Spitsbergen Franz Josef Land - M/V Hondius

Svalbard and Russia

With its rugged mountains, sweeping tundra, ice-caps and glaciers, Svalbard, also known as Spitsbergen, is a true high-Arctic archipelago, and only 1000 kilometres (600 miles) from the North Pole. Svalbard offers some of the finest scenery and wildlife experiences in the world. From here we embark on an ambitious expedition into the 192-island archipelago of Franz Josef Land with the opportunity to spot such exotic Arctic wildlife as polar bears, Greenland whales, and an assortment of seal and seabird species, while also visiting the remains of historic 19th-century expeditions

  • Look out for Arctic wildlife such as whales, seals, walrus and polar bears
  • Geological and glacial wonders of rarely-seen Franz Josef Land
  • Myriad of birdlife and spectacular seabird cliff colonies
  • Sailing with m/v Hondius, a new, state-of-the-art expedition vessel
  • Admire the glaciers and mountains of Svalbard

Out of the 192 mostly glaciated islands that make up Franz Josef Land, we visit some of the best in terms of scenery, activities, and wildlife. These sites include but are not limited to…

Cape Norway, where the wintering hut of explorers Nansen and Johansen can be seen.

Nagurskoye, Russia’s northernmost scientific research station.

Arthur Island, a starkly beautiful glaciated island highly representative of Franz Josef Land.

Rubini Rock, boasting amazing columnar basalt formations.

Cape Flora, the site of numerous historic expedition voyages.

Rudolph Island, the most northerly island in the entire archipelago.

Camp Ziegler, one of Franz Josef Land’s most eventful refuge sites.

Bell Island, where the lodge of polar explorer Benjamin Leigh Smith can still be seen.

Verified user reviews powered by
100 % of reviewers liked this tour.
Sep 10 2019
Silent modern ship, fantatsic friendly crew from cleaning staff up to the captain

Stewart's Take

A rare chance to explore the many fantastic locations of rarely-seen Franz Josef Land


With its rugged mountains, sweeping tundra, ice-caps and glaciers, Svalbard, also known as Spitsbergen, is a true high-Arctic archipelago, and only 1000 kilometres (600 miles) from the North Pole. Svalbard offers some of the finest scenery and wildlife experiences in the world. From here we embark on an ambitious expedition into the 192-island archipelago of Franz Josef Land with the opportunity to spot such exotic Arctic wildlife as polar bears, Greenland whales, and an assortment of seal and seabird species, while also visiting the remains of historic 19th-century expeditions.
Day 1: Longyearbyen, Svalbard We set out from Longyearbyen at 16.00 hours, hoping to get some initial sightings of local seabirds and marine life along the way. Days 2 & 3: Sailing the Spitsbergen ice edge The next two days we spend sailing eastward, exploring the ice edge north of Spitsbergen. Here we might see seals, whales, seabirds, and even polar bears. Day 4: First sights of Franz Josef Land Today we approach the Russian base Nagurskoye on the Franz Josef Land island of Alexandra Land. We will the Russian base at Nagurskoye from the ship, but we will not land there. After getting clearance from Russia, we will then welcome on board four guides / inspectors from the Russian Arctic National Park. Later in the day, we aim to make our first landing on the southern part of Arthur Island. In the Arctic archipelago of Franz Josef Land, polar bear sightings are likely. Day 5: Historic expeditions on Rudolf Island The goal is to sail to Rudolf Island, the northernmost island of the Franz Josef Land archipelago. Here we hope to land near an abandoned Russian station in Teplitz Bay, seeing some reminders of the Italian and American expeditions here around the turn of the 19th century. We will try to land at Cape Fligely, the northernmost landmass in Eurasia, but may also change the order of these visits. Day 6: Walrus haul-outs and Cape Norvegia After sailing south, we will reach Apollonov Island, a large haul-out site for walruses, which you might be able to see from our Zodiacs. At Cape Norvegia on Jackson Island, our aim is to visit the site where Nansen and Johansen spent the winter after leaving the m/v Fram in 1895. Later we will sail southeast by Ziegler Island, then continue south through narrow but spectacular straits. Day 7: Geological and glacial wonders On Champ Island at Cape Trieste, we plan to make excursions among enormous and spherical geological stone formations. Then at Camp Ziegler on Alger Island, you can see the remains of American expeditions (among others) from the beginning of the last century. This beautiful area is surrounded by mountainous islands boasting impressive glacier fronts. Day 8: Cliffside seabirds and Arctic marine life Early in the morning, we arrive at Rubini Rock on Hooker Island’s Tikhaya Bay. Along this impressive cliff face, you can see colonies of seabirds, such as Brünnich’s guillemots, black guillemots, little auks, fulmars, and kittiwakes. You might also see bearded seals, harp seals, or Greenland whales in this area. Next we sail to Cape Flora on Northbrook Island, an important site in the history of polar exploration. More than a century ago, several expeditions had their bases here, and on the cliffs behind Cape Flora are large colonies of Brünnich’s guillemots. It is exciting to witness the younger birds trying to glide from the ledges to the sea. At Günther Bay, we may take a Zodiac cruise near an important haul-out site for walruses. If landing at Cape Flora is difficult due to sea swell and permission, we will try to land at Bell Island, near Eira Lodge, the station of 19th-century British explorer Benjamin Leigh Smith. Day 9: Back to Nagurskoye and Spitsbergen In the morning, we will return to Nagurskoye. Here our four inspectors from Franz Josef Land National Park will leave the ship, after which we’ll sail west to Spitsbergen. Day 10: The seven islands of northern Svalbard In the northernmost area of the Svalbard archipelago lies an island group known as Sjuøyane, which translates to “seven islands.” Here we plan to land at the rugged island of Phippsøya, where you may be able to see more walruses. Day 11: Incredible Krossfjorden scenery Today we sail into Krossfjorden in the main island of Spitsbergen, where you’ll pass through staggeringly scenic alpine mountaintops, active glaciers, and rich vegetation. Day 12: Return to Longyearbyen We finally return to Svalbard’s principal town, where you will disembark the vessel around midday, taking home priceless memories of friends made, wildlife encountered, and a once-in-a-lifetime Arctic adventure.

