franz josef land cruise on greg mortimer ship

Franz Josef Land Explorer (Feat Novaya Zemlya)

  • Overview

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    These notes will give you a brief idea of what you may experience on this voyage. Our emphasis is on wildlife encounters, personal contact with the environment and visiting sites of historical interest. However, we stress that this is an expedition-style cruise. Our actual program will vary to take best advantage of weather and sea ice conditions, spontaneous opportunities and wildlife. No two voyages are the same; there is always an element of the unexpected.

    Franz Josef Land is an archipelago located in the Arctic Ocean, Barents Sea and Kara Sea. It is 1,300 kilometres (808 miles) from Murmansk and in 900 kilometres (560 miles) from the North Pole. Franz Josef Land consists of 191 islands, which cover an area of 16,134 square kilometres (10,025 square miles), stretching 375 kilometres (233 miles) from east to west and 234 kilometres (145 miles) from north to south. It is a sanctuary of Arctic wild life: walrus colonies, polar bears, arctic foxes, marine mammals, bird cliffs, and historical remains. The islands became part of the Russian Arctic National Park in 2012, with a policy to control tourist numbers in order to conserve the pristine environment. *Please note that this itinerary is indicative only as policies in Russia can change with very little notice.

    Expedition Highlights

    • Attempt landings at Novaya Zemlya archipelago, a chain of mountainous islands draped in ice that have yet to be thoroughly explored, where seals, walruses, and polar bears may be found on coastal ice floes year round
    • Photograph unique stone spheres at Champ Island
    • Adventurous kayakers will paddle through pack ice and waters teeming with wildlife
    • Keep watch for walrus, rorqual and elusive bowhead whales
    • Be on the lookout for hunting polar bears on pack ice and on land
    • Marvel at the frozen landscape of Franz Josef Land - 85% of which is glaciated
    Duration: 16 days
    Passengers: 120 passengers
    Embarkation Point: Murmansk, Russia
    Disembarkation Point: Kirkenes, Norway
    Physical rating: Soft Adventure
    Fly/Cruise: Cruise only
    Single Supplement: 1.7x - 2.0x twin rate or share options
  • Itinerary
    • Day 1 - Murmansk, Russia: Embarkation Day

      In Murmansk, Russia, join a pre-arranged half day excursion visiting the monument to the soldier of WW2 and also the first nuclear icebreaker Lenin - details of joining instructions for the city tour will be included in your final documentation.

      In the late afternoon board the Greg Mortimer late afternoon, where you’ll have time to settle into your cabin before our important briefings.

    • Day 2/5 - At Sea

      Over the next two days at sea, enjoy informative and entertaining lectures from our expert expedition team including naturalists, historians and geologists.

    • Day 4 - Novaya Zemlya

      Novaya Zemlya archipelago was once an important nuclear research site during the cold war, and today only a few places in the north are accessible to visitors. These islands offer stunning rugged Arctic landscapes - enormous extinct volcanoes, jagged cliffs and the most isolated mountain range in the Baltic Sea. For wildlife lovers, Novaya Zemlya boasts a great variety of flora and fauna, many of which are on the brink of extinction.

      We hope to visit Inostrantseva Bay, which has one of the most picturesque glaciers in the entire Novaya Zemlya archipelago. The bay offers breathtaking panoramic views of Arctic wilderness. The fog can be quite thick here and the swell can be high, but we will attempt to launch our Zodiacs to explore the bay and photograph the stunning icy landscape. If we’re able to land, we will enjoy hiking along the coastline and observe some of the endemic species of Arctic flora and fauna.

      Just north of the northern tip of Novaya Zemlya Archipelago is Oransky, a group of several small inshore islands, located within the Russian Arctic National Park established in 2009. The islands themselves are not inhabited by humans, but remnants of early hunting activity are visible. At the nearby Zhelania Cape, situated at the northeastern-most tip of Northern Island a manned weather station was operated as well as a military base, but both were closed in the 1990s. On Oransky Islands Brünnich’s guillemots, black-legged kittiwakes, glaucous gulls, black guillemots, Atlantic puffins and great skuas can be found breeding. You may get a chance to see a massive walrus rookery, various species of whale, and the Novaya Zemlya reindeer. If we’re very lucky we may also see polar bear, and the ones found at Novaya Zemlya are considered to be a genetically unique sub-species.

