Day 1: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Welcome to Longyearbyen, the Arctic adventure capital of the Norwegian territory of Svalbard and starting point of our expedition. After arriving via scheduled commercial flight, you are free to explore this small but fascinating settlement. Be sure to see the excellent Svalbard Museum and enjoy the shops, cafes and restaurants in the town center. Your hotel for the night has been arranged by us and is included in the price of the voyage.
Day 2: Embarkation in Longyearbyen
In the afternoon we welcome you aboard the expedition ship M/V Sea Spirit; transfers from the hotel are included. Explore the ship and get comfortable in your home-away-from-home for the extraordinary adventure to come. The long days of summer sunlight illuminate our surroundings as we slip our moorings and sail into a true wilderness where wildlife abounds. The scenery as we sail through Isfjorden on our first evening is spectacular and there is already the possibility of marine mammal encounters.
Day 3-4: Across the Barents Sea
From Isfjorden we proceed straight to Franz Josef Land across the Barents Sea. Presentations and workshops by our expert staff prepare us for what lies ahead.
In these far northern latitudes, it is possible to encounter sea ice even in summer. Along the way, we’ll remain vigilant for sightings of ice-dependent marine mammals such as the elusive bowhead whale, various Arctic seal species, and the majestic polar bear.
Day 5-11: Exploration of Franz Josef Land
This is expedition cruising at its most authentic. As such, our route and exploration opportunities in Franz Josef Land are heavily dependent on weather and sea ice. Our experienced captain and expedition leader decide our best route and continually adjust plans as opportunities warrant in this wild and remote corner of the Arctic.
Between obligatory initial and final calls at the Russian polar station Nagurskoye in Cambridge Bay we are free to explore the many waterways and islands of this unique Arctic wilderness.
The archipelago, part of the Russian Arctic National Park since 2012, is a nature sanctuary. Polar bears and other quintessential High Arctic wildlife—such as walruses and some rare whale species—can be spotted anytime, anywhere in and around Franz Josef Land. Scree slopes and cliffs around the islands host enormous nesting colonies of seabirds such as guillemots, dovekies, and kittiwakes. We’ll take advantage of the 24-hour daylight to exploit every opportunity for wildlife viewing.
Franz Josef Land is dominated by glaciation, which covers 85% of the archipelago. Immense tidewater glaciers and glittering icebergs provide a stunning backdrop to our voyage. Franz Josef Land is also home to some interesting geological features, such as the mysterious stone spheres on Champ Island. Collectors of geographical extremes may take note that Cape Fligely on Rudolf Island is the northernmost point of land in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Franz Josef Land also offers visitors the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of famous polar explorers at well-preserved historical sites. The journals of explorers such as Julius von Payer, Benjamin Leigh Smith, Frederick George Jackson, and Fridtjof Nansen come alive at Cape Norway, Cape Flora, Eira Harbour, and Cape Tegetthoff. Memorials, monuments, crosses and the remains of dwellings are testimony to incredible historical events that are further illuminated by our expert lecturers.
Tikhaya Bukhta is currently a Russian Arctic National Park ranger station occupying Soviet-era research buildings and was also a major base for polar expeditions. Nearby the fascinating columnar basalt cliffs of Rubini Rock are home to thousands of nesting seabirds.
Our primary focus during this expedition is the exploration of the Russian archipelago of Franz Josef Land. However, the number of days spent there depends on ice conditions. Final daily programs are subject to change and the decision of the captain and expedition leader.
Day 12-13: Along the coasts of Svalbard
Following our week of exploration in Franz Josef Land, we cross back through the bountiful waters of the Barents Sea and then along the coastal islands of the Svalbard Archipelago. From panoramic open decks, enjoy Arctic landscapes and wildlife sightings. Bountiful inshore and offshore waters are home to walrus and a wide variety of whales.
The crossing also gives our expedition team the opportunity to offer a final presentation or two in the Oceanus Lounge. Weather and timing permit, we’ll launch our Zodiacs to have a closer look at wildlife as we head back to Longyearbyen.
Day 14: Disembarkation in Longyearbyen, Svalbard
After breakfast we say farewell in the town of Longyearbyen, where we started our expedition. We provide a transfer to the airport, or to the town center if you plan to spend more time here. As you look back on your wonderful experience, you may already be looking forward to your next incredible adventure to the ice!
Note: Aug 14, 2021 departure is one day shorter (Day 5-10 at Franz Joseph Land)