Norway, Murmansk, Franz Josef Land – Sailing North of 80° to the Russian Arctic
Duration: 15 days
Ship: MS Spitsbergen
29 August 2019
12 September 2019
Price from : £ 6337 per personCheck prices and availability
- Experience wild and rarely-visited historic Franz Josef Land
- Great chance of sighting walrus and polar bears
- Enjoy a Russian experience in the port of Murmansk
- Visit the North Cape
Our voyage begins, as so many great explorations have, in Tromsø. Spend some time to explore the city before embarking MS Spitsbergen. Tromsø is a city with many great attractions but it is also easy to escape from the metropolis if you seek a little wilderness. One way is to take the Fjellheisen Cable Car to the top of the Fløyfjellet Mountain (420 m) and enjoy breathtaking views of the city, mountains and fjords. For inspiration for the upcoming expedition, you should visit the Polar Museum where you can learn more about early exploration history and those who bravely ventured into the ice.
Sørøya ‒ the fourth-largest island in Norway ‒ has a great deal of wilderness and few inhabitants. We will step ashore on this scenic island with dramatic, exposed coastline 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.
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.
Our Expedition team and their Russian colleagues will prepare you for our landings ahead with a series of briefings 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. You might enjoy a visit to our state of the art gym, or simply relax in the Panorama Lounge.
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 and Expedition leader to take advantage of the ice and weather conditions as we find them.
Possible landing sites include:
Bell Island is mostly ice-free in the summer months and we may be able to undertake a beach cleanup here, to help remove some of the discarded fishing equipment and other rubbish that poses a threat to the wildlife. At Bell Island, we find the remains of the oldest building on Franz Josef Land, left by a British expedition in 1880. In return, the same expedition took a polar bear back to London Zoo!
Cape Flora on Northbrook Island earns its name from the fertilization provided by thousands of sea birds that nest on the cliffs. We hope to see brünnichs guillemots and black-legged kittiwakes. It was in this place that Fridtjof Nansen, having survived an unexpected winter in a tent, met by chance and was rescued by Fredrick Jackson, in June 1896.
Tikhaya Buchta, or “Calm Bay” is the location where a team of meteorologists from the Russian Sedov station were marooned at the beginning of the Second World War. They were not rescued until 1945! We hope to stay for the day to explore a little of the history and listen to the laughter-like calls of the little auks as they fly to and from their burrows in the scree slopes.
Rubini Rock bird cliff lies just off Calm Bay and is perfect for cruising. The cylindrical island is a volcanic plug, the central remains of conical volcano. Its sheer sides of red basalt rise 80meters from the sea and form the best birds cliffs in the archipelago.
Cape Norvegia on Jackson Island holds special significance for us as this was the spot where in September 1895 Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen arrived and prepared to overwinter. Using just a few stones and his tent he made a rude hut and with Hjalmar Johansen successfully survived until the following summer, when they resumed their journey southwards.
The “Devils Marbles” as they are known are found at Cape Triest on Champ Island. More properly called geodes, these spherical rock formations are created by accretion of chemicals within the rock strata. They can be up to 2 metres in diameter! Keep an eye open for walrus in the water or hauled out on the beach as we head ashore in our sturdy tenders.
Alexandra Land is the western most island (not counting the tiny, far flung Victoria Island) and is home to the headquarters of the Russian Arctic National Park, which includes Franz Josef Land. During the Second World War the Germans tried and failed to establish a weather station here.
Willem Barents was attempting to find the Northeast Passage when he accidentally discovered our next destination instead. In 1596 he sailed to Svalbard, naming it Spitsbergen for the pointed mountains he found. As we sail over the sea named for him, 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 or even complete your postcard writing.
We return to Murmansk, and you will have time to explore the city. Overlooking the port is a 35-meter-high statue of a Russian soldier, known as Alyosha. This is a memorial to the Russian soldiers who fought in the Second World War.
You might like to visit the church of the Saviour on the Waters. This gold-domed church, built in 2002 from public donations, is part of a memorial complex dedicated to the memory of Murmansk's seamen who perished in peacetime. Just below is the lighthouse monument, and next to it is part of the ill-fated submarine Kursk.
Skarsvåg is a small village that lies along the northern coast of the island of Magerøya. It claims the distinction of being the world's northernmost fishing village. Join the optional excursion to the North Cape and get a feeling what it’s like to stand at the end of the Earth. There is a combined museum and restaurant at the plateau, where you can learn more on the early expeditions to North Cape and watch a panoramic film that takes you through the four seasons in this landscape full of contrasts, light and breathtaking scenery. North Cape is a spectacular place for experiencing the Midnight Sun.
Every great explorer's voyage comes to an end. It may seem as if the time flew by all too quickly. We have traveled where few others go, to the very top of the globe, just a few hundred miles from the Geographical North Pole.
Included in your voyage
- Hurtigruten Expedition with cabin grade of your choice on a full board basis
- Wind and water-resistant jacket
- Landings with small boats and activities on board and ashore
- Professional English speaking Expedition team that gives lectures as well as accompanies landings and activities
- Free tea and coffee
Not included in your voyage
- International flights
- Travel insurance
- Luggage handling
- Optional excursions and gratuities
For our sailings with MS Spitsbergen to Russia a VISA per passenger is required. Read more here.
|Year of refurbishment||2016|
|Ship yard||Estaleiro Navais de Viana do Castelo (POR)|
Our new ship, MS Spitsbergen will take you on a voyage beyond the ordinary.
Murmansk - Highlights of Murmansk & Nuclear Icebreaker “Lenin”
Murmansk - Highlights of Murmansk & Museum of Local Studies
Murmansk - Highlights of Murmansk & Museum of Murmansk Shipping Company
Skarsvåg - Skarsvåg & North Cape
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