Spitsbergen & Franz Josef Land

Dramatic landscape in Franz Josef Land
from £9496 14 nights | Jul - Aug Exc. flights See price details
  • Departs:
  • Jul - Aug


This unusual, yet remarkable voyage takes you to an unknown world in some of the Arctic’s most remote regions. Encounter archipelagos only lightly touched by the hand of man and still relatively unexplored. Steeped in history and rich in wildlife, the islands that make up Svalbard and Franz Josef Land are an ideal location for those wanting to journey the path less travelled and get a taste for the experiences of the earliest polar explorers.


  • Enjoy regular zodiac landings, which provide access to seldom visited sites
  • Explore two of the world's most isolated archipelagos
  • Experience quintessential arctic wildlife, including walrus, whales and polar bears
  • Spot some of the less celebrated island inhabitants, including little auk, the 'penguin of the north'.

Svalbard, the northern-most of the Norwegian territories, is famed for its majestic wildlife and imposing landscapes.

In the far north of Russia is the icy realm of Franz Josef Land, one of the most remote and raw archipelagos in the world. Discovered less than 150 years ago, it is comprised of about 191 islands and home to the walrus, polar bear, seal, arctic fox and beluga whale, as well as rich birdlife. Now considered a nature reserve within the Russian Arctic National Park administration, the landscapes of the islands are still dotted with relics from famous explorers of the past.

Itinerary & Accommodation

Day 1: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Your expedition begins in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Norwegian territory of Svalbard. After arriving you are free to explore this fascinating Arctic settlement. Be sure to see the excellent Svalbard Museum and take advantage of quality shopping and dining opportunities in the town centre. Overnight here in an included hotel on a breakfast basis.
Day 2: embarkation in Longyearbyen
In the afternoon, transfer to the harbour and board the ship. Get comfortable in your home away from home as you set sail through Isfjorden, keeping an eye out for your first marine mammals.
Days 3-4: across the Barents Sea
From Isfjorden proceed around Svalbard and east across the Barents Sea towards Franz Josef Land. Along the way, remain vigilant for sightings of marine mammals such as the elusive bowhead whale, various Arctic seal species, and the majestic polar bear.
Days 5-11: exploration of Franz Josef Land
This is expedition cruising at its most authentic. As such, the route and exploration opportunities in Franz Josef Land are heavily dependent on weather and sea ice conditions. The experienced captain and expedition leader will decide the daily itinerary and continually adjust plans as conditions and opportunities allow.

Between obligatory initial and final stops at the Russian polar station Nagurskoye, in wildlife-rich Cambridge Bay, the ship is free to explore the many waterways and islands of this unique Arctic wilderness in whatever way best suits the conditions encountered.

The archipelago, part of the Russian Arctic National Park since 2012, is a nature sanctuary. Polar bears and other quintessential High Arctic wildlife—such as walrus and some rare whale species—can be spotted anytime, anywhere in and around Franz Josef Land. Scree slopes and cliffs around the islands host enormous nesting colonies of migratory seabirds such as guillemots, dovekies, and ivory gulls. 24-hour daylight means you have the opportunity to spot wildlife both day and night.

Franz Josef Land is also home to some interesting geological features, such as the mysterious stone spheres on Champ Island. Fans of geographical extremes may take note that Cape Fligely on Rudolf Island is the northernmost point of land in the Eastern Hemisphere.

Franz Josef Land also offers visitors the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of famous polar explorers at well-preserved historical sites. The journals of explorers such as Julius von Payer, Benjamin Leigh Smith, Frederick George Jackson, and Fridtjof Nansen come alive at Cape Norway, Cape Flora, Eira Harbour, and Cape Tegetthoff. Memorials, monuments, crosses, and the remains of dwellings are testimony to incredible historical events that are further illuminated by the expert lecturers.

