Franz Josef Land Explorer to Kirkenes

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

Franz Josef Land is an archipelago located in the Arctic Ocean, Barents Sea and Kara Sea. It is 800 miles from Murmansk and in 560 miles from the North Pole. Franz Josef Land consists of 191 islands, which cover an area of 10,025 square miles, stretching 235 miles from east to west and 145 miles from north to south. It is a sanctuary of Arctic wild life: walrus colonies, polar bears, arctic foxes, marine mammals, bird cliffs, and historical remains. The islands became part of the Russian Arctic National Park in 2012, with a policy to control tourist numbers in order to conserve the pristine environment.

Expedition Highlights
• Attempt landings at Novaya Zemlya archipelago, a chain of mountainous islands draped in ice that have yet to be thoroughly explored, where seals, walruses, and polar bears may be found on coastal ice floes year round
• Photograph unique stone spheres at Champ Island
• Adventurous kayakers will paddle through pack ice and waters teeming with wildlife
• Keep watch for walrus, rorqual and elusive bowhead whales
• Be on the lookout 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 the Greg Mortimer in Murmansk, Russia
Days 2 & 3 At Sea
Day 4 Novaya Zemlya
Day 5 At Sea
Days 6 to 12 Franz Josef Land
Days 13 & 14 At Sea
Day 15 Murmansk
Day 16 Kirkenes, Norway

Day 1 — Embark the Greg Mortimer in Murmansk, Russia

In Murmansk, Russia, join a pre-arranged half day excursion visiting the monument to the soldier of WW2 and also the first nuclear icebreaker Lenin.

In the late afternoon board the Greg Mortimer where you’ll have time to settle into your cabin before our important briefings.

Days 2 & 3 — At Sea

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

Day 4 — Novaya Zemlya

Novaya Zemlya archipelago was once an important nuclear research site during the cold war, and today only a few places in the north are accessible to visitors. These islands offer stunning rugged Arctic landscapes - enormous extinct volcanoes, jagged cliffs and the most isolated mountain range in the Baltic Sea. For wildlife lovers, Novaya Zemlya boasts a great variety of flora and fauna, many of which are on the brink of extinction.

We hope to visit Inostrantseva Bay, which has one of the most picturesque glaciers in the entire Novaya Zemlya archipelago. The bay offers breathtaking panoramic views of Arctic wilderness. The fog can be quite thick here and the swell can be high, but we will attempt to launch our Zodiacs to explore the bay and photograph the stunning icy landscape. If we’re able to land, we will enjoy hiking along the coastline and observe some of the endemic species of Arctic flora and fauna.

Just north of the northern tip of Novaya Zemlya Archipelago is Oransky, a group of several small inshore islands, located within the Russian Arctic National Park established in 2009. The islands themselves are not inhabited by humans, but remnants of early hunting activity are visible. At the nearby Zhelania Cape, situated at the northeastern-most tip of Northern Island a manned weather station was operated as well as a military base, but both were closed in the 1990s. On Oransky Islands Brünnich’s guillemots, black-legged kittiwakes, glaucous gulls, black guillemots, Atlantic puffins and great skuas can be found breeding. You may get a chance to see a massive walrus rookery, various species of whale, and the Novaya Zemlya reindeer. If we’re very lucky we may also see polar bear, and the ones found at Novaya Zemlya are considered to be a genetically unique sub-species.

Day 5 — At Sea

Our onboard lecture program continues as we continue our sea crossing to Franz Josef Land. You may choose to spend your time staying active at the gym, treat yourself to a massage in the wellness center or getting to know your fellow expeditioners.

Days 6 to 12 — 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 a 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 nine feet 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 provides 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 old abandoned 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 13 & 14 — 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 15 — Murmansk

Back in Murmansk for clearance procedures before continuing to Kirkenes.

Day 16 — Kirkenes, Norway

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 downtown Kirkenes or the airport is included.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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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), $900 (West Greenland & Iceland Circumnavigation), Photography Free, Climbing $1,090 (Jewels of the Arctic & Arctic Complete), Snorkeling $600 (Jun 22nd & Jul 2nd).

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

A $15 per person per day gratuity for the crew is automatically added to your onboard account. It is at your discretion if you would like to remove the tip (or increase/decrease the amount) when you settle your account. It is not necessary to tip the expedition team members.

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

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No trips meet your criteria. Please increase the budget above to view more results.
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 $1,150 ('Svalbard Odyssey', 'Jewels of the Arctic', 'East Greenland Explorer'), $1,190 ('Orkneys, Faroes, Jan Mayen & Svalbard', 'FJL Explorer'), $1,830 ('Arctic Complete'), $1,270 ('Inuit Arctic and Beyond'), Photography Free, Climbing $1,050 ('Jewels of the Arctic', 'East Greenland Explorer' & 'Arctic Complete'), Standup Paddleboarding $500 (('Jewels of the Arctic', 'East Greenland Explorer' & 'Arctic Complete'), Snorkeling $590 (Aug 18th, 30th & Sep 10th).

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

A $15 per person per day gratuity for the crew is automatically added to your onboard account. It is at your discretion if you would like to remove the tip (or increase/decrease the amount) when you settle your account. It is not necessary to tip the expedition team members.

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

DeckPlan_GregMortimer-ship
DeckPlan_GregMortimer

         Captain's Suite *
480 Sq Ft / 44.5 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 • Separate lounge area • 42" flat-screen TV
         Junior Suite *
420 Sq Ft / 38.9 m² including balcony
Deck 7
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 • Separate lounge area
         Balcony Suite *
328-433 Sq Ft / 30.5-40.2 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
225-337 Sq Ft / 20.9--31.3 m² including balcony
Decks 4 & 6
Twin or double bed • Private En-suite • Floor to ceiling window • Desk area • Closet space • Private balcony • Room-controlled thermostat • Safe for storing valuables • 42" flat-screen TV
Many "B" staterooms are fitted with interconnecting features making them great for families or groups
         Aurora Stateroom  Twin & Triple (on select voyages)
170-245 Sq Ft / 15.8-22.8 m²
Deck 3
Twin or double bed (Three twin beds in Triple) • Private En-suite • Porthole window • Desk area • Closet space • Room-controlled thermostat • Safe for storing valuables • 42" flat-screen TV

*

      Suite benefits include:
• One free pair of binoculars per suite
• 1-hour spa treatment (per person)
• Free stocked mini bar (Balcony & Junior stocked once, Captain’s replenished as needed)
• Gratuities/tips for crew included to the value of $15 per person per day
• 1 free bottle of champagne per suite