Polar Bears Spitsbergen & Franz Josef Land
Aboard M/S Sea Spirit with Greg Grainger
|7 July – 20 July
Venture with Greg Grainger on this unique expedition to Spitsbergen and the remotest and rarely visited Russian High Arctic archipelago – Franz Josef Land. Observe magnificent “moon” landscapes, meet polar bears, walruses and arctic birds in the wild. See the mysterious stone spheres of Champ Island. Follow in the wake of famous Arctic explorers.
A small town Longyearbyen, honoured to be the administrative capital of the Spitsbergen archipelago, is a starting point of our expedition.
Visit Polar Museum, it will be a good start of your great arctic adventure. Embark the Sea Spirit in the afternoon and keep an eye for our first whales as we sail out of Isfjorden.
In the morning our ship drops anchor at Amsterdamøya Island surrounded by fjords, tall glacier fronts and steep, rugged mountains. Our landing takes us to the ruins of one of the largest 17th century whaling stations in Spitsbergen — Smeerenburg.
The name is translated as “Blubber Town” and we can see the large cement-like remains of whale blubber from ovens where the blubber was boiled. Whale bones sights contrast dramatically with beautiful nature surroundings reminding of times, described by Nansen with the following words: “And all this to provide oil to Europe; though even more to provide the ladies with hoops so they can ruin their bodies with corsets and hoop skirts”.
Today we plan a landing on the remote and rarely visited Kvitøya (White Island). It is almost completely ice-covered and belongs to the Northeast Svalbard Nature Reserve.
Colourful moss beds cover the ice-free parts. Arctic terns and other arctic birds breed at Kvitøya. Polar bears and walrus are also frequent visitors here.
We start our exploration of Franz Josef Land archipelago from a landing at Nagurskaya station on Alexandra Land. Not far from the station we visit the world’s northernmost Orthodox Church. Bell Island is named after the bell-shaped mountain, which dominates the island and is a symbol of the whole archipelago.
The name was given by the British Leigh Smith Expedition. We visit the well-preserved house built by the members of the Expedition in 1880. Near the Bell there is Maybell Island. We climb a mountaintop to enjoy a breathtaking view to the “Bell” of the nearby island. We go on discovering the history of Arctic Exploration at Cape Flora, Northbrook Island. Here Leigh Smith and his crew had to spend 10 months after their steam yacht Eira had been crushed by ice and sunk near the coast. For 3 years – from 1894 to 1897 – the base of Frederick George Jackson British Expedition was placed at the area.
The members of this expedition had made a great contribution to the exploration of the archipelago. Cape Flora is also the place where the memorable encounter of Jackson and Nansen took place. Several monuments and crosses bear witness of these historical events. Apart from the historic sites Cape Flora is famous for its thick carpets of mosses of deep red, green and yellow. The towering cliffs at the southern part of Cape Flora are home for the huge sea birds colony. Arctic foxes are also frequent guests here. We visit an abandoned polar station at Tikhaya Bay on Hooker Island. The station was in function from 1929 to 1959. It was the first soviet research base and the northernmost one in the world. The site is well preserved.
Tikhaya Bay is also famous for its huge cliff Rubini Rock that is a shelter for thousands of sea birds. At Alger Island we go on discovering the history of Arctic Exploration. We plan to visit a wintering place of the American Arctic Expedition headed by A. Baldwin. If weather permits we cruise aboard our zodiacs among drifting icebergs. Here we also have good chances for polar bears encounters. Cape Tegetthoff at Hall Island is a favourite site for photographers: huge cliffs resembling a shark’s dorsal fins submerge in the sea.
We plan a landing at the cape to watch the remains of the wooden structures built by the American Wellman Expedition of 1898-1899 aimed to reach the North Pole. We often meet polar bears at this area. At the southern tip of Wilczek Island there is a lonely grave of the machinist Otto Krisch, who was a member of the Austro-Hungarian North Pole Expedition of Payer and Weyprecht.
