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North East Passage – The Northern Sea Route

Russian Far East Cruise

Summary : Russia's Northern Sea Route, known to the the rest of the world as the Northeast Passage, is one of the greatest seaways in the world. Only a handful of expedition vessels have ever transited this seaway, but recent changes in sea ice conditions mean this historic and fascinating sea route is now accessible. Be part of this history making expedition through the Northern Sea Route. Explore the history and development of the route with visits to islands along the way.

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


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$999,999,999 to $0

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Day 1
Svalbard, Longyearbyen

Join the expedition in Longyearbyen and plan to depart in the afternoon.

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. Keep a look out for marine mammals and seabirds.

Day 4 – 6
Franz Josef Land

This is a huge archipelago of 192 islands located only 10 degrees from the North Pole. They were named in 1870 after the Hungarian Emperor when they were discovered by the Austro-Hungarian Payer-Weyprecht Expedition that was searching for the NE Passage. During your time here, plan multiple landings in search of history, wildlife and flora.

Day 7 – 8
Kara Sea

The Kara Sea is one of the coldest seas in Russia. It lies between Novaya Zemlay, Franz Josef and Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago.

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 Taimyr Peninsula. The islands were not discovered until 1914-15 by the Russian explorer Vilkitski. They are heavily glaciated with deep fjords and majestic glaciers which make them magnificent for cruising. There is also a great selection and abundance of Arctic wildlife including polar bears, Arctic foxes, Arctic hares and walruses.

Day 12 – 13
Crossing the Laptev Sea

This sea is bounded in the west by the Taymyr and the Severnaya Islands and the Novosibirskie Islands in the east. Look out for the Laptev Sea Walrus known only in this sea.

Day 14 – 16
Novaya Sibirskiye (New Siberian Islands)

These islands mark the border between the Laptev and East Siberian Seas and consist of three major groups: Southern, Central (Anzhu) and Northern (De Long) Group. The islands are virtually unexplored and are uninhabited apart from the researchers at a couple of weather stations. Explore the islands with a number of landings in search of Arctic flora and wildlife.

Day 17
East Siberian Sea

It was in this sea that the Jeannette, captained by George Washington De Long, became stuck fast in ice, drifted and was crushed and sunk in 1881. Wreckage from the Jeanette was found in Greenland in 1884 giving Nansen the idea for the now famous 1893-96 Fram Expedition.

Day 18
Medvezhyi Islands

There are no permanent settlements on these little known and seldom visited islands. They are covered in tundra and known to have a good population of polar bears.

Day 19
Ayon Island and Village

This island and village is home to a small group of Chukchi Reindeer herders. Enjoy their hospitality and learn about reindeer herding.

Day 20
East Siberian Sea

This sea occupies the area between the Novosibirskie Islands and Wrangel Island. Three of Siberia’s major rivers flow into it—the Indigirka, Alazaya and the Kolyma. It was in this sea that the Soviet vessel Chelyuskin with 111 people on board became trapped in ice and sank in 1934.

Day 21 – 23
Wrangel Island

Wrangel Island is one of those islands that you have to visit to appreciate. It is a Federal Nature Reserve of international significance and importance and also a World Heritage Site. A lot of its significance lies in the fact that it is a major Polar Bear denning area. It is also the last landfall for migratory species flying north. Each summer thousands of birds migrate here to breed, including Snow Geese, Snowy Owls, skuas, Arctic Terns, Ross’s, Sabine’s and Ivory Gulls.

Day 24
Kolyuchin Island

Early this morning, pass close by the place where the Swedish explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiold wintered over in 1878. Later this morning, plan to land on Kolyuchin Island, where there is an abandoned Polar research and weather station. There are some terrific bird cliffs where it is possible to get some great photos of puffins, guillemots and gulls.

Day 25
Cape Dezhnev and Uelen Village

Early this morning you will be at Cape Dezhnev, the eastern extremity of the Eurasian continent. This afternoon, visit the nearby village of Uelen. Here, enjoy the hospitality of the local people who are predominantly Chukchi and enjoy a cultural performance and visit the bone-carving studio.

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. This afternoon, plan a landing at the Gil’mimyl Hot Springs.

Day 27
At Sea

Crossing the Gulf of Anadyr there will be opportunities for pelagic birding, marine mammal watching and lectures.

Day 28

Join your ship in the Port of Anadyr this afternoon and depart. After setting sail, there will be introductions to the ship and crew.


The above itinerary is a guide only, as the exact program depends on weather and ice conditions and the wildlife you encounter. 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. 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 tour operators programs, all passengers must purchase full medical and emergency evacuation insurance for the specific areas they will be visiting. The minimum coverage requirement is $100,000 for the tour operators programs. The policy provider, policy number and contact phone number must be provided prior to departure date. We also strongly recommend that all passengers purchase comprehensive travel insurance which would include coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist you with this.

Cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; onboard lectures and access to public areas; shore excursions as described; services of expedition team; pre- and post-cruise transfers.

Not Included:
Airfare to and from your home to the port of departure and port of arrival; private charter flight; items of a personal nature such as beverages, laundry, and medical supplies; travel insurance; passport and visa fees; gratuities; landing fees; fuel surcharge may apply.

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

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