|Day 1||Arrive in Murmansk, Russia||Embarkation on the Greg Mortimer|
|Days 2 & 3||At Sea||On route to Novaya Zemlya|
|Day 4||Novaya Zemlya||Whales, including Bowhead, seals and polar bears|
|Day 5||At Sea||Arrive in Franz Josef Land in the afternoon|
|Days 6 - 12||Franz Josef Land||Bell Island, Champ Island, bowhead whale, Prince George Land, Alexandra Land|
|Days 13 & 14||At Sea||Final Landings in Franz Josef Land|
|Day 15||Murmansk, Russia||Customs formalities|
|Day 16||Kirkenes, Norway||Disembark in Norway|
The Greg Mortimer is a new purpose built, polar expedition vessel taking 120 guests. This vessel has been designed in close consultation with Antarctic expedition specialists and is the first expedition cruise ship designed with the ULSTEIN X-BOW hull. This cutting edge nautical technology allows for gentle travel and motion at sea, improved comfort and safety on-board, reduced vibrations, lower fuel consumption and emissions and ‘virtual anchoring’ which means the ship can float anchor-less while launching the Zodiacs without disturbing delicate sea floor areas. There are four sea-level launching platforms for fast and efficient access to and from Zodiacs.
In Murmansk, Russia, join a pre-arranged half day excursion visiting the monument to the soldier of WW2 and also the first nuclear icebreaker Lenin. In the late afternoon board the Greg Mortimer, where you’ll have time to settle into your cabin before our important briefings.
Over the next two days at sea, enjoy informative and entertaining lectures from the expert expedition team including naturalists, historians and geologists.
Novaya Zemlya archipelago was once an important nuclear research site during the cold war, and today only a few places in the north are accessible to visitors. These islands offer stunning rugged Arctic landscapes -enormous extinct volcanoes, jagged cliffs and the most isolated mountain range in the Baltic Sea. For wildlife lovers, Novaya Zemlya boasts a great variety of flora and fauna, many of which are on the brink of extinction.
The onboard lecture program continues during the sea crossing to Franz Josef Land. You may choose to spend your time staying active at the gym, treat yourself to a massage in the wellness centre or getting to know your fellow expeditioners.
From mysterious Bell lsland to majestic Champ Island, explore the central-most of the 191 islands in the archipelago. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife sightings including the elusive bowhead whale and the Arctic’s top predator, the polar bear. The ship will head west to Prince George Land and Alexandra Land where you will make landings along the way. Cliffs around the islands host massive nesting colonies of seabirds such as guillemots, dovekies and kittiwakes. 85% of the archipelago is dominated by gigantic tidewater glaciers and towering icebergs.
Franz Josef Land is a stark yet beautiful world of glaciers, mosses and lichens. Approximately five million sea birds nest on the archipelago every year, with the thick-billed guillemot accounting for approximately 20%. Other seabirds such as fulmar, kittiwake, Brünnich’s guillemot, black guillemot and little auk are common throughout the archipelago. On the flat tundra, nest other species such as: common eider, purple sandpiper, Arctic skua, glaucous gull, ivory gull, Arctic tern and snow bunting. Franz Josef Land is home to two Arctic giants – the Polar bear and the walrus. There is also a population of Arctic fox, which typically have their territories near seabird habitats. The waters of Franz Josef Land are visited by whales, including humpback, bowhead, narwhal, and white beluga whale. Walrus, ringed seals, bearded seals and an amazing species of mammals, choose Franz Josef Land and the water areas around it as their home. While there are many exciting places we can choose to visit over the following week, weather, wind, and sea-ice conditions will determine your itinerary in Franz Josef Land.
The return crossing of the Barents Sea offers some good opportunities to encounter whales, perhaps the elusive bowhead whale if you’re lucky, and certainly plenty of opportunities to photograph sea birds.
The ship will travel through Murmansk for clearance procedures before continuing back to Kirkenes, Norway.
Arrive in Kirkenes in the morning, farewell your expedition team and fellow passengers. A transfer to the airport is included in the cost of the voyage.