Norway, Murmansk 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 been a magnet for 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 air gust down 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, starting point for so many expeditions and trapper adventures, all detailed 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 on Sørøya, a beautiful island close to Hammerfest. Using our tender boats, we will explore the local landscape.

Into Russia

We call at the exotic Russian harbour 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 307 metres 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.

 

Price includes: 

  • Hurtigruten Expedition with 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
  • Free tea and coffee

Not included: 

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Luggage handling
  • Optional excursions and gratuities

NOTE: For our sailings with MS Spitsbergen to Russia a VISA per passenger is required. Read more here.

Related voyages

Itinerary

The 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 29 august 2019 & 12 September 2019

Departs from Tromsø, Norway
Day 1
Tromso_P7205773.jpg

Takeoff Point for Explorers


Location: Tromsø, Norway

Our voyage begins, as so many great explorations have, in Tromsø.  Spend some time to explore 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 the Fløyfjellet Mountain (420 m) and enjoy breathtaking views of the city, mountains and fjords. For inspiration for the upcoming expedition, you should visit the Polar Museum where you can learn more about early exploration history and those who bravely ventured into the ice. 

Day 2
Sørøya
Sørøya 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 step ashore on this scenic island with 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
Murmansk, Russia
Photo: Christopher Michel Photo

Into Russia


Location: Murmansk

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

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

Day 4-5
Day 4_5 at sea©Christopher-Michel---CC-BY-2_0.jpg
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 further north.  You might 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 Pomors or Norwegian sealers knew of Franz Josef Land, but the first recorded landing amongst the 192 islands making up the archipelago was made in 1873 from the sailing vessel Admiral Tegetthoff.  They found wide beaches, steep cliffs with nesting sea birds 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 to 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 cleanup here, to help remove some of the discarded fishing equipment and other rubbish that poses a threat to the wildlife.  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 London Zoo! 

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

Rubini Rock bird cliff lies just off Calm Bay and is perfect for cruising.  The cylindrical island is a volcanic plug, the central remains of conical volcano.  Its sheer sides of red basalt rise 80meters 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 1895 Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen arrived and prepared to overwinter.  Using just a few stones and his tent he made a rude hut and with Hjalmar Johansen successfully survived until the following summer, when they resumed their journey southwards.

The “Devils Marbles” as they are known are found at Cape Triest on Champ Island.  More properly called geodes, these spherical rock formations are created by accretion of chemicals within the rock strata. They can be up to 2 metres in diameter! Keep an eye open for walrus in the water or hauled out on the beach as we head ashore in our sturdy tenders.

Alexandra Land is the western most island (not counting the tiny, far flung Victoria Island) and is 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
Day 11 at sea©Christopher-Michel---CC-BY-2_0.jpg
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, it is a chance to relax after all our activities, to enjoy the whirlpools on deck, take part in one of the talks from the Expedition team or even complete your postcard writing.

Day 13
Murmansk
Murmansk Photo: Sonic Arts Photo

WWII History


Location: Murmansk

We return to Murmansk, and you will have time to explore the city. Overlooking the port is a 35-meter-high statue of a Russian soldier, known as Alyosha.  This is a memorial to the Russian soldiers who fought in the Second World War.

You might like to visit the church of the Saviour on the 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 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 get a feeling 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 in this landscape full of contrasts, light and breathtaking scenery. North Cape is a spectacular place for experiencing the Midnight Sun. 

Day 15
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Photo: Knut Hansvold Photo

End of the Expedition


Location: Tromsø, Norway

Every great explorer's voyage comes to an end. It may seem as if the time flew by all too quickly. We have traveled where few others go, to the very top of the globe, just a few hundred miles from the Geographical North Pole. 

Arrival 12 & 26 September 2019

Location Tromsø, Norway
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Extend your holiday

Complete your holiday with a Hurtigruten land adventure before or after your sailing. Choose between excursions of several hours and multi-day tours including hotels. (NOTE: Hurtigruten land adventures can only be added to your voyage after booking. Please call to book!)