    • Day 6/12 - Franz Josef Land

      Franz Josef Land is a stark yet beautiful world of glaciers, mosses and lichens. Approximately five million sea birds nest on the archipelago every year, with the thick-billed guillemot accounting for approximately 20%. Other seabirds such as fulmar, kittiwake, Brünnich's guillemot, black guillemot and little auk are common throughout the archipelago. On the flat tundra, nest other species such as: common eider, purple sandpiper, Arctic skua, glaucous gull, ivory gull, Arctic tern and snow bunting. Franz Josef Land is home to two Arctic giants – the Polar bear and the walrus. There is also a population of Arctic fox, which typically have their territories near seabird habitats. The waters of Franz Josef Land are visited by whales, including humpback, bowhead, narwhal, and white beluga whale. Walrus, ringed seals, bearded seals and an amazing species of mammals, choose Franz Josef Land and the water areas around it as their home.

      While there are many exciting places we can choose to visit over the following week, weather, wind, and sea-ice conditions will determine our itinerary in Franz Josef Land. A sample of some of the places where we may land, hike, photograph or view spectacular wildlife and scenery include:

      Bell and Mabel Island: The remains of an empty cabin built in 1880 by British explorer Benjamin Leigh Smith can be found on Bell Island. On Mabel island offers an opportunity to get close to a little auk colony as the birds nest between the rocks on the slope above the beach where the Zodiacs land.

      Cape Flora - Northbrook Island: Located in an unglaciated area in the Southwest of Northbrook Island, Cape Flora is one of the most famous historical site in Franz Josef Land because it is one of the most accessible locations in the archipelago and often served as a base for polar expeditions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Cape Flora features some of the most beautiful tundra in Franz Josef Land, but landings on the rocky beach, which is prone to swell from the Barents Sea can often be tricky. Cape Flora is where Benjamin Leigh Smith’s vessel Eira was shipwrecked in 1881, after being trapped in pack ice.

      Geographers bay (Prince George Land): Prince George is the largest and longest island of the Franz Josef Archipelago. Most of the island is covered in large glaciers and ice domes, such as the Brusilov Ice Dome - the highest point of the island. A landing at Geographers Bay allows for a hike up one of the ice domes to stretch our legs and to enjoy the wonderful views over the archipelago, as Prince George Island is not fully glaciated. It’s also a great spot for enjoying the typical flowers of the north Arctic tundra.

      Tikhaya Bukta (Hooker Island): Tikhaya Bay was a major base for polar expeditions, and where a team of meteorologists from the Russian Sedov station were marooned at the beginning of the Second World War. It was also the location of a meteorological station between 1929 and 1963. The remains of the old Russian station is worth a visit and after thousands of rusting barrels were found and cleared here five 5 years ago, the station now resembles a ghost town or a living museum. You will also find here the world’s northernmost (Russian) post office!

      Rubini Rock (Hooker Island): The impressive basalt cliffs create the best bird cliffs in the archipelago housing more than 100,000 birds comprising of mostly Brünnich guillemot, but also kittiwake and little auks. The bird cliff lies just off Calm Bay and is perfect for Zodiac cruises. The island is a volcanic plug, the central remains of conical volcano.

      Cape Tegethoff (Hall Island):The place of the first landing in 1873 by Austro-Hungarian expeditioners Julius Von Payer and Karl Weyprecht after the Tegethoff sunk in 1873. Beautiful basalt rocks and bird cliff rookery of guillemot, gulls, kittiwake and little auks.

      Cape Triest, Champ Island: Champ Island is famous for the incredible stone spheres (geodes), commonly called “Devils Marbles” with sizes ranging from tennis balls to boulders that are three metres in diameter! These rocks are a unique geological feature that can be found only in the Arctic regions. Keep a look out for walrus in the water or hauled out on the beach during our wet landing.

      Sarko Passage - Newcombe sound (Nansen archipelago): Beautifully glaciated landscape featuring an enormous glacier front with a lot of sea Ice. It’s one of the best spots to marvel at glaciers, ice and perhaps polar bears!

      Cape Norway (Jackson Island): The place where the famous Norwegian explorers Fritjoj Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen spent the winter of 1895-96 after returning from their attempt to reach the North Pole. We can see the remains of the stone hut built by the men including a big log that was used as a makeshift roof. A commemorative plaque provides marks this event where the men survived the winter until the following summer, when they resumed their journey southwards.

      Cape Fligely (Prince Rudolf Island): At 81° 51’N, this is the northernmost point of Eurasia, where we can cruise along the ice edge and perhaps get a glimpse to the North Pole in clear weather conditions.

      Teplitz Bay (Prince Rudolf Island): An old abandoned Russian meteorological station is located here – it was once the northernmost weather station in the world. The bay is often chock full of ice but provides a marvellous opportunity to enjoy the northernmost zodiac cruise!