New Expedition Vessel: M/V Hondius

MV Hondius

The Hondius is a new-built vessel in 2019 is ice-strengthened and specially crafted for expedition voyages.  Hondius will be the first vessel to be built to class “LR PC6”, meeting the latest and highest demands of Lloyd’s Register for “Polar Class 6” vessels, the highest Polar Class notation for ice-strengthened vessels. The vessel will also fully comply with the mandatory requirements of the Polar code, for safe ship operation and the protection of the Polar environment. Hondius offers deluxe accommodations for in total 176 passengers. One deck has been entirely reserved for (multi-language) lectures and presentations in one large observation lounge and in addition one separate lecture room. The vessel offers a deluxe standard and at the same time a distinctive cozy and informal atmosphere.

The philosophy is to keep sea legs short and to focus on fast and effective access to shore and near shore activities for all nature and wildlife minded passengers. A powerful fleet of zodiacs will guarantee quality outings and swift landing operation for all passengers at the same time. Our main focus remains discovery, taking advantage of wildlife opportunities and the related shore activities, a product that has been very much appreciated by our current travelers for many years. A speedy zodiac embarkation is guaranteed with two separate gangways and in addition a zodiac embarkation indoor-platform which can also be used for special outdoor activities such as kayaking. While cruising, 72 crew and staff members (including expedition and hotel staff) will be at the passengers’ service. Hondius is equipped with 2 main engines and can reach a maximum speed of 15 knots.

For full information about this vessel click here:

  • Voyage aboard the indicated vessel as indicated in the itinerary.
  • All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea.
  • Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
  • All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac.
  • Free use of rubber boots and snow shoes on Plancius and Ortelius
  • Transfers and baggage handling between the airport, hotels and ship only for those passengers on the group flights to and from Longyearbyen.
  • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the programme.
  • AECO fees and governmental taxes.
  • Comprehensive pre-departure material.
  • Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights.
  • Pre- and post land arrangements.
  • Transfers to / from the vessel outside Spitsbergen.
  • Passport and visa expenses.
  • Government arrival and departure taxes.
  • Meals ashore.
  • Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (which is mandatory).
  • Excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges.
  • The customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided).
  • Possible fuel surcharges; It is agreed that if world fuel prices will reach or exceed US Dollar 120 per Barrel Brent, 90 days prior to departure Oceanwide Expeditions reserves the right to levy a fuel surcharge of US $ 25 per passenger per night for bookings outside Europe and EURO 18 per passenger per night for bookings within Europe, to be paid by the contracting party of Oceanwide Expeditions.
Rates, Share and Sole Use policy All rates are quoted per person, based on shared twin, triple or quad occupancy. If you are travelling alone and wish to share, you will be matched with another person of the same gender at the shared rate. Twin and Superior cabins are available for single occupancy at 1.7 times the share rate. Children Upon request (some voyages may be excluded), children under 16 with parents may receive 40 % discount in Superior, Triple (sharing with 2 parents / adults) and Quadruple Cabins (sharing with 3 parents / adults). Deposits Reservations require a deposit of 20% at the time you receive a booking confirmation from Expeditions Online. A payment link will be sent to you and this may be paid by major credit card. Bookings within 60 days of departure require full payment. Final Payments Balances are due 60 days prior to departure. Cancellations All requests for cancellation must be received in writing to Expeditions Online. Cancellations received 90 days or more prior to departure, are refunded less a fee of 20 % of the total price. If cancellation is received between 89 days and 60 days prior to departure, are refunded less a fee of 50 % of the total price. If cancellation occurs less than 59 days up to and including the day of departure: 100 % of the total price. If full payment has not yet been received, the full penalty will still apply and any unpaid balance is due immediately. We strongly recommend that you obtain adequate trip cancellation insurance. Booking Terms Please read carefully the General Booking Conditions for Expeditions Online. This voyage is operated by Oceanwide Expeditions and you additionally travel under their terms and conditions as the operator as well as of the Shipping Company/transport carrier. Details will be forwarded to you at the time of booking.
Booking Request
Back To Top

Expeditions Online Newsletter

Sign up to be an Expeditions Online insider and receive info on exclusive deals, discounts and more!