Russian High Arctic Odyssey
From the stunning wildernesses of the Russian Arctic to the bright lights of Helsinki, this is an adventure you’ll never forget. Make like a true polar explorer and voyage around unspoiled areas like Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land. You’ll never get tired of gazing up at the face of a glacier or watching a calving iceberg. Polar bear encounters are a real possibility and there will be plenty of opportunities to spot walrus, seals, whales and wide variety of seabirds.
Ages: 8 - 99
Theme: Polar, Wildlife
Accommodation: Expedition Cruise ship 13 nights, Quality hotel 2 nights
Your Arctic adventure begins in Helsinki, renowned for its extraordinary architecture and intriguing mix of eastern and western influences. If you arrive early, explore the many museums, galleries and restaurants, relax at a Finnish sauna or wander the vibrant Design District before retiring at your included hotel for the night.
After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to the airport and board your private charter flight to Murmansk, Russia. This is where you’ll board the ship that will be your home for the next two weeks. Once aboard, get acquainted with the ship, your fellow travellers and the crew and settle in for your voyage north.
Over the next two days you’ll sail through the Barents Sea and your Expedition Team will prepare you for the adventures that await. The sea is named after the great Dutch explorer Willem Barents, who led two expeditions to Novaya Zemlya in the 1590s. Learn about the storied history and politics of the region, its fascinating wildlife, geology, ecology and climate, and the incredible sights you will soon be exploring. Your crew will keep a lookout for seabirds, such as kittiwakes, skuas and fulmars soaring above your ship to point out to you. Whale and seal sightings may also be possible in this biologically diverse sea, so keep a close eye out.
The next few days will be dedicated to exploring the largest of the Eurasian Arctic archipelagos, the rarely visited Novaya Zemlya or New Land. It’s the third-largest wilderness area in Europe and is actually made up of two main islands, Severny (northern) and Yuzhny (southern), separated by the imposing Matochkin Strait. As we explore Novaya Zemlya, expect a new adventure every day. Each expedition will be unique, depending on the weather and ice, but a few landing sites we strive to visit include Inostrantseva Bay, the Oransky Islands, Cape Zhelaniya, Cape Spory Navalok and Russkaya Gavan. Boasting one of the most picturesque glaciers in the entire archipelago, Inostrantseva Bay provides breathtaking panoramic views of pristine arctic wilderness. If conditions allow, you may explore ashore, or Zodiac cruise along the face of the glacier, at a safe distance, possibly witnessing the wonders of calving ice. Encounters with Brünnich’s guillemots (thick-billed murres) are likely, owing to a small colony in the coastal cliffs. To the northwest side of Severny Island are the Oransky Islands. Wildlife abounds here, with a variety of animal and plant life to be discovered, Walrus have been sighted here on many previous expeditions. Coming across a walrus haul-out is unforgettable. These giant pinnipeds of the Arctic create a raucous as each walrus vies for a choice spot of coastline. Encounters with whales and seabirds are possible, as well as polar bears, a genetically distinct subpopulation here. A significant site in polar exploration, Novaya Zemlya also offers a number of opportunities for you to trace the footsteps of famous explorers and reflect on the region’s history.