      Walrus Haulout at Stolichky (Stoliczka) or Apollonov Island: Walrus can be found everywhere on the sea ice in the Franz Josef archipelago. We hope to visit one of the established haul out sites to observe them on land. Polar bears can be seen almost everywhere on, or between the islands. We may see some on land but we hope to find them on the pack Ice, their natural habitat. Seeing polar bears is a highlight of a voyage to Franz Josef Land and can happen at any moment. We will change the itinerary in case we encounter one or more polar bears, maximising every opportunity spending time observing the king of the Arctic!

    • Day 13/14 - At Sea

      The return crossing of the Barents Sea offers some good opportunities to encounter whales, perhaps the elusive bowhead whale if we’re lucky, and certainly plenty of opportunities to photograph sea birds.

    • Day 15 - Murmansk, Russia

      Back in Murmansk for clearance procedures before continuing to Kirkenes.

    • Day 16 - Kirkenes, Norway: Disembarkation day

      Arrive in Kirkenes in the morning, farewell your expedition team and fellow passengers as we all continue our onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature. A transfer to downtown Kirkenes or the airport is included in the cost of the voyage.

    Please consider that our voyages are expeditionary in nature. This means, that there are no concrete itineraries, your captain and expedition leader will utilise their vast experience to chart the best course for your expedition depending on the climatic and environmental conditions. Mentioned highlights and wildlife cannot be guaranteed.

  • Highlights & Activities

    Polar Kayaking

    The experience of sea kayaking in the humbling wilderness of the European Arctic is guaranteed to stir your soul. Paddle between brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes, skim past penguin rookeries or under soaring bird cliffs, or drift quietly as you watch wildlife unobtrusively, absorbing the majestic scenery. Led by experienced guides, paddling in small groups allows us the opportunity to paddle between ice floes, brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes as well as allowing easy and intimate access to beautiful coastlines.

    AUD 1,520 per person

    The Polar Bear

    To many people, the polar bear is the Arctic. The sight of such an impressive silky white bear wandering the frozen Arctic seas in search of seals symbolizes the cold, isolated nature of the Arctic so well. Polar bears are marine mammals because they spend so much of their lives away from land. In the high Arctic where there is always some sea ice to travel on, polar bears range over ice floes in the pack ice hunting seals all summer. In some areas (e.g. southern Hudson Bay, southern Svalbard) they are simply forced to come ashore. Polar bears rarely venture inland.

  • Inclusions

    Expedition Gear

    Complimentary expedition gear: backpack and water bottle on every voyage, Haglöfs parka for polar expeditions

    Inclusions / Exclusions

    Included in your Expedition

    - Professional produced voyage log
    - Comprehensive pre-departure information
    - Group sightseeing tour in Longyearbyen on arrival
    - Port taxes & entry fees
    - Medical services on board
    - All meals and accommodation during the voyage
    - All shore excursions and lectures in the itinerary

    Not included in your Expedition

    - Government arrival and departure taxes
    - Items of a personal nature such as; Beverages / Laundry / Medical expenses / Gratuities / Internet & Wifi
    - Travel insurance (mandatory)
    - Mandatory waterproof gear not provided
    - Passport and Visa expenses
    - International and internal flights that are not specified
  • Map
    Map coming soon
  • Gallery
  • Vessel

    GREG MORTIMER

    The Greg Mortimer, named after the Australian adventurer and Polar tourism pioneer (Greg Mortimer OAM), this unique vessel utilises some of the latest advancements in naval design & technology to revolutionise the small ship expedition cruising experience. The X-BOW makes sailing smoother and faster while protecting the vulnerable environments visited using a virtual anchoring system. Shore excursions are made easier, with four sea-level Zodiac loading decks & a specially-crafted activity platform, designed in close consultation with our world-renowned expedition & activity leaders. Unlike many new ships, the Greg Mortimer is not striving for absolute luxury. It will of course, be brand new, modern and comfortable in every way, but will stay true to a relaxed, comfortable and homely style of travel, purely focused on the expedition and destination. Ship Features: - Highly qualified and experienced expedition team and international crew - X-BOW® hull, designed to offer faster and more comfortable travel enabling the ship to pierce through waves and maintain speed of travel, lower fuel consumption and reduced air pollution emissions - All cabins feature twin or king bedding configuration and private bathroom. 80% of cabins include a private balcony. 60% of cabins can accommodate a third person - Purpose-built activities preparation areas including four Zodiac launching platforms for fast and safe transition off the ship as you embark on multiple daily excursions - Observation lounge and viewing platforms offer spectacular panoramic views of scenery and wildlife. - State-of-the-art lecture theatre, two hot tubs/plunge pools, art room, library, gym, wellness centre and more!

