Explore the Arctic and Antarctic coastlines in a kayak
One of the best features of Polar Region cruises is that you’re never done exploring. Even if you feel you’ve walked all over the Arctic or Antarctic, climbed every mountain, and said hello to every possible penguin, there’s still another whole world to explore – the water. Polar cruise kayaking is an amazing way to slip into the white and blue beauty of the quiet oceans around you.
Do I need to be an experienced kayaker? How physically fit should I be?
The amount of experience that we ask that you have depends on the cruise you choose. If you have no experience at all then we’d suggest one of our Basecamp voyages where we’ll happily introduce even the most inexperienced kayakers to this wonderful new experience.
Kayaking in Spitsbergen © Pete Gwatkin-Oceanwide Expeditions
The toughest part of kayaking in gentle waters is usually getting into the kayak itself. After that you just have to learn to keep a rhythm just like as if you were dancing.
Our other cruises do ask that you have more experience because they involve kayak excursions as opposed to just paddling around the shore or around your base ship. These excursions expose you to water that might not be quite as gentle as a sheltered bay and stand more of a chance of being impacted by various weather conditions.
You won’t need to be able to do a kayak roll, but you should be able to demonstrate that you’re comfortable in a sea kayak. On these non-basecamp excursions our guides do reserve the right to refuse you access to a kayak if it’s clear you don’t have any experience – this is for your own safety.
You’ll probably want to be in decent physical shape and possess a good sense of balance – kayaking can be quite demanding on your core and arm muscles.
If you’re not sure if you’re quite ready for kayaking then please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us, we’d be more than happy to help you with any questions you might have.
Getting ready for kayaking © Elke Lindner-Oceanwide Expeditions
How many times will I get to go kayaking?
Kayaking is of course subject to weather and water conditions – your safety is our primary concern. That being said, any cruise with kayaking as an option tries to schedule up to four excursions.
Is kayaking safe?
One must take some caution when kayaking. First, you are exposed to Polar weather and sea conditions, and if you don’t dress warmly enough you might be some time before getting back to the main ship. Because you are on Polar waters there is a chance of exposure to hypothermia. For these reasons kayak excursions are limited to 14 passengers total – this number lets our accompanying guides keep track of everyone and make sure that everyone is having a good time.
One guide stays with the group in a support kayak, while another trails nearby in a Zodiac just in case of emergencies that require a faster retreat back to the main ship. All of our guides are experts in kayaking and have a great deal of experience working with groups just like yours. They will work to scale an excursion to the skill-level of your group.
Kayak fun © Oliver Richter-Oceanwide Expeditions
Do I have to bring any of my own kayaking equipment?
We provide the kayaks (5 single-seat and 5 double-seat Perception Horizon II and Perception Sea Yaks), the paddles, Neoprene wetsuits, splash shirts and spray covers, Neoprene booties and caps, and a life-jacket/kayak vest (Palm). You do however want to make sure you’re dressed properly for your excursion in the open Polar air. So you’ll need to bring along your own:
- thermal underwear bottom and top (for hygienic purposes under the wetsuit)
- a fleece jacket or vest to wear over your thermal underwear
- gloves (preferably ski/snowboard/mountaineering gloves with some grip and a Gore-tex outside with Thinsulate inside).
- a wind-and-waterproof breathable jacket or paddle anorak/jacket and trousers (e.g. Gore-tex)
- a waterproof bag (if you’re bringing a camera)
- fleece hat
- a turtle neck or neck gaiter
- thick socks
- sunscreen / sun block
Try to avoid bringing cloth clothing like t-shirts or jeans. Once it gets wet (from water or sweat) it will stay wet for a long time – not a comfortable experience in Polar weather!
What will I see?
You’re definitely going to see a whole lot of beauty – rugged shorelines with snow-capped mountains in the background, pristine untouched shorelines, icebergs that can turn the water beneath you a brilliant blue. The quiet nature of kayaking also makes it an excellent opportunity to encounter wildlife.