Cruise on the M/V Sea Spirit

Located far above the Arctic Circle, some 470 miles away from the Eurasian mainland, the 191 islands that make up Franz Josef Land are some of the most remote and under-explored locales on earth. Discovered only 150 years ago, this volcanic, glaciated archipelago was once a major stopping point for famous polar explorers making the dangerous (and often deadly) passage to the North Pole.

Enjoy fantastic views of rugged icebergs and glacier-capped peaks rising majestically from the icy waters as you cruise north through the Barents Sea. Discover the vast array of wildlife that this area plays host to, from nesting auks to colonies of walrus.

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Day Trip

  • Special Tour
    Minimum of 10 travelers
  • Travels to:
    Russia, Western Russia
  • Special Tour:
    Franz Josef Land in the Arctic

Overview Itinerary

MIR Signature Experiences on this Tour
  • Cruise by ship and Zodiac through arctic Franz Josef Land
    Cruise by ship and Zodiac landing craft among the islands of Franz Josef Land, an archipelago that is part of the wildlife sanctuary of the Russian Arctic National Park....
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  • Look for walrus, polar bears, whales, and seals under the Midnight Sun
    The experienced captain and expedition leader know where to look for the likely hangouts of marine and land mammals, and the cliffs where migratory birds nest....
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  • Walk in the footsteps of famous polar explorers at historical sites
    Memorials, monuments, crosses and the remains of dwellings can be found at Cape Norway, Cape Flora, Eira Harbor, and Cape Tegetthoff....
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  • Cruise the coastal islands of the Svalbard Archipelago, Norway
    Explore the spectacular fjords and narrow channels of western Spitsbergen, where glaciers calve and Arctic fox lurk in the tundra vegetation....
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Why Travel with MIR on this Tour
  • More than 30 years of travel experience in Russia
  • Travel programs such as Princeton and the Harvard Museum of Natural History have chosen MIR to guide them to Russia
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • On-the-ground support and quality you can trust
  • Personalized travel planning from start to finish
  • Guides and tour managers that clients rave about
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Itinerary & Highlights at a Glance

Days 1-2: Longyearbyen, Svalbard

Arrive in Longyearbyen, the arctic adventure capital of the Norwegian territory of Svalbard. Meet your travel companions at a welcome dinner. After a hotel night, embark aboard the expedition ship, the M/V Sea Spirit.


  • Longyearbyen, largest settlement in Svalbard, an arctic archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole
  • One of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas
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Days 3-4: Across the Barents Sea

The ship proceeds south around Svalbard and then east to Franz Josef Land across the Barents Sea. In these far northern latitudes, there can be sea ice any time of the year. Keep a lookout for ice-dependent marine mammals such as the bowhead whale, various arctic seal species, and the majestic polar bear.


  • Barents Sea, home to a huge diversity of organisms, due to the convergence of the warm Gulf Stream and the cold arctic waters
  • Possible sightings of sea ice and ice-dependent mammals, such as polar bears

Days 5-11: Explore Franz Josef Land

The archipelago, part of the Russian Arctic National Park since 2012, is a nature sanctuary. Polar bears and other high arctic wildlife – such as walruses and some rare whale species – can be spotted any time, anywhere in and around Franz Josef Land. Scree slopes and cliffs around the islands, which host enormous nesting colonies of migratory seabirds, such as guillemots, dovekies, and ivory gulls. In the 24-hour daylight of the arctic summer, discover the shores by sea kayak and Zodiak, and land at various islands to explore on foot. Between obligatory initial and final calls at the Russian polar station Nagurskoye in wildlife-rich Cambridge Bay, the group is free to explore the many waterways and islands of this arctic wilderness.

NOTE: Route and exploration opportunities in Franz Josef Land are heavily dependent on weather and sea ice. The experienced captain and expedition leader decide the best route and continually adjust plans as opportunities warrant.


  • Sea kayaking around Rhodes Channel and Coal Mine Island
  • Landings and Zodiac cruises to points of interest
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Days 12-13: Cruise along the coasts of Svalbard

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.