Say goodbye to Novaya Zemlya as you cruise east to explore the Kara Sea, the westernmost Asian sea off Siberia. Known as the ice cellar of the Arctic, it’s often encumbered by trapped ice floes, but don’t worry, ice conditions will be considered by your skilled captain during navigation. On the plus side, sea ice happens to be a great habitat for iconic Arctic wildlife. Weather dependent, there are several sites and small archipelagos along the Siberian coast you will aim to explore, tracing the path of polar explorers searching for the Northeast Passage. Hopefully you can visit Russky Island, Troynoy Island and Cape Chelyuskin – they are both part of the Great Arctic State Nature Reserve, the largest reserve in Eurasia. Russky Island is the site of a former polar station, established, in part, to monitor navigation along the Northern Sea Route, the Russian section of the Northeast Passage. Troynoy Island is the largest of the Izvesti Tsik Islands, about 150 km off the coast of the Taymyr Peninsula. The island is uninhabited, except for the researchers at the weather station. Home to an ivory gull colony, the island is also frequented by polar bears, so this may be an opportunity for an illusive sighting. At the tip of the Taymyr Peninsula is Cape Chelyuskin, the northernmost point of the Russian and Eurasian mainland and the site of another active research station. Here, at the edge of the earth, you will hopefully get the chance to explore on foot. An exploration of Severnaya Zemlya embodies the true spirit of adventure. Dominated by glaciers and polar desert, the archipelago was not discovered until 1913 and remained virtually unexplored till 1930–32, the last major undiscovered territory on earth. Amongst many possible destinations, you’ll hopefully visit a number of glaciers, including the Vavilov Ice Cap and those at Marat Fjord. If conditions are favourable, you may cruise the Red Army Strait, flanked by the massive Academy of Sciences Glacier (which also runs along the eastern shore of Zhuravlev Bay) and the smaller Rusanov Glacier. As one of very few people to ever explore this remote area in depth, you’ll want to have your camera ready to capture these amazing sights.
Today there are several activities on board the ship to keep you entertained while at sea. Attend presentations by your Expedition Team, relax in our polar library or simply spend some time on deck, admiring the sea and keeping an eye out for wildlife.
This remote group of 191 islands, many covered in ice, forms the most northerly archipelago in Eurasia and lies entirely within the Arctic Circle and is part of the Russian Arctic National Park. Weather and ice conditions will shape your exploration, but hopefully you’ll get to explore historical sites, remote seabird colonies and walrus haul-outs at some notable destinations, such as Cape Flora, Cape Norway, Bell Island and Tikhaya Bukta. Polar bear encounters are also a real possibility… On Jackson Island, Cape Norway is where Norwegian explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen wintered from 1895 to 1896. The conditions were astonishingly difficult, but they survived until the summer and continued their journey south. The remains of their small hut are still here today, along with a memorial marking the event. Exploring Tikhaya Bukta (Calm Bay), the site of an abandoned weather station on Hooker Island, will feel like stepping back in time. There is plenty to discover as you wander the ruins, immersed in Russian polar history, and you may even be able to send a postcard from the post office. The Stolichky and Appolonov Islands offer plentiful walrus encounters, as the lumbering giants can be found hauled out here. If ice and weather are in your favour, we’ll explore the area by Zodiac, at a safe distance, to view these pinnipeds of the Arctic in their natural habitat.
As your Arctic expedition winds down, you have a couple of days to sail through this wildlife-rich sea, where whales of various species are often seen. Take in a presentation from the Expedition Team, reminisce about your incredible journey with your shipmates, relax in the lounge while swapping stories and photos or enjoy the solitude of the sea. Expedition staff will be on hand to answer any remaining questions and spot wildlife.
Returning to Russia’s most northerly city, you’ll have time to bid farewell to your Expedition Team and crew before catching your group charter flight back to Helsinki, where you will have one more night in this exquisite city. You may want to head out for a final dinner with your group, or simply appreciate being back on dry land by exploring the city further.
Your journey ends today after breakfast, and you can spend time exploring more of the Finnish capital or catch your homeward-bound flight at any time.
Your Helsinki Hotel
Your Helsinki Hotel
Your Helsinki Hotel
Your Helsinki Hotel
Although you don't need to be particularly fit to take part in an Arctic expedition, you do need to have a good level of mobility. You must be able to complete the on board safety drills and emergency evacuation procedures unaided. Rolling seas and windy conditions require you to be stable on your feet while negotiating the ship over potentially slippery decks and gangways. The zodiacs are accessed via a gangway or stairs which may be steep on some ships. Some of our ships have lifts, but these may not access all decks so some stair climbing on board will be necessary.
Arctic and Antarctic bookings have an increased deposit requirement of 20% of the full voyage cost (before any discount). The balance is due 120 days before departure.
