Venture on the unique expedition to the remotest and rarely visited Russian High Arctic archipelago – Franz Josef Land. Observe magnificent “moon” landscapes of the islands. Meet polar bears, walruses and arctic birds in the wild. See mysterious stone spheres of Champ Island. Follow in the wake of famous Arctic explorers. Compare two High Arctic archipelagoes – Spitsbergen and Franz Josef Land.
Day 1. Longyearbyen (West Spitsbergen, Svalbard)
Welcome to Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Norwegian
territory of Svalbard and starting point of our expedition. After
arriving via scheduled commercial flight service, you are free to
explore this fascinating Arctic settlement. Be sure to see the excellent
Svalbard Museum and take advantage of quality shopping and dining
opportunities in the town center. Your hotel for the night has been
arranged by us and is included in the price of the voyage.
Day 2. Embarkation in Longyearbyen
In the afternoon we welcome you aboard the luxury expedition ship M/V
Sea Spirit. Explore the ship and get comfortable in your home away from
home for the extraordinary adventure to come. Savor the anticipation of
your Arctic dreams coming true as we slip our moorings and sail into a
true wilderness where wildlife abounds. The scenery as we sail through
Isfjorden on our first evening is spectacular and there is already the
possibility of marine mammal encounters.
Day 3-4. Across the Barents Sea
From Isfjorden we proceed forthwith around Svalbard and east to Franz
Josef Land across the Barents Sea. In these far northern latitudes it is
possible to encounter sea ice any time of the year. All along the way we
remain vigilant for sightings of ice-dependent marine mammals such as
the elusive bowhead whale, various Arctic seal species, and the majestic
Day 5-11. Exploration of Franz Josef Land
This is expedition cruising at its most authentic. As such, our route
and exploration opportunities in Franz Josef Land are heavily dependent
on weather and sea ice conditions. Our experienced captain and
expedition leader decide the itinerary and continually adjust plans as
conditions and opportunities warrant. You can be sure that the best
possible advantage will be taken of the circumstances presented to us by
Nature in this wild and remote corner of the Arctic.
Between obligatory initial and final stops at the Russian polar station
Nagurskoye in wildlife-rich Cambridge Bay, we are free to explore the
many waterways and islands of this unique Arctic wilderness in whatever
way best suits the conditions we encounter.
The archipelago, part of the Russian Arctic National Park since 2012, is
a nature sanctuary. Polar bears and other quintessential High Arctic
wildlife—such as walruses and some rare whale species—can be spotted
anytime, anywhere in and around Franz Josef Land. Scree slopes and
cliffs around the islands host enormous nesting colonies of migratory
seabirds such as guillemots, dovekies, and ivory gulls. We take
advantage of 24-hour daylight to exploit every opportunity for wildlife
Franz Josef Land is also home to some interesting geological features,
such as the mysterious stone spheres on Champ Island. Collectors of
geographical extremes may take note that Cape Fligely on Rudolf Island
is the northernmost point of land in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Franz Josef Land also offers visitors the opportunity to walk in the
footsteps of famous polar explorers at well-preserved historical sites.
The journals of explorers such as Julius von Payer, Benjamin Leigh
Smith, Frederick George Jackson, and Fridtjof Nansen come alive at Cape
Norway, Cape Flora, Eira Harbour, and Cape Tegetthoff. Memorials,
monuments, crosses, and the remains of dwellings are testimony to
incredible historical events that are further illuminated by our expert
Tikhaya Bukhta is currently a Russian Arctic National Park ranger
station occupying Soviet-era research buildings and was also a major
base for polar expeditions. Nearby the fascinating columnar basalt
cliffs of Rubini Rock are home to thousands of nesting seabirds.
Day 12-13. Back across the Barents Sea
After our amazing time in Franz Josef Land we cross back through the
bountiful waters of the Barents Sea. Presentations and workshops by our
expert staff, as well as our range of onboard recreation facilities,
ensure that these days at sea are not idly spent. Seabird viewing and
whale sightings can be enjoyed from panoramic open decks as well as
exterior stateroom windows and balconies.
Day 12-13. Along the coasts of Svalbard.
Following our week of exploration in Franz Josef Land, we cross back through the bountiful waters of the Barents Sea and then along the coastal islands of the Svalbard Archipelago. From panoramic open decks, enjoy Arctic landscapes and wildlife sightings. Bountiful inshore and offshore waters are home to walrus and a wide variety of whales.The crossing also gives our expedition team the opportunity to offer a final presentation or two in the Oceanus Lounge. Weather and timing permit, we’ll launch our Zodiacs to have a closer look at wildlife as we head back to Longyearbyen.
Day 14. Exploration of Svalbard
After a technical stop in Longyearbyen, we begin our exploration of
Svalbard. As this is a true High Arctic wilderness, this part of the
voyage is also a real expedition. Our route and exploration
opportunities are heavily dependent on the weather and sea ice
conditions we encounter. Again you can be sure that our experienced
captain and expedition leader will take advantage of every opportunity
to allow us to experience excellent wildlife viewing, to appreciate
amazing scenery, and to go ashore in this amazing place.
We anticipate exploring the spectacular fjords, coasts, and islands in
the northwestern part of Svalbard. This area contains the archipelago’s
most impressive scenery and some of the Arctic’s best wildlife viewing
opportunities. Deep fjords and narrow channels are flanked by jagged
snowy mountain peaks. Immense tidewater glaciers calve icebergs into
turquoise waters. On ice floes and on fast ice several species of seals
watch vigilantly for polar bears, which can be spotted anytime, anywhere
in and around Svalbard. Fields of flowering tundra are home to grazing
reindeer and playful Arctic fox. Bountiful inshore and offshore waters
are home to walrus and a wide variety of whales. The whole area is alive
with migratory birds, including numerous rare species, taking advantage
of summer’s fecundity in 24-hour daylight.
To complete the Arctic experience we also explore sites rich with
history. Our area of exploration contains the historical remnants of
whaling camps, coal mining operations, trappers’ cabins, staging areas
for historic attempts to discover the North Pole, and the ruins of a
WWII weather station.
Human habitation in this area can be found only at Ny Ålesund, a former
mining town that is now home to an international community of Arctic
researchers. This is one of the world’s most northerly settlements,
complete with museum, gift shop, and post office.
Day 15. Disembarkation in Longyearbyen (West Spitsbergen,
After breakfast we say farewell in the town of Longyearbyen, where we
started. We provide a transfer to the airport or to the town center if
you wish to spend more time here. As you look back on your wonderful
experience in Svalbard, you may already be looking forward to your
next incredible adventure to the ice!