Basic facts about Icebreaker Ships

An Icebreaker, as the name suggests, is a ship specifically designed to travel through ice-covered water, breaking the ice along the way and clearing a safe path for itself and other ships.  

In order to be able to navigate through the ice-covered seas, icebreakers require three main characteristics: a strengthened hull, a unique ice-clearing shape, and enough power to enable the ship to break through the ice.

Polar Explorer Icebreaker

 

The History of Ice Breakers and Arctic Exploration

The first explorers of the arctic seas were the indigenous arctic people, who used kayaks, which, of course, could not break through the ice, but rather were light enough to carry over the frozen water.

Next came the Vikings, who travelled the North Atlantic in the 9th and 10th centuries. They, however, traveled through the mostly ice-free waters of the relatively warm Medieval Period.

The first actual icebreakers date all the way back to the 11th century, when the inhabitants of the shores of the Arctic Ocean invented a special kind of reinforced sailing ship, called Kochi, that was suited for the icy conditions of the arctic seas and serve as the first arctic icebreaker.

 

Modern Icebreakers

In the 19th century, the first steam-powered icebreakers were built using similar reinforcement measures to create the strongest wooden ships ever built. In 1964, the Russians built an icebreaker named Pilot, which is considered the predecessor of the modern propeller icebreakers.

Today’s Icebreakers are either diesel or nuclear-powered, and serve many different purposes – from keeping trade routes open, through assisting in scientific research to providing cruises for tourists.

 

Icebreaker in Lapland

Icebreaker Sampo located at Kemi and departs from Port of Ajos in Kemi.

Our own Polar Explorer use as Arctic icebreaker in Swedish Lapland. The Icebreaker was originally built in 1976, and today offers tourists and residents of Lapland a chance to sail the icy waters and enjoy the unique adventure of a 3-hour icebreaker cruise. Rovaniemi, located in in northern Finland, also has fascinating historical sites.

FAQ

Most frequent questions and answers

Yes, you can choose your pick up and drop of location during the booking process. Price will be calculated accordingly. Your luggage will be stored in the bus during the tour. 

Yes, when you are coming by our shuttle bus you can store your luggage in the bus during entire trip. No special reservation for luggage is required.

Yes, you can make your way with your own car and park free of charge at the cruise terminal. There is no actual border between Finland and Sweden, you can drive non-stop via the border.

There is no age limit for participating in a cruise, children of all ages are welcome on board!
Survival suits are available at size 125 cm so if your child height is over 120 cm they can swim.

No, a double layer survival suit, which you will put over your normal clothes, will keep you insulated from cold water.
Swimming is voluntary – so if you don’t feel like it you don’t have to do it.

Walking on sea ice is allowed only when ice is solid and at least 20 cm thick. Early winter cruises may not allow walking on ice activity.
Captain makes a decision when it is safe to walk on ice on each cruise.

The ship is not wheelchair accessible due to high thresholds around the ship required for water holding in case of flood.

During the cruise meals are not served, but snacks and beverages can be purchased from the cafeteria on board.
Icebreaker buffet lunch is offered at extra charge in restaurant on shore after the morning cruise and before afternoon cruise.
Gluten and lactose intolerance is considered in all meals. Vegetarian meals are offered.

There is no border control between Finland and Sweden, driving is non-stop. Though occasional check may happen. Please also have valid ID with you.
If you hold Schengen visa, same visa is valid for both countries and single entry visa also valid to cross brothers within Schengen area multiple times. 

In case the border of Finland or Sweden is closed due to emergency lock down, all cruises will be cancelled and your payment is fully refunded. 
In case the country where you were travelling from closes down and travelling outside of the country is prohibited for leisure reasons, standard cancellation policy will apply.
We recommend buying travel insurance covering costs caused by cancellations due to COVID, health conditions or any other circumstances preventing travelling.

No cancellation fees are charged if you cancel your booking 31 or more days before cruise departure.
25€ booking fees per person are non-refundable. 
If you cancel 30 days before cruise departure or later, 100% cancellation fees are charged.
In case of “no show”, being late for cruise departure or shuttle bus pick up resulting in missing the departure, 100% cancellation fees apply.
Cancellation fees are charged If cancelled for any reason, including restrictions due to COVID-19 and medical reasons.
We recommend buying travel insurance covering costs caused by cancellations due to health conditions or any other circumstances preventing travelling.

In case our icebreaker cruise is cancelled due to weather conditions or lack of passengers, you will be offered an alternative cruise date or time.
If none of the alternative options fit you, you will get a full refund.

We do not practice discount coupons. From time to time we have flash sales in our social media channels so follow us on our instagram (@polar.explorer.icebreaker) and on facebook (polarexplorericebreaker) to keep an eye on them.