Arrive in St. Petersburg and transfer to the Hotel Astoria. Spend the day at your leisure by relaxing or exploring this vibrant city.. Gather at the hotel in the evening for a welcome dinner and overnight.
After breakfast, board a flight to Arkhangelsk, Russia’s first seaport. Upon arrival, enjoy a lunch of traditional Russian foods at a local restaurant. Visit the lively farmers market where a local guide will highlight the culinary heritage of the Russian north. Drive past the city’s architectural landmarks on your way to the Island Sky and overnight.
Arrive in Arkhangelsk, the first city in Russia to establish trade relations with foreign merchants. Visit the highlights of Arkhangelsk and enjoy lunch on board the ship as the Island Sky cruises down the Dvina River to Mudiug Island. Go ashore to learn about the North Russia Intervention during the early 20th century and visit the former prison camp.
Spend a full day exploring Solovki Island, the main island of the Solovetskiy chain. Visit the magnificent Kremlin, which features eight towers and thick rock walls which surround the St. Nicholas Church. Also visit the Assumption Cathedral, Transfiguration Cathedral, and the museum of the infamous Gulag camp, which was established during the 1920s. Visit inland hermitages and churches, the botanical garden, and weather permitting, board small boats for a cruise along the stone-lined canals.
Sail for the second largest island of the Solovetskiy chain, Anzerskiy. The island is endowed with lovely, unspoiled forests and crystal-clear lakes. Anzerskiy is also the site of an active skete (monastic community), where you can learn about the history of the monastery.
Go ashore on Zayatskiy Island to visit prehistoric labyrinths and burial mounds. On Kuzova Island, observe numerous seid, which were stonesstacked in various configurations by the ancient Sami people.
Make several stops to visit the rustic villages of the Karelia region along the rugged western coast of the White Sea. Stroll along pebble beaches and peaceful fishing hamlets of simple wooden houses. Explore the coast by zodiac and witness countless seals and seabirds, including eiders and guillemots.
Step ashore the remote Pomor villages of the Kola Peninsula. The Pomors (people of the coast) traveled from the Russian mainland in the east and settled permanently here in the 13th – 14th centuries.
Wind, sea conditions, and tides determine your course during these two days of expedition cruising. Hope to explore the region by zodiac and visit the subsistence fishing villages which have never before been visited by foreign passenger ships.
Cruise along the northern coast of the remote Kola Peninsula, a wilderness of vast tundra, mountains, spectacular waterfalls, and some of the oldest forests in Europe.
Arrive in Murmansk, the world’s largest city north of the Arctic Circle. Take a city tour to view the major cargo port and its impressive fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers; the Orthodox Church, Savior-on-Waters; a lighthouse with panoramic views of the city; and the Murmansk Museum. Witness the city’s many monuments which commemorate its short but intense history.
After breakfast, go ashore in Kirkenes. Drive southward into the Pasvik Valley and go for nature walks to observe the valley’s unique birds and plants. Return to the ship for lunch before visiting the scenic settlement of Grense Jakobselv, just across from the Russian border.
North Cape, commonly referred to as the northernmost point of the European continent, sits on a 1,000-foot-high plateau that rises dramatically from the Barents Sea. Attend historical exhibits and a film about the region are highlights of the impressive edge-of-the-world visitor center. In the afternoon, stay on deck as the ship cruises along the coast of Norway, keeping watch for puffins, kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills, fulmars, cormorants, Arctic skuas, and majestic white-tailed eagles.
In the morning, disembark in Tromso, known as the 'Gateway to the Arctic,' and take a tour of this charming university city. Enjoy the incredible views from Mount Storsteinen, visit the unique Arctic Cathedral, and explore the Polar Museum. After lunch, board your flight to Oslo and transfer to the hotel for your final overnight.
In the morning, transfer to the airport for your connecting flight home.