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Jewels of the Russian Arctic:
Franz Josef Land & Novaya Zemlya

Russian Arctic Cruise Information

Summary : Follow in the footsteps of early Arctic explorers, voyaging to two of the most isolated and icy archipelagoes in the Russian High Arctic. From the mountains of Novaya Zemlya to the wildlife sanctuary of Franz Josef Land, these are rugged and essentially uninhabited landscapes that few have ever experienced. There’s no shortage of amazing adventures in these remote regions, where ice-capped peaks soar majestically out of the water and polar bears wander in their natural environment.

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

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Itinerary
Day 1
Helsinki, Finland

Your Arctic voyage begins in Helsinki, renowned for its extraordinary architecture and intriguing mix of eastern and western influences. If you arrive early, explore the many museums, galleries and restaurants, relax at a Finnish sauna or wander the vibrant Design District before retiring at your included hotel.*

*See Additional Costs for mandatory transfer package information.

Day 2
Murmansk, Russia / Embarkation

After breakfast, transfer to the airport and board your 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

As you sail through the Barents Sea, your expedition team will prepare you for the adventures that await. Learn about the storied history and politics of the region, its fascinating wildlife, geology, ecology and climate, and the incredible sights you will soon explore. Staff will keep a lookout for seabirds, such as kittiwakes, skuas, and fulmars soaring above your ship. Whale and seal sightings may also be possible in this biologically diverse sea.

Day 5 – 7
Novaya Zemlya

The largest of the Eurasian Arctic archipelagoes, the rarely visited Novaya Zemlya (“New Land”) is the third-largest wilderness area in Europe. This seemingly long, narrow island actually consists of two main islands, Severny (northern) and Yuzhny (southern), separated by the imposing Matochkin Strait. As you explore Novaya Zemlya, expect a new adventure every day. Each expedition will be unique, depending on the weather and ice, but a few landing sites you might visit include Inostrantseva Bay, the Oransky Islands, Cape Zhelaniya, Cape Spory Navalok, and Russkaya Gavan.

Boasting one of the most picturesque glaciers in the entire archipelago, Inostrantseva Bay provides breathtaking panoramic views of pristine Arctic wilderness. If conditions allow, explore ashore or Zodiac cruise 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 northwest side of Severny Island are the Oransky Islands. Wildlife abounds here, with a variety of animal and plant life to be discovered. Walruses 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 noise 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 sub-population 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
At Sea

Bid farewell to Novaya Zemlya as you cruise farther north to Franz Josef Land. There are several activities to keep you engaged while at sea. Attend presentations by your expedition team, relax in the polar library or simply spend some time on deck, admiring the sea.

Day 9 – 12
Franz Josef Land

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. Hope to explore historical sites, remote seabird colonies, and walrus haul-outs 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!

The Stolichky and Appolonov Islands offer plentiful walrus encounters, as the lumbering giants can be found hauled out here. If ice and weather are in your favor, you’ll explore the area by Zodiac, at a safe distance, to view these pinnipeds of the Arctic in their natural habitat.

Day 13 – 14
At Sea

As your Arctic expedition winds down you 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 incredible journey with your shipmates, relax in the lounge while swapping stories and photos or enjoy the solitude of the sea. Expedition staff will be on hand to answer any remaining questions and spot wildlife.

Day 15
Murmansk / Disembarkation / Helsinki

Returning to Russia’s most northerly city, you’ll have time to bid farewell to your expedition team and crew before catching your group charter flight* back to Helsinki, where you will have one more night in this exquisite city.

*See Additional Costs for mandatory transfer package information.

Day 16
Helsinki, Finland

After breakfast*, spend time exploring more of the Finnish capital or catch your homeward-bound flight.

*See Additional Costs for mandatory transfer package information.

Notes

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:
Due to the remoteness of the areas in this itinerary, travelers must carry a minimum $50,000 of emergency medical coverage. Proof of coverage is required prior to embarkation. The travel insurance policy should also cover trip cancellation insurance, trip delay, interruption or after departure coverage, baggage and repatriation. The shipping company will not be held responsible for delays due to force majeure. Any additional costs accrued will be the responsibility of the traveler. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends that you select a travel protection plan that includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage and at least $200,000 in medical evacuation coverage. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.

Bilingual Departure: English/German

Important Voyage Logistics:
Luggage Limits: There is a strict luggage limit of 44 lbs (20 kg) checked luggage and 11 lbs (5 kg) cabin baggage on the flights between Helsinki and Murmansk. Should you have additional luggage, it can be stored in Helsinki. There is NO option to pay for additional luggage.

Included:
Shipboard accommodations; all shore landings per the daily program; all Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program; experienced Expedition Leader; formal and informal presentations by Expedition Team and special guests as scheduled; photographic journal; expedition parka and reusable water bottle; gear on loan (waterproof expedition boots for shore landings, walking poles); comprehensive onboard materials, including a map and an informational Arctic Reader; all meals on board ship; snacks, soft drinks, and juices on board; beer and house wine during dinner; coffee, tea, cocoa available around the clock; hair dryer and bathrobe in every cabin; daily housekeeping; pre-departure materials; Russian invitation letter for visa application provided after final payment; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program; luggage handling aboard ship; emergency evacuation insurance for all passengers to a maximum benefit of $500,000 per person*. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:

Mandatory Transfer Package (see Additional Costs); international airfare; arrival and departure transfers in Helsinki; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes not mentioned above; any beverages that are not in the complimentary selection; any meals ashore unless otherwise specified; baggage, cancellation, interruption and medical travel insurance (strongly recommended); excess baggage charges; mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac cruising or any other gear not mentioned; laundry, bar, beverage, and other personal charges unless specified; phone and internet charges; voluntary gratuity at end of voyage for shipboard staff and crew; additional overnight accommodation; fuel surcharge may apply.

*Emergency Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $500,000 is included in the cost of this expedition. Included coverage is applicable only while traveling with the shipping company between the first and last day of the expedition. Additional days of travel prior to the expedition and/or after the expedition, including pre- and post-packages/hotels/flights, purchased from the shipping company or from suppliers other than the shipping company, are not covered by the included emergency evacuation insurance. We strongly advise all passengers to purchase medical, cancellation and baggage insurance, and additional emergency evacuation coverage.

PHOTOS: © Johanna Carlo, © Acacia Johnson, © David Merron, © Cindy Miller, © Irina Skalina, © Quark Expeditions

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