If a booking is cancelled 120 days or more before departure - the cancellation fee is the full loss of the deposit paid.
If a booking is cancelled between 119 days and departure - the cancellation fee is 100% of the total price of the voyage.
Other fees may apply for air tickets and other arrangements booked in conjunction with a Polar voyage.
There are strictly enforced luggage allowances on the charter flights included in this voyage. Please see packing list for details.
Your voyage is operated by our sister company, Quark Expeditions. All accommodation and transfer arrangements as listed in the itinerary are also operated by Quark Expeditions or their local representatives.
Safety is paramount on a your voyage. Due to new International Security Regulations, you will not be able to approach the ship on your own. You will have to arrive with the rest of the group, accompanied by a Quark representative. Full details of embarkation/disembarkation procedures will be supplied with your final documentation. On board you will be asked to participate in the obligatory lifeboat drill. We will also conduct important briefings on landing procedures and Zodiac operations.
Travelling in the Arctic, encounters with Polar Bears are not uncommon in some areas (and one of the best reasons to go there). You will be given a briefing on Polar Bear safety on board the ship before your first shore landing. Your guides will carry fire arms and bear deterrents on all excursions. Always follow the instructions of your guide while on shore.
All ships operating in Polar waters must comply with a variety of regulations, codes and industry standards. All our ships adhere to regulations set by IMO (International Maritime Organisation) including ISM Code (Safety Management System), ISPS Code (for ship and port security), SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) and MARPOL (Maritime Pollution Prevention). In addition, Quark Expeditions is a full member of IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) and a full member of AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators).
Quark Expeditions have also been externally audited for its' health and safety programme and have been awarded the British Standard BS8848, the only expedition cruise company to have this accreditation.
All travellers to Russia (regardless of nationality) will require a visa, obtained in advance of travel with a letter of invitation from the Russian authorities. In order for Peregrine to arrange this letter you must provide your full passport details at time of booking. Please note that Russian visas are date specific and cannot be extended once issued.
Why we love it
Discover the immense polar deserts of Severnaya Zemlya.
Get up close to the stunning glacier of Inostrantseva Bay.
Search for polar bears, walrus and other wildlife in Franz Josef Land.
Explore the extraordinary mix of Eastern and Western influenced architecture of Helsinki.
Is this trip right for you
As you’d expect, temperatures in the Arctic are very cold. A warm parka will be provided along with waterproof boots and unlimited hot drinks, but you should also bring base layers and lots of warm clothing. Please see the Essential Trip Information for further important details about what to bring.
Weather depending, you will be making regular excursions in a Zodiac boat to explore the local area and look for wildlife. It can get very cold and wet on the Zodiac, so make sure you are dressed appropriately and that you keep your camera safe and dry. Sturdy sea legs are needed as you make wet and dry landings from the boat, and on steep terrain, snow and other uneven surfaces. Some ships also have a lot of stairs.
The weather plays a pivotal part in this adventure and although there’s an itinerary in place, there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to do everything that is planned for. A level of flexibility and openness to embracing the unexpected are important in expedition travel, especially to such a remote area.
This trip takes places during the time of year that Spitsbergen enjoys 24-hour daylight. Just one of the benefits of this is that incredible wildlife can be seen at any time of the day – be prepared to be woken at any time so as to not miss out on exciting animal sightings.
Polar bears are one of the most incredible and appealing animals on the planet, but they are also powerful predators with little fear of humans. Therefore, it’s necessary to be aware of the guidelines surrounding any contact with Polar bears. Follow your leader’s instructions and do not stray from your group.
Vaccination requirements do change, but generally you do not need vaccinations for this voyage but some may be required or recommended for countries you are visiting enroute to the Arctic.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain any vaccinations or preventative medicines for the countries you are visiting – or any which may be required by your home country upon your return. To find out which, if any, vaccinations are mandatory or recommended for your destination contact your local doctor, immunisation centre or medical centre for up-to-date information. You should be issued with an International Certificate of Vaccination booklet that records each vaccination. Always carry this with you on your travels; it could provide essential information for doctors in the event that you fall ill whilst travelling.
