Day 1 Helsinki, Finland
Arrive in Helsinki, known for its extraordinary architecture and design scene and intriguing mix of eastern and western influences. Explore the museums, galleries and restaurants, relax at a Finnish sauna or wander the vibrant Design District before retiring at your included hotel.
Day 2 Murmansk | Embark
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Dinner
After having your breakfast, head to the airport and board the private charter flight to Murmansk, Russia. Once aboard, get acquainted with the ship and crew and settle in for your voyage north.
Day 3-4 At Sea
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Spend two days sailing through the Barents Sea. Learn about the storied history and politics of the region, its fascinating wildlife, geology, ecology and climate, and the incredible sights before exploring them yourselves. Watch for seabirds, such as kittiwakes, skuas and fulmars soaring above your ship. Whale and seal sightings are also possible in this biologically diverse sea.
Day 5-7 Exploring Novaya Zemlya
- 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
During these three days, explore the largest of the Eurasian Arctic archipelagoes, the rarely visited Novaya Zemlya. This seemingly long, narrow island actually consists of two main islands, Severny (northern) and Yuzhny (southern), separated by the imposing Matochkin Strait. Explore Inostrantseva Bay that provides breathtaking panoramic views of the pristine Arctic wilderness. You can also cruise by Zodiac along the face of the glacier, at a safe distance, possibly witnessing the wonders of calving ice. Encounters with Brünnich’s guillemots (thick-billed murres) are likely, owing to a small colony in the coastal cliffs.
To the east side of Severny Island are the Oransky Islands. Wildlife abounds here, with a variety of animal and plant life to be discovered, Walrus have been sighted here on many previous expeditions. Coming across a walrus haul-out is unforgettable. These giant pinnipeds of the Arctic create a raucous as each walrus vies for a choice spot of coastline. Encounters with whales and seabirds are possible, as well as polar bears, a genetically distinct subpopulation here.
A significant site in polar exploration, Novaya Zemlya also offers a number of opportunities for you to trace the footsteps of famous explorers and reflect on the region’s history.
Day 8-13 Exploring the Kara Sea & Severnaya Zemlya
- 6 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 6 Dinners
Cruise further east exploring the Kara Sea. Know as the "ice cellar" of the Arctic, Kara Sea is often encumbered by trapped ice floes. There are several sites and small archipelagoes along the Siberian coast to explore, tracing the path of polar explorers searching for the Northeast Passage. The areas to explore are determined considering the weather and ice conditions but some areas you can visit include Russky Island, Troynoy Island and Cape Chelyuskin.
Both Russky Island and Troynoy Island are part of the Great Arctic State Nature Reserve, the largest reserve in Eurasia. Russky Island is the site of a former polar station, established, in part, to monitor navigation along the Northern Sea Route, the Russian section of the Northeast Passage.
Troynoy Island is the largest of the Izvesti Tsik Islands, about 90 miles (150 km) off the coast of the Taymyr Peninsula. The island is uninhabited, except for the researchers at the weather station. Home to an ivory gull colony, the island is also frequented by polar bears.
At the tip of the Taymyr Peninsula is Cape Chelyuskin, the northernmost point of the Russian and Eurasian mainland and the site of another active research station.
Dependent on ice and weather conditions, an exploration of Severnaya Zemlya embodies the true spirit of adventure. Dominated by glaciers and polar desert, the archipelago was not discovered until 1913 and remained virtually unexplored till 1930–32, the last major undiscovered territory on earth. Amongst many possible destinations, visit a number of glaciers, including the Vavilov Ice Cap and those at Marat Fjord. If conditions are favorable, cruise the Red Army Strait, flanked by the massive Academy of Sciences Glacier (which also runs along the eastern shore of Zhuravlev Bay) and the smaller Rusanov Glacier. As one of the very few people to ever explore this remote area in depth have your camera ready to capture these amazing sights.
Day 14 At Sea
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
There are several activities to keep you engaged while at sea. Attend dynamic presentations by your Expedition Team, relax in the polar library or simply spend some time on deck, admiring the sea and searching for wildlife.
Day 15-18 Exploring Franz Josef Island
- 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
This remote group of 191 islands, many covered in ice, forms the most northerly archipelago in Eurasia and lies entirely within the Arctic Circle. A nature reserve, it is part of the Russian Arctic National Park. Weather and ice conditions will shape your exploration, but you can hope to explore historical sites, remote seabird colonies and walrus haul-out at some notable destinations, such as Cape Flora, Cape Norway, Bell Island and Tikhaya Bukta. Polar bear encounters are also possible.
On Jackson Island, Cape Norway is where Norwegian explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen wintered from 1895 to 1896. The conditions were astonishingly difficult, but they survived until the summer and continued their journey south. The remains of their small hut are still here today, along with a memorial marking the event.
Exploring Tikhaya Bukta (Calm Bay), the site of an abandoned weather station on Hooker Island, will feel like stepping back in time. There is plenty to discover as you wander the ruins, immersed in Russian polar history, and you may even be able to send a postcard from the post office!
Another possible landing site, if time and weather permit, is Cape Tegetthoff on Hall Island, visit the Barents memorial. The scenery here is spectacular, and possibly view polar bears and Atlantic walrus.
Day 19-20 At Sea
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Have a couple of days to sail through this wildlife-rich sea, where whales of various species are often seen. Take in a presentation, reminisce about your journey with your shipmates, relax in the lounge while swapping stories and photos or enjoy the solitude of the sea. Expedition staff can answer any questions and spot wildlife.
Day 21 Murmansk | Disembark | Fly to Helsinki
Returning to Russia’s most northerly city, say your goodbyes to the Expedition Team and crew before catching the group charter flight back to Helsinki.
Day 22 Depart Helsinki, Finland
After breakfast, spend time exploring more of the Finnish capital or catch your homeward-bound flight.