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The Northeast Passage: Across the Russian Arctic

Northeast Passage Russian Arctic Cruise Information

Summary : Join A&K's founder, Geoffrey Kent, on a world-class voyage through the Northeast Passage alongside an award-winning Expedition Team, which includes a National Geographic photographer and a Russian Far East expert. Navigate from Tromso, Norway, to Nome, Alaska, visiting remote, legendary settlements strewn across the Russian High Arctic, seldom-seen Siberian islands, isolated wildlife habitats and Arctic nature reserves along the way. Learn the art of photographing these wild and remote landscapes and their inhabitants with National Geographic photographer Kiliii Yuyan. Discover Soviet-era Russia with visits to Murmansk, the world’s biggest city north of the Arctic Circle, and Provideniya, a former military port. Visit Wrangel Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was recognized for its vast biodiversity — including 400 species of plants, walruses and incredible bird life. Explore the Great Arctic State Nature Reserve in the Kara Sea, which is home to polar bears, Arctic fox, reindeer, beluga whales and more.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins


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Day 1
Oslo, Norway

Arrive in Oslo, Norway’s capital city and your gateway to the Russian Arctic. On arrival, you are met and escorted to your hotel. This evening, meet fellow guests for a welcome reception and dinner in anticipation of the adventure to come.

Day 2
Oslo / Tromso, Norway

This morning, board your charter flight to Tromso, a colorful cultural hub above the Arctic Circle. Prepare for the journey ahead with a visit to the Polar Museum that highlights the heroics of great explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen. Enjoy a visit to the striking Arctic Cathedral. Time permitting, you may also have the opportunity to visit playful seals Bella and Mai San at Polaria, the northernmost aquarium in the world. After lunch, board your all-balcony expedition cruiser.

Day 3
Knivskjellodden, Norway

Your adventure gets underway with an expeditionary visit to what many consider to be the northernmost point in Europe: Knivskjellodden, Norway. This rocky peninsula cannot be reached by car or bike, making it an ideal destination for ‘Le Boreal’s’ Zodiacs and your first landing. Your visit to this far-flung promontory includes a hike, taking in rugged boulders and sheer cliffs as well as a spectacular view of the sea across wild, grass-covered open spaces.

Day 4
Murmansk, Russia

Towering icebreakers and cargo ships line the docks of Murmansk, the world’s biggest city north of the Arctic Circle. Warm Gulf Stream waters keep this famous port ice-free. The home of Russia’s first navy, Murmansk is rich in World War II and Cold War history, so you may choose to visit the Museum of the Northern Fleet or opt to see the world’s first nuclear-powered icebreaker, ‘Lenin,’ decommissioned in 1989 and open to visitors. Learn about the raw power of an icebreaker and soak up maritime lore as you begin your own adventure into the vast, raw landscapes of the Russian Arctic.

Day 5 – 6
Crossing the Barents Sea

The Barents Sea, relatively undisturbed by human activities, contains one of Europe’s largest, cleanest and most reasonably undisturbed ecosystems. Home to polar cod, capelin from the smelt family, and seabirds known as little auk, the nutrient-rich waters continue to support abundant wildlife. Join your naturalists on deck as you keep an eye out for white dolphins, beluga whales, orcas and the fabled narwhal, among other species.

Day 7 – 8
Franz Josef Land

This archipelago consists of 192 islands, many of which offer arresting landscapes. You may take a Zodiac cruise past Hooker Island’s Rubini Rock, home to thousands of nesting seabirds like kittiwakes, glaucous gulls and Brünnich’s guillemots. You might set foot on eerie Champ Island, where striking stone spheres ranging from several inches to several yards in circumference are strewn across the terrain. You may reach Hall Island, where Pacific walruses lounge by the sea, resting from their long migrations, or you may explore Cape Tegetthoff, with its breathtaking scenery and remains of a small camp built by Austro-Hungarian explorers in 1898 hoping to reach the North Pole.

Day 9
Novaya Zemlya

Among the first Europeans to visit this region, Dutch explorer Willem Barents overwintered on the icy northeastern coast of Novaya Zemlya in 1596. The Russians knew of this remote archipelago as early as the 11th century, when hunters from Novograd visited the area. With its majestic glaciers and mountainous terrain, Novaya Zemlya served as a dramatic backdrop for World War II convoy ships escaping capture and clandestine Cold War activities. You might make a landing on Severny Island, site of Europe’s largest glacier as measured by area and volume.

