Icebreaker Cruise in Finland: Experience the Thrill of Swimming with Icebergs

In the heart of Finnish Lapland, there is an extraordinary adventure that awaits you. In the frozen north of the Gulf of Bothnia, lies a secret world that can only be explored by a mighty icebreaker cruise. Have you ever imagined what it feels like to be on one of these magnificent vessels? Well, I had the chance to experience the ultimate icebreaker cruise while visiting Kemi, Finland. And let me tell you, it was an adventure I will never forget!

Sampo Icebreaker cruise

The Sampo Icebreaker is the only vessel in the world that is dedicated solely to tourists. This powerful ship will take you on a journey around the northern Gulf of Bothnia, and as you explore the Arctic waters, you’ll discover the secrets of the ship that once served in the most demanding conditions. Now, it has a new mission, to provide an unforgettable experience for winter enthusiasts.

As soon as I boarded the ship, I was given a guided tour of the massive engine room and the bridge. Then we were served a delicious three-course meal in the ship’s cozy galley, which was the perfect start to the adventure. During my cruise, I had a creamy salmon soup for the first course. The entree was a fillet of beef with vegetables and blue cheese potatoes mixed with a red wine sauce. For dessert, we had a chocolate parfait served with choice of coffee or tea. As good as the meal was, the real thrill began when we headed to the bow of the ship to witness the Sampo work its way through the thick ice.

frozen sea in Arctic Circle

As the icebreaker cruise plowed through the frozen sea, I couldn’t help but be awestruck by the spectacular display of power. The ice conditions were a sight to behold, ranging from smooth and glassy to rough and jagged. In the distance, towering hills of chunky ice loomed ominously, a testament to the vessel’s immense strength. It was fascinating to learn that these frozen mounds were created when the ice refroze after the icebreaker had carved its path. The water that reformed with the ice pushed the blocks left behind up onto the frozen shelf, resulting in giant ice cubes scattered across the icy landscape.

As we cruised through the Arctic waters, I found myself peering over the edge of the ship, mesmerized by the blocks of ice that floated by after the ship had cleared its path. It was almost like looking into a campfire, where I couldn’t deviate my eyes in fascination.

breaking ice

Breaking the Ice: My Insane Request to the Captain and the Unforgettable Result

The culmination of my adventure was beyond anything I could have imagined. As a member of the media, I am often bestowed with unique opportunities, but this one was truly exceptional. Before our departure, I was granted a private audience with the captain, where I boldly expressed my desire to capture footage of the ship breaking through ice from an entirely new perspective. I saw a bucket with a boom on the bow of the ship and so I requested to be lifted over the edge of the ship to capture the moment when the ship’s sheer power would carve its path through the ice. Initially the caption was hesitant to say the least, but asked me to check back in a couple of hours to see if the weather would cooperate. Upon my return, I was astonished that the caption granted my wish. The experience that followed was utterly surreal, as I soared over the ship and filmed the most breathtaking footage of the icebreaker in action. It was a moment that will forever be etched in my memory as one of the most thrilling of that trip to Finland.

captain of Sampo icebreaker cruise in Finland

As I glided back towards the bow of the ship, I caught a glimpse of the captain on the bridge waving at me. Above him, a sea of passengers had gathered to witness this extraordinary feat. As I reciprocated the captain’s greeting, the crowd erupted in a chorus of enthusiastic waves. Upon returning to the warm berth of the ship, I was immediately besieged by curious passengers clamoring to know my identity and how I had been granted the privilege of such an experience. It was a moment that felt like a dream, imbued with an otherworldly aura of wonder and enchantment.

Breaking Through Frozen Seas on an Icebreaker and Swimming with Mini Icebergs

As the ship made its way back to port, a sense of anticipation filled the air. The ship was no longer moving forward, but was sort of moving side to side. Come to find out, they were clearing an area of ice to make way for yet another memorable experience. Those who had the desire, could don an arctic dry suit and jump into the frigid waters and swim with min iceberg just created by the icebreaker cruise ship. The prospect of jumping into the ice cold Arctic waters was both exhilarating and terrifying. However, as I suited up, any apprehension was quickly replaced by excitement. The dry-suit was thick and heavy, but it would provide me with the necessary insulation to withstand the numbing temperatures.

As I leapt into the icy water, I was struck by the sheer beauty of my surroundings. Mini icebergs surrounded me (okay, actually large chunks of ice), each one uniquely shaped by the ship. As I swam out a bit into the clearing created by the icebreaker, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe at the sheer scale of the ship. I floated on my back, marveling at the beauty of my surroundings. After a few minutes of swimming, I made my way over to the edge of the ice where one of the crew members helped us out.

Mike swimming with icebergs on an icebreaker cruise

As the hour came to an end, I reluctantly made my way back to the ship. I was shivering a bit, but I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. The experience of swimming in the arctic waters among hundreds of large chunks of ice was one of those experience I will never forget.

As the Sampo Icebreaker reached its dock, we all began to disembark, and the ship’s captain presented each passenger with a certificate. The four-hour icebreaker cruise was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I would highly recommend to anyone looking for an winter adventure. If you’ve ever been on the Sampo, share your favorite aspects of the cruise in the comments below. So, until next time, we’ll see ya on the road…

Mike Shubic

Mike Shubic is a seasoned road trip travel video blogger, traversing the byways of the world looking for those hidden gems of the road. From unique destinations, unexpected discoveries, creative cuisine, intriguing inns to exciting attractions…the road is his page. The experiences are his ink. And every 300 miles, a new chapter begins. Whether you live vicariously or by example, Mike will do the exploring so you can have an adventure.