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Walruses coming ashore in the arctic

Franz Josef Land Explorer

2021 - Example 16 Day Cruise aboard Greg Mortimer
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Experience a rare chance to discover the wondrous islands of Franz Josef Land and visit the Novaya Zemlya archipelago. From Murmansk, cross the Barents Sea to a world few have seen, 900 kilometers (560 miles) from the North Pole. Enter the Russian Arctic National Park and watch for polar bears, whales, walrus, and seals. Enjoy long tundra walks and geological oddities. Get up close to spectacular bird cliffs and visit fascinating historical remains. 

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Kirkenes, Norway | Embark
Day 2 : Murmansk, Russia
Days 3-4 : Barents Sea
Day 5 : Novaya Zemlya
Day 6 : At Sea | Arrive at Franz Josef Land
Days 7-13 : Franz Josef Land
Days 14-15 : Barents Sea
Day 16 : Murmansk | Disembark


  • Marvel at the frozen landscape of Franz Josef Land, 85% of which is glaciated
  • Photograph unique stone spheres at Champ Island
  • Attempt landings at Novaya Zemlya archipelago
  • Watch for hunting polar bears on pack ice and on land


Greg Mortimer

Places Visited


Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

Mysterious natural round stones of Franz Josef Land Walruses coming ashore in the arctic Franz Josef Land scenery Arctic Polar Bear Sail past bird colonies on your Arctic cruise Arctic puffins

Day 1 Kirkenes, Norway | Embark

Arrive in Kirkenes, Norway, located on the border with Russia. Join a pre-arranged half day excursion or activity prior to boarding the Greg Mortimer in the late afternoon. Airport transfers will be included if arriving on preferred flights into Kirkenes.

You’ll have time to settle into your cabin before your important briefings. Sail the scenic Bokfjord to reach the Barents Sea on your way to Murmansk in neighboring Russia.

Day 2 Murmansk, Russia

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After sailing overnight into Russia, stop in Murmansk, to undergo formalities to enter Russia. During clearance procedures, you may go on a city of Murmansk visiting the monument to the soldier of WW2 and also the first nuclear icebreaker Lenin.

Day 3-4 Barents Sea

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Over the next two days at sea, enjoy informative and entertaining lectures from your expert expedition team including naturalists, historian, and geologists.

Day 5 Novaya Zemlya

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Novaya Zemlya archipelago was once an important nuclear research site during the cold war, and today only a few places in the north are accessible to visitors. These islands offer stunning rugged Arctic landscapes - enormous extinct volcanoes, jagged cliffs and the most isolated mountain range in the Baltic Sea. For wildlife lovers, Novaya Zemlya boasts a great variety of flora and fauna, many of which are on the brink of extinction.

You can hope to visit Inostrantseva Bay, which has one of the most picturesque glaciers in the entire Novaya Zemlya archipelago. The bay offers breathtaking panoramic views of Arctic wilderness. The fog can be quite thick here and the swell can be high, but the expedition team will attempt to launch Zodiacs to explore the bay and photograph the stunning icy landscape. If you’re able to land, enjoy hiking along the coastline and observe some of the endemic species of Arctic flora and fauna.

Just north of the northern tip of Novaya Zemlya Archipelago is Oransky, a group of several small inshore islands, located within the Russian Arctic National Park established in 2009. The islands themselves are not inhabited by humans, but remnants of early hunting activity are visible. At the nearby Zhelania Cape, situated at the northeastern-most tip of Northern Island a manned weather station was operated as well as a military base, but both were closed in the 1990s. On Oransky Islands Brünnich’s guillemots, black-legged kittiwakes, glaucous gulls, black guillemots, Atlantic puffins and great skuas can be found breeding. You may get a chance to see a massive walrus rookery, various species of whale, and the Novaya Zemlya reindeer. If we’re very lucky we may also see polar bear, and the ones found at Novaya Zemlya are considered to be a genetically unique sub-species.

Day 6 At Sea | Arrive at Franz Josef Land

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner

Day 7-13 Franz Josef Land

  • Ship
  • 7 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 7 Dinners
Franz Josef Land is a stark yet beautiful world of glaciers, mosses and lichens. Approximately five million seabirds nest on the archipelago every year, with the Brünnich’s guillemot accounting for approximately twenty percent of the population. Other seabirds such as fulmar, kittiwake, black guillemot and little auk, are common throughout the archipelago. On the flat tundra, nest species such as common eider, purple sandpiper, arctic skua, glaucous gull, ivory gull, arctic tern and snow bunting can be seen. Franz Josef Land is home to two arctic giants – the polar bear and the walrus. The waters of Franz Josef Land are visited by whales, including humpback, bowhead, narwhal and white beluga whale. Possible landings may include Prince George Land, Alexandra Land, Bell and Mabel Island, Champ Island and Cape Flora (Northbrook Island).