Day 10 – 13
Great Arctic State Nature Reserve

One of the largest wildernesses on earth, the Great Arctic Reserve covers nearly 16,000 square miles. Polar bears, Arctic foxes, reindeer, snowy owls and beluga whales are among the many species carefully protected within Russia’s greatest zapovednik, or conservation area. Some of the landing sites in this area might include:

Uyedineniya Island: Compared to other Arctic islands, Uyedineniya is flat and low-lying. In summer, you might see evidence of Arctic vegetation, even wetlands and small lakes.

Isachenko Island: One of the Kirov Islands, Isachenko is home to the research station Polyarnaya Stantsiya.

Komsomolets Island: Nearly covered by the Academy of Sciences Glacier, Komsomolets is a vast expanse of white tundra desert scattered with lichens and mosses.

Akhmatov Fjord: In the southernmost island of Severnaya Zemlya, Akhmatov Fjord features smooth mountains on both sides, mirror-like waters and breathtaking, multi-hued blue ice.

Day 14 – 18
East Siberian Sea

The remote archipelago known as the New Siberian Islands was first located by Cossacks as recently as the early 18th century. For nearly 100 years, the region seemed mythic until a cartographic expedition led by Yakov Sannikov and Matvei Gedenschtrom arrived in 1809. The islands are composed of alternating permafrost and soil, and the rising temperatures of the last few decades have led to the melting of ice and contraction of firm ground, resulting in dramatic landscapes. You might also visit Ayon Island, home to the Chukchi people, who use the tundra as pasture for their reindeer herds.

Day 19 – 21
Wrangel Island

Join your expedition staff on deck and in Zodiacs as you cruise the wildlife-rich waters and coastal areas surrounding this biodiverse region. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Wrangel Island is home to the world’s largest population of Pacific walruses, the highest density of ancestral polar bear dens and the nesting grounds of over 100 species of migratory birds, to name a few of its superlatives. Over 400 species of plants have been identified here, double that of any other Arctic tundra region.

Day 22 – 24

Explore the vast coastal wildernesses of Eastern Siberia with your seasoned Expedition Team as they introduce you to the human and animal populations of this singularly remote place. Brown bears, Russian foxes and over 200 bird species, including the endangered spoon-billed sandpiper, are among the animals you may encounter as you hike the rocky terrain along Kolyuchin Bay. Russia’s most sparsely populated region, Chukotka, is home to tiny villages like Uelen and Larino, where you may be offered a skin boat and dogsled demonstration or be invited to sample caribou meat, local roots or seaweed dishes. At the Captain’s Farewell Dinner, bid farewell to your new friends, to your inspiring expedition team and to the unforgettable vastness of this region.

Day 25

Ease your way back into civilization with a visit to Provideniya the administrative center of Chukotka with a population of just under 2,500. A former Soviet military port, Provideniya suffered from the sudden departure of the military from the area. Local tourism has boosted the economy, and you are welcomed warmly with a ceremony and a village concert. A significant portion of the population is Yupik, indigenous to both Siberia and southwestern and central Alaska.

Day 26
Nome / Anchorage, Alaska

Disembark in Nome, Alaska, among the wildest reaches of mainland America and the final destination for the Iditarod dogsled competition. Gold can still be mined here, and you may try gold panning firsthand. You may also experience a dogsled demonstration or a stop in to the Bering Sea Land Bridge National Preserve visitor’s center. After lunch at Old St. Joe’s Hall, enjoy time at leisure in downtown Nome. Transfer to the airport for your chartered internal flight to Anchorage, and then either continue home or join the Alaska post-tour extension.


Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase emergency evacuation/repatriation insurance at a minimum coverage of $100,000. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for trips which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.

One pre-cruise hotel night in Oslo; transfers between airport/hotel/ship; shipboard accommodations; Wi-Fi onboard ship; valet laundry service for eight (8) pieces per person once during cruise only excluding dry cleaning; gear to keep (parka, backpack); gear on loan (boots, walking poles, pants); all meals onboard the ship; room service onboard ship; select bar drinks, beer, house wine, soft drinks, coffee drinks, juices and bottled water (excluding premium wines, spirits and Champagnes) onboard ship; gratuities onboard ship and Expedition Staff and Pre- and Post-Tour guides; memory book upon return (one per booking). Additional Inclusion for Suites (Categories 5-8): Room upgrade at Oslo hotel; butler service onboard ship. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Airfare; charter flights; passport or visa expenses; laundry; meals, beverages or sightseeing not included in itinerary; premium wines, liquors and champagnes; communication charges and optional activities; all items of a personal nature; required travel insurance; excess baggage charges; airport departure tax; fuel surcharge may apply.

Photos: © A&K Image Library

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