The expedition had failed in conquering the Pole but accidentally discovered the unknown land, which they named Franz Josef Land. At Cape Heller on Wilczek Land we watch the remains of the Wellman Expedition’s supply base. In 1898 two members of the expedition stayed here to secure the base. In 1899 one of them died here and was buried at the cape. As everywhere on Franz Josef Land we are very likely to witness polar bears and sea mammals during our landing.
At Cape Fligely on Rudolf Island we reach the northernmost point of our expedition and…of the Eastern Hemisphere. There are some historic crosses at the area. Enjoy glacial landscapes and ivory gulls’ sites.
At Stolichki and Appolonova isles we observe walrus grounds. The site counted more than 600 of Atlantic walruses is unique. We patrol the coasts aboard our zodiacs and the animals come close to our boats. Here we also may watch ivory gulls. Cape Norway at Jackson Island is a place where the famous Norwegian explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen wintered in 1895-96 after failing to reach the North Pole.
Their hut still remains here. Polar bears often roam nearby. Near the coasts we often encounter narwhals and beluga whales. Finally we reach – most say – the most beautiful island of the archipelago Champ.
The landscape of Champ is awesome: on the ice-capped cliffs, which are the highest on Franz Josef Land, thousands of birds find their shelter. Red, yellow and green mosses contrast dramatically with white and blue of the nearby glaciers. At Champ we discover the unique nature phenomenon: the stones of regular spherical shape from 3 mm to 3 m in diameter.
We plan a landing at Phippsøya, the largest one of Seven Islands archipelago at the north of Spitsbergen.
The island and nearby region is a great place for walrus photography and a favourite hunting area of polar bears.
We land at Fuglehuken on Prins Karls Forland Island. This island was the first Spitsbergen land sighted by the discoverer of the archipelago Willem Barents. It was him who gave Fuglehuken its name, which means, “Bird point”.
To do justice to the name large numbers of Brunich’s guillemots, kittiwakes, glaucous gulls and other birds breed on steep cliffs; while harbour seals, the only population found in Spitsbergen, rest along the coast.
Whalers and polar bear hunters favoured the island; we will see their traces here. Poolepynten is a headland on the southeastern side of Prins Karls Forland, known as a walrus haul-out. During our landing here get your camera ready — Poolepynten is a great place for walrus photography.
Our adventures finish in the port of Longyearbyen.
Disembarkation in the morning is followed by the transfer to the airport and the flight to Oslo and home.
Dates & Cost
|07 July – 20 July||Ex: Longyearbyen||14 Days|
|Triple Classic||Main Deck Suite||Classic Suite||Superior Suite||Deluxe Suite|
|USD 7295pp||USD 8995pp||USD 10,695pp||USD 11,495pp||USD 13,295pp|
|Premium Suite||Owner’s Suite|
|USD 14,495pp||USD 17,595pp|
Single Rates are available on request
To initiate your reservation, please contact us as soon as possible to place an option on the voyage and cabin grade of your choice. The Booking Form is to be signed, completed and returned to Adventure Associates along with your deposit. Reservations are established only when you receive written confirmation and acceptance of the deposit payment and Booking Form.
Sail aboard the luxurious Sea Spirit and you’ll experience the polar regions in grand style.
Carrying a maximum of 114 passengers, this outstanding vessel, approved for polar waters, is equipped with rubber inflatable boats – called RIBs – for shore transfers and cruising, two lounges and a dining room, library/game room, gym and hot tub, satellite phone access in every cabin, email and internet.
You have a choice of one King Size bed or two twin beds, in the most spacious cabins in our fleet. All have facilities en suite and exterior views. Deluxe cabins, suites and the Owner’s Suite have private balconies for viewing the extraordinary polar icescape.
|Propulsion:||Diesel – 4,720 horsepower|
|Voltage:||110V (North America Sockets)|