High Arctic Adventurer

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

Combine Svalbard Odyssey and Franz Josef Land Explorer, back-to-back, for a complete adventure exploring the High Arctic. Enjoy peak summer in Svalbard, with 24-hour daylight, long tundra walks, reindeer, spectacular bird cliffs, and polar bears. Dog sled or fish in Longyearbyen, then sail for wild Franz Josef Land. Be one of the few to experience its wildlife, mysterious landscapes and exploration history.

• Paddle kayaks near Svalbard’s magnificent glacier fronts
• Cruise past brilliantly blue glaciers and stunning fjords
• Zodiac beneath sea cliffs alive with nesting seabirds
• Encounter polar bears on land and ice
• Explore rarely-visited islands of Franz Josef Land
• Discover unique stone spheres in alien landscapes

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 Embark Longyearbyen
Days 2 & 3 Northwest coast of Spitsbergen
Days 4 to 6 Northern flanks of Spitsbergen and Nordauslandet
Days 7 to 9 Hinlopen Strait, East coast of Spitsbergen and Edgeøya
Days 10 & 11 At Sea, Kirkenes
Day 12 Murmansk
Days 13 & 14 At Sea
Days 15 to 21 Franz Josef Land
Days 22 to 24 At Sea, Murmansk
Day 25 Disembark Kirkenes

Day 1 — Embark Longyearbyen

Arrive in Longyearbyen, where you will be met by an expedition representative and taken on a sightseeing tour to explore the remote outskirts and ‘Capital’ of Spitsbergen, including a stop at the local museum. After the tour you will be transferred to the port in the late afternoon to embark the Greg Mortimer. You’ll have time to settle into your cabin prior to the important pre-departure briefings. Your voyage commences, cruising out of the beautiful Isfjorden, escorted by gliding fulmars and perhaps the occasional puffin. Find a spot on one of the observation areas watching for seabirds, including graceful ivory gulls, kittiwakes and guillemots. They rise and fall skillfully, using the air currents created by the ship to gain momentum.

Days 2 & 3 — Northwest coast of Spitsbergen

Cruise northwards along the west coast of Spitsbergen, stopping at intriguing places like Kongsfjorden or Magdalenefjorden. Kongsfjorden (Kings Bay) is incredibly scenic, the fjord is headed by two giant glaciers. There’s ample time ashore for hiking on the lush tundra amongst the summer flowers and observing the remarkable bird cliffs near the 14th July Glacier, where even a few puffins nest between the cracks in the cliffs.

We keep watch for polar bears and Arctic fox and feel a sense of history at the 350-year-old remains of a Dutch whaling settlement, Smeerenberg on Amsterdamøya. The name Smeerenberg literally means blubber town in Dutch. It is a place of extraordinary legends, of thousands of men living there during the 1630s, a town complete with shops, gambling dens and the like. In reality, only 400 men and fifteen ships visited Smeerenberg during its peak in the 1630s for whaling purposes.

Days 4 to 6 — Northern flanks of Spitsbergen and Nordauslandet

As we work our way along the north coast we explore rarely-visited places such as Woodfjorden and Leifdefjorden in search of the mighty polar bear. From Zodiacs we enjoy magnificent views of sweeping glaciers winding their way into the sea. We may walk on smooth raised beach terraces to a superb viewpoint or hike in the mountains on the tundra where pretty colored wildflowers and lichen grow and where reindeer graze. We may visit trapper huts of yesteryear where Russians and Pomors would hunt and survive the cold harsh winters, all while remaining alert for wandering polar bears and their cubs. We might come face-to-face with the formidable pack ice of the Arctic Ocean, keeping our eyes peeled for walrus feeding on clams or hauled out on the beach in wallows. We will listen to the cacophony of sea birds and see them feeding. If conditions allow, we may push north into the pack ice in hopes of finding polar bears ranging over the frozen landscape on the hunt for seals. We may also visit Seven Island, the northernmost islands in Svalbard where Polar Bears and walrus are common - if pack ice allows.

Days 7 to 9 — Hinlopen Strait, East Coast of Spitsbergen and Edgeøya

Along the northeast coast of Spitsbergen we enter a different world – a polar desert. If ice conditions allow we will pass south through the narrow Hinlopen Strait. The strait is flanked by creamy colored slabs of rock that are rich in fossils, as we will discover for ourselves when we go ashore. We may visit Alkefjellet in the Strait, where a series of one-hundred-meter-high dolerite towers are home to nearly a million nesting Brünnich’s guillemots – the penguins of the north – that occupy every available nook and cranny. Elsewhere we seek out eider ducks and geese and hope to spot Arctic fox and the beautiful ivory gulls.

As the Greg Mortimer passes between Spitsbergen and the smaller islands of Barentsøya and Edgeøya, we cross a major polar bear migration route and the beautiful fertile plains of Sundeneset. The spongy ground is richly covered with bright green mosses, a variety of delicate and colorful flowers, particularly the yellow marsh (bog) saxifrage, various mushrooms, fungi, clear bubbling streams and small tarns. Tiny (micro) flowers such as Mouse Ears grow in Spitsbergen creating fairy like mossy rock gardens. We explore this beautiful terrain on foot, marveling at the contrast between the colorful soft ground and the barren, rocky terrain from further north. Reindeer antlers lie scattered along the ground. We will do one last landing around Edgeøya on day 9 before starting the crossing of the Barents Sea, during this last day we may cruise in the pack ice again looking for our last polar bear.

Days 9 & 10 — At Sea

Crossing the Barents Sea to Kirkenes offers some good opportunities to encounter whales and certainly plenty of opportunities to photograph sea birds. You may enjoy final presentations from our team of experts, spend your time editing photos or simply relaxing.

Day 11 — Kirkenes

During the early morning we cruise into the Bokfjord towards Kirkenes. As the ship’s hotel staff prepare to welcome on board expeditioners joining us on the next leg of the journey to Franz Josef Land, enjoy a pre-arranged half day excursion or activity in Kirkenes before re-boarding the Greg Mortimer in the late afternoon.

Day 12 — 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 tour of Murmansk visiting the monument to the soldiers of WW2 and also the first nuclear icebreaker Lenin.

Days 13 & 14 — 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 15 to 21 — 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 comprised 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 22 to 24 — At Sea, Murmansk

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. Back in Murmansk, we undergo Russian formalities before continuing to Kirkenes.

Day 25 — 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.


* 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.


         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-A, Balcony Stateroom-B, Balcony Stateroom-C
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  Twin & Triple (on select voyages)
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