Norway, Murmansk & Franz Josef Land 15 DaysAboard: MS Spitsbergen
This unique and exciting Arctic expedition to the top of the world combines some of the beautifully rugged Norwegian fjords with an exploration of the remote and wild Franz Josef Land archipelago. Sailing to and from Tromsø you will discover the scenic island of Sørøya before venturing to within 600 nautical miles of the North Pole to enjoy 5 days of authentic expedition exploration in rarely visited Franz Josef Land, where polar bears and myriad birds live amongst the most dramatic of landscapes. With a Russian experience in the port of Murmansk and a visit to the North Cape in between, this is a fantastic “top of the world” itinerary that will be truly unforgettable.
- Explore the rarely visited, wild and rugged Franz Josef Land archipelago
- Visit the beautiful Sørøya island and stand at the North Cape, the northernmost point of mainland Europe
- Enjoy a taste of Russia in the port of Murmansk
- Great chances of spotting polar bears and other wildlife including seals, walrus, Arctic fox and thousands of seabirds
- Spectacular scenery at every turn
- Full board accommodation on board ship
- Wind and water-resistant jacket
- Landings with small boats and activities on board and ashore
- Professional English-speaking Expedition team that provide lectures as well as accompanying landings and activities
- Free tea and coffee
So much to experience
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Our top of the world adventure will begin in Tromsø, the starting point for so many great adventures that have come before us. Known as the Gateway to the Arctic, Tromsø is a delightful place to visit and we recommend arriving a day or two early to have the chance to explore. Embarkation will begin in the afternoon and after settling into your cabin and exploring your new surroundings you may want to spend some time on deck soaking up the beautiful scenery as we make our way towards Sørøya.
The first stop on our adventure will be the beautiful island of Sørøya, Norway’s fourth largest island. This remote and sparsely populated island features a dramatic, exposed coastline and we will come ashore to take a closer look and for some scenic photo opportunities. There are some great hiking opportunities here and we plan to take some walks across the relatively easy terrain which will reward in beautiful views. We also plan to make a visit to one of the roadless fishing settlements on the island before boarding our ship again and heading towards the North Cape.
Murmansk & At Sea
Today we will start our journey towards Franz Josef Land and make a stop at Murmansk to clear customs for entering into Russian territory. Murmansk is the largest city found north of the Arctic Circle and we will return to here for further exploration on our return from Franz Josef Land.
As we sail north you can enjoy your informative and entertaining lecture and presentation programme which will offer you the chance to discover more about the wildlife, geology and history of the Franz Josef Land archipelago. Keep an eye out on deck for seabirds and the first of many ice floes sightings.
Franz Josef Land
Today we reach the pinnacle of our adventure as we arrive at the remarkable Franz Josef Land archipelago. In true expedition style our exact route here will be determined by sea, ice and weather conditions, and your experienced captain and crew will decide each day on the best route to take to ensure you make the very most of your time here. These mystical islands are composed of basalt rocks cut by dramatic glaciers, majestic mountain formations, deep fjords, buzzing bird cliffs and endless arctic tundra with diverse flora and fauna.
We will spend 5 days here exploring the world’s northernmost archipelago discovering rarely-visited historical sites and searching for memorable wildlife encounters including polar bears, walrus, seals, thousands of seabirds and the Arctic fox.
Areas we expect to visit include Northbrook Island where we will land at Cape Flora to see the thousands of sea birds that nest on the cliffs including brünnichs guillemots and black-legged kittiwakes. Cape Flora is also an important spot in Arctic history as it was here where Fridtjof Nansen was rescued by Fredrick Jackson in 1896 after having to unexpectedly over-winter here. We will also visit Bell Island to see the remains of the oldest building on Franz Josef Land and participate in an optional beach cleanup.
During our time in the islands we will explore both on foot and by small boat, and Rubini Rock bird cliff is a perfect place for a cruise as we get up close to the central remains of a conical volcano here and see the best bird cliffs in the archipelago. In Calm Bay we will spend the day exploring, birdwatching and learning about the history of the area including the well-known rescue of the team of meteorologists from the Russian Sedov station who were marooned here at the beginning of the Second World War and weren’t rescued until 1945. We also hope to visit Jackson Island to see Cape Norvegia where Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen overwintered, and Alexandra Land where we will find the headquarters of the Russian Arctic National Park.
We will also take a small boat cruise to Champ Island where we will land at Cape Triest to see the famous “Devils Marbles”, a group of remarkable spherical rock formations which measure up to 2 metres in diameter.
Throughout our time here we will be on a constant lookout for wildlife and with an estimated polar bear population of 3000, sightings of the elusive ‘king of the Arctic’ are very likely, although of course cannot be guaranteed.
As we leave behind the wonders of Franz Josef Land we will spend 2 days crossing the Barents Sea back towards Murmansk. After all that adventure this is a great time to relax and soak up the memories of the last few days. Your lecture and presentation programme will continue and we recommend spending some time on deck looking out for seabirds following the ship.
Today we will arrive back in Murmansk and this time we will have the opportunity to explore the city. Places you may wish to visit include the 35-meter-high statue of a Russian soldier, known as Alyosha, which dramatically overlooks the port and is a memorial to the Russian soldiers who fought in the Second World War. There is also a striking gold-domed church, the church of the Saviour on the Waters, which is worth a visit along with the lighthouse monument and part of the remains of the ill-fated submarine Kursk.
In the early hours of day 14 we recommend having your cameras ready as your ship sails past the spectacular North Cape cliff offering you a stunning view of this famous landmark on the northernmost tip of mainland Europe. A short time later we will arrive at Skarsvåg, the world's northernmost fishing village which lies along the northern coast of the island of Magerøya.
Today you can join an optional excursion to the North Cape to experience the feeling of standing at the edge of the world and to see the famous statue that marks this important spot. There is also a museum here which is worth a visit, and enough breathtaking scenery to fill your cameras.
Arrival back in to the port of Tromsø signals the end of our Arctic adventure and sadly it will be time to bid a fond farewell to our expedition team and fellow passengers. Known as the Gateway to the Arctic, Tromsø is a delightful place to visit and should you wish to extend your stay here please feel free to ask for details of extra excursions.
A view from Above
Originally built in 2009, the Spitsbergen has been completely refurbished and now offers a range of accommodation including inside and outside cabins and suites, all with private showerrooms. Public areas are light and airy and include lounges, dining room and bistro, bars, children's playroom, library, fitness room, sauna, two jacuzzis and observation deck. There are two passenger lifts.
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Having amassed a host of extraordinary adventures in destinations all over the world, Amy’s experience, skills and enthusiasm for helping clients plan their ideal itinerary will help make your holiday unforgettable, action packed and life-changing.
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Mike has more than 15 years of experience in the travel industry and continues to be inspired by the people, places and wildlife he discovers. His in-depth personal knowledge of a diverse range of destinations ensures your adventure itinerary will be a holiday like no other.