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Six must-see Arctic animals to see on Seabourn's expedition cruises

Author: Lucy Abbott

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Arctic animals are an eternal draw for visitors to the frozen yet spectacular Arctic region – and Seabourn's new ultra-luxury Expedition ship Seabourn Venture is set to whisk travellers off to the north on a series of thrilling itineraries in 2023.

Seabourn offers the incredible opportunity to sail on expedition voyages designed to offer a completely new perspective of beloved destinations.

Set off in search of incredible Arctic animals, from polar bears and narwhals to beluga whales and walruses, on Seabourn Venture's inaugural season.

On this stunning purpose-built Expedition ship, Expedition meets ultra-luxury adventure without compromise.

The ship's world-class Expedition Team personalises each day of your adventure based on nature's conditions and seasonal wildlife behaviour, ensuring you once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounters and destination experiences.

Seabourn Venture sails a 10-night Glaciers, Fjords & Indigenous Cultures itinerary, sailing from Reykavik on 4 June 2023 as well as a 23-night Journey Across The Northwest Passage itinerary, sailing from Iceland.

Seabourn Venture will leave the North Cape in May and head even further North to Spitsbergen. Credit Seabourn

Both voyages feature a rich variety of ports with the chance to visit UNESCO World Heritage sites, charming villages and majestic islands.

The Arctic region is home to an incredible array of animals that exist nowhere else.

The region is a semi-enclosed ocean covered in year-round ice caps, where winter temperatures regularly dip to 30 below Fahrenheit. On Seabourn expedition voyages, a team of experts on Zodiac and kayaking excursions are on hand as you’re treated to an up-close view.

Here are six unique wildlife animals to look out for on the Seabourn Arctic Adventure.

With approximately 25,000 polar bears left worldwide, they are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Credit: Seabourn

Best Arctic animals on Arctic cruises

Gain a sighting of the endangered polar bear

The world's largest land carnivore is a close relative of the grizzly, which first migrated into the Arctic some 200,000 years ago.

The bears quickly adapted to the icy environment: their fur thickened and turned transparent, which could then absorb light to convert into body heat. (Some of the light is then reflected out, creating the animal's iconic white appearance.)

They added a thick layer of blubber for more buoyancy, and even developed an extra set of eyelids that protects against the blinding snow. Adult males can weigh up to 1,200 pounds, and their dinner plate-sized paws can easily break through ice to catch seals underneath.

With approximately 25,000 polar bears left worldwide, they are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Spot the medieval narwhal

The Arctic is home to around 80,000 narwhals, which subsist on cod, halibut, squid and shrimp.

Medieval legends told of a mysterious "unicorn of the sea," and ancient kings considered the narwhal's spiralled tusks as prized possessions. These elongated teeth – which can reach up to 10 feet in length – contain nearly 10 million nerve endings and are believed to act as a sensor to environmental factors.

Related to the bottlenose dolphin and beluga whale, narwhals can weigh up to one and half tons and are able to dive more than a mile below the water's surface.

Arctic foxes are often seen wrestling and chasing each other around. Credit: Seabourn

Catch a glimpse of an Arctic fox

Arctic foxes are often seen wrestling and chasing each other around the snow-packed landscape, earning the moniker "clowns of the tundra."

Yet beneath this playful demeanour lies a skilled and cunning hunter that often follows polar bears to scavenge their leftovers.

The diminutive creature – which grows to about the size of a large house cat – sports a thick pelt that can protect it from temperatures of 100 below Fahrenheit.

The World Wildlife Fund estimates several hundred thousand remain in the wild.

Say hello to the social beluga whale

Recognised for their white colouring and bulbous foreheads, belugas are highly social creatures, often travelling in pods that can number into the hundreds.

They are also incredibly vocal, communicating with each other through an intricate language of chirps, whistles, clicks and squeals.

These gentle giants – which can weigh up to 3,000 pounds and reach 20 feet in length – migrate to Arctic waters in springtime to feed on salmon, herring, and shrimp in the sea ice; that shrinking habitat has reduced the whale’s population to around 150,000 worldwide.

musk oxen appear like something out of the last ice age. Credit Shutterstock

Transport yourself to the last ice age with the musk ox

With their thick, shaggy fur, curved horns, and short, stocky frame, musk oxen appear like something out of the last ice age – and indeed they are, having lived in the Arctic tundra for nearly 12,000 years.

The Inupiaq people of Alaska call them Oomingmak, "the bearded one," and they can be found roaming the Great Land, Canada, and across to Greenland, Scandinavia and Russian Siberia.

Beneath their long-haired coat lies a second, denser layer which is shed during the summer. During wintertime, they stand still in a form of hibernation to conserve energy.

The musk in their name comes from the pungent odour males release during mating season.

Atlantic walruses spend much of their lives on the sea ice. Credit Seabourn

Marvel at the walrus

Known for their massive tusks, whiskered moustaches, and distinctive bellow, Atlantic walruses spend much of their lives on the sea ice. It's where they breed, nurse their young, and rest between feeding on clams, molluscs, shrimp, and sea cucumbers found in the shallows.

In fact, they use their massive tusks to pull their blubbery bodies out of the water.

Although large and lumbering – reaching 12 feet in length and weighing up to two tons – Atlantic walruses are surprisingly fast, graceful swimmers. They also are incredibly social and Arctic visitors often find huge herds sunning together.

Call 0344 338 8615 or visit for more information on these incredible expedition voyages

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About Lucy Abbott

Lucy is a cruise journalist who has sailed on a variety of ships, from expedition to river – with her favourite being expedition cruising.

Lucy is interested in new sustainable ways to cruise as well as how cruising is becoming accessible for all.

She works together with Kaye Holland to keep the World of Cruising website up to date with all the latest cruise news.