With a rich history of exploration, the islands of Franz Josef Land offer a glimpse into the history of Polar travel. Along with this history is a varied wildlife including seals, Polar bears, whales, and walruses as well as the amazing Arctic scenery of the area. One of the many stops you’ll be making will be at Camp Ziegler surrounded by mountainous islands with impressive glacier fronts.
Franz Josef Land itinerary:
Noon, bus Kirkenes to Murmansk. Embark ship in port Murmansk
We make a landing on Bell Island, near Eira Lodge, the station of Leigh Smith. Then we sail to Cape Flora on Northbrook Island is an important site in the history of Polar exploration, where a century ago, several expeditions had their base. On the cliffs behind Cape Flora, there are large colonies of Brünnich’s Guillemots. It is an exciting view to witness the young birds when they try to glide from the ledges to the sea and where they are often eaten by Glacous Gulls. In Günther Bay at Northbrook Island we make a zodiac cruise near an important haul-out place for Walruses.
Rubini Rock in Tichaia Bay on Hooker Island has colonies of cliff-nesting seabirds like Brünnich’s Guillemots, Black Guillemots, Little Auks, Fulmars and Kittiwakes. We should also see Bearded and Harp Seals. We shall also visit the Sedov Research station. Encounters with Polar Bears are likely and also Greenland Whales have been seen in this area.
If sea ice conditions allow in the British Channel, we shall try to sail to Cape Norvegia on Jackson Island, where Nansen and Johansen spent the winter after they had left their ship, "Fram".
If sea ice conditions are very light we will sail to Rudolf Island, the northernmost island of the archipelago or Apollonia Island, another large haul-out for walruses.
Alternatively we may land at Alexandra Land at an Ivory Gull colony.
Camp Ziegler on Alger Island has remains of polar expeditions from a century ago. The island, in a beautiful setting, is surrounded by mountainous islands with impressive glacier fronts. On Champ Island we find a special geological phenomenon, perfectly round stone balls of more than 1 m in diameter.
If weather conditions for the home voyage will not be adverse we will try to land in the very early morning at Cape Tegethoff or Wilchzek Island in the south, where we again find the remains of the stations of early polar explorers such as the Austrians, Weyprecht and Payer, who first discovered Franz Joseph Land in the 19th century.
Morning, debark ship in port Murmansk (bus to Kirkenes)
Vessel Type: Expedition
Length: 91 meters
Beam: 18 meters
Speed (average): 12 knots
Built / Refurbished: 1989 / 2007
Capacity: 106 (in twin & triple cabins)
The ice-strengthened vessel “Ortelius” is an excellent vessel for Polar expedition cruises in the Arctic and Antarctica, providing us with possibilities to adventure remote locations such as the Ross Sea.
“Ortelius” was built in Gdynia, Poland in 1989, was named “Marina Svetaeva”, and served as a special purpose vessel for the Russian Academy of Science. The vessel is re-flagged and renamed “Ortelius”. Ortelius was a Dutch / Flemish cartographer. Abraham Ortelius (1527 – 1598) published the first modern world atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum or Theatre of the World in 1570. At that time, the atlas was the most expensive book ever printed.
The vessel has the highest ice-class notation (UL1 equivalent to 1A) and is therefore very suitable to navigate in solid one-year sea ice and loose multi-year pack ice. “Ortelius” is a great expedition vessel for 100 passengers with lots of open-deck spaces and a very large bridge which is accessible to the passengers. The vessel is manned by 34 highly experienced Russian nautical crew, 15 international catering staff, including stewardesses, 6 expedition staff (1 expedition leader and 5 guides/lecturers) and 1 doctor.
”Ortelius” offers a comfortable hotel standard, with two restaurants, a bar/lecture room and a sauna. Our voyages are primarily developed to offer our passengers a quality exploratory wildlife program, trying to spend as much time ashore as possible. As the number of passengers is limited to approximately 100 on the “Ortelius”, flexibility assures maximum wildlife opportunities.