Franz Josef Land Explorer

Greg Mortimer Luxury Expidition Cruise Ship
Greg Mortimer
120 Passengers
Adventure Options

Experience a rare chance to explore wondrous islands, on our inaugural Franz Josef Land voyage. From Svalbard, cross the Barents Sea to a world few have seen. Enter the Russian Arctic National Park and watch for polar bears, whales, walrus and seals. Enjoy long tundra walks and geological oddities. Get up close to spectacular bird cliffs and visit fascinating historic huts of explorers like Fridtjof Nansen.

Highlights
• Photograph unique stone spheres at Champ Island
• Visit Nansen’s winter camp at Cape Norway
• Look out for walrus, rorqual and elusive bowhead whales
• Watch for hunting polar bears on pack ice and on land
• Marvel at the frozen landscape of Franz Josef Land - 85% of which is glaciated

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 Embark Kirkenes, Norway
Day 2 Murmansk
Days 3 & 4 At Sea
Days 5 to 11 Franz Josef Land
Days 12 & 13 At Sea
Day 14 Murmansk
Day 15 Disembark Kirkenes

Day 1 — Embark Kirkenes, Norway

Arrive in Kirkenes, Norway, located on the border with Russia. Join a pre-arranged half day excursion or activity prior to boarding the Greg Mortimer late afternoon. Airport transfers will be included if arriving on preferred flights into Kirkenes.

You’ll have time to settle into your cabin before our important briefings. Sail the scenic Bokfjord to reach the Barents Sea on our way to Murmansk in neighboring Russia.

Day 2 — Murmansk

After sailing overnight into Russia, we stop in Murmansk, to undergo formalities to enter Russia. During clearance procedures, we may go on a city of Murmansk tour visiting the monument to the soldiers of WW2 and also the first nuclear icebreaker Lenin.

Days 3 & 4 — At Sea

Over the next two days at sea, enjoy informative and entertaining lectures from our expert expedition team including naturalists, historians and geologists.

Time and weather permitting, we may cruise along the coast of Novaya Zemlya on day 4, to have a first glimpse of the tundra of the high Arctic, we may even try a landing in the tundra or a Zodiac cruise in front of our first glacier. Fingers crossed!

Days 5 to 11 — Franz Josef Land

Franz Josef Land is a stark yet beautiful world of glaciers, mosses and lichens. Approximately five million sea birds nest on the archipelago every year, with the thick-billed guillemot accounting for approximately 20%. Other seabirds such as fulmar, kittiwake, Brünnich's guillemot, black guillemot and little auk are common throughout the archipelago. On the flat tundra, nest other species such as: common eider, purple sandpiper, Arctic skua, glaucous gull, ivory gull, Arctic tern and snow bunting. Franz Josef Land is home to two Arctic giants – the Polar bear and the walrus. There is also a population of Arctic fox, which typically have their territories near seabird habitats. The waters of Franz Josef Land are visited by whales, including humpback, bowhead, narwhal, and white beluga whale. Walrus, ringed seals, bearded seals and an amazing species of mammals, choose Franz Josef Land and the water areas around it as their home.

While there are many exciting places we can choose to visit over the following week, weather, wind, and sea-ice conditions will determine our itinerary in Franz Josef Land. A sample of some of the places where we may land, hike, photograph or view spectacular wildlife and scenery include:

Bell and Mabel Island
The remains of an empty cabin built in 1880 by British explorer Benjamin Leigh Smith can be found on Bell Island. On Mabel island offers an opportunity to get close to a little auk colony as the birds nest between the rocks on the slope above the beach where the Zodiacs land.

Cape Flora - Northbrook Island
Located in an unglaciated area in the Southwest of Northbrook Island, Cape Flora is one of the most famous historical site in Franz Josef Land because it is one of the most accessible locations in the archipelago and often served as a base for polar expeditions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Cape Flora features some of the most beautiful tundra in Franz Josef Land, but landings on the rocky beach, which is prone to swell from the Barents Sea can often be tricky. Cape Flora is where Benjamin Leigh Smith’s vessel Eira was shipwrecked in 1881, after being trapped in pack ice.

Geographers bay (Prince George Land)
Prince George is the largest and longest island of the Franz Josef Archipelago. Most of the island is covered in large glaciers and ice domes, such as the Brusilov Ice Dome - the highest point of the island. A landing at Geographers Bay allows for a hike up one of the ice domes to stretch our legs and to enjoy the wonderful views over the archipelago, as Prince George Island is not fully glaciated. It’s also a great spot for enjoying the typical flowers of the north Arctic tundra.

Tikhaya Bukta (Hooker Island)
Tikhaya Bay was a major base for polar expeditions, and where a team of meteorologists from the Russian Sedov station were marooned at the beginning of the Second World War. It was also the location of a meteorological station between 1929 and 1963. The remains of the old Russian station is worth a visit and after thousands of rusting barrels were found and cleared here five 5 years ago, the station now resembles a ghost town or a living museum. You will also find here the world’s northernmost (Russian) post office!

Rubini Rock (Hooker Island)
The impressive basalt cliffs create the best bird cliffs in the archipelago housing more than 100,000 birds comprising of mostly Brünnich guillemot, but also kittiwake and little auks. The bird cliff lies just off Calm Bay and is perfect for Zodiac cruises. The island is a volcanic plug, the central remains of conical volcano.

