In August 2011 my wife and I were lucky enough to travel on an Aurora Expeditions ship - the Polar Pioneer - on a circumnavigation of Spitsbergen. This was an absolutely unforgettable experience, and we were lucky to travel parts of the Arctic whilst there is still one to see. We took several thousand photographs on our trip and have included some of them in this short slide show, linked below.
The most incredible thing about being somewhere like the Arctic was the sense of isolation. We only had our little ship for company, and were only connected to the world by a satellite phone which was seldom used by passengers. The result was that we were truly immersed in the wonderful environment, and many of our concerns and stresses from "the world" were completely forgotten. We were left to appreciate the immensity of the Arctic - glaciers that towered over you, arctic deserts stretching to the horizons, and many incredible creatures. Of course our favourite was the polar bears, but we were also lucky enough to see beluga whales, fin whales, walrus and tonnes of birds.
I would highly recommend this kind of small ship cruise to anybody with an interest in the Arctic, or nature, or the spirit of adventure. Aurora also operate some voyages in the Antarctic, and when funds once again allow it we will definitely be considering an Antarctic voyage.