• Polar bear, Franz Josef Land | © Anthony Smith

Itinerary Summary

14 Days
Jul - Aug 2022
Svalbard & Arctic Russia
Small Group Safari
Duration Price When Destination Type
14 Days £8195 Jul - Aug 2022 Svalbard & Arctic Russia Small Group Safari
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Franz Josef Land Explorer

An epic journey to the rarely visited Russian High Arctic. Sail from Svalbard across the icy Barents Sea to Franz Josef Land in search of polar bears, walrus and the elusive bowhead whale.

Journey on an extraordinary expedition far beyond Svalbard, where you can follow in the footsteps of legendary polar explorers. Watch majestic polar bears hunting on the pack ice as you sail the Barents Sea and keep your binoculars out in hopes of spotting the bowhead whales that call this stretch of ocean their home. Discover unparalleled landscapes, seascapes dotted with beluga, minke and humpack whales, and experience the midnight sun from the bow of the M/V Sea Spirit. A land of contrasts that is a photographer's dream, Franz Josef Land will have you snapping away to capture bird cliffs, glaciers, lush tundra and vast polar deserts.


What makes this trip extraordinary

  • Be one of only a handful of people to have ever visited the remote Russian High Arctic and navigated the Barents Sea.
  • Go in search of polar bears hunting on the pack ice.
  • Watch out for endangered bowhead whales.
  • Discover the history of polar exploration in this corner of the Arctic.

Embedded Video Overview

An epic 14-day expedition to Svalbard and the Russian High Arctic to explore the Barents Sea in search of mighty polar bears 
from $9,588 per person sharing, excluding international flights

Day by day

Day by day

Day 1

Arrive Longyearbyen

Welcome to Longyearbyen, the Arctic adventure capital of the Norwegian territory of Svalbard and starting point of our expedition. After arriving via scheduled commercial flight, you are free to explore this small but fascinating settlement. Be sure to see the excellent Svalbard Museum and enjoy the shops, cafés and restaurants in the town centre. Your hotel for the night is included in the price of the voyage.

Day 2

Embarkation in Longyearbyen

After breakfast at your hotel and lunch in one of Longyearbyen's eateries, you will board the expedition ship M/V Sea Spirit in the afternoon. Transfers from the hotel are included. Explore the ship and get comfortable in your home-away-from-home for the extraordinary adventure to come. The long days of summer sunlight illuminate our surroundings as we slip our moorings and sail into a true wilderness where wildlife abounds. The scenery as we sail through Isfjorden on our first evening is spectacular and there is already the possibility of marine mammal encounters.

Overnight: M/V Sea Spirit (B, D)

Days 3-4

Across the Barents Sea

From Isfjorden we proceed straight to Franz Josef Land across the Barents Sea. Presentations and workshops by expert expedition staff prepare us for what lies ahead. In these far northern latitudes, it is possible to encounter sea ice even in summer. Along the way, we’ll remain vigilant for sightings of ice-dependent marine mammals such as the elusive bowhead whale, various Arctic seal species, and the majestic polar bear.

Overnight: M/V Sea Spirit (B, L, D)

Days 5-11

Exploration of Franz Josef

The route and exploration opportunities in Franz Josef Land are heavily dependent on weather and sea ice. The ship's experienced Captain and Expedition Leader will decide our best route and continually adjust plans as opportunities warrant in this wild and remote corner of the Arctic. Between obligatory initial and final calls at the Russian polar station of Nagurskoye in Cambridge Bay, we are free to explore the many waterways and islands of this unique Arctic wilderness. 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 walruses 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 seabirds such as guillemots, dovekies, and kittiwakes. We’ll take advantage of the 24-hour daylight to exploit every opportunity for wildlife viewing.

Franz Josef Land is dominated by glaciation, which covers 85% of the archipelago. Immense tidewater glaciers and glittering icebergs provide a stunning backdrop to our voyage. Franz Josef Land is also home to some interesting geological features, such as the mysterious stone spheres on Champ Island. Collectors 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 expert lecturers on the M/V Sea Spirit.

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. Our primary focus during this expedition is the exploration of the Russian archipelago of Franz Josef Land. However, the number of days spent there depends on ice conditions. Final daily programs are subject to change and the decision of the Captain and Expedition Leader.

Overnight: M/V Sea Spirit (B, L, D)

Days 12-13

Back across the Barents Sea

Following our week of exploration in Franz Josef Land, we 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. Bountiful inshore and offshore waters are home to walrus and a wide variety of whales.The crossing also gives the M/V Sea Spirit's expedition team the opportunity to offer a final presentation or two in the Oceanus Lounge.

Overnight: M/V Sea Spirit (B, L, D)

Day 14

Disembarkation in Longyearbyen

After breakfast we say farewell in the town of Longyearbyen, where we started our expedition. We provide a transfer to the airport, or to the town centre if you plan to spend more time here. As you look back on your wonderful experience, you may already be looking forward to your next incredible adventure to the ice!

Trip Details

These are set departures on board the 114-passenger M/V Sea Spirit. You will travel in style on this luxurious all-suite ship, making various landings throughout your time in the Arctic. Each departure is led by seasoned professionals who will make sure you are in the best locations for optimum wildlife experiences.

14% Special Offer for 10 July 2022 departure, confirmed by 7th March 2022. Price featured below includes the offer.

10-15% Early Booking Saving for 2023 departures on the prices below, confirmed by 30th June 2022.

Trip date Prices from
Jul 16 - Jul 29 2023 £8495
Jul 28 - Aug 10 2023 £8495
Aug 09 - Aug 23 2023 £8995

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