A clapboard building on a grassy hillside in franz josef land in the high arctic
walruses lounge on rocks surrounded by the ocean, while a ship for the russian high arctic voyage to franz josef land is anchored in the background
The tundra gives way to a calm ocean with sea ice and mountains in the distance in east greenland
a white artic fox walks across a rock in east greenland
An artic bird is about to take flight from a rock in spitsbergen svalbard
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Polar Regions Arctic Cruise

Russian High Arctic: Franz Josef Land

The name of the game is exploration, with 7 full days of unconstrained Arctic sailing across the Barents Sea into Franz Josef Land. On this 14-day Russian High Arctic: Franz Josef Land exploration voyage, sail round-trip from Longyearbyen, Svalbard, aboard the 114-guest Sea Spirit and explore the world’s northernmost archipelago located about 600 miles from the North Pole—where polar bears rule the Arctic ice in high concentration.

The goal is authentic Arctic cruising, following in the footsteps of polar legends like Julius von Payer, Benjamin Leigh Smith, Frederick George Jackson and Fridtjof Nansen. Franz Josef Land is 85% covered in glaciation and home to geological intrigues such as the mysterious stone spheres on Champ Island and the fascinating basalt cliffs of Rubini Rock. Since 2012, the Franz Josef Land archipelago has been part of the Russian Arctic National Park, a nature sanctuary. Polar bears, walruses, rare whale species and enormous colonies of seabirds like guillemots, dovekies and kittiwakes make their home here. During 14 days of sailing with 24-hour daylight the opportunities to spot wildlife feel never ending.

Not only are the frigid waters teeming with marine mammals and fish, the arctic landscape is glittering with icebergs and tidewater glaciers. Sailing the Russian High Arctic is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness ice-dependent mammals like polar bears, walruses and whales, as well as engage in the history of courageous explorers who forever changed the landscapes of polar exploration.

Sailing aboard the 114-guest Sea Spirit is like floating aboard a fine hotel that is highly maneuverable and capable of navigating narrow bays and icy channels. Add the luxury of incredible amenities, a generous crew, expert leaders and onboard photography lessons and this Russian High Arctic: Franz Josef Land voyage is complete. AdventureSmith Explorations’ award-winning crew has personal experience sailing in the Arctic and can recommend the best itineraries to suit your travel interests and timeline.

Read on for details about this trip, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s Arctic cruises, Spitsbergen Cruises and Arctic trips.


Russian High Arctic: Franz Josef Land Itinerary

On this 14-day Russian High Arctic: Franz Josef Land exploration voyage, sail round-trip from Longyearbyen, Svalbard.

Russian High Arctic: Franz Josef Land Cruise route map.
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Day 1
Arrive Longyearbyen, Svalbard

Welcome to Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Norwegian territory of Svalbard and starting point of the expedition. Be greeted at the airport and transferred to an included hotel. Then enjoy free time to explore this fascinating Arctic settlement. Be sure to see the excellent Svalbard Museum and take advantage of quality shopping and dining opportunities in the town center, before heading to bed in spite of the 24-hour daylight.


Radisson Blu Polar Hotel



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Day 2
Embark Longyearbyen

After breakfast at the hotel, enjoy free time to continue exploring Longyearbyen. In the afternoon, take included transfers from the hotel to the expedition ship M/V Sea Spirit and be welcomed aboard. Explore the ship and get comfortable in this home-away-from-home for the extraordinary adventure to come. After getting underway, a full schedule of events kicks off with informative briefings and introductions from the expedition staff. After the first of many delicious dinners on board, step out onto the open decks to admire the gorgeous scenery in 24-hour daylight as the ship passes through the wildlife-rich waters of Isfjorden.


Sea Spirit


breakfast, dinner

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Days 3 - 4
Across the Barents Sea

From Isfjorden, sail south along the western coast of Spitsbergen, round Sørkapp and enter the wild Barents Sea, with likely sea ice encounters along the way. Watch for harp seals, polar bears, humpback whales, fin whales and endangered bowhead whales. Expedition guides are ready to point out marine mammals and Arctic seabirds in this vast frontier of ice and water. During the second day of sailing, hope to see the massive ice dome of Alexandra Land come into view through the icy mists—the first sighting of the
enigmatic Franz Josef Land archipelago.


Sea Spirit


breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 5 - 11
Franz Josef Land

Reach Russian waters and anchor in Cambridge Bay for immigration clearance, spotting for marine mammals at a premier area in Franz Josef Land. The rest of the time in Franz Josef Land will be spent on a flexible schedule, exploring the many islands of this High Arctic wilderness per weather and ice conditions.

Franz Josef Land belongs to the Russian Arctic National Park, one of the most remote and inaccessible nature sanctuaries on the planet. Be awed by glaciers, ice caps, polar bears, arctic foxes, icy channels and fjords, harp seals, bearded seals, walrus, bowheads, belugas or even narwhal. Mountainsides and sea cliffs host enormous nesting colonies of migratory seabirds such as guillemots, little auks, northern fulmars, ivory gulls and more. Since its discovery in 1873, Franz Josef Land has hosted historic polar exploration events. Grasp the heroic struggles of Fridtjof Nansen and other famous explorers at sites such as Cape Norway and Cape Flora, with memorials, monuments, crosses and dwelling remains.