Day 14-15 Barents Sea

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
The return crossing of the Barents Sea offers some good opportunities to encounter whales, perhaps the elusive bowhead whale if you’re lucky, and certainly plenty of opportunities to photograph seabirds.

Day 16 Murmansk | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Arrive in Murmansk in the morning, bid farewell to your expedition team, crew and fellow expeditioners as you all continue your onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature. A transfer to downtown Murmansk or the airport is included in the cost of the voyage. 

Greg Mortimer

Per person starting at
Greg Mortimer-Aurora Stateroom Triple
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Aurora Stateroom Triple
6 rooms available. All include en-suite bathrooms, three single beds, porthole window, desk area and 42" flat-screen TV
Greg Mortimer
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Aurora Stateroom Twin
Greg Mortimer features 8 porthole rooms, all with private en-suites. Located on Deck 3, they're close to the mudroom and loading platforms, perfect for adventurers who are looking for a comfortable base that's close to the action.
Greg Mortimer
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Balcony Stateroom C
14 rooms available. All include en-suite bathrooms, floor to ceiling windows and balconies and a select number are also connecting rooms, perfect for families or groups.
Greg Mortimer
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Balcony Stateroom B
22 rooms available. All include en-suite bathrooms, floor to ceiling windows and balconies and a select number are also connecting rooms, perfect for families or groups.
Greg Mortimer
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Balcony Stateroom A
22 rooms available. All include en-suite bathrooms, floor to ceiling windows and balconies and a select number are also connecting rooms, perfect for families or groups.
Greg Mortimer
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Balcony Suite
With a bit more room to stretch the legs, the Greg Mortimer's two Balcony Suites are perfect for polar adventurers who travel with plenty of gear. Featuring private balconies, en-suite bathrooms and a comfortable desk area, these will sell out quickly!
Greg Mortimer
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Junior Suite
The Greg Mortimer's four Junior Suites take in some impressive scenery from their vantage points on Deck 7. When you aren't enjoying a landing, you can relax in the suites' separate lounge area, or just watch the world float by from the private balcony.
Greg Mortimer
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Captain's Suite
The largest of all the rooms, the Greg Mortimer's singular Captain's Suite will take you to the polar regions in ultimate style and comfort. Complete with large lounge area, balcony, walk-in wardrobe and en-suite.


Expedition Inclusions
  • Half day tour or activity in Kirkenes on Day 1 prior to embarking Greg Mortimer OR Group sightseeing tour of Murmansk on Day 1 prior to embarking Greg Mortimer
  • Group sightseeing tour of Murmansk on Day 2 (July 19, 2021 departure only)
  • Group transfer from ship to downtown or airport in Murmansk on Day 16 OR Group transfer from ship to airport in Kirkenes on Day 16
  • Onboard accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service
  • All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage
  • Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell reception including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages
  • All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises
  • Educational lectures and guiding services from expedition team
  • Access to our onboard doctor and basic medical services
  • A 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket
  • Complimentary use of muck boots during the voyage
  • Comprehensive pre-departure information
  • A printed photo book produced with photos from your voyage
  • Port surcharges, permits, and landing fees
Note: A $15 USD per person per day gratuity for the crew is automatically added to your onboard account. It is at your discretion if you would like to remove the tip (or increase/decrease the amount) when you settle your bill. It is not necessary to tip the expedition team members.

Expedition Exclusions
  • International or domestic flights, unless specified
  • Transfers not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Airport arrival or departure taxes
  • Passport, visa, reciprocity fees and vaccination charges
  • Travel insurance or emergency evacuation charges
  • Hotels and meals not included in itinerary
  • Optional excursions not included in the itinerary
  • Optional activity surcharges
  • All items of a personal nature including but not limited to: alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, gratuities, Wi-Fi, email or phone charges
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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Kassandra Miller
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Kate was great to work with in the planning stage. She was prompt, helpful, and efficient. Our tour guide, Edwin, was knowledgeable and passionate. We were very happy to have traveled with Adventure Life, it made the trip easy and a true pleasure. We could concentrate on enjoying the experience rather than the details of travel.
Lisa Bridge

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