Spitsbergen & Franz Josef Land Adventure 25 daysAboard: Greg Mortimer
Board the brand new polar vessel the Greg Mortimer to enjoy this fantastic itinerary that includes a circumnavigation of Spitsbergen and an in-depth exploration of Franz Josef Land in the Russian Arctic. Exploring around the stunning coastline of Spitsbergen you will enjoy spectacular glacier covered peaks, deep fjords, mysterious, fossil-rich desert plains and an abundance of Arctic wildlife. This voyage offers an almost guaranteed chance of seeing reindeers and polar bears, and features wildflower walks across sweeping tundra, trapper camps and historic sites. On foot and by Zodiac, you will visit abandoned whaling settlements, search for walrus, Arctic fox and reindeer and observe the millions of migratory birds, including little auks, guillemots and puffin that make these lands their home.
After a thrilling exploration of Spitsbergen your ship will sail through the Barents Sea high into the Arctic to the Franz Josef Land archipelago, a world that few people have been lucky enough to visit. Watch for Polar bears, whales, walrus and seals in the Russian Arctic National Park, and enjoy long walks across the tundra to explore the geological oddities and spectacular landscapes of the area. Exploring by Zodiac you will get up close to spectacular bird cliffs and visit fascinating historic huts of explorers like Fridtjof Nansen. Throughout your voyage the sheer abundance of wildlife, birdlife and scenic sights will delight, and with optional activities like kayaking, snorkelling and scuba diving available this is truly an adventure of a lifetime.
Please note: this itinerary is a combination of the Spitsbergen Odyssey and Franz Josef Land Explorer itineraries.
- Sail along Spitsbergen’s glacier-filled coastline & experience almost 24-hours of exquisite Arctic sunlight
- Experience the wonderful regions of Franz Josef Land and Svalbard in one itinerary!
- Fascinating geological sites including the mysterious stone spheres of Champ Island
- Watch for polar bears and other Arctic wildlife including whales, seals and walrus
- Zodiac beneath towering bird cliffs
- Visit historical sites including Nansen's winter camp at Cape Norway
- Exciting activity options including kayaking, snorkelling & scuba diving
- Photo workshop
- Full board accommodation on board ship with daily breakfast,
lunch and dinner including house wines, beers and soft drinks, afternoon
tea and snacks
- Pre-voyage group tour of Longyearbyen
- Group transfers to and from ship
- Captain's Welcome and Farewell drinks including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages
- Pre-dinner drinks including canapes and bar snacks
- Zodiac landings and excursions
- Programme of expert lectures
- Loan of rubber boots
- Complimentary 3-in-1 polar jacket
So much to experience
Too much to choose from? This is where we come in
Take advantage of our vast experience, passion and expertise to help you hand craft the perfect Arctic adventure for you.
With a lifetime of unforgettable nature and adventure based travel under his belt, Simon shares his passion, enthusiasm and hands-on experience to help create the perfect itinerary for every client.
Mike lives and breathes adventure travel and has a wealth of experience in some of the most exciting and inspirational destinations in the world. His expertise and first-hand experience afford him the skills to help build holidays to remember.
With countless travel experiences and an enduring hunger for adventure, Zoe knows exactly what’s needed to craft a holiday of a lifetime. Her experience and generosity of spirit are legendary and she’ll help you build an itinerary that will make all your dreams come true.
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All our itinerary holidays are fully customisable
Your Arctic adventure begins in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of Svalbard. Arrive independently and join the included group sightseeing tour of this unique Arctic town, before heading to the port to board your ship. Embarkation will begin in the late afternoon and you can take the time to settle into your new surroundings as the ship sails out of Isfjorden.
Early morning will reveal the spectacular aqua-blue ice cliffs of the 14th July Glacier or perhaps the Waggonway Glacier in Magdalenefjorden. Our itinerary throughout the journey will be dependent on weather, snow and ice conditions, and the presence of wildlife, and your captain will choose the best course each day to make the most of all opportunities. Thanks to the nutrient-rich Gulf Stream, temperatures on the rugged west coast are relatively mild, ideal for the many Atlantic puffins and thick-billed murres that fill the cliffs. We will explore by Zodiac looking for bearded seals and there may be kayaking and diving opportunities here. Areas we may explore include Ny Alesund, a mining town turned polar research centre and Amsterdamoya, where we can hike across the tundra keeping our eyes peeled for reindeer Arctic fox. Expert historians will accompany you as you explore the remains of a 350-year-old Dutch whaling settlement and find out more about life in this sometimes harsh environment.
Moffen Island & Woodfjorden
Rounding Spitsbergen’s northwest coast, your ship will enter the Arctic Ocean and a world of pack ice. A haven for wildlife, watch as the majestic polar bears stalk the ringed, bearded and harp seals, and beluga whales drift below the surface. Likely stops here include Moffen Island, where walrus haul out on the beaches, and beautiful walks across the tundra reveal exquisite flowering plants including purple saxifrage, yellow spider plants and Svalbard poppies. We will visit trapper huts and continue to keep a look out for reindeer and Arctic fox and, if ice conditions allow, your ship will attempt to cross latitude 80° north before turning south to Woodfjorden.
