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Is a trip to the end of the world on your Bucket List? If so, you may be weighing up the pros and cons of an expedition cruise to the Arctic or to Antarctica. If it’s all about wildlife for you, then your decision may be simple - polar bears only live in the Arctic and penguins only live in Antarctica. But there are several other differences to consider when deciding which to choose.

The Arctic, for Spitsbergen cruises, is a lot easier to get to from the UK. You’ll fly to Norway and up to Longyearbyen to board your boat – which is less than a day’s journey. While a trip to Antarctica generally starts from Ushuaia in the far south of Argentina or Puerto Williams in Chile, which means an international flight to Buenos Aires or Santiago, with an overnight stay, and then a four-hour flight south. So, a trip to the Arctic can be undertaken in 10 days total, whereas a typical Antarctica trip means a minimum of 14 days away. This obviously means that Arctic trips are less expensive.

In both places the number of visitor groups on the land is strictly limited, but in Antarctica you have a little more freedom to have some ‘alone time’ away from your group. This isn’t possible in the Arctic due to the presence of polar bears, and the need to stay with your armed group leaders. In the Arctic you can walk across the exposed tundra as a group, whereas in Antarctica it’s not easy to roam as far.

In terms of wildlife, whales are abundant in both polar regions, as is birdlife, although obviously Antarctica has possibly the most world's most popular and gregarious bird: the penguin.

In terms of scenery, there is more crunching through the pack ice in the Arctic and more free-drifting icebergs in the Antarctic, although this does depend on what time of year you travel. Both areas have incredibly beautiful scenery of mountains and glaciers spilling down from the ice caps, and both areas also have sites of historical or cultural interest to visit; be it whaler's or explorer's huts or research stations.

Get in touch, and let’s start planning what really would be the trip of a lifetime.

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