Although our vessels are among the most stable ships in their class, we will still inevitably encounter motion. Unless you are certain you are impervious to the problem, you should take precautions against seasickness. Your doctor can advise you as to the best methods for avoiding this uncomfortable condition.
There will be a licensed English-speaking physician on board. Your vessel will have a medical clinic with a limited supply of prescription medicines and basic first aid equipment. The clinic will not be stocked with every drug or piece of equipment required for every medical problem. If you are under regular treatment for any ailment, you must bring a sufficient supply of medicines for yourself. We cannot accept responsibility for not having a specific brand or type of drug on board. It is wise to carry an extra week’s supply of prescription medications just in case of flight delays or other unforeseen circumstances. If you have particular health needs, please bring with you a signed and dated letter from your physician explaining your health problems and/or the dosage required for the prescribed medication. The letter will assist our doctor on board, and any emergency medical personnel to care for you should you become ill. Please hand the letter to the expedition doctor once you are on board.
Food and dietary requirements
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the dining room. Hours of operation will be posted and are subject to change to accommodate the expedition. Coffee, tea and cocoa are available around the clock. The tap water on board is safe to drink.
We're able to meet most special dietary requests, as long as you have clearly indicated your requirements far in advance of your voyage. Kosher food cannot be prepared.
The voyage fare does not include the customary, optional gratuity which is divided between the ships' crew, and hospitality staff. We suggest US$13 - US$15 per day as a guide. Any tip for the Expedition Team is extra to this and is at your discretion. Gratuities can be added to your onboard account at the end of the voyage or paid in cash on board. Full details will be provided before you settle your onboard account.
All services onboard your ship such as communication charges, laundry, and bar charges will be added to your onboard account and are charged in US dollars. Your account can be paid with US dollars cash, traveller’s cheques or by Visa or MasterCard.
Outside of the start or end point of your expedition, cash will be of most use in the Arctic. In Svalbard, Greenland and the Canadian Arctic, credit cards are not readily accepted and ATM’s are virtually non-existent. On voyages that visit local towns and villages, there is the opportunity to buy souvenirs and some villages have thriving art scenes with local artisans selling their wares. In addition, some museums and sites charge entry fees and in some locations, you may wish to buy food and drink (although the meals on the ship are very good and plentiful).
The unit of currency in Finland is the Euro divided into 100 cents
On all our trips you will require additional funds for extra meals, drinks, souvenirs and incidental expenses. Most hotels will accept credit cards to settle any ‘extras’ and the balance of your holiday funds can be split between cash, ATM withdrawals and credit card.
What to take
The Arctic usually has - relatively - mild weather conditions in high summer. Temperatures below -5ºC are not common (although wind-chill factor can significantly add to the effect.) As a result, you should not need to make many expensive specialist gear purchases, although you do need good wet weather pants and you do need warm clothing. Wet weather jacket and boots are supplied on board the ship. On shore we do aim to provide hiking and walking opportunities whenever possible, so a reasonable pair of walking shoes or boots is suggested. The dress code on board is relaxed and casual; you will not need to dress formally for meals. The inside of the ship is well heated, so you will not require special clothing on board. Indeed, you could spend most of your time in light trousers and a t-shirt! However, it is not unusual for you to want to go out on deck suddenly - a whale sighting, or seals on a nearby ice-floe or hopefully a polar bear - nearly always produce a major exodus, so you need to keep warm clothing handy at all times, even when a shore excursion is not imminent. When you do go ashore you will require warm clothing - a few layers of light and medium-weight items which can be easily adjusted rather than one or two large and bulky items - and wet weather gear to protect you from the spray which can sometimes be encountered on the Zodiacs. Below is a list of equipment and documentation that we suggest you take with you. Please use this checklist as a guide when packing for your holiday. Laundry facilities are available on board the ship. Travel documents: passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, air tickets or e-ticket