbished. She carries just 12 passengers in outside cabins with en-suite facilities. She has a wood-fired hot tub on the spacious deck... more

Spirit of Enderby

M/V Spirit of Enderby carries just 50 passengers and offers basic, yet comfortable accommodation. All cabins have outside views, half of which also have en-suite bathroom facilities. There is a lounge, lecture room and library... more

M/S Spitsbergen

M/S Spitsbergen carries 180 passengers and is a comfortable ship for exploring Arctic Norway. With a choice of cabin categories, she also has a gym, sauna and hot tub as well as inside and outside bars and dining areas... more

M/S Stockholm

M/S Stockholm carries just 12 passengers, offering comfortable en-suite cabins with portholes. She boasts beautiful brass details and wooden decks. She is able to navigate to areas that that larger ships cannot... more

Sylvia Earle

M/V Sylvia Earle carries 132 passengers and provides a high standard of accommodation.  She boasts the patented X-BOW™, an inverted bow concept and  is one of the first cruising vessels to utilise this  technology... more

Ultramarine

M/V Ultramarine carries 199 passengers and is equipped with two helicopters.  She is brand new and has 4 bars, library, lecture theatre, sauna, spa, gym and walkaround deck. She offers numerous adventure activities... more

M/V Ushuaia

M/V Ushuaia carries just 84 passengers, providing basic, yet comfortable accommodation. All cabins offer outside views, some with shared bathroom facilities. There is a bar, library, infirmary, observation lounge and ample deck space... more

SH Vega

S/H Vega carries 153 passengers, offering luxury accommodation, yet an informal atmosphere.  She boasts high environmental credentials, a PC5 ice strengthened hull and extra large stabilisers for as smooth a ride as possible... more

World Explorer

M/V World Explorer carries 176 passengers and offers luxury and spacious accommodation. There is an outside heated pool, running track, gym and sauna and spa.  All cabins have either a private  walk-out or a Juliet balcony... more

Sailing Ships

Antigua

S/V Antigua carries 32 passengers and is an elegant three-masted Tall Ship.  All twin cabins are en-suite with a porthole. It is the ideal choice for those looking for a hands-on sailing adventure in Spitsbergen... more

Noorderlicht

S/V Noorderlicht carries just 20 passengers and offer a casual and intimate atmosphere.  All 10 twin bunked cabins are inside with shared bathroom facilities. Assisting with the sailing is encouraged... more

Rembrandt Van Rijn

S/V Rembrandt carries 33 passengers and 2 expedition guides. She is a beautiful 3 masted sailing ship with re-enforced bow and 16 en-suite inside or outside cabins. She carries 2 RIBs and offers ample open deck space... more
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  • Arctic Fox
  • Greenland Landscape
  • Eider Duck
  • Bird Cliffs Spitsbergen, Doug Howes
  • Lido Restaurant, Henseatic Inspiration
  • Antarctica Weddell Seal
  • Ocean Explorer

Antarctica

Arctic

Greenland

Norway

Canada

Small Ship Voyages to Spitsbergen (Svalbard)

Arctic Sailing in Spitsbergen

Sailing in Greenland

Greenland Small Ship Polar Voyages

Polar Kayaking

Polar Diving

Camping in Antarctica

Hiking & Snowshoeing

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  • Macquarie Island King Penguins
  • Helicopter landing in Taylor Valley, Dry Valleys, Ross Sea
  • Sailing through sea ice
  • Greenland Settlement
  • Emperor Penguin Pair
  • Zodiac Cruising in Greenland
  • Whale Tail
  • Macaroni Penguins
  • Baffin Fjord, Mark Robinson
  • Restaurant, Henseatic Inspiration
  • Observation Lounge - SH Vega
  • Compass Restaurant, Ocean Explorer
  • Svalbard Reindeer

Akademik Shokalskiy

Antigua

Douglas Mawson

Fram

Greg Mortimer

Hanseatic Inspiration

Hebridean Sky

Heritage Adventurer

Hondius

Janssonius

Le Commandant Charcot

M/S Expedition

M/S Balto

M/S Quest

M/S Sjøveien

M/S Spitsbergen

M/S Stockholm

M/V Ushuaia

Magellan Explorer

Noorderlicht

Nordstjernen

Ocean Adventurer

Ocean Albatros

Ocean Atlantic

Ocean Diamond

Ocean Explorer

Ocean Nova

Ocean Victory

Ortelius

Plancius

Rembrandt Van Rijn

Sea Spirit

Sea Venture

SH Vega

Spirit of Enderby

Sylvia Earle

Ultramarine

World Explorer

 

Featured experiences

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