Tikhaya Bukhta is currently a Russian Arctic National Park ranger station occupying Soviet-era research buildings and was also a major base for polar expeditions. Nearby the fascinating columnar basalt cliffs of Rubini Rock are home to thousands of nesting seabirds.
Days 12-13: Barents Sea and Svalbard Coast
Following the exploration of Franz Josef Land, cross back through the bountiful waters of the Barents Sea and then along the coastal islands of the Svalbard Archipelago. From panoramic open decks, enjoy Arctic landscapes and wildlife sightings. On ice floes and fast ice, several species of seals watch vigilantly for polar bears, which can be spotted anytime, anywhere in and around Svalbard. Bountiful inshore and offshore waters are home to walrus and a wide variety of whales.
Day 14: West Spitsbergen
After a technical stop in Longyearbyen, begin the exploration of Svalbard. As this is a true High Arctic wilderness, this part of the voyage is also a real expedition.

The aim will be to visit the spectacular fjords, coasts, and islands in the northwestern part of Spitsbergen. This area contains the archipelago’s most impressive scenery and some of the Arctic’s best wildlife viewing opportunities. Deep fjords and narrow channels are flanked by jagged snowy mountain peaks. Immense tidewater glaciers calve icebergs into turquoise waters. On ice floes several species of seals watch vigilantly for polar bears, which can be spotted anytime, anywhere in and around Svalbard.

Fields of flowering tundra are home to grazing reindeer and playful Arctic fox. Bountiful inshore and offshore waters are home to walrus and a wide variety of whales. The whole area is alive with migratory birds, including numerous rare species, taking advantage of the summer’s 24-hour daylight.

To complete the Arctic experience you will also explore sites rich with history. The area contains the historical remnants of whaling camps, coal mining operations, trappers’ cabins, staging areas for historic attempts to discover the North Pole, and the ruins of a WWII weather station.
Day 15: disembarkation in Longyearbyen, Svalbard
After breakfast say farewell in the town of Longyearbyen and transfer to the airport or to the town centre if you wish to spend more time here.

Please note that all voyage itineraries are intended as a guideline only - embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy of expedition travel. Actual routes and landings will be dependent on weather, sea and ice conditions. A degree of flexibility is essential in the polar regions!

Accommodation Options

Sea Spirit

  • Grade:
  • Type: Expedition Ship

This ship couples adventure with supreme comfort and sty…



Paddle through ice-choked channels on this thrilling option…

Prices & Dates

2018 Season

Prices are per person, based on a twin cabin - please contact us for details of triple, single and superior cabins.

Departure DateActivitiesDurationVesselPrices from
04 Jul 2018 15 days Sea Spirit £9,496
18 Aug 2018 15 days Sea Spirit £9,496

Activity options:

≠ Kayaking is available on this voyage: £458 per person on board the Sea Spirit

Inclusions and Exclusions

Sea Spirit

Includes: 1 night pre-voyage accommodation on a breakfast basis in Longyearbyen • Group transfer from hotel to ship for embarkation • Group transfer from ship to airport upon disembarkation • Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping • All breakfasts, lunches and dinners on board throughout your voyage • Hot drinks available around the clock • Welcome and farewell cocktails • Leadership throughout the voyage by an experienced Expedition Leader, including shore landings and other activities • All shore landings per the daily program • All Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program • Formal and informal presentations by the Expedition Team and guest speakers as scheduled • Digital photographic journal documenting the voyage • Comprehensive pre-departure material • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program • Expedition jacket, yours to keep • Loan of rubber boots during voyageEmergency evacuation insurance for passengers under 85 years of age, to a maximum benefit of US$100,000 per person.

Excludes: Return airfares from the UK • Any additional pre or post voyage accommodation/land arrangements • Additional airport or airline security charges • Passport and visa expenses - A Russian visa is required for most nationalities (we will be pleased to advise you on any necessary documentation, however this is passengers' own responsibility) • Government arrival and departure taxes • Excess baggage charges • Alcoholic and soft drinks, telecommunication charges, laundry costs and other charges of a personal nature • The customary gratuity at the end of the voyage for Hospitality Team members, ship’s crew and Expedition Team members (guidelines will be provided) • Travel insurance

How to book

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So that we may send you a personalised quote and confirmation of availability, please click on the link below and complete our Enquiry form. One of our Travel Specialists will then be in touch to complete your booking or answer any further questions you might have.

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