Norway and Franz Josef Land - Sailing North of 80° to the Russian Arctic

Tromsø – Murmansk – Franz Josef Land – Murmansk - Skarsvåg - Tromsø

Remote Franz Josef Land has always attracted hardy adventurers, and now you can set foot on the ice were Nansen and Johansen spent the winter, watch for polar bears wandering in their natural environment, and feel the cool Arctic from the North Pole just a few miles away.

  • 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

Overview

Norway and the Trappers' Port

Norway has an incredibly long coastline, stretching from 58° to 71° N. This rugged shoreline features a diverse landscape, from lush fjords to steep mountains, islands, skerries, and Arctic wilderness.

We begin our adventure in Tromsø, the starting point for so many expeditions and trapper adventures, which you can learn about at the fascinating Polar Museum. Take time to enjoy the town's old wooden buildings and modern Arctic Cathedral before embarking on MS Spitsbergen.

The next morning, we take you ashore at Sørøya, a beautiful island close to Hammerfest. Using our small explorer boats, we will discover the local landscape.

Into Russia

We call at the  Russian harbor of Murmansk. The port here is strategically important for both military and trade vessels and dominates life in the town.

Franz Josef Land - Remote islands, mighty glaciers and pure wilderness

We set sail northwards. For the next two days, the air will become steadily cooler, and we may experience some polar fog as warm waters and cold air meet before we arrive at Franz Josef Land.

We will spend five days exploring the world´s northernmost archipelago. This is expedition sailing at its most authentic. Our route and landing sites are heavily dependent on weather and ice conditions, and our experienced Captain and Expedition Team will take advantage of the conditions at hand to seize opportunities that arise.

The islands are composed of basalt rocks cut by dramatic glaciers, majestic mountain formations, deep fjords, buzzing bird cliffs and endless arctic tundra with diverse flora and fauna.

Cape Flora, named for the flowers that bloom here at the foot of a bird cliff, is where Nansen unexpectedly met Jackson, thereby ensuring his rescue. At Calm Bay we can marvel at the hardiness of Russian meteorologists who survived five years here without re-supply. Rubini Rock is a magnificent bird cliff we aim to cruise along. At Cape Triest we may go ashore and see the Devil's Marbles geological phenomenon.

We sail well above the 80th parallel and place you closer than 600 nautical miles from the Geographical North Pole. Explore rarely-visited historical sites of the Arctic. Among a large variety of plants and wildlife are seals, thousands of seabirds and the Arctic fox. Look out for walrus hauled out on lonely beaches. The polar bear population in the area is thought to be around 3,000, spread between here and Svalbard, so we have excellent chance to see these magnificent predators.

Following our days of exploration in Franz Josef Land, we make our way back to Murmansk.

Returning to Norway

The next day, you will find yourself at the northernmost point of the European mainland. The North Cape has been an exciting adventure destination for travelers for centuries. Many travelled great distances over land to take in the view and stand atop the steep cliff 1,007 feet above the Arctic Ocean marking the end of the continent.

After our adventure to the ice, we say farewell in Tromsø, where we started our expedition.

 

A  double entry visa for Russia is required for this voyage. For more information please read our Entry Requirements

It is the sole responsibility of the guest to identify and obtain all required travel documents and have them available when necessary.

Price includes: 

  • Hurtigruten expedition cruise in the 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
  • Complimentary tea and coffee

Not included: 

  • International flights
  • Travel protection plan
  • Luggage handling
  • Optional excursions and gratuities

Related Cruises

Itinerary

Cruise Itinerary

This is an expedition where the elements rule, and the weather, wind and ice conditions will determine our final schedule. Safety is paramount and the captain will decide the sailing itinerary during the voyage. Therefore, this itinerary is just an indication of what you can experience, and why every expedition with Hurtigruten is unique.

Departure August 29, 2019 & September 12, 2019

Departs from Tromsø, Norway
Day 1
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Takeoff Point for Explorers


Location : Tromsø, Norway

Our voyage begins, as so many great explorations have, in Tromsø.  Spend some time exploring 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 Fløyfjellet Mountain (1,867 feet) and enjoy breathtaking views of the city, mountains, and fjords. For inspiration for the upcoming expedition, visit the Polar Museum, where you can learn more about early exploration history and those who bravely ventured into the ice. 