  • Ice floes and shore-fast ice support seals, whales, arctic fox and polar bears
  • Onboard presentations in the Oceanus Lounge

Day 14: Spitsbergen

Explore the spectacular fjords and coasts of Spitsbergen in the western part of Svalbard. This area contains some of the archipelago’s most wonderful scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities. Deep fjords and narrow channels are flanked by jagged snowy mountain peaks. Immense tidewater glaciers calve icebergs into turquoise waters. Among the sights are remnants of whaling camps, coal-mining operations, trappers’ cabins, staging areas for historic attempts to discover the North Pole, and the ruins of a WWII weather station.


  • Landings at Pyramiden and Skansbukta
  • Fantastic scenery – fjords, glaciers, tundra
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Day 15: Disembark in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

After breakfast on board, disembark and transfer to the airport for international departures.


  • Longyearbyen, administrative capital of Spitsbergen and former mining town

See Dates & Prices for more details or to see suggested extensions.

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Tour Dates & Prices

There are no departures available at this time.

Please contact us for more information and a MIR Destination Specialist will contact you shortly. Thank you!

Please note

This itinerary is currently only available as a custom or independent program.  You might instead be interested in our special cruise: North Pole: Top of the World.



About the M/V Sea Spirit:

The 114-passenger Sea Spirit is ideally suited to explore remote, out-of-the-ordinary destinations while providing her guests with a high level of comfort and service. She was built at the Nuovi Cantieri Apunia shipyard in Carrara, Italy in 1991 as the Renaissance V, and subsequently sailed as the Spirit of Oceanus for Cruise West before being modified in 2010 to make her more suitable for polar cruising. The vessel has been operating on expedition voyages to the Arctic and Antarctica since late 2010.


What’s Included

On Your Tour

  • Shared accommodations in best available hotel in Longyearbyen, Norway, and aboard the M/V Sea Spirit.
  • 14 breakfasts, 12 lunches and 14 dinners per the itinerary.
  • Welcome and farewell cocktails.
  • Bottled water at group meals.
  • Restaurant tips for included meals.
  • All landings, sightseeing and excursions including entrance fees per itinerary.
  • Guiding and enrichment presentations by experienced expedition staff. (Lectures/presentations or done onboard in the multipurpose lounge.)
  • Tour Leader/Expedition Manager throughout the land program.
  • Arrival/departure transfers. MIR will arrange for all travelers to be met on arrival and seen off on departure whether we make your airfare arrangements or not, provided you arrive and depart on the tour start/end dates in the tour start/end cities.
  • Special events, excursions and cultural performances per the itinerary.
  • Expedition parka to keep (1 per passenger).
  • A pair of rubber boats on loan for shore landings.
  • All port fees.
  • Baggage handling at the hotel.
  • Digital Voyage log.
  • Emergency evacuation insurance to a maximum benefit of US $100,000 per person (for those 85 years of age and younger).
  • Destination preparation information packet.
  • Gratuities to the onboard expedition ship staff.

Before Your Tour

  • Personalized pre-departure support from one of our knowledgeable Tour Specialists.
  • Complete pre-departure information including detailed packing list and reading list.
  • Pre-departure destination preparation information and travel tips.
  • Customized visa application instruction kit (please note, visa fees are not included in the tour price).
  • Final document packet including luggage tags, final updates, and more.
  • Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements (on request; please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost).
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Prepare for Your Trip

International Airfare

MIR's in-house, full-service air department will gladly assist with your air travel needs.

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Reading List

MIR recommends reading up before you leave home. So settle back in your armchair with some of our favorite books about our favorite places.

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Most MIR programs require one or more visas, and each visa requires a completely blank page in your passport. Visa information for this particular tour is listed in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

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Travel Insurance

Stay a Little Longer…

MIR can arrange for a stopover in Scandinavia en route to/from the tour, or a private, independent post-tour in St. Petersburg, Western Russia, the Baltics, or Poland before or after your tour. Please contact MIR for more details about exciting options for extended travel.

Or, choose from one of our private travel suggested itineraries:

Is this Trip Right for You?

This trip is active, and rated rigorous touring due to the northern climate and possibility of rough weather. Travelers will have the choice on daily landings to walk, hike, or sit on the beach, and can choose to kayak or not. To reap the full rewards of this adventure, travelers must be able to walk at least a mile a day, keeping up with fellow travelers, and be prepared for the northern waters.

A full list of details about the rigors of this tour are explained in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

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