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Polar bears in the Arctic

Northeast Passage: The Northern Sea Route

Eastbound - Example 27 Day Cruise aboard Akademik Shokalskiy
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Embark on a 27-day geographical odyssey through the Northern Sea Route/Northeast Passage from Murmansk to Anadyr for an experience of a lifetime. Aboard the Akademik Shokalskiy, learn about the development of the commercial shipping route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. First transited in 1878-1880 by a Swedish explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiold, this seaway was proven to be navigable, albeit with some difficulty. Join this expedition of tracing the route of the legendary explorer, navigate narrow fjords, search for unique wildlife, glimpse into the past and experience the warmth of Arctic hospitality in local villages. 
Auklets circle the zodiacDancers practice before a performanceThe Kamchatka Brown Bear is a unique subspecies found only in the Russia Far EastA Stellar's Sea Eagle takes flightPolar bears in the Arctic
  • Encounter pelagic birds, marine mammals & Arctic wildlife
  • Journey to and among remote, uninhabited islands
  • Cruise between the Pacific & Arctic Oceans
  • Be part of a history-making expedition through the Northern Sea Route
  • View intriguing archaeological sites & cultural performances
Places Visited
Trip Type:
  • Small Ship
Activity Level: Relaxed

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Murmansk | Embark

Join the Akademik Shokalskiy for a 27-day cruise along the Northeast passage and depart from Murmansk. After sailing there will be introductions to ship and crew.

Day 2-3: Barents Sea

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
The Barents Sea was named in honor of Dutch seafarer and navigator, Willem Barents, who explored this region on expeditions in 1594 and 1596. As you move southwards, opportunities for spotting humpback whales and harp seals that feed in these waters increase.

Day 4-6: Franz Josef Land

  • Ship
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
This huge archipelago of 192 islands located only 10 degrees from the North Pole offers numerous locations for exploration. Its position close to the permanent ice of the Arctic Ocean yet accessible to the rich waters of the Atlantic gifts these waters an unusual diversity and abundance of marine life. The islands have a fascinating and rich record of exploration, scientific research, and habitation. Landings planned include Cape Triest on Alger Island where the famous ‘Devil’s Marbles’ (spherical geodes) dot the landscape; Cape Flora on Northbrook Island where the remains of three historic expeditions are found in proximity; and Tikhaya Bay on Hooker Island where the numbers of guillemots and kittiwakes on the remarkable columnar cliffs of Rubini Rock are unforgettable. A plan to visit the Cape Tegetthoff is also included. Keep a close lookout to a very healthy population of polar bears living among the archipelago. There are good chances to spot beluga, bowhead whales and narwhal.

Day 7-8: Kara Sea

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Lying between Novaya Zemlaya, Franz Josef Land and the Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago, Kara Sea is generally considered to be the coldest sea in Russia. Ostrov Vize is along the route to Franz Josef Land, you will look to make a landing on the island, conditions permitting.

Day 9-11: Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago

  • Ship
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
The Severnaya Zemlya Islands are on the border of the Kara and Laptev Seas, extension of the Taymyr Peninsula. These islands were not discovered until 1914-1915 when Russian explorer Vilkitski charted them. The three largest islands are heavily glaciated with deep fjords and majestic tidewater glaciers that are regularly calving icebergs. An aim to visit a colony of ivory gulls is included in these days.

Day 12-13: Crossing the Laptev Sea

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
This sea is bounded by the Taymyr Peninsula, the Severnaya Islands in the west and the Novosibirskie Islands in the east. Explore the Taymyr Peninsula, Laptev sea walrus are only found in this area and be on the lookout for haul-outs to photograph this unique and quite isolated population of walrus. There is a musk ox resident in this area and you may spot the poorly known Taymyr form of the herring gull.

Day 14-15: Noviye Sebirskiye (New Siberian Islands)

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
These islands, which consist of three major groups – Southern, Central (Anzhu) and Northern (De Long), mark the border between the Laptev and East Siberian Seas. Spend three days of exploring in this remarkable yet seldom visited archipelago, conditions permitting, have the opportunity to visit all three island groups, each with their unique geology and landscapes.

Day 16: East Siberian Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
It was in this sea that the Jeanette, captained by George Washington De Long, became stuck fast and was crushed by ice in 1879. Wreckage from the Jeanette found in Greenland in 1884 gave Nansen the idea for the now-famous 1893-96 Fram Expedition drifting across the Arctic Ocean.

