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Franz Josef Land Explorer (Greg Mortimer)

Welcome Aboard!

These notes will give you a brief idea of what you may experience on this voyage. Our emphasis is on wildlife encounters, personal contact with the environment and visiting sites of historical interest. However, we stress that this is an expedition-style cruise. Our actual program will vary to take best advantage of local conditions, spontaneous opportunities and wildlife. No two voyages are the same; there is always an element of the unexpected.

Franz Josef Land is an archipelago located in the Arctic Ocean, Barents Sea and Kara Sea. It is 1300 kilometres from Murmansk and in 900 kilometres from the North Pole. Franz Josef Land consists of 191 islands, which cover an area of 16,134 square kilometres, stretching 375 kilometres from east to west and 234 kilometres from north to south. It is a sanctuary of Arctic wild life: walrus colonies, polar bears, arctic foxes, marine mammals, bird cliffs, and historical remains. The islands became part of the Russian Arctic National Park in 2012, with a policy to control tourist numbers in order to conserve the pristine environment.

Please note that this itinerary is indicative only as policies in Russia can change with very little notice.

12 July, 2020 to 26 July, 2020 Make a booking request for Franz Josef Land Explorer (Greg Mortimer), departing on 12 July, 2020

Prices quoted here are often dependent on currency fluctuations. Please check with (01432 507450 or info@small-cruise-ships.com) for the very latest price, which may well be cheaper than the one advertised here.

Aurora Stateroom £ 6441 GBP pp
Deck: 3 | Quantity: 15 | Size: 23.2 m2 Cabin Features: Twin or double bed Private En-suite Porthole window Desk area Closet space Sofa bed (can sleep 3rd passenger in select cabins) Room-controlled thermostat Safe for storing valuables 42" flat-screen TV
view cabin photo
Balcony Stateroom £ 7296 GBP pp
Decks: 4,6,7 | Quantity: 58 | Room Size: 16.5 - 20.7 m2 | Balcony Size: 6.6 - 7.2 m2 Cabin Features: Twin or double bed Private En-suite Floor to ceiling window Desk area Closet space Private balcony Room-controlled thermostat Safe for storing valuables 42" flat-screen TV
view cabin photo
Balcony Suite £ 9006 GBP pp
Deck: 4 | Quantity: 2 | Room Size: 25.4 - 26.1 m2 | Balcony Size: 9.1 - 10.8 m2 Cabin Features: Twin or double bed Private en-suite Full size window Desk area Closet space Private balcony Room-controlled thermostat Safe for storing valuables 42" flat-screen TV
view cabin photo
Junior Suite £ 10602 GBP pp
Deck: 7 | Quantity: 4 | Room Size: 30.1 m2 | Balcony Size: 14.3 m2 Cabin Features: Twin or double bed Private en-suite Full size window Desk area Closet space Private balcony Room-controlled thermostat Safe for storing valuables 42" flat-screen TV Seperate lounge area
view cabin photo
Captain's Suite £ 12198 GBP pp
Deck: 4 | Quantity: 1 | Room Size: 35.9 m2 | Balcony Size: 10.4 m2 Cabin Features: Twin or double bed Private en-suite Full size window Desk area Closet space Private balcony Room-controlled thermostat Safe for storing valuables Seperate lounge area 42" flat-screen TV
view cabin photo

Franz Josef Land Explorer (Greg Mortimer) itinerary:

show reverse itinerary
Day 1 Embark the Greg Mortimer in Kirkenes
Arrive in Kirkenes, Norway, located on the border with Russia. Join a pre-arranged half day excursion or activity prior to boarding the Greg Mortimer late afternoon. Airport transfers will be included if arriving on preferred flights into Kirkenes. You’ll have time to settle into your cabin before our important briefings. Sail the scenic Bokfjord to reach the Barents Sea on our way to Murmansk in neighbouring Russia.
Day 2 Murmansk
After sailing overnight into Russia, we stop in Murmansk, to undergo formalities to enter Russia. During clearance procedures, we may go on a city of Murmansk visiting the monument to the soldier of WW2 and also the first nuclear icebreaker Lenin.
Days 3-4 At Sea
Over the next two days at sea, enjoy informative and entertaining lectures from our expert expedition team including naturalists, historians and geologists. Time and weather permitting, we may cruise along the coast of Novaya Zemlya on day 4, to have a first