Russian High Arctic

Polar Bear in Arctic Ocean
IDEAL LENGTH 13 nights
Price From $14,300 pp
When to Go Jul, Aug
Russian High Arctic

Discover the unrivaled landscapes and history of Franz Josef Land, undoubtedly one of the wildest and most remote corners of the Russian High Arctic offering bountiful wildlife experiences with favorable chances of sighting the magnificent polar bear.

Day 1

Day 1
Arrival in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

Upon arrival at the airport, you’ll be met by a representative and driven by a shared vehicle to your hotel for the evening.

After settling into your surroundings, the rest of your day will be spent at leisure. We recommend visiting the excellent Svalbard Museum, doing some shopping, or enjoying the last meal before your expedition begins tomorrow.

Your Lightfoot Travel Designer can advise on further activities prior to departure.

Day 2

Day 2
Embarkation in Longyearbyen

After breakfast you’ll have the morning at leisure before being escorted to your luxury expedition ship, M/V Sea Spirit.

You’ll have time to explore the ship and listen to a safety briefing before the ship slips its moorings and sails into true wilderness.

Day 3

Day 3
Across the Barents Sea

From Isfjorden you’ll proceed straight to Franz Josef Land across the Barents Sea. Presentations and workshops by the expert staff will set you up with what lies ahead.

Visit the Bridge to see how the captain and team chart the ship’s course. Grab a pair of binoculars to look out for whales and seabirds.

Day 4

Day 4
Across the Barents Sea

Continue to sail across the Barents Sea. In these far northern latitudes, it’s possible to encounter sea ice even in summer. Along the way you’ll keep an eye out for ice-dependent marine mammals such as the elusive bowhead whale, various Arctic seal species, and the majestic polar bear.

The journals of explorers such as Julius von Payer, Benjamin Leigh Smith, Frederick George Jackson, and Fridtjof Nansen will come alive as you go. See memorials, monuments crosses, and the remains of dwellings, and hear more about the intrepid travelers of yore from our expert lecturers.

Day 5

Day 5
Exploration of Franz Josef Land

Your primary focus on this expedition will be the exploration of Franz Josef Land. As such, the route and exploration opportunities are heavily dependent on weather and sea ice. The experienced captain and expedition leader will decide the best route and continually adjust plans as opportunities warrant in this wild and remote corner of the Arctic.

In the evening, enjoy a meal as you sail.

Day 6

Day 6
Exploration of Franz Josef Land

Franz Josef Land is dominated by glaciation, which covers 85% of the archipelago. Immense tidewater glaciers and glittering icebergs provide a stunning backdrop to your voyage.

Between obligatory initial and final calls at the Russian polar station Nagurskoye in Cambridge Bay you’ll be free to explore the many waterways and islands of this unique Arctic wilderness.

Day 7

Day 7
Exploration of Franz Josef Land

Continue to sail through the landscape which is home to fascinating geological features such as the mysterious stone spheres on Champ Island. Collectors of geographical extremes may take note that Cape Fligely on Rudolf Island is the northernmost point of land in the Eastern Hemisphere.

For those wanting a closer look at the wildlife, you’ll get the chance to explore by zodiac boat.

Day 8

Day 8
Exploration of Franz Josef Land

This archipelago, part of the Russian Arctic National Park since 2012, is a nature sanctuary. Polar bears and other quintessential High Arctic wildlife-such as walruses and some rare whale species - can be spotted at any moment, anywhere in and around Franz Josef Land.

This is the time to utilize the skills of the ship’s resident photographer who can assist you with capturing great images while on deck and onshore.

Day 9

Day 9
Exploration of Franz Josef Land

Spend today looking out for scree slopes and cliffs hosting enormous nesting colonies of seabirds such as guillemots, dovekies, and kittiwakes. You’ll take advantage of the 24-hour daylight throughout this trip.

Day 10

Day 10
Exploration of Franz Josef Land

Today you’ll visit Tikhaya Bukhta, a Russian Arctic National Park ranger station occupying Soviet-era research buildings, and a major base for polar expeditions. Nearby the fascinating columnar basalt cliffs of Rubini Rock are home to thousands of nesting seabirds.

Day 11

Day 11
Exploration of Franz Josef Land

Continue on your exploration of Franz Josef Land, enjoying daily excursions, informal lectures, and wildlife spotting.

Day 12

Day 12
Cruise Back to Svalbard

Today you’ll cross back through bountiful waters of the Barents Sea and along the Svalbard Archipelago.

From the panoramic open decks, you’ll enjoy Arctic landscapes and wildlife sightings; walrus and a wide variety of whales.

Visit the South Spitsbergen National Park, a magnificent pristine polar wilderness with plentiful Arctic species. Spot polar bears and other marine wildlife from the ship.

Day 13

Day 13
Cruise Back to Svalbard

As you journey back to Longyearbyen, explore the North Isforden National Park. This impressive protected area is home to lush and beautiful landscapes, striking geological features and excellent wildlife-viewing opportunities. 

Spot endemic Svalbard reindeer and Arctic foxes, huge flocks of migratory seabirds like Brünnich’s guillemots, little auks and Atlantic puffins.

Day 14

Day 14
Disembarkation in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

After breakfast you’ll bid farewell in Longyearbyen, where you started. After saying your goodbyes you’ll be transferred to the airport for your onward journey.

Olie
our destination expert

Meet Olie

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itinerary highlights
  • Sail around the Russian High Arctic in luxury with all modern comforts onboard Sea Spirit 
  • Experience a true expedition cruise to the rarely visited Franz Josef Land archipelago
  • Visit a soviet-era research facility, once a base for polar exploration
  • Look out for colonies of nesting seabirds on the rugged, steep cliffs of the islands
  • Spot polar bears, walrus and endangered bowhead whales around the archipelago
destinations in the itinerary
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