Franz Josef Land and Svalbard Cruise

Russian High Arctic & Norway Discovery Cruise
Rarely visited today yet significant in the history of polar exploration, Franz Josef Land lives up to its legendary reputation.
This extraordinary Franz Josef Land cruise is as unique and authentic as the place itself. Franz Josef Land, part of the Russian Arctic National Park, is a nature sanctuary. Starting in Longyearbyen in the Norwegian territory of Svalbard, the Sea Spirit cruise ship crosses the icy, wildlife-rich Barents Sea to the Russian High Arctic. This remote wilderness is home to a variety of wildlife, including polar bears. In the surrounding icy waters, it is possible to spot seals, walruses, and the elusive bowhead whale. The archipelago also hosts an abundance of nesting Arctic seabirds such as the rare ivory gull.

Franz Josef Land and Svalbard Cruise Trip Highlights:

  • Upon our arrival in Franz Josef Land, we’ll spend a week exploring this uninhabited archipelago. We’ll navigate the shallow waters of the isles by Zodiac and make as many on-shore landings as possible. Made up of 192 islands, glaciers cover 85% of the land, carving out a spectacular terrain of steep valleys, caves and pinnacles
  • Our mission during our time in Franz Josef Land is to observe (sometimes at an extremely close range) the iconic Arctic animal species that call the islands home, including polar bears, walruses, beluga whales and narwhals
  • Svalbard Archipelago: Spend two days cruising the coastal islands of Svalbard, enjoying awesome Arctic landscapes from panoramic open decks. Whale species commonly sighted include humpback, blue, fin and minke

This 14-day cruise departs from Longyearbyen, Norway, a tiny but fascinating settlement of some 2,000 people and the administrative centre of the Svalbard Archipelago. From Longyearbyen, we set a northward course towards the Russian Arctic, sailing past the spectacular scenery of the Isfjorden fjord on the first evening. The long days of summer sunlight illuminate the surroundings as the Sea Spirit slips her moorings and carries you ever further from human civilization into an untouched wilderness where wildlife abounds.

A wealth of well-preserved historical sites makes the Franz Josef Land island group a veritable museum of polar exploration. Here, you have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of famous explorers such as Fridtjof Nansen. The eerie remains of makeshift dwellings give testimony to the incredible struggles of these early expeditions.

On arrival at Franz Josef Land, weather and sea conditions will greatly determine how we spend our time in the archipelago, however, your expedition leader and captain will try their best to make the most of the near 24-hour daylight to maximise wildlife sightings and landing opportunities on the islands. Frequent trips on the Zodiac tenders will offer the best chance to get close to colonies of walrus in their hundreds, reindeer, Arctic fox and the king of the Arctic, the polar bear. Scree slopes and cliffs form a habitat for enormous numbers of nesting seabirds including black guillemots, northern fulmars and little auks. Arctic Skuas, purple sandpipers, ivory gulls, Arctic terns and snow buntings nest in the tundra.

Back in Svalbard, you have the opportunity to explore beautiful fjords and islands on the northwestern coast of Spitsbergen. Here we seek the full range of Arctic wildlife in one of the world’s most impressive polar desert environments.

Our faithful steed on this two week Arctic cruise will be the ice-strengthened expedition vessel the Sea Spirit. The ship provides luxurious suites for 114 passengers and the friendly atmosphere of a small cruise liner. A fleet of 10 Zodiacs, an experienced crew and a set of retractable fin stabilisers for smoother sailing will make your polar cruise all the more enjoyable.

14 days
Make an enquiry Detailed Itinerary




Trip style

Longyearbyen, Norway

Longyearbyen, Norway

MS Sea Spirit

Expedition Cruise


Action rating

Group size

Type of tour

14 days / 13 nights



Guaranteed Departures

Itinerary View map

Day 1:Longyearbyen, Svalbard

Welcome to Longyearbyen, the Arctic adventure capital of the Norwegian territory of Svalbard and starting point of our expedition. After arriving, you are free to explore this small but fascinating settlement.

Day 2:Embarkation in Longyearbyen

In the afternoon we welcome you aboard the expedition ship Sea Spirit. Explore the ship and get comfortable in your home-away-from-home for the extraordinary adventure to come. The scenery as we sail through Isfjorden on our first evening is spectacular and there is already the possibility of marine mammal encounters.

Day 3-4:Across the Barents Sea

From Isfjorden we proceed straight to Franz Josef Land across the Barents Sea. Presentations and workshops by our expert staff prepare us for what lies ahead. 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.

Day 5-11:Exploration of Franz Josef Land

This is expedition cruising at its most authentic. As such, our route and exploration opportunities in Franz Josef Land are heavily dependent on weather and sea ice. Our experienced captain and expedition leader decide our best route and continually adjust plans as opportunities warrant in this wild and remote corner of the Arctic.

Day 12-13:Along the coasts of Svalbard

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.

Day 14:Disembarkation in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

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 center 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!



1 pre-voyage hotel night

Shipboard accommodation


All meals on board throughout the voyage


Group transfers to the ship on day of embarkation and disembarkation


Leadership throughout the voyage by the experienced Expedition Leader & Expedition Team

Activities and sights

All scheduled landings/excursions (subject to weather and ice conditions)


  • Branded parka, rubber boots for shore landings for the time of the cruise
  • All port fees
  • Emergency Evacuation Insurance to a maximum benefit of USD 150,000 per person
  • Russian visa support document

*Russian visa can be arranged by 56th Parallel for an additional cost (for Australian citizens only). Apply for comprehensive visa service here.

Not included

Airfare, visa, travel insurance, alcohol, tips

Dates & Prices

DatesAvailabilityPriceSingle sup. 
1 Aug - 14 Aug 2019
Guaranteed Departures
Limited spaces US $9,795 Enquire Reserve
13 Aug - 26 Aug 2019
Guaranteed Departures
Limited spaces US $9,795 Enquire Reserve
14 days
Longyearbyen, Norway
Make an enquiry Detailed Itinerary
14 days
Make an enquiry Detailed Itinerary

If you have any urgent questions or enquiries, please give us a call +61 2 9388 9816