Franz Josef Land - Sailing North of 80°

Remote Franz Josef Land has always been a magnet for hardy adventurers. Now you can set foot on the ice where great explorers like Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen spent the winter. Watch for polar bears wandering in their natural environment and feel the cool Arctic air gust down from the North Pole just a few miles away.

  • Explore wild and rarely-visited Franz Josef Land, the world´s northernmost archipelago in the footsteps of great explorers
  • Great chance of sighting walrus and polar bears as we sail north of the 80th parallel
  • Enjoy a Russian experience in the port of Murmansk
  • Opportunity to visit the North Cape
Early booking offer

On 03 December, we released our new expedition cruise program for 2020/21. If you book this voyage before 31 March 2019, you can save £600 per person.

The price you see online already includes the discount.


The itinerary

Hurtigruten offers unique expedition cruises to some of the most remote and pristine waters of the world. As with all expeditions; nature prevails. Weather, ice and sea conditions set the final framework for all Hurtigruten’s operations. Safety and unparalleled guest experiences are at all times our top priorities. All our indicative itineraries are continuously evaluated for adaptions, whether this is due to constraints the elements unexpectedly present – or exciting possibilities nature and wildlife offer. That is why we call it an expedition.

Departure 12 September & 26 September 2020

Departs from Tromsø, Norway

Tromsø and Beyond

We begin our adventure in Tromsø, starting point for so many expeditions and trapper adventures. After the first night on board MS Spitsbergen, we take you ashore on Sørøya, a beautiful island close to Hammerfest.

Into Russia

We then call at the exotic Russian harbour of Murmansk, a strategically important port for both military and trade vessels. 

Remote Franz Josef Land

We will spend five days exploring the world´s northernmost archipelago. This is expedition sailing at its most authentic, as we discover rare beauty in the footsteps of great explorers of the past like Fridtjof Nansen. Our route and landing sites in this beautiful region are heavily dependent on elements, and our experienced captain will take advantage of the conditions at hand to seize opportunities to explore the wilderness.  

We sail well above the 80th parallel to place you closer than 600 nautical miles from the Geographical North Pole. Explore rarely-visited historical sites, scout for wildlife like seals, thousands of seabirds and the Arctic fox, and look out for walrus hauled out on lonely beaches. The polar bear population in the area is around 3,000, so we have an excellent chance to see these magnificent predators. Following our days of exploration, we make our way back to Murmansk. 

Returning to Norway

The North Cape has been a prized destination for travellers for centuries. Join an excursion to stand atop the steep cliff 307 metres above the Arctic Ocean marking the end of the continent. 

Day 1: Tromsø

Takeoff Point for Explorers


Our voyage begins in Tromsø. Spend some time exploring before embarking on MS Spitsbergen. Take the Fjellheisen Cable Car to the top of the Fløyfjellet and enjoy breathtaking views of the city and fjords. For inspiration, you should visit the Polar Museum to learn more about early exploration history.

Day 2: Sørøya

Hike Near the Top of the World

Half day

Sørøya ‒ the fourth-largest island in Norway ‒ has a great deal of wilderness and few inhabitants. We will step ashore to visit one of the roadless fishing settlements or if weather permits, do some hiking in this relatively easy terrain to get some fantastic views. 

Day 3: Murmansk

Into Russia

Half day

Welcome to Russia!  Murmansk is a young city, founded in 1916 and is the largest city found north of the Arctic Circle.  The origins of Murmansk lie in the need for a northern sea port and it is the marine industry that still dominates today.  We will make a short stop here before we head north.

Day 4-5: At sea
Ice floes viewed from deck
Ice floes viewed from deck Photo: Andrea Klaussner Photo

Heading North!

Our Expedition Team will prepare you for our landings ahead with a series of lectures and a chance to learn about the history and wildlife of Franz Josef Land. Keep a lookout for the first ice floes as we sail ever further north.  Take the chance to enjoy the ship and relax in the Panorama Lounge.

Day 6-10: Franz Josef Land

Amazing Islands with Fascinating History

Fridtjof Nansen first arrived in Franz Josef Land to overwinter in September 1895. Cape Flora earns its name from the fertilization provided by thousands of sea birds that nest on the cliffs. This is an area with many Brünnichs guillemots and Black-legged kittiwakes.

