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Northeast Passage – The Northern Sea Route

Russian Arctic Cruise Information

Summary : The allure of the mysterious Northeast Passage has captivated adventurers for centuries. Its Russian-controlled waters are steeped in history and mystery while abundant wildlife is found along its remote shores. This geographical odyssey from Murmansk to Anadyr traces the route of legendary polar explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld. Navigate narrow fjords, glimpse into the past, and experience the warmth of Arctic hospitality in local villages. Visit Franz Josef land and Wrangel Island. Scout for polar bears, narwhals, beluga whales, walruses, seals, Arctic foxes, and a variety of bird species. Venture ashore to explore some of the least known and seldom visited areas of the planet—Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago was the last major group of islands on earth to be discovered and the New Siberian Islands offer a wealth of opportunities for discovery.

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


Prices from
$21,900 to $29,900

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Day 1
Murmansk, Russia / Embarkation

Join the Spirit of Enderby and depart. After sailing there will be introductions to ship and crew.

Day 2 – 3
Barents Sea

This sea is named in honor of Dutch seafarer and navigator Willem Barents who explored the region on two separate expeditions in 1594 and 1596. As you head northward, opportunities increase for spotting humpback whales and harp seals that feed in these waters.

Day 4 – 6
Franz Josef Land

This huge archipelago of 192 islands is located only 10° from the North Pole and offers numerous locations to explore. The waters here are close to the permanent ice of the Arctic Ocean and accessible to the rich waters of the Atlantic, creating ideal conditions for diverse and abundant marine life. The islands have a fascinating and rich record of exploration, scientific research, and habitation. Planned landings 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 close proximity, and Tikhaya Bay on Hooker Island where the numbers of guillemots and kittiwakes on the columnar cliffs of Rubini Rock are unforgettable. You may also visit Cape Tegetthoff where a population of polar bears lives. There are good chances to spot beluga and bowhead whales. With luck, you may spot a narwhal.

Day 7 – 8
Kara Sea

Lying between Novaya Zemlaya, Franz Josef Land, and the Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago, the Kara Sea is generally considered the coldest sea in Russia. Ostrov Vize is along the route to Severnaya Zemlya; if conditions permit, you may make a landing on the island.

Day 9 – 11
Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago

The Severnaya Zemlya Islands are on the border of the Kara and Laptev Seas and are an extension of the Taymyr Peninsula. These islands were not discovered until 1914-15. The three largest are heavily glaciated with deep fjords and majestic tidewater glaciers that regularly calve icebergs. Aim to visit a colony of ivory gulls here.

Day 12 – 13
Laptev Sea

This sea is bounded by the Taymyr Peninsula to the south, the Severnaya Islands in the west, and the Novosibirskie Islands in the east. You'll explore the Taymyr Peninsula and scout for Laptev Sea walruses, found only in this area. Be on the lookout for walrus haul outs to photograph. You may also spot the lesser known Taymyr species of herring gull.

Day 14 – 16
Novaya Sibirskiye (New Siberian Islands)

These islands consist of three major groups—Southern, Central (Anzhu), and Northern (DeLong)—and mark the border between the Laptev and East Siberian Seas. You'll have two days to explore this remarkable yet seldom-visited archipelago. Conditions permitting, you may have the opportunity to visit each group of islands.

Day 17
East Siberian Sea

It was in this sea that the Jeannette, captained by George Washington De Long, became stuck in ice, and was crushed and sunk in 1879. Wreckage from the Jeanette was found in Greenland in 1884, giving Fridtjof Nansen the idea for his now famous 1893-96 Fram Expedition.

Day 18
Medvezhyi Islands

Today you will explore the little known and seldom visited Medvezhyi Islands (Bear Islands), an archipelago of five granitic islands with a sizeable population of polar bears that 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.

Day 19
Ayon Island

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 life on this remote island.

Day 20
East Siberian Sea

This sea is defined by the Novosibirskie Islands in the west and Wrangel Island to the east. Along its southern shores are three of Siberia’s major rivers: the Indigirka, Alazaya, and the Kolyma. Be on the lookout for walruses and bowhead whales.

Day 21 – 23
Wrangel Island

Wrangel Island is a Federal Nature Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site of international significance. It is a major Polar Bear denning area; it is sometimes referred to as a Polar Bear maternity ward because of the large numbers of cubs born here. There are numerous other Arctic species here, including musk oxen, Arctic foxes, snow geese, and snowy owls which breed here annually. The diversity of tundra flora is exceptional. During walks ashore you may see the last flowers of summer.

Day 24
Kolyuchin Island

Although you will be visiting after the peak of breeding season, Kolyuchin Island still boasts 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.

Day 25
Cape Dezhnev and Uelen Village

In the morning, enjoy the hospitality of local people in the village of Uelen who are predominantly Chukchi. Your visit will include a cultural performance and a visit to the famous bone-carving studio and museum.

Early this afternoon you will arrive at Cape Dezhnev, the eastern extremity of the Eurasian continent. The Bering Strait is a vitally important migratory pathway. You may see flocks of king, common, and spectacled eiders passing south.

Day 26
Whale Bone Alley and Gil’mimyl Hot Springs

Visit Whale Bone Alley on Yttygran Island, one of the most significant and intriguing archaeological sites in the Arctic. The waters nearby remain rich feeding grounds for whales. Weather permitting, you will Zodiac cruise in search of gray whales and walruses. Plan for a landing at the Gil’mimyl Hot Springs and lookout for Sandhill cranes.

Day 27
Preobrazhnaya Bay

Crossing the Gulf of Anadyr there will be opportunities for wildlife watching. Plan to explore the magnificent coastal cliffs of Preobrazhnaya Bay by Zodiac. The bay is home to an abundance of seabirds including Brunnich’s guillemots, crested and parakeet auklets, and tufted and horned puffins.

Day 28
Anadyr / Disembark

Your expedition finishes in Anadyr*. Disembark after a final breakfast on board. A complimentary transfer to the airport or to a central downtown hotel is provided.

*This shipping company offers a private charter flight from Anadyr to Nome, Alaska. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.


Read the above itinerary is a guide only. The exact program depends on weather, ice conditions, wildlife encountered, and is subject to approval from various Russian federal and regional authorities. Permits have been lodged for all the sites mentioned in the itinerary. The itinerary may be changed, amended or substituted depending on these approvals. Flexibility is 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, all passengers must purchase full medical and emergency evacuation insurance for the specific areas they will be visiting. Proof of coverage is required prior to embarkation. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends that you select a travel protection plan that covers trip cancellation insurance, trip delay (interruption or after departure coverage), baggage and repatriation, 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.

Reverse Itinerary:
(Westbound, Anadyr to Murmansk)

Pre- and post-cruise transfers; shipboard accommodations; all expedition shore excursions; gear on loan (rubber boots for shore landings); all meals onboard the ship; tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and water; juice with breakfast. Inclusions subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
International/domestic flights; private charter flights; passport and visa expenses; full medical and emergency evacuation insurance (mandatory), excess baggage charges, local payment of $500 per person (payable in cash onboard the ship); juice, carbonated beverages, bottled water, and alcoholic beverages; all items of a personal nature such as laundry, ship to shore communications, medical supplies, souvenirs, etc.; gratuities; fuel surcharge may apply.

PHOTOS: © K Ovsykanikova; © G Riehle; © JE Ross; © A Terauds

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