    Features & Facilities
    Key Facts
    Luxury star rating: 4
    Guests #: 120
    Crew #: 62
    Ice Class: 1A
    Speed: 12
    Refurbished:
    Technical Specs
    Year built: 2019
    Length: 104m
    Width: 18
    Draft: 5
    Tonnage: 7400
    Registry: Bahamas
    Elec Outlets: 220V 2 Round plug
Check Voyage Dates, Pricing and Availability
greg mortimer triple stateroom

Triple Stateroom

03 Aug 2021 - 18 Aug 2021
There are six Triple Stateroom cabins featuring portholes, all with private en-suites. Located on Deck 3, they're close to the mudroom and loading platforms.
AUD 16,100pp
AUD 16,100pp
greg mortimer twin stateroom

Stateroom Twin

03 Aug 2021 - 18 Aug 2021
The Greg Mortimer features eight Stateroom Twin cabins featuring portholes, all with private en-suites. Located on Deck 3, they're close to the mudroom and loading platforms, perfect for adventurers who are looking for a comfortable base that's close to the action.
AUD 17,900pp
AUD 17,900pp
greg mortimer balcony stateroom

Balcony Stateroom 'C'

03 Aug 2021 - 18 Aug 2021
With 58 rooms available, the Greg Mortimer's Balcony Staterooms are the most abundant cabin category on board. All include en-suite bathrooms, floor to ceiling windows and balconies and a select number are also connecting rooms, perfect for families or groups. Balcony Staterooms A, B & C vary slightly in size and position on the ship.
AUD 20,000pp
AUD 16,000pp
greg mortimer balcony stateroom

Balcony Stateroom 'B'

03 Aug 2021 - 18 Aug 2021
With 58 rooms available, the Greg Mortimer's Balcony Staterooms are the most abundant cabin category on board. All include en-suite bathrooms, floor to ceiling windows and balconies and a select number are also connecting rooms, perfect for families or groups. Balcony Staterooms A, B & C vary slightly in size and position on the ship.
AUD 20,400pp
AUD 16,320pp
greg mortimer balcony stateroom

Balcony Stateroom 'A'

03 Aug 2021 - 18 Aug 2021
With 58 rooms available, the Greg Mortimer's Balcony Staterooms are the most abundant cabin category on board. All include en-suite bathrooms, floor to ceiling windows and balconies and a select number are also connecting rooms, perfect for families or groups. Balcony Staterooms A, B & C vary slightly in size and position on the ship.
AUD 20,700pp
AUD 16,560pp
greg mortimer balcony suite

Balcony Suite

03 Aug 2021 - 18 Aug 2021
With a bit more room to stretch the legs, the Greg Mortimer's two Balcony Suites are perfect for polar adventurers who travel with plenty of gear. Featuring private balconies, en-suite bathrooms and a comfortable desk area, these will sell out quickly! Suite Cabin Inclusions: * Free pair of binoculars per suite. * 1-hour spa treatment (per person). * Free stocked mini bar. - Balcony Suites and Junior Suites stocked once only, not replenished. - Captain Suite – replenished. * Gratuities/tips for crew included. * 1 free bottle of champagne.
AUD 22,400pp
AUD 17,920pp
greg mortimer junior suite

Junior Suite

03 Aug 2021 - 18 Aug 2021
The Greg Mortimer's four Junior Suites take in some impressive scenery from their vantage points on Deck 7. When you aren't enjoying a landing, you can relax in the suites' separate lounge area, or just watch the world float by from the private balcony. Suite Cabin Inclusions: * Free pair of binoculars per suite. * 1-hour spa treatment (per person). * Free stocked mini bar. - Balcony Suites and Junior Suites stocked once only, not replenished. - Captain Suite – replenished. * Gratuities/tips for crew included. * 1 free bottle of champagne.
AUD 26,400pp
AUD 21,120pp
greg mortimer single stateroom

Stateroom Single

03 Aug 2021 - 18 Aug 2021
The Greg Mortimer features a small number of Single Stateroom cabins featuring portholes, all with private en-suites. Located on Deck 3, they're close to the mudroom and loading platforms, perfect for adventurers who are looking for a comfortable base that's close to the action.
AUD 26,850pp
AUD 26,850pp
greg mortimer owner's suite

Captain's Suite

03 Aug 2021 - 18 Aug 2021
The largest of all our rooms, the Greg Mortimer's singular Captain's Suite will take you to the polar regions in ultimate style and comfort. Complete with large lounge area, balcony, walk-in wardrobe and en-suite, you'll need to get in early to secure this suite. Suite Cabin Inclusions: * Free pair of binoculars per suite. * 1-hour spa treatment (per person). * Free stocked mini bar. - Balcony Suites and Junior Suites stocked once only, not replenished. - Captain Suite – replenished. * Gratuities/tips for crew included. * 1 free bottle of champagne.
AUD 30,400pp
AUD 24,320pp