Travel to the Northeast Passage

Expedition cruise: the Northeast Passage – August 29th to September 25th, 2017

Voyage and expedition cruise to the Northeast Passage Expedition cruise on board the vessel Akademik Shokalskiy

Size of the group: 48 expeditioners maximum

Duration: 27 nights/28 days

The ship in details…

Expedition cruise basics…

Russia controls one of the greatest seaways in the world. Within Russia it is known as the Northern Sea Route, while the rest of the world calls it the Northeast Passage. Only a handful of expedition vessels have ever transited this seaway, but recent changes in sea ice conditions mean this historic and fascinating sea route is now accessible. We invite you to be part of our history making expeditions through the Northern Sea Route.
The indigenous peoples of the north coast of Siberia were undoubtedly familiar with sections of this seaway but it wasn’t until 1878-1880 that Swedish explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiold completed the first ever transit. Early attempts to find a route in the 16th century were thwarted by either ice or politics. The Russian empire was expanding eastwards so to control and tax the burgeoning fur trade, all foreign shipping was banned from 1616 until 1753. Commercial interest in the route was revived in the late 19th century when several trading vessels reached the Ob and Yenisey Rivers to initiate trade with the interior as it proved much easier to ship timber, fur, gold and grain down these rivers than carry them overland to markets in the west.
It wasn’t until 1914-15 that Imperial Russian Navy icebreakers Taymyr and Vaygach made the second transit of the Northern Sea Route to render the seaway navigable for strategic purposes. In 1932 the Soviet Union formed the Northern Sea Route Administration headed by Otto Schmidt who established a number of Polar research and weather stations along the route to assist in its development and operation. At the height of the Soviet administration, large convoys of ships assisted by powerful icebreakers plied this route carrying much needed supplies to Eastern Russia.


PROGRAM AND ITINERARY:

About the program and itinerary…

Day 1: Murmansk
The expedition starts in Murmansk, in Russia.

Days 2 and 3: Barents Sea
This sea is named in honour of Dutch Seafarer and navigator Willem Barents who explored the region on two separate expeditions in 1594 and 1596. We will keep a look out for marine mammals and of course seabirds.

Days 4 to 6: Franz Josef Land
This is a huge archipelago of 192 islands located only 10 degrees from the North Pole. They were named in 1870 after the Hungarian Emperor when they were discovered by the Austro-Hungarian Payer-Weyprecht Expedition that was searching for the NE Passage. During our time here we plan multiple landings in search of history, wildlife and flora.

Days 7 and 8: Kara Sea
The Kara Sea is one of the coldest seas in Russia. It lies between Novaya Zemlay, Franz Josef and Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago.

Days 9 to 11: Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago
The Severnaya Zemlya Islands are on the border of the Kara and Laptev Seas and are an extension of the Taimyr Peninsula. The islands were not discovered until 1914-15 by the Russian explorer Vilkitski. They are heavily glaciated with deep fiords and majestic glaciers which make them magnificent for cruising. There is also a great selection and abundance of Arctic wildlife including Polar Bears, Arctic Foxes, Arctic Hares and walruses.

Days 12 and 13: Crossing the Laptev Sea
This sea is bounded in the west by the Taymyr and the Severnaya Islands and the Novosibirskie Islands in the east. Look out for the Laptev Sea Walrus known only in this sea.

Days 14 to 16: Novaya Sibirskiye (New Siberian Islands)
These islands mark the border between the Laptev and East Siberian Seas and consist of three major groups: Southern, Central (Anzhu) and Northern (De Long) Group. The islands are virtually unexplored and are uninhabited apart from the researchers at a couple of weather stations. We will explore the islands with a number of landings in search of Arctic flora and wildlife.

Day 17: East Siberian Sea
It was in this sea that the Jeannette, captained by George Washington De Long, became stuck fast in ice, drifted and was crushed and sunk in 1881. Wreckage from the Jeanette was found in Greenland in 1884 giving Amundsen the idea for the now famous 1893-96 Fram Expedition.

Day 18: Medvezhyi Islands
There are no permanent settlements on these little known and seldom visited islands. They are covered in tundra and known to have a good population of polar bears.

Day 19 : Ayon Island and Village
This island and village is home to a small group of Chukchi Reindeer herders. We enjoy their hospitality and learn about reindeer herding.

Day 20: East Siberian Sea
This sea occupies the area between the Novosibirskie Islands and Wrangel Island. Three of Siberia’s major rivers flow into it – the Indigirka, Alazaya and the Kolyma. It was in this sea that the Soviet vessel Chelyuskin with 111 people on board became trapped in ice and sank in 1934.

Days 21 to 23: Wrangel Island
Wrangel Island is one of those islands that you have to visit to appreciate. It is a Federal Nature Reserve of international significance and importance and also a World Heritage Site. A lot of its significance lies in the fact that it is a major Polar Bear denning area. It is also the last landfall for migratory species flying north. Each summer thousands of birds migrate here to breed, including Snow Geese, Snowy Owls, skuas, Arctic Terns, Ross’s, Sabine’s and Ivory Gulls.

Day 24: Kolyuchin Island
This small island was once an important Russian Polar Research Station and one of a number dotted across the Arctic. Near the derelict buildings are some of the most spectacular bird cliffs in the Arctic where puffins, guillemots and gulls can be observed and photographed up close.

Day 25: Cape Dezhnev and Uelen Village
Early this morning you will be at Cape Dezhnev, the eastern extremity of the Eurasian continent. This afternoon you visit the nearby village of Uelen. Here you will enjoy the hospitality of the local people who are predominantly Chukchi and enjoy a cultural performance and visit the bone-carving studio.

Day 26: Whale Bone Alley and Gil’mimyl
You will visit Whale Bone Alley on Yttygran Island, one of the most significant and intriguing archaeological sites in the Arctic. This afternoon, landing at the Gil’mimyl hot springs.

Day 27: Anadyrskiy Bay
Crossing the Gulf of Anadyr there will be opportunities for pelagic birding, marine mammal watching and lectures.

Day 28: Anadyr
Disembarkation after breakfast.

Map of the itinerary of the voyage and expedition cruise to the Northeast Passage


PRICES (per person):

– Main deck: $19800 USD
– Superior: $21400 USD
– Superior Plus: $24200 USD
– Mini suite: $25200 USD
– Heritage Suite: $27200 USD
– Additional charges: local payment $500 USD

Prices include: pre/post cruise transfers, all on board ship accommodation with meals and all expedition shore excursions.

Prices do not include: all items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities. International/domestic flights, visas and travel insurance. Private charter flight Nome to Anadyr to Nome $2000 pp.

The ship in details…


OUR OPINION ON THIS VOYAGE:

This unique expedition cruise rarely scheduled, will take you from Chukotka to Svalbard, following the mythic Northern Sea Route. You will visit places, islands and archipelagos unknown to the public but fascinating because of their history, wildlife and culture !

☞ Interest of this trip: history, sea birds, marine mammals, polar bear, walrus, historical sites, landscapes, flora, sea ice (depending on the season), indigenous people…