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15 days - Hurtigruten Explorer MS Spitsbergen voyage to Franz Josef Land, Russia

Remote Franz Josef Land has always been a magnet for hardy adventurers. Now you can set foot on the ice where great explorers like Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar 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.

Highlights include

  • Explore wild and rarely-visited Franz Josef Land, the world´s northernmost archipelago in the footsteps of great explorers
  • Great chance of sighting walrus and polar bears as we sail north of the 80th parallel
  • Enjoy a Russian experience in the port of Murmansk
  • Opportunity to visit the North Cape
Day 1
Take off Point for Explorers - Tromsø
Day 2
Hike Near the Top of the World, Sørøya
Day 3
Welcome to Russia! Stop in Murmansk
Day 4
At Sea, Heading North.
Days 5 - 9
Franz Josef Land - Amazing Islands with Fascinating History
Days 10 - 11
The Barents Sea
Day 12
History day in Murmansk
Day 13
The Northernmost Point in Europe
Day NaN
Disembark in Tromsø
Start/End Place
Tromsø, Norway tours
Country Visited
Norway tours
13 Days
Group Size



MS Spitsbergen is named after the crown jewel of Arctic Norway – the Svalbard archipelago and its biggest island, Spitsbergen. Hurtigruten has a long history of travelling to Spitsbergen, beginning in 1896 with the `Sports Route´. MS Spitsbergen cruises along the Norwegian coast from September to May, and becomes part of our global Explorer sailings during the rest of the year.

After complete reconstruction, MS Spitsbergen joined the Hurtigruten fleet in 2016. The ship features high technical standards as well as comfortable, modern public areas and cabins. The vessel´s fresh Scandinavian design reflects a colour palette derived from the sea. She is modern and environmentally progressive, and we plan further improvements that will reduce emissions and fuel consumption even more. The new ship’s maneuverability and optimal size make her quite suitable for exploring polar waters.


Hurtigruten Expedition Cruise in cabin grade of your choice

Everything you need for an adventure:

  • A rich program of included activities on all voyages designed to immerse you in the destinations you visit, including onshore exploration with the Expedition Team
  • Professional English-speaking Expedition Team - an international handpicked team of highly educated experts of various academic fields with profound knowledge of the region we sail in
  • Complimentary wind- and water-resistant jacket
  • Loan of boots, trekking poles, and equipment needed for optional and included activities

Engaging onboard activities and education:

  • In-depth lectures on science, history, biology, geography, geology or culture that provide context to your voyage and help you understand the destinations you will experience
  • Explorer Science programme, with educational and Citizen Science activities that let you learn about the sights you’ll see while contributing to research
  • Introduction photo lecture, camera adjustment and tips & tricks, photo and film footage from the voyage shared in an Expedition Logbook
  • Casual opportunities to engage with the Expedition Team and other guests, including a welcome event, daily gatherings to recap the day and prepare for the day to come
  • Opportunities to dine and interact with the Expedition Team and officers
  • Destination-focused onboard library
  • Port presentations providing destination insight
  • A farewell event

Premium onboard comfort:

  • All meals including beverages (ship beer and wine, sodas and mineral water in all restaurants)
  • Coffee and tea included throughout the day
  • Early riser and afternoon treat offered in addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Gym, hot tubs and panoramic sauna
  • Free Wi-fi on board for all guests. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
  • No gratuities expected
Not Included
  • International flights
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners
  • Optional small-group adventures with our Expedition Team such as kayaking (availability contingent on weather conditions and safety)
  • Travel insurance
  • Luggage handling


Day 1 - Take off Point for Explorers - Tromsø

The voyage begins in Tromsø. Spend some time exploring before embarking on MS Spitsbergen. Take the Fjellheisen Cable Car to the top of the Fløyfjellet and enjoy breathtaking views of the city and fjords. For inspiration, you should visit the Polar Museum to learn more about early exploration history.

1 Dinner

Day 2 - Hike Near the Top of the World, Sørøya

Sørøya ‒ the fourth-largest island in Norway ‒ has a great deal of wilderness and few inhabitants. We will step ashore 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.

1 Breakfast
1 Lunch
1 Dinner

Day 3 - Welcome to Russia! Stop in 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.

1 Breakfast
1 Lunch
1 Dinner

Day 4 - At Sea, Heading North.

Our Expedition Team will prepare you for our landings ahead with a series of lectures 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. Take the chance to enjoy the ship and relax in the Panorama Lounge.

1 Breakfast
1 Lunch
1 Dinner

Days 5 - 9 - Franz Josef Land - Amazing Islands with Fascinating History

Fridtjof Nansen first arrived in Franz Josef Land to overwinter in September 1895. Cape Flora earns its name from the fertilization provided by thousands of sea birds that nest on the cliffs. This is an area with many Brünnichs guillemots and Black-legged kittiwakes.

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 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.

5 Breakfasts
5 Lunches
5 Dinners

Days 10 - 11 - The Barents Sea

Willem Barents was an explorer searching for the Northeast Passage. For the next two days we will cross the sea named after him. As we sail over the sea, 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 and get to know your fellow explorers.

2 Breakfasts
2 Lunches
2 Dinners

Day 12 - History day in Murmansk

We return to Murmansk to explore the city. Overlooking the port is a huge memorial to Russian soldiers. Beyond is the Saviour on the Waters church – part of a memorial complex dedicated to the memory of Murmansk's seamen. Just below is part of the ill-fated submarine Kursk.

1 Breakfast
1 Lunch
1 Dinner

Day 13 - The Northernmost Point in Europe

Skarsvåg claims to be the world's northernmost fishing village. Join the optional excursion to the North Cape and feel what it’s like to stand at the end of the Earth. At the plateau, you can learn more about the North Cape and see a panoramic film that takes you through the four seasons in this breathtaking scenery.

1 Breakfast
1 Lunch
1 Dinner

Day NaN - Disembark in Tromsø

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

1 Breakfast
Dates & Prices

Prices are Per Person (from prices). Standard price listed is for the Polar Outside Cabins. Ask us about prices for Arctic Superior cabins and Expeditions Suites.

Early Bird discounts available - Book before 31 March 2019. The price you here already includes the discount. Note that Hurtigruten has a flexible pricing system and the early booking prices are capacity controlled.

Start Date
End Date
29 Aug 2019
12 Sep 2019
29 Aug 2019
12 Sep 2019
AUD 13,025
Limited availability
12 Sep 2019
26 Sep 2019
12 Sep 2019
26 Sep 2019
AUD 13,348
Limited availability
12 Sep 2020
26 Sep 2020
12 Sep 2020
26 Sep 2020
AUD 11,936
26 Sep 2020
10 Oct 2020
26 Sep 2020
10 Oct 2020
AUD 11,597

Important Information

  • All planned activities are subject to weather and ice conditions
  • Medical questionnaire mandatory
  • For this voyage a single visa for Russia is necessary

Please note that the itinerary detailed is for the 2020 sailings.

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