Jewels of the Russian Arctic: Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya (Day 2)
Embarkation in Murmansk: Eat a hearty breakfast at your hotel in Helsinki and then head to the airport. Your private charter flight will be ready to take-off and fly you to the Russian city of Murmansk. The world’s largest Arctic city, Murmansk lies on the banks of the deep blue Kola Bay. Enjoy aerial views of the city, which is among the largest Arctic Ocean ports thanks to its ice-free waters. Having landed, you will step aboard your cruise liner and meet the crew. Settle into your comfortable cabin or enjoy exploring the ship as the vessel prepares to sail northwards.
Jewels of the Russian Arctic: Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya (Days 3 – 4)
At Barents Sea: Sail northward across the warm waters of the Barents Sea, which is part of the Arctic Ocean. The sea is named after the famous 16th-century Dutch explorer Willem Barents, who led two expeditions to the Novaya Zemlya archipelago. Gain insights into the history and ecology of the region from your knowledgeable expedition leaders. Follow their instructions as you prepare for exciting adventures and activities over the next two days. This is a great place to spot endemic bird species such as skuas, kittiwakes, and fulmars that your expert guides will point out. If you’re lucky, you may also see whales and seals in the water!
Jewels of the Russian Arctic: Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya (Days 5 – 7)
Exploring Novaya Zemlya: Explore the remote Novaya Zemlya archipelago on your shore excursions and activities. The largest of the Eurasian Arctic archipelagoes, it is made of two main islands – Severny and Yuzhny – divided by the Matochkin Strait. Cruise past the dramatic Arctic landscape replete with extinct volcanoes and jagged ice cliffs. In favorable weather, you can hop into a zodiac boat to get up close to the picturesque glacier of Inostrantseva Bay. From a safe distance, you may also be able to view the unique phenomenon of ice calving. Along the way, watch out for Brünnich’s guillemots or thick-billed murres that inhabit the coastal cliffs. Sail on to the Oransky Islands, home to diverse species of flora and fauna. If you’re lucky, you may catch sight of a walrus haul-out, a raucous congregation of these mammals, along the coastline. Other possible sightings in the region include polar bears, whales, and various seabird species. You can also visit Cape Zhelaniya, Cape Spory Navalok, and Russkaya Gavan, for insights into Novaya Zemlya’s polar exploration history.
Jewels of the Russian Arctic: Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya (Day 8)
At Barents Sea: Leave behind the Novaya Zemlya archipelago as you cruise north to Franz Josef Land. Onboard, you can take your pick of the activities on offer. You can watch interesting presentations on the ecology and history of the remote Russian archipelagos, organized by your expedition team. Pick up a book or two from the polar library for further insights. You can also relax on the deck, enjoying the scenic beauty of your surroundings as the ship sails on. Watch out for wildlife species that inhabit the area and keep your camera ready to capture stunning images.
Jewels of the Russian Arctic: Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya (Days 9 – 12)
Exploring Franz Josef Land: Discover the spectacular flora and fauna of the Arctic region as you sail past nearly 200 islands at Franz Josef Land. Eurasia’s northernmost archipelago, this nature reserve lies entirely within the Arctic Circle. Franz Josef Land is part of the Russian Arctic National Park and home to numerous remote seabird colonies, walrus rookeries, as well as historic sites. For a peek into the past, visit Cape Flora on Northbrook Island, a popular base for polar expeditions in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Make a stop at Bell Island, named for its bell-shaped mountain, home to a cabin built by a British explorer. At Cape Norway on Jackson Island, you can get a closer look at the remnants of a stone hut with a memorial in honor of two Norwegian explorers who wintered there in the late 19th century. If you’re lucky, you may just spot a polar bear during your explorations! Head to Tikhaya Bukta or Calm Bay to see the remains of an abandoned weather station which is also home to the world’s northernmost post office. Sail on to the Stolichky and Appolonov islands, where you can find a significant walrus population. In favorable weather, you will be able to hop onto a Zodiac boat for a closer look at these pinnipeds in their natural habitat.
Jewels of the Russian Arctic: Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya (Days 13 – 14)
At Barents Sea: Relax and unwind on board your ship as you approach the tail end of your Arctic expedition. With helpful tips from the experienced expedition crew, try to spot the various whale species commonly found in the region. You can also watch some fascinating presentations on the region by your expedition leaders. Feel free to ask questions if you wish to gain further insights into the history and ecology of the region. Mingle with fellow guests as you relax in the lounge, swapping experiences and photos from the trip. You could also find yourself a cozy nook and watch the sea in peace as your ship sails on.
Jewels of the Russian Arctic: Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya (Day 15)
Disembarkation at Murmansk and Flight to Helsinki: Step ashore at Murmansk port once you have bid farewell to your expedition team and crew. Board your shared charter flight and buckle up as you take off from Russia’s northernmost city for Helsinki. As you prepare to land, take in aerial views of the Finnish capital city known for its pioneering architecture and design. Upon landing, you can head to your airport hotel and check-in for a good night’s rest.