At Bell Island, we find the remains of the oldest building on Franz Josef Land, left by a British expedition in 1880. In Tikhaya Buchta, a team of meteorologists from the Russian Sedov station had to survive from the beginning of the Second World War until 1945 all by themselves.

It is likely that the Pomors or Norwegian sealers knew of Franz Josef Land, but the first recorded landing amongst the 192 islands making up the archipelago was made in 1873 from the sailing vessel Admiral Tegetthoff.  They found wide beaches, steep cliffs with nesting sea birds attended by arctic foxes, polar bears and walrus.  We hope to find much of the same.  The exact sequence and choice of our landings will be decided by the captain to take advantage of the ice and weather conditions as we find them. 

Day 11-12: At sea
John Chardine of Hurtigruten´s Expedition Team
John Chardine of Hurtigruten´s Expedition Team Photo: Andrea Klaussner Photo

The Barents Sea

Willem Barents was an explorer searching for the Northeast Passage. For the next two days we will cross the sea named after him. As we sail over the sea, it is a chance to relax after all our activities, to enjoy the whirlpools on deck, take part in one of the talks from the Expedition Team and get to know your fellow explorers.

Day 13: Murmansk

History Day

Full day

We return to Murmansk to explore the city. Overlooking the port is a huge memorial to Russian soldiers. Beyond is the Saviour on the Waters church – part of a memorial complex dedicated to the memory of Murmansk's seamen. Just below is part of the ill-fated submarine Kursk.

Day 14: Skarsvåg

The Northernmost Point in Europe

Half day

Skarsvåg claims to be the world's northernmost fishing village. Join the optional excursion to the North Cape and feel what it’s like to stand at the end of the Earth. At the plateau, you can learn more about the North Cape and see a panoramic film that takes you through the four seasons in this breathtaking scenery.

Day 15: Tromsø

End of the Expedition

Disembarkation - Docked

Every great explorer's voyage comes to an end. It may seem as if the time flew by all too quickly. We have travelled where few others go, to the very top of the globe, just a few hundred miles from the Geographical North Pole. 

Arrival 26 September & 10 October 2020

Location Tromsø, Norway
What's included


  • Hurtigruten Expedition Cruise in cabin grade of your choice


  • A rich program of included activities on all voyages designed to immerse you in the destinations you visit, including onshore exploration with the Expedition Team  
  • Professional English-speaking Expedition Team - an international handpicked team of highly educated experts of various academic fields with profound knowledge of the region we sail in  
  • Complimentary wind- and water-resistant jacket   
  • Loan of boots, trekking poles, and equipment needed for optional and included activities  


  • In-depth lectures on science, history, biology, geography, geology or culture that provide context to your voyage and help you understand the destinations you will experience  
  • Explorer Science programme, with educational and Citizen Science activities that let you learn about the sights you’ll see while contributing to research
  •  Introduction photo lecture, camera adjustment and tips & tricks, photo and film footage from the voyage shared in an Expedition Logbook
  • Casual opportunities to engage with the Expedition Team and other guests, including a welcome event, daily gatherings to recap the day and prepare for the day to come
  • Opportunities to dine and interact with the Expedition Team and officers  
  • Destination-focused onboard library  
  • Port presentations providing destination insight
  • A farewell event  


  • All meals including beverages (ship beer and wine, sodas and mineral water in all restaurants)
  • Coffee and tea included throughout the day
  • Early riser and afternoon treat offered in addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner 
  • Gym, hot tubs and panoramic sauna
  • Free Wi-fi on board for all guests. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
  • No gratuities expected   


  • International flights 
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners  
  • Optional small-group adventures with our Expedition Team such as kayaking (availability contingent on weather conditions and safety)  
  • Travel insurance  
  •  Luggage handling 


  • All planned activities are subject to weather and ice conditions
  • Medical questionnaire mandatory
  • For this voyage a single visa for Russia is necessary
    Read more about Entry requirements.
Life on board

Your ship: MS Spitsbergen

Reconstructed in 2016, MS Spitsbergen features comfortable, modern public areas and cabins. The ship's smaller size make her ideal for exploring polar waters.

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