Sea of Okhotsk: Okhotsk & Sakhalin Cruise

Photos provided by Heritage Expeditions
A sunset over Siberia
Katya Ovsyanikova
The Kamchatka Brown Bear is a unique subspecies found only in the Russia Far East
N. Russ
Zodiac cruises are surrounded by a flock of Auklets
G. Riehle
Sea Otters play in the water
A. Breniere
Visitors are welcomed to Magadan, a coastal Russian city
A. Russ
Views from the Spirit of Enderby's Western Pacific Odyssey
South Pacific fish
The upper regions of the Sea of Okhotsk remain frozen for much of the year and winter storms make it an inhospitable place. Despite frequent fishing, whaling, and oil drilling - wildlife thrives in this region, including the beautifully-marked Ribbon Seal. Seabird number in the Sea of Okhotsk can only be described as spectacular. Join this 12-day one-of-a-kind journey to discover a little-known and seldom-visited region rich with history and wildlife.

Day 1

    Sakhalin Island, Port of Korsakov

    This morning transfer by coach to the Port of Korsakov some 40 minutes south of the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk where you embark the Spirit of Enderby. Once on board you are shown to your cabins and you have a chance to unpack and explore the vessel. Briefings and introductions to the ship, crew, and staff take place today after the ship sails towards the Sea of Okhotsk.

    Day 2

      Tyuleniy Island

      Visit little-known Tyuleniy Island off the south east coast of Sakhalin Island. This small island is a strong hold for Northern Fur Seals and Steller Sea Lions. Fur seal numbers have increased since a 1911 International Convention banned seal hunting here. In the 1990s Steller Sea Lions started breeding on the island and their colony now numbers about 2,500 animals. Sea conditions permitting, plan a landing here for an opportunity to photograph the seals and sea lions.

      Day 3

        Piltun Bay, Sakhalin Island

        It was the discovery of oil and gas in this region which put Sakhalin Island on many people’s maps. Piltun Bay is an important habitat for the small population of western Gray Whales. Researchers monitor the population during the summer months. Traveling by Zodiac, go to the shallower waters in search of the Gray Whales that live here.

        Day 4

          Iony Island

          Iony Island lies in the middle of the Sea of Okhotsk, it is really just a rock, but what it lacks in physical size it more than makes up for wildlife. Birds appear to take up all available space; there are guillemots, kittiwakes and various species of auklets, with Parakeet, Whiskered and Least being the most prominent. Take a Zodiac cruise around the island as Steller Sea Lions occupy the few rocky beaches, making any landing impossible.

          Days 5-6

            Shantar Archipelago

            Lying in the western sector of the Sea of Okhotsk close to the continent, the islands in this archipelago are amongst the last place in the Sea of Okhotsk to become free of ice each year. This late ice can sometimes restrict exploration here; on the other hand, ice increases the chances of seeing seals including Bearded, Ringed, Largha and Ribbon Seals that breed here. If landing is possible, birding, botany and photography excursions led by our team of on board naturalists are on the docket.

            Day 7

              Mal'minskie Islands

              Here birds are everywhere: in the air, in the water, and on the land. Numerous species breed here including large numbers of Spectacled Guillemot. Other species include Ancient Murrelet, Rhinoceros Auklet, Parakeet Auklet, Horned and Tufted Puffin, Crested Auklet and both Common and Brunnichs Guillemot. There is also a large population of Steller’s Sea Eagles on the island and on the adjacent mainland. Landing on the island is restricted to a small gravel spit; however on the mainland you can stretch your legs and explore the taiga forest.

              Day 8

                Okhotsk Town

                This town has featured prominently in Russian Far East history since the earliest Cossack explorers came from the west. Vitus Bering traveled overland from St. Petersburg to Okhotsk in 1725 and again 1733 and traveled to Kamchtka and beyond. Today Okhotsk is the center of fishing in the region. The port exports significant quantities of salmon and other fish. Visit the town, landing by Zodiac up the river near the town center. The local people are generous and welcoming and often provide entertainment in the town center and a cultural display.

                Day 9

                  Talan Island

                  An internationally-known, but very difficult bird island to get to, Talan is infamous for the hundreds of thousands of Crested Auklets that nest there. An extraordinary number of kittiwakes can also be found nesting along the cliffs, joined by a large population of Steller’s Sea Eagles. The crew plans to circumnavigate the island by Zodiac before landing and then return in the late evening to witness the huge flocks of Crested Auklets amassing at sea before coming ashore.

                  Day 10

                    Koni Peninsula

                    This is a mountainous region to the south-east of the town of Magadan, part of which is included in the Magadanskiy Zapovednik. This reserve protects Brown Bear and Snow Sheep, among other animals. Many of the landings here are expeditionary - meaning that many of these locations may be new and unknown, so you are never quite sure what you might find. That is part of what makes this style of travel so interesting!

                    Day 11

                      Yamskiye Islands

                      These islands are claimed by some biologists to be the largest bird colony in the North Pacific. According to bird counts there are an estimated 7 million birds nesting on Matykil Island, the largest in the archipelago. Birds include Common and Brunnichs Guillemot, Crested, Parakeet and Least Auklets, Tufted and Horned Puffins and Northern Fulmars. The most abundant of these is the Least Auklet. Zodiac around the coast as no landings are permitted.

                      Day 12

                        Magadan

                        For many the name Magadan is synonymous with Stalin’s oppressive Gulags or prisons, but there is very little evidence now of this town’s tragic past. The local museum has an excellent display about the Gulags but the most poignant reminder is the ‘Mask of Sorrow,’ a large monument on a hill overlooking the town. Today Magadan is a town of about 100,000 people. Fishing is important and gold mining is experiencing a revival. The infamous Kolyma Highway or the ‘Road of Bones’ connects Magadan with Irkutsk and ultimately greater Russia. We plan to arrive here midday where our journey ends. Transferred to a central hotel or the airport to continue your travels.
                         Main Deck TripleMain deckSuperiorSuperior PlusMini SuiteHeritage Suite
                        2015-Jun-09$6,700$7,800$8,300$9,000$9,400$10,300
                        Landing fees: $500 per person
                        Places
                        Asia, Arctic, Europe, Russia, Russia, Iony Island, Okhotski Town, Talan Island, Koni Peninsula, Yamskiye Islands, Korsakov, Tyuleniy Island, Piltun Bay, Shantar Archipelago, Mal'minskie Islands, Magadan
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                        - Travel Insurance is mandatory for all passengers aboard the Spirit of Enderby.
                        - Single clients are matched with a sharer of the same sex in a twin-share cabin. Payment of a single supplement guarantees a single cabin. The single supplement is 1.8 times the price of the voyage with the exception of the suites which are double the single rate.
                        - Included in the cruise fare is a pre-departure hotel night, group dinner as well as breakfast the next day prior to embarkation.
                        Please note: Cruise fare does not include governmental landing fees.

                        This trip includes:
                        Pre/Post cruise transfers, all on board ship accommodation and meals and all shore excursions as outlined in the itinerary.

                        This trip does not include:
                        All items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities. International/domestic flights, landing fees, visas and travel insurance.

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                        Initial deposit is 30%, and most travelers will call our office and pay the deposit with a credit card. We accept Visa, Mastercard, AmEx, and Discover. Alternatively, you can send a check to our Missoula, Montana, office or register online at: https://www.adventure-life.com/forms/register

                        Final payment is due 100 days prior to departure.

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                        Cancellation Policy

                        Days Prior to departureFee
                        180 Days or more$950 per person
                        179-91 daysDeposit
                        90 days or less100% trip cost