North & East Spitsbergen
Welcome to the wild side! Frigid Arctic currents sweep around Spitsbergen's northeast corner, lowering air and sea temperatures, and creating a landscape eroded by severe frost. Even in summer, pack ice could bar our way. Your highly experienced captain and crew will take advantage of every opportunity for wildlife sightings and adventures. We will attempt to pass through the narrow Hinlopen Strait, between Spitsbergen and the ice-capped Nordaustlandet.
You will enjoy Zodiac cruising beneath Alkefjellt, sheer basalt cliffs rising more than 250 metres, literally buzzing with some 200,000 nests of Brunnich's guillemots, possibly with Arctic fox scavenging below. On Torrellneset, we could well approach dozens of sleeping walrus. A true polar desert, the east coast offers walks among stunted glaciers, exposed fossil fields, and tundra, where we watch for Arctic fox, eider ducks and the elusive Svalbard ptarmigan. Sailing between Barentsoya and Edgeoya, we cross polar bear migration routes and may visit Sundeneset, a fertile plain covered in green mosses and delicate flowers, including the yellow marsh saxifrage.
Hornsund & Bellsund
This is true expedition cruising, where plans are dictated by ice conditions and our desire to explore. If pack ice allows, we round South Cape, returning to the world of open water and rugged coastal mountains, and sail north toward Hornsund and Bellsund, deep fjords with remarkable glaciers and wildlife. If ice stops us on the east side, we adjust our itinerary, backtrack and delve deeper into the wonders of Spitsbergen's north and west coasts, including a visit to colonies where hundreds of thousands of little auks nest, darkening the sky as they commute to their fishing grounds.
Today your ship will sail back in to Longyearbyen to say goodbye to passengers who have only booked the Spitsbergen element of the tour and say hello to those joining us for the Franz Josef Land adventure. As fellow passengers embark and disembark there will be time for you to leave the ship and join one of the many exciting excursions available in Longyearbyen including dog sledding, sustainable Arctic fishing or fossil hunting, before we board the Greg Mortimer for the second half of our High Arctic adventure.
As your captain steers the ship through the Barents Sea towards the Russian Far East and the Franz Josef Land archipelago there will be excellent opportunities for wildlife sightings. Spend some time in one of the many observation areas to look out for sea birds and whales following the ship and enjoy informative and entertaining talks around the wildlife, history and geology of the remote wilderness areas that you are about to visit.
Franz Josef Land
Day 14 of your adventure marks your arrival in the Russian Arctic wilderness of the Franz Josef Land archipelago. Made up of 191 islands, 85% of the archipelago is dominated by gigantic tidewater glaciers and towering icebergs, so make sure to always have your camera on hand for that perfect ice scenery picture. Exploring by Zodiac we will make landings on the central-most islands including Bell Island and Champ Island where the mysterious stone spheres are a sight to behold. You will be on a constant look out for wildlife including Polar bears and the elusive bowhead whale, as well as sailing below the towering cliffs hosting massive nesting colonies of seabirds such as guillemots, dovekies and kittiwakes. Each day your captain will choose the best areas to visit for scenic and wildlife opportunities and other landings we expect to make include Prince George Land and Alexandra Land.
After your exhilarating time in Franz Josef Land we clear Russian customs and your ship will head back towards Svalbard across the Barents Sea. Spend time on deck watching for more wildlife and enjoy the presentations and lectures from your onboard experts.
As we sail around Svalbard’s stunning northwest coast back towards Longyearbyen there may be time to make some further landings in this pristine Arctic wilderness.
A midnight cruise of beautiful Isfjorden returns us to Longyearbyen, and signals the end of our spectacular voyage. After disembarkation a transfer to the airport for your onward flight will be provided. Or should you wish to spend more time in this unique Arctic town there are many opportunities for extra excursions and adventures.
A view from Above
The brand new (2018-19) “Greg Mortimer” is a purpose-built expedition vessel capable of negotiating the strongest winds and waves, and has been built to world-class polar standards. The Greg Mortimer redefines expedition cruising for the future, utilising the ULSTEIN X-BOW, a cutting edge nautical technology which allows for gentle travel and motion at sea, reduced vibrations, improved comfort and safety on board, virtual anchoring, lower fuel consumption and lower air emissions. Robust, powerful, and built with passengers’ comfort and safety at the forefront of design, the Greg Mortimer features a modern ice-strengthened hull at ice class 1A, four sea-level launching platforms for fast and efficient access to Zodiacs, a custom-built activity platform, the most up-to-date and concise safety features including the latest ‘return to port’ technology, and has been built to meet and exceed the strict environment standards of the Polar Code, for non-intrusive and low-impact voyages. For exceptional at sea wildlife and scenery viewing opportunities the ship has custom-built hydraulic platforms offering unobstructed views, an indoor observation lounge, side viewing platforms and an outdoor top deck which allows for 360-degree views. With space for 120 passengers the ship has 80 well designed staterooms with en-suite bathrooms, ranging from porthole to balcony categories, a large dining room/restaurant with family style dining, a spacious lecture room, a well stocked library, Wellness Centre complete with gym equipment, sauna and spa, a multimedia room and a fully-stocked medical centre.
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