receipts, Trip Notes Photocopy of main passport pages, visa (if required), travel insurance and air tickets Spare passport photos Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card Money belt (for travelling en route) Small first-aid kit Ecologically friendly laundry soap Daypack (lightweight and waterproof) Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries) Electrical adapter plug Toiletries/travel wipes Sunscreen, lip balm, moisturising cream, sunhat and sunglasses (with UV protection) Swimsuit (in case you wish to take the Polar Plunge) Earplugs and eye mask (for light sleepers) Extra pair of prescription glasses (if required) 2 strong plastic garbage bags (for laundry and in case of rain) Refillable water bottle Phrase book (if travelling en route to ship) Gloves (2 pairs minimum) Hat that covers ears Scarf or other face protection Wind and waterproof pants (a few sizes larger) Warm pants Comfortable shoes Long wool or cotton socks (for expeditions) Silk or polypropylene socks (for inside the ship) Jumpers/sweaters/fleeces Cotton turtlenecks and t-shirts Camera and spare film (or recharge for digital cameras) Plastic bags with zippers for carrying film, etc Binoculars Your prescritpion medication, seasickness medication and painkillers
LUGGAGE ALLOWANCES: Please note luggage allowances on the flights in conjunction with this voyage are restricted to 15 kilos checked baggage and 5 kilos hand luggage. This will be strictly enforced. There is no option to purchase additional baggage allowance.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We realise that our partner company may ask you to complete paper or online feedback following your trip, however we would also like to know what you thought and encourage you to submit your feedback to us too. We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we and our partners are doing well and what could be done better. It allows us to suggest improvements for future travellers.
Before you travel please download our pre-departure checklist to make sure you are fully prepared for your trip.
For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at http://www.intrepidtravel.com/en-gb/contact-us
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency please contact our local ground representative on the number below.
Quark: 1 647 449 5303
Travelling responsibly is all about making good choices. It's about ensuring you have an incredible trip while also having a positive impact on the local environment, community and economy you're travelling in. How can you be a Responsible Traveller? See our tips below:
- Choose to travel with a responsible travel company like us! We've already offset the main carbon emissions of your trip, so your footprint is already lighter.
- Consider offsetting your flights when you book your trip/flights with us or your travel agent.
- Bring a refillable water bottle and some water purification tablets (or a Steripen) to cut down on plastic bottle waste.
- Be an animal-friendly traveller. Only go to venues that respect animals by allowing them to live normally in their natural environment. Steer clear of venues that use animals for entertainment or abnormal activities and/or keep animals in poor and unnatural conditions.
- Eat at local restaurants, buy from regional artists and support social enterprises so you can contribute directly to locals and their economy.
- Always be respectful of local customs and ask permission if you want to take a photo of someone.
- Learn a few words of the local language and engage with the people around you.
- Carry a cloth or re-usable bag so you can avoid plastic bags.
- Give back by making a donation to a local project via The Intrepid Foundation.
Share your thoughts with us by completing your feedback form after your trip. This helps us to continue to improve our commitment to responsible travel.
Your voyage fare includes Emergency Evacuation Insurance to a maximum benefit of US$100,000 per person. However, it is essential that you have comprehensive personal travel insurance in addition to this to cover all other eventualities.
Your fellow travellers
Single occupancy is available in most cabin categories for 1.7 or 2 times the twin berth price (dependent on which cabin category). Single travellers wishing to share will be matched with another solo traveller of the same sex. Please note that it is not possible to share with a stranger in all cabin types. Please speak to a consultant for full details.
Polar travel requires an amount of flexibility as weather, ice conditions and wildlife can all affect where your ship is able to access, and where your Expedition Team think you will get the best experience possible from your trip. On board, daily updates are given to advise what the specific itinerary will be for the next day based on local conditions. Published itineraries are subject to change when local conditions dictate.
Expedition Cruise ship 13 nights,Quality hotel 2 nights
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