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The North Pole

North Pole Cruises & Expeditions

Ice, Ocean

Update on our North Pole Expedition

As a consequence of the war in Ukraine, Quark Expeditions is currently not operating or accepting bookings for trips that include Russia in the itinerary, such as our North Pole Expedition. 

You still have many options to explore with the best expedition team in the Polar Regions by considering itineraries to Spitsbergen in the Norwegian Arctic, Greenland, Iceland and the Canadian High Arctic.

It’s our ardent wish for peace to return to the region as soon as possible.  

Travel well. Travel peacefully.

The North Pole


The North Pole. Owned by no one, coveted by many. Despite its lack of natural resources, the North Pole has been the envy of various countries for decades. Russia, Denmark, and Canada have all made claims on the enigmatic North Pole, the ice-covered region at the very top of the world. Unlike the South Pole, located on the continent of Antarctica, the geographic North Pole is located on constantly shifting ice in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. There are no permanent habitations. It’s actually impossible to plant an official marker that’s long-lasting because the ice – which is 2 to 3 meters (6 to 10 feet) thick – moves every year.

The ability to stand at the very top of the world lures travelers to the North Pole, which is considered by many as “terra incognita,” the unknown land. The closest permanent inhabited place is Alert, Nunavut, which is about 800 kilometres (508 miles) from the North Pole. Icebreaker and helicopter are the standard means of getting to the North Pole. There’s an otherworldly quality to the North Pole – where every direction you look is south. To reach the North Pole is to stand in awe of the immensity of the universe.

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The North Pole

Expeditions to the North Pole

Destination Highlights

Standing at 90° North

Reaching the very top of the planet Earth is for many travelers a much-anticipated moment and, consequently, incredibly emotional. Some people are overcome with the realization that they’re standing in a place – at the very top of the world – where only a privileged few have been able to set foot. (Only about 1,000 people per year travel to the North Pole.) It’s no wonder that travelers toast their arrival at the North Pole with a glass of champagne.

En route visit to Franz Josef Land

Our North Pole itinerary includes a visit to the hard-to-reach Russian archipelago of Franz Josef Land, which is about 900 kilometres from the North Pole—but 3,000 kilometres from Moscow. This remote group of 191 heavily-glaciated islands forms the most northerly archipelago in Eurasia and lies entirely within the Arctic Circle. The archipelago was first spotted by the Norwegian sealers in 1865, but the islands weren’t reported until 1873, by an Austro-Hungarian expedition team who named the area after Emperor Franz Joseph. The archipelago was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1926.

Top Things to See

Hot Air Balloon Rides

Hot Air Balloon Rides

A tethered hot-air balloon (that rises 30 metres above the ice) enables North Pole visitors to get a bird-s-eye view of the snow-capped ice ridges, massive crevices, turquoise melt pools and ice-covered terrain that stretch beyond the horizon. Floating over the top of the world in silence is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Helicopter Flightseeing

Helicopter Flightseeing

50 Years of Victory’s dedicated helicopter enables North Pole visitors to soar above the vast icy landscapes and truly appreciate the magnitude of the seldom-visited North Pole.

Points of Interest

50 Years of Victory shit travelling through Arctic landscape
50 Years of Victory: Journey on an ice-breaker

The nuclear-powered ice-breaker 50 Years of Victory is an integral part of the North Pole experience. The iconic 50 Years of Victory is the first Arktika-class icebreaker to be built with a spoon-shaped bow, capable of breaking through ice up to 2.5 meters (9.2 feet) thick. This is one of the world’s largest, most-powerful nuclear icebreakers. 50 Years of Victory, which is equipped with an onboard helicopter, is a ship unlike any other and is able to go where other vessels cannot. 50 Years of Victory is a working ship that spends nine months of the year keeping Siberian shipping lanes open for merchant vessels. During the Arctic summer the ship – with fine dining amenities, well-appointed cabins, library, bar, lounge and presentation spaces – carries travelers safely throughout the Arctic.

50 Years of Victory shit travelling through Arctic landscape
Polar Bear (Photo captured with a telephoto lens from a responsible distance, following regulatory / AECO guidelines)

Polar bears and Arctic foxes are among the few animal species that occasionally migrate to the North Pole. The drifting ice is an unpredictable habitat. The constant shifting of the ice means there are no regular migration routes nor any means to establish dens to raise young.
The undersea ecosystem of the North Pole is more varied than what’s found above the ice. Shrimp, sea anemones, and tiny crustaceans live below the ice surface and provide food for Arctic cod.
A few ringed seals (food for the occasional polar bear that wanders through) are sometimes sighted. Larger marine mammals, such as narwhal whales, have been observed but such sightings are rare.
Birds are frequent visitors to the North Pole. The Arctic tern, which has the longest annual migration of any species on the planet, spends its spring and summer in the Arctic, though rarely as far north as the North Pole. Other migratory birds observed at the North Pole include the small snow bunting, gull-like fulmars and kittiwakes.

Polar Bear (Photo captured with a telephoto lens from a responsible distance, following regulatory / AECO guidelines)

When to Go

Ideal Season

June and July are when the sun shines for 24-hours, providing optimal viewing opportunities.

Special Insights from Our Guests

What a GREAT trip. The ship is a destination all on its own. 50 Years of Victory crushing through the ice is amazing to watch. As always, Quark's guest lecturers and expedition staff were excellent. We also saw 14 lovely polar bears and several groups of walrus. Stunning trip!

— Guest

Discover Your Next Adventure

The North Pole is waiting to be explored. Browse all of our expedition options to 90°N.