Additional highlights include Tikhaya Bukhta, a Russian Arctic National Park ranger station occupying Soviet-era research buildings. Hope to explore fascinating geological features, such as the stone spheres on Champ Island and the basaltic columns at the Rubini Rock seabird colony. Each trip to Franz Josef Land is a one-of-a-kind adventure in one of the world’s most intriguing polar environments.


Sea Spirit


breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Days 12 - 13
Across the Barents Sea

Following the week of exploration in Franz Josef Land, cross back through the bountiful waters of the Barents Sea and 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. Enjoy onboard presentations by the expedition team.

Hope to visit South Spitsbergen National Park, a pristine polar wilderness abounding with Arctic animals. Experience the park’s highlights, including Hornsund fjord with mighty glaciers. Possibly visit North Isforden National Park, with endemic Svalbard reindeer and arctic fox.


Sea Spirit


breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 14
Disembark Longyearbyen, Svalbard

After breakfast on board, say farewell back in Longyearbyen. Take provided transfer to the airport, or to the town center to spend more time here. Reflect on this wonderful experience and look forward to a possible next incredible adventure to the ice!





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Inclusions, Terms & Notes


1 pre-voyage hotel night, group transfer from the airport to the hotel on the day prior to embarkation, group transfer to the ship on day of embarkation, shipboard accommodation, all meals on board throughout the voyage, tea and coffee station 24 hours daily, all scheduled landings/excursions (subject to weather and ice conditions), leadership throughout the voyage by experienced expedition leader & expedition team, branded Poseidon Expeditions parka, rubber boots for shore landings for the time of the cruise, welcome and farewell cocktails, all port fees, group transfer to airport or central location upon disembarkation, pre-departure materials, digital voyage log, Wifi on board.


Airfare; visa and passport fees (for this trip, a Russian visa is required; see your country’s Russian consulate or embassy for details); luggage and trip cancellation insurance, and insurance of any kind; soft drinks and alcoholic beverages other than those for special events and celebrations; personal expenses such as laundry and telecommunication charges; staff gratuities; Emergency Evacuation Insurance to a minimum benefit of $200,000 USD per person; kayaking; the cost of any applicable medical tests (such as COVID-19) or vaccinations required either by a national government or the operator (Poseidon Expeditions) before, during or after the cruise.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of 20% of the total trip cost is required per person at the time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
Up to 120 days – $750 cancellation fee
119 to 91 days – 100% of deposit
90 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Vaccination Requirement
To join this trip, all eligible guests must provide proof of being fully vaccinated (at least 14 days after your final COVID-19 vaccine shot). There may also be COVID-19 testing or other requirements to participate; your Adventure Specialist will provide details of current policies upon booking.

Arrival & Departure

The Russian High Arctic: Franz Josef Land voyage begins and ends in Longyearbyen, Svalbard (Spitsbergen) (LYR). Plan to arrive anytime on Day 1 of the itinerary. Longyearbyen is only accessed via flights from Oslo, Norway (OSL). Some flights arrive very early in the morning, before standard hotel check-in; in these cases, we recommend booking an extra hotel night or arranging a day room option. The estimated disembarkation time is after breakfast, between 8:00am and 9:00am on the last day of the itinerary. Plan flights to depart Longyearbyen no earlier than 2:30am. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit ourBooking Flights resource page. 


Hiking, Zodiac cruising, lectures, workshops and an expert photography guide on board each voyage are optional and included. Kayaking may be available on your Russian High Arctic: Franz Josef Land cruise for $655 (2022). Experience rugged coastlines and remote waters that very few people have paddled or labyrinthine expanses of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, all from sturdy and stealthy sea kayaks. Please contact AdventureSmith to reserve activity space with your booking.

Room Configuration

Single travelers wishing to book a double-occupancy cabin may do so at 1.7x the per-person listed rate in Main Deck Suite, Classic Suite and Superior Suite; and 2x the per-person listed rate in Deluxe Suite, Premium Suite and Owner’s Suite, based upon availability. Cabin share is available only in the following Sea Spirit categories: Triple Classic, Main Deck Suite, Classic Suite and Superior Suite.

Families & Children

Children must be at least 12 years of age to participate in this trip; however, on a case-by-case basis, children ages 6-11 may be accepted with additional screening.

Travel Insurance

Emergency evacuation insurance is mandatory for this trip, with a minimum recommended coverage of $200,000 USD per person, but is not included in the cost of this trip. In addition to the emergency evacuation insurance, we highly recommend our travelers protect their investment with travel insurance that includes trip cancellation and other benefits. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. Coverage for a pre-existing medical condition is also available if you purchase the Travel Select plan within 15 days of the initial trip payment; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice, weather conditionswildlife encountered and the captain’s discretion. Flexibility is the key to the success of any Arctic expedition.

Rates & Dates

Cruise Rates & Dates

This itinerary will not be operating during the 2022 sailing season.  Please contact AdventureSmith for alternatives.


Learn About the Small Ship on Your Itinerary

Expedition Ship
Sea Spirit

Sail aboard the luxurious all-suite Sea Spirit to experience the Arctic and Antarctica in grand style with all the amenities of a fine hotel. Carrying just 114 passengers, this outstanding vessel is the perfect home away from home.

Expert Review

Reviews From Our Experts So You Know What To Expect

Arielle Lightcap • January 7th, 2020
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100+ combined years of experience, 7 continents explored, decades of expedition cruising around the world & here to help you find & book your dream trip.

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Russian High Arctic: Franz Josef Land

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