Day 17: Medvezhyi Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
On this day, explore the little known and seldom visited Medvezhyi Islands, an archipelago of five granitic islands. The islands have a sizeable population of polar bears which den on these shores over winter. A landing on the island of Chetyrekhstolbovoy offers the opportunity to hike to the unusual rock ‘pillows’ which the island is named after. On Pushkareva Island, investigate the old lighthouse or enjoy the Arctic flowers that cover the expansive tundra during the brief summer.

Day 18: Ayon Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The Chukchi people that call this island home are reindeer herders and hunters. Enjoy the warm hospitality of the local people as you learn about how life is on this remote island.

Day 19: East Siberian Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This sea is defined by the Novosibirskie Islands in the west and Wrangel Island to the east. Along its southern shores, there are three of Siberia’s major rivers, the Indigirka, Alazaya and the Kolyma. Lookout for walrus and bowhead whales.

Day 20-22: Wrangel Island

  • Ship
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Wrangel Island is a Federal Nature Reserve and World Heritage Site of international significance. It is a major polar bear denning area and one of the few areas of the Arctic to not be glaciated during recent glacial episodes. It is sometimes referred to as a polar bear maternity ward on account of the large numbers of cubs born here. There are numerous other Arctic species which you will be looking for including musk ox, Arctic fox, snow geese and the snowy owls which breed here annually. The diversity of tundra flora is exceptional and during walks ashore we should see the last flowers of summer.

Day 23: Kolyuchin Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
On this day, land on Kolyuchin Island. Although you will be visiting after the peak of the breeding season, there should still be large numbers of tufted and horned puffins, Brunnich’s and common guillemots and black-legged kittiwakes. There may also be an opportunity to Zodiac cruise around the base of the cliffs where there are excellent photographic opportunities. Humpback and bowhead whales have been seen in this area previously.

Day 24: Cape Dezhnev | Uelen Village

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Arrive at Cape Deshnev this morning. Enjoy wildlife viewing for flocks of king, common and spectacled eiders passing south. In this afternoon, enjoy the hospitality of the local people in the village of Uelen who are predominantly Chukchi. The visit will include an entertaining cultural performance, the famous bone-carving studio and the museum.

Day 25: Whale Bone Alley | Gil’mimyl Hot Springs

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Whale Bone Alley on Yttygran Island is one of the most significant and intriguing archaeological sites in the Arctic. The waters nearby remain rich feeding grounds for whales. Weather permitting, Zodiac cruise and search for gray whales and walrus. In this afternoon, visit the Gil’mimyl Hot Springs, sandhill cranes usually breed in the area.

Day 26: Preobrazhnaya Bay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Enjoy wildlife watching as you cross the Gulf of Anadyr. This afternoon, explore the magnificent coastal cliffs of Preobrazhnaya Bay by Zodiac, home to an abundance of seabirds including Brunnich’s guillemot, crested and parakeet auklets plus tufted and horned puffins.

Day 27: Anadyr | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
The expedition finishes in Anadyr. After a final breakfast it will be time to disembark. There will be a complimentary transfer to the airport or to a central downtown hotel.


Akademik Shokalskiy

Akademik Shokalskiy ship photos
Dining Room
Lecture hall of the Akademik Shokalskiy

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
Twin Cabin
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Main Deck
Two lower berths, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private washbasin. Nearby shower and toilet facilities are shared with other Main Deck cabins. These cabins have a porthole.
Superior Room
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One bunk (one upper and one lower berth), writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
Twin Private Cabin
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Superior Plus
Two lower berths, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
Superior Cabin
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Mini Suite
Separate bedroom with a double bed and a sofa in the lounge, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. Mini Suites have windows.
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Heritage Suite
Large lounge area, separate bedroom with double bed and a sofa in the lounge, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. Large forward and side facing windows allow great views.
Triple Cabin
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Main Deck Triple
One bunk (one upper abd ibe lower berth) and one additional lower berth, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private washbasin. Nearby shower and toilet facilities are shared with other Main Deck cabins. These cabins have a porthole.


Important Note: These expeditions are subject to approval from various Russian Federal and Regional Authorities and may have to change depending on these approvals. Permits have been lodged for all the sites mentioned in the itinerary, depending on approvals these may have to be amended or substituted.

Cruise fare includes:
  • Pre & Post cruise transfers
  • All on board ship accommodation with meals
  • All expedition shore excursions
Cruise fare does not include:
  • All items of a personal nature: laundry, drinks, gratuities
  • International/domestic flights
  • Private charter flight from Nome to Anadyr: $1,300 USD per person
  • Visas
  • Travel insurance



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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen

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