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North Pole Cruises: Your Guide to Arctic Trips to the North Pole
The Arctic is an otherworldly land of boundless vistas, perpetual daylight in summer, glistening ice floes and abundant wildlife. No wonder that taking a North Pole cruise is becoming a growth industry in once rarely visited realms. One caveat: Unlike Antarctica, which is on a solid land mass, the North Pole has no true fixed location. It lies on a mass of always-shifting ice chunks in the Arctic Ocean. Consequently, few ships actually sail to the pole. But many do get close, venturing within the Arctic Circle, above 66 degrees latitude. These are truly remote areas, so it's not surprising that Arctic trips to the North Pole tend to attract seasoned travelers looking to tick off one more spot on their bucket list. The expansive region takes in northern parts of Norway and the Svalbard archipelago, Sweden, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Canada, Norway and Russia. Here's a breakdown of popular areas, and some lines and outfitters that'll take you there. But first, some general guidance.
Best Arctic Shore Excursions
Remote villages, icy fjords and rare wildlife make the world's Arctic region a compelling destination for cruisers looking for a little adventure. Encompassing Greenland, Iceland, the North Pole and the northern reaches of Norway, Russia and Canada, the Arctic is mostly traversed by small-ship expedition and luxury lines. On many such cruises, you won't experience traditional shore excursions. Because the ships are small and landings occur in isolated areas, hikes, nature walks or Zodiac trips with the expedition staff are typically the only activity options -- and they're usually included in the cruise price.  (For more information on Arctic cruising, check out Arctic Cruise Tips.) However, in larger or more developed Arctic ports, cruisers can choose from a wider variety of activities. We've rounded up a few of our favorite excursions across the Arctic region.
In Europe, River Cruises Are Offering More Big Ship Options
Sponsored by AmaWaterways For fans of river cruising, times have changed. There's no one better to help us trace the evolution, or dare we say revolution, that European river cruise travel has undergone than Rudi Schreiner. Schreiner, who ushered in Europe river cruising for lines such as Viking River and Uniworld before creating AmaWaterways, says his experiences go way back to the 1990s, when river cruises as we know it hadn’t yet evolved. Vessels were cramped, and service was bare-bones. “You had small cabins with bunks beds you would pull down at night,” he says. A decade later, when he helped start a company that became AmaWaterways, ships had already begun to change. Cabins were big enough to hold a queen bed. Dining had become a multi-course event, with gourmet food paired with wine. “It started getting more luxurious,” he said. “People would spend more time on the ship.”
Things to Do in Palma de Mallorca Before a Cruise
From its labyrinthine cobbled lanes and charming shady squares to its majestic medieval architecture and broad leafy boulevards, Palma de Mallorca is by any measure one of the finest cities in the Mediterranean. Add world-class dining, buzzing nightlife, and a long stretch of sandy beach into the mix and you've got more than enough excuses to spend a couple of days in the capital of the Balearics before or after your cruise trip. But how to cram in all of the city's ample attractions into just 48 hours? Whether you're there over the bustling and searing summer months or the cooler and quieter winter, we've put together guide on how to do just that.
Choose Your European River: Our Guide to Europe's Best River Cruises
Sponsored by AmaWaterways Many of Europe's most fabled cities -- Paris, Amsterdam, Budapest and Vienna, for starters -- have grown up along the Continent's waterways and there's no easier or more comfortable way to explore them, and the stretches of forest, gorges, water meadows and vineyards in between, than by ship. River cruising has its similarities with ocean voyages: great food, service and value for money being just three of them. There are differences, too. Ships are much smaller, carrying no more than around 160, and are therefore more intimate. And, most important, you'll always have a view, whether you're lazing on deck gazing up at the medieval castles along the Middle Rhine or docked in the heart of Budapest, with all the bridges over the Danube lit up at night.
River Cruising Transformed: From Humble Beginnings to Luxury Offerings
Sponsored by AmaWaterways Once upon a time, river cruises presented a very basic way to travel in Europe. As recently as the mid-1990s, the few ships cruising the Rhine were functional rather than elegant. The crew spoke little English, even during the single rudimentary shore excursion offered in each port. Cabins didn't just lack balconies -- the bathrooms were minuscule, the showers had clingy curtains. Dining was a meat-and-potatoes dirge, and greens were used strictly for ornamentation. "I went on a Viking cruise on the Danube back then," recalls Sue Bryant, cruise editor for The Sunday Times, who says the quality of the ships was completely different from what we know today. "The cabins were so much more basic, with pull-down bunk beds and nothing more than a porthole for the scenery."