Cape Tegethoff (Hall Island)
The place of the first landing in 1873 by Austro-Hungarian expeditioners Julius Von Payer and Karl Weyprecht after the Tegethoff sunk in 1873. Beautiful basalt rocks and bird cliff rookery of guillemot, gulls, kittiwake and little auks.

Cape Triest, Champ Island
Champ Island is famous for the incredible stone spheres (geodes), commonly called “Devils Marbles” with sizes ranging from tennis balls to boulders that are three meters in diameter! These rocks are a unique geological feature that can be found only in the Arctic regions. Keep a look out for walrus in the water or hauled out on the beach during our wet landing.

Sarko Passage - Newcombe sound (Nansen archipelago)
Beautifully glaciated landscape featuring an enormous glacier front with a lot of sea Ice. It’s one of the best spots to marvel at glaciers, ice and perhaps polar bears!

Cape Norway (Jackson Island)
The place where the famous Norwegian explorers Fritjoj Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen spent the winter of 1895-96 after returning from their attempt to reach the North Pole. We can see the remains of the stone hut built by the men including a big log that was used as a makeshift roof. A commemorative plaque marks this event where the men survived the winter until the following summer, when they resumed their journey southwards.

Cape Fligely (Prince Rudolf Island)
At 81° 51’N, this is the northernmost point of Eurasia, where we can cruise along the ice edge and perhaps get a glimpse to the North Pole in clear weather conditions.

Teplitz Bay (Prince Rudolf Island)
An abandoned old Russian meteorological station is located here – it was once the northernmost weather station in the world. The bay is often chock full of ice but provides a marvelous opportunity to enjoy the northernmost Zodiac cruise!

Walrus Haulout at Stolichky (Stoliczka) or Apollonov Island
Walrus can be found everywhere on the sea ice in the Franz Josef archipelago. We hope to visit one of the established haul out sites to observe them on land. Polar bears can be seen almost everywhere on, or between the islands. We may see some on land but we hope to find them on the pack Ice, their natural habitat. Seeing polar bears is a highlight of a voyage to Franz Josef Land and can happen at any moment. We will change the itinerary in case we encounter one or more polar bears, maximizing every opportunity spending time observing the king of the Arctic!

Days 12 & 13 — At Sea

The return crossing of the Barents Sea offers some good opportunities to encounter whales, perhaps the elusive bowhead whale if we’re lucky, and certainly plenty of opportunities to photograph sea birds.

Day 14 — Murmansk

Back in Murmansk for clearance procedures before continuing to Kirkenes.

Day 15 — Disembark Kirkenes

Arrive in Kirkenes in the morning, farewell your expedition team and fellow passengers as we all continue our onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature. A transfer to the airport is included in the cost of the voyage.

Itinerary and map are a guide only. Itinerary is subject to ice and weather conditions.

Route Map

Updated route map coming soon.

Map_Aurora_FranzJosefLandExplorer

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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Click on the tour dates in the left column to view a trip itinerary. Point MOUSE at Cabin Category to view DETAILED description.

International Airfare Not Included. Rates are per person, based on twin-share. Single costs are 1.7 times the twin rate in all cabin categories. Twin share, with no supplement, is available in Aurora Stateroom and Balcony Stateroom categories.

Adventure options must be pre-booked and paid for prior to start of the trip. Space is subject to availability. Some activities require experience.

Optional Activities: Kayaking $940 (Svalbard), $1,090 (FJL Explorer, Jewels of the Arctic, Arctic Discovery & Inuit Arctic and Beyond), $1,560 (High Arctic Adventure & Arctic Complete), Photography Free, Climbing $1,090 (Jewels of the Arctic & 'Arctic Complete).

Note: "Inuit Arctic and Beyond" is open for 160 passengers instead of the usual 120.

Mandatory Emergency Evacuation Insurance Required. All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.

DeckPlan_GregMortimer-ship
DeckPlan_GregMortimer-decks
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   Captain's Suite
500 Sq Ft / 46.3 m² including balcony
Deck 4
Twin or double bed • Private en-suite • Full size window • Desk area • Closet space • Private balcony • Sofa bed (can sleep 3rd passenger) • Room-controlled thermostat • Safe for storing valuables • Separate lounge area • 42" flat-screen TV
   Junior Suite
475 Sq Ft / 44.4 m² including balcony
Deck 7
Twin or double bed • Private en-suite • Full size window • Desk area • Closet space • Private balcony • Sofa bed (can sleep 3rd passenger) • Room-controlled thermostat • Safe for storing valuables • 42" flat-screen TV • Separate lounge area
   Balcony Suite
385 Sq Ft / 35.8 m² including balcony
Deck 4
Twin or double bed • Private en-suite • Full size window • Desk area • Closet space • Private balcony • Room-controlled thermostat • Safe for storing valuables • 42" flat-screen TV
   Balcony Stateroom
250-310 Sq Ft / 23.1-28.9 m² including balcony
Decks 4 & 6
Twin or double bed • Private En-suite • Floor to ceiling window • Desk area • Closet space • Private balcony • Sofa bed (can sleep 3rd passenger in select cabins) • Room-controlled thermostat • Safe for storing valuables • 42" flat-screen TV
   Aurora Stateroom
250 Sq Ft / 23.2 m²
Deck 3
Twin or double bed • Private En-suite • Porthole window • Desk area • Closet space • Sofa bed (can sleep 3rd passenger in select cabins) • Room-controlled thermostat • Safe for storing valuables • 42" flat-screen TV