Follow in the footsteps of early arctic explorers on the Russian Arctic: Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya expedition, voyaging to two of the most isolated, icy archipelagos in the Russian High Arctic. From the mountains of Novaya Zemlya to the wildlife sanctuary of Franz Josef Land, these are rugged and essentially uninhabited landscapes that few have ever experienced. There’s no shortage of adventures in these remote regions, where ice-capped peaks soar majestically out of the water and polar bears wander in their natural environment.
Day Place Highlights Day 1 Helsinki, Finland Transfer to your hotel in Helsinki, Finland Day 2 Embarkation in Murmansk, Russia Charter flight to Murmansk, embark on your voyage Days 3-4 Barents Sea Set Sail, Watch for Sea birds, participate in the educational program Day 5-7 Novaya Zemlya Inostrantseva Bay, Oransky Islands, Cape Zhelaniya, Cape Spory Navalok Day 8 At Sea Educational presentations Days 9-12 Franz Josef Land Polar bears, beluga whales, walrus and many seabirds, historical sites Days 13-14 At Sea Presentations and birdlife Day 15 Disembark Murmansk Flight from Murmansk, Russia to Helsinki, Finland Day 16 Helsinki, Finland Trip ends in Helsinki, Finland
The expedition ship Ocean Adventurer is designed to carry 132 travelers in comfort and has a classic style and feel. She was originally built in Yugoslavia in 1976 and has undergone several renovations; in 1999, 2002 and her most significant in 2017. The Ocean Adventurer is ice-strengthened and a beautiful small ship upon which to discover the wonders of Spitsbergen, Greenland and Iceland.
Your arctic adventure begins in Helsinki, renowned for its extraordinary architecture and intriguing mix of eastern and western influences. If you arrive early, explore the many museums, galleries and restaurants, relax at a Finnish sauna or wander the vibrant Design District before retiring at your hotel.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport and board the private charter flight to Murmansk, Russia. Once aboard, get acquainted with the ship and crew and settle in for your voyage north.
As we sail through the Barents Sea, your Expedition Team will prepare you for the adventures ahead with an educational program. Learn about the storied history and politics of the region, its fascinating wildlife, geology, ecology and climate, and the incredible sights you will soon explore. Staff will keep a lookout for seabirds, such as kittiwakes, skuas and fulmars soaring above your ship. Whale and seal sightings may also be possible in this biologically diverse sea.
Novaya Zemlya (New Land) is the largest of the Eurasian arctic archipelagos, and this rarely visited area is the third-largest wilderness area in Europe. This seemingly long, narrow island consists of two main islands, Severny (northern) and Yuzhny (southern), separated by the imposing Matochkin Strait.
As you explore Novaya Zemlya, expect a new adventure every day. Each expedition will be unique, depending on the weather and ice, but a few landing sites the expedition team will strive to visit include Inostrantseva Bay, the Oransky Islands, Cape Zhelaniya, Cape Spory Navalok and Russkaya Gavan.
Boasting one of the most picturesque glaciers in the entire archipelago, Inostrantseva Bay provides breathtaking panoramic views of pristine arctic wilderness. If conditions allow, you may explore ashore, or Zodiac cruise along the face of the glacier, at a safe distance, possibly witnessing the wonders of calving ice.
You will most likely see Brünnich’s guillemots (thick-billed murres) due to a small colony in the coastal cliffs. To the northwest side of Severny Island are the Oransky Islands with an abundance of wildlife. Walrus haul-ours have been sighted here on many previous expeditions. These giant pinnipeds of the Arctic create a raucous as each walrus vies for a choice spot of coastline. Encounters with whales and seabirds are possible, as well as polar bears, as genetically distinct subpopulation are found here. A significant site in polar exploration, Novaya Zemlya also offers a number of opportunities for you to trace the footsteps of famous explorers and reflect on the region’s history.
Bid farewell to Novaya Zemlya as you cruise farther north to Franz Josef Land. There are several activities to keep you engaged while at sea. Attend presentations by your Expedition Team, relax in our polar library or simply spend some time on deck, admiring the sea.
Franz Josef Land is a nature reserve part of the Russian Arctic National Park. This remote group of 191 islands, most of which are covered in ice, form the most northerly archipelago in Eurasia and lies entirely within the Arctic Circle. Weather and ice conditions will shape your exploration and you may explore historical sites, remote seabird colonies and walrus haul-outs at some notable destinations, such as Cape Flora, Cape Norway, Bell Island and Tikhaya Bukta. All the time the team will have their eyes peeled for any Polar bears that may be near by.
As your arctic expedition winds down you have a couple of days to sail through this wildlife-rich sea, where whales are often seen. The educational program will continue and you will no doubt reminisce about your incredible journey with your shipmates. Relax in the lounge while swapping stories and photos or enjoy the solitude of the sea. Expedition staff will be on hand to answer any remaining questions and spot wildlife.
Returning to Russia’s most northerly city, you’ll have time to bid farewell to your Expedition Team and crew before catching our group charter flight back to Helsinki, where you will have one more night in this exquisite city.
After breakfast, spend time exploring more of the Finnish capital or catch your homeward-bound flight.