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From watching a glittering glacier calve into Inostrantseva Bay to sailing across the icy, wildlife-filled Barents Sea, a voyage around the archipelagos of Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land is the adventure to end all adventures. Starting and ending in Helsinki, this journey will take you to see some of the Russian Arctic's most fascinating wildlife, geology and ecology. Polar bear encounters are a real possibility and there will be plenty of opportunities to spot walrus, seals, whales and wide variety of seabirds - both nesting on the icy cliffs and soaring above your ship.
Day 1: Helsinki
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 included hotel for the night.
Day 2: Murmansk – Embarkation Day
After breakfast, take an included transfer to the airport and board your private charter flight to Murmansk, Russia. This is where you’ll board the ship that will be your home for the next two weeks. Once aboard, get acquainted with the ship, your fellow travellers and the crew and settle in for your voyage north.
Day 3-4: At Sea
Over the next two days, sail through the Barents Sea towards the Arctic. During the voyage, your expert expedition crew will prepare you for the adventures that await. Learn about the storied history and politics of the region, its fascinating wildlife, geology, ecology and climate, and the incredible sights you will soon be exploring with onboard lecture presentations. Your crew will keep a lookout for seabirds, such as kittiwakes, skuas and fulmars soaring above your ship to point out to you. Whale and seal sightings may also be possible in this biologically diverse sea, so keep a close eye out.
Day 5-7: Novaya Zemlya
The next few days will be dedicated to exploring the largest of the Eurasian Arctic archipelagos, the rarely-visited Novaya Zemlya or New Land. It’s the third largest wilderness area in Europe and is made up of two main islands – Severny (northern) and Yuzhny (southern) – separated by the imposing Matochkin Strait. Each expedition will be unique, depending on the weather and ice, but a few landing sites you'll aim 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. Encounters with Brünnich’s guillemots (thick-billed murres) are likely, owing to a small colony in the coastal cliffs. To the northwest side of Severny Island are the Oransky Islands. Wildlife abounds here, with a variety of animal and plant life to be discovered – coming across a walrus haul-out is unforgettable. These giant pinnipeds of the Arctic create a raucous as each walrus vies for a spot of coastline. Encounters with whales and seabirds are possible, as well as polar bears, a genetically distinct subpopulation here.
Day 8: At Sea
Bid farewell to Novaya Zemlya as you cruise further north to Franz Josef Land. There are several activities on board your polar vessel to keep you entertained while at sea. Attend presentations led by onboard experts, relax in the polar library and check out the polar boutique, or simply spend some time on deck, admiring the sea and keeping an eye out for birdlife above or other wildlife as you cruise.
Day 9-12: Franz Josef Land
T=Franz Josef Land is a remote group of 191 islands, many covered in ice, and forms the most northerly archipelago in Eurasia. It lies entirely within the Arctic Circle and part of the Russian Arctic National Park. Weather and ice conditions will shape your exploration, and your polar team will be dedicated to shaping an itinerary to maximise visits to historical sites, spotting remote seabird colonies and walrus haul-outs and exploring places such as Cape Flora, Cape Norway, Bell Island and Tikhaya Bukta. Polar bear encounters are also a real possibility! On Jackson Island, Cape Norway is where Norwegian explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen wintered from 1895 to 1896. The conditions were astonishingly difficult, but they survived until the summer and continued their journey south. The remains of their small hut are still here today, along with a memorial marking the event. Exploring Tikhaya Bukta (Calm Bay) – the site of an abandoned weather station on Hooker Island – will feel like stepping back in time. There is plenty to discover as you wander the ruins, immersed in Russian polar history, and you may even be able to send a postcard from the post office! The Stolichky and Appolonov Islands offer plentiful walrus encounters, as the lumbering giants can be found hauled out here. If ice and weather are in your favour, you will explore the area by Zodiac – at a safe distance – to view these pinnipeds of the Arctic in their natural habitat.
Day 13-14: At Sea
As your Arctic expedition winds down, you have a couple of days to sail through this wildlife-rich sea, where various species whales are often spotted. Take in a presentation from the polar experts, 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 to help spot wildlife.
Day 15: Murmansk – Disembarkation Day – Helsinki
Returning to Russia’s most northerly city, you’ll have time to bid farewell to your expedition crew before catching your group charter flight back to Helsinki, where you will have one more night in this city. You may want to head out for an optional dinner with your group, or simply appreciate being back on dry land by exploring the city independently.
Day 16: Helsinki
Your journey ends today after breakfast, and you can spend time exploring more of the Finnish capital or catch an onward connection at any time from Helsinki Airport.
- Visit Eurasia’s largest Arctic Archipelago – the striking and diverse Noyaua Zemlya – and get up close to the stunning glacier of Inostrantseva Bay.
- Search for polar bears, walrus and other wildlife in Franz Josef Land on a number of Zodiac excursions in the Arctic, led by an expert polar team.
- Learn more about the biology, geography, history and glaciology of the Russian High Arctic with a number of onboard lectures presented by your expedition crew while at sea.
- After days of spotting wildlife on deck and cruising the seas in search of rugged Arctic wilderness, relax on your fully equipped polar vessel with comfortable staterooms and multiple lounging areas.
- Explore the extraordinary mix of architectural influences and cultural sights in Finland’s capital, Helsinki, with included pre- and post-expedition accommodation.
15 Breakfast(s) Included
12 Lunch(es) Included
13 Dinner(s) Included
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