Franz Josef Land
July 18 – August 3, 2019
Found deep in the Russian Arctic, explore Franz Josef Land to find polar bears, whales, seals, walruses, and more surrounded by icy scenery. The archipelago was completely unknown to humanity until 1870, and since then has been obscured from the common traveler by veils of ice and politics. Travel when ice retreats enough to allow passage, taking advantage of this season’s window and a newly open political climate to explore the recently declared Russian Arctic National Park.
Discover a dynamic environment of shifting sea ice and glaciated islands that create the perfect habitat for seals, polar bears, walrus, sea cliff breeding bird colonies, and the possible rare and elusive bowhead whale. The high Arctic is a polar desert, beautiful and stark, sometimes profoundly inhospitable, sometimes bountiful by turns. This exploratory voyage will take you from Longyearbyen on the west coast of Svalbard, east to Franz Josef Land, and back. Journey into waters where polar adventure and opportunity await!
• Spend eight landing days on one of the planet’s most hidden and seldom visited wildlife destinations, the northernmost archipelago in Eurasia.
• Discover some of the world’s most dense populations of polar bears and walruses.
• Ice, seascape, and landscape photography with dramatic lighting and arctic intensity.
• Participate in citizen science alongside a team of international marine scientists.
July 19 – Arrive in Longyearbyen, Svalbard
July 20 – Board the Sea Spirit
July 21 -22 – Sail across the Barents Sea to Franz Josef Land
July 23-30 – Explore Franz Josef Land’s stark and beautiful polar environment with eight landing days
July 31 – August 1 – Sail back across the Barents Sea to Svalbard
August 2 – Disembark and fly homeward from Longyearbyen, Svalbard
The Sea Spirit is an “all-suite” luxury vessel built for sailing in ice with an ice-strengthened hull and retractable fin stabilizers. All the cabins have a private, en-suite bathroom, a lounge area, ample storage, and a television with DVD player, plus unobstructed exterior views via portholes, picture windows, or a private balcony. The ship is outfitted with a presentation room for onboard lectures, Internet access, a gym, library, game room, lounge, bar with bartender, and dining lounge with chef-prepared meals.
The Sea Spirit carries a fleet of ten Zodiacs for your excursions, driven by our own experienced leaders. Located at the rear of the ship, the Zodiac loading area provides a safe and relatively sheltered place from which to embark on your adventures.
- Dining lounge – offers chef-prepared meals and exquisite service that isn’t expected in this remote polar region.
- Bar – after a day of activities and explorations passengers are always welcome at a bar staffed by a professional bartender
- Library – a large collection of polar books and DVDs in a quiet cozy place for reading and relaxation.
- Game room
- Lounge – offers great opportunities for socializing and observing fantastic landscapes.
- Presentation room – multi-purpose presentation room with state-of-the-art equipment for lectures and presentations of our notable guest lecturers
- Gym – a well-equipped gym allows travelers not to break away from regular sports for the time of a trip
- Onboard Polar Boutique
- Life-saving equipment – overhauled lifeboat engine, serviced and renewed other equipment
- Doctor and small infirmary
- Internet access for a fee
Starting at $9,990 per person to $23,990
- All leaders, transport, park entry fees, landing fees, and permits for all activities unless described as optional.
- Accommodations for the nights of July 19 through August 1.
- Meals from breakfast on July 20 through breakfast on August 2, except meals listed in Not Included section.
- Transfers from hotel to ship on July 20 and ship to hotel/airport on August 2.
- Thirteen nights on board the Sea Spirit.
- Service taxes and port charges.
- Coffee and tea throughout the voyage.
- Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.
- Rubber boots on loan for duration of tour.
- All airfare, airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Airfare is approximately $1,600 to $2,900 from the USA to Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway depending on origin.
- Passport and visa fees.
- Lunch on July 20.
- We can arrange extra hotel nights for an extra cost.
- Gratuities – tipping is, of course, discretionary, however we suggest budgeting about $22 to $25 per participant per day for July 20 to August 2 aboard the Sea Spirit (about $308 to $350 total per participant).
- Emergency medical and evacuation insurance, but you are required to purchase a minimum $150,000 emergency evacuation and repatriation policy.
- Trip cancellation insurance.
- Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.
Franz Josef Land is locked in ice most of the year, but in late summer sees enough open water from the last influence of the Gulf Stream. The climate, consequently, will hover around freezing, sometimes well above on calm, windless days but generally in the range of 25 to 40°F (-5 to 5°C). Penetrating cold is not usually a problem, though be prepared for wind chill and potential wetness from splash while riding in Zodiacs. It is also possible to get wet weather, but often it is with wind, so an umbrella is not usually practical. Waterproof gloves, warm cap, layers of light, loose, warm clothing, and water repellent outer garments are necessary. Sunscreen is critical. The temperature on the ship is comfortably warm, but you may still wish to dress in layers and keep a warm layer handy in case there is exciting wildlife (such as a polar bear or bowhead whale!) to watch from the ship’s deck.
Airfare, except flights listed as included, is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.
Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Longyearbyen, Svalbard (LYR) on July 19 (for most, this means departing home on July 17 or 18). Depart Longyearbyen, Svalbard (LYR) after 8:00am on August 2.
- Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours. The crew aboard the ship smoke in designated smoking sections only.
- Maximum time in nature: We try to spend as much time in nature as possible, sometimes resulting in long days but giving you a more in-depth experience.
- Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather or road conditions.
- Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
- Travel to remote places is exciting, but it is important to understand and accept the risks, both medical and logistical. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but because we are often far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this tour. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs, since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your deposit and signed Reservation/Release Form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.