Day 2
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Photo: Knut Fagerhaug Photo

Hike Near the Top of the World


Location : Sørøya

Sørøya ‒ the fourth-largest island in Norway ‒ has a great deal of wilderness and few inhabitants. We will go ashore on this scenic island with a 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. 

Day 3
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Photo: Christopher Michel Photo

Into Russia


Location : Murmansk

Welcome to Russia!  Murmansk is a young city, founded in 1916, and the largest city found north of the Arctic Circle.  The origins of Murmansk lie in the need for a northern seaport, and the marine industry is still the dominant industry today.

We will make a short stop here before we head north. 

Day 4-5
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Photo: Christopher Michel Photo

Heading North!


Location : At sea

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 farther north.  Perhaps enjoy a visit to our state-of-the-art gym, or simply relax in the Panorama Lounge.

Day 6-10

Amazing Islands with Fascinating History


Location : Franz Josef Land

It is likely that the early Pomors or Norwegian sealers knew of Franz Josef Land, but the first recorded landing among the 192 islands making up the archipelago was made in 1873 by the Admiral Tegetthoff sailing vessel.  They found wide beaches, steep cliffs with nesting seabirds 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, who will 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 clean-up here to help remove some of the discarded fishing equipment and other garbage that poses a threat to the wildlife of the island.  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 the London Zoo! 

Cape Flora on Northbrook Island earns its name from the copious fertilization provided by thousands of seabirds that nest on the cliffs.  We hope to see Brünnich’s guillemots and black-legged kittiwakes. It was here that Fridtjof Nansen, having survived an unexpected winter in a tent, met by chance – and was rescued – by Fredrick Jackson, in June of 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 discover a little of the history here, and listen to the laughter-like calls of the little auks as they fly to and from their burrows in the scree slopes.

The Rubini Rock bird cliff lies just off Calm Bay and is perfect for cruising around.  The cylindrical island is a volcanic plug, the remains of conical volcano.  Its sheer sides of red basalt rise 242 feet 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 of 1895 Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen arrived and prepared to overwinter.  Using just a few stones and his tent he made a crude hut, and he successfully survived until the following summer, with Hjalmar Johansen, when they resumed their journey southward.

The ‘Devil’s Marbles’ are found at Cape Triest on Champ Island.  Officially called geodes, these spherical rock formations are created by accumulation of chemicals within the rock strata – and they can be up to 6 feet in diameter! Keep an eye open for walrus in the water or hauled out on the beach as we head ashore in our small, sturdy explorer boats.

Alexandra Land is the westermost island (not counting the tiny, far flung Victoria Island), and 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.

Day 11-12
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Photo: Christopher Michel Photo

The Barents Sea


Location : At sea

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, enjoy a relaxing day on board by enjoying the hot tubs on deck or taking part in one of the lectures presented by the expedition team.

Day 13
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Photo: Sonic Arts Photo

World War II History


Location : Murmansk

We return to Murmansk, and you will have time to explore the city. Overlooking the port is a 115 foot statue of a Russian soldier known as Alyosha. This statue is a memorial to the Russian soldiers who fought in World War II.

You might like to visit the church of the Savior on 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 the church is the lighthouse monument, and next to it is part of the ill-fated submarine Kursk.

Day 14
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Photo: Filip Hoel Photo

The Northernmost Point in Europe


Location : Skarsvåg

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 discover 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 of the Norway coast in this landscape full of contrasts and breathtaking scenery. North Cape is a spectacular place to experience the midnight sun. 

Day 15
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Photo: Knut Hansvold Photo

End of the Expedition


Location : Tromsø, Norway

Unfortunately, every great explorer's journey comes to an end. It may seem as though the time flew by too quickly. We have traveled where few others have gone, just a few hundred miles from the Geographical North Pole. 

Arrival September 12 & 26, 2019

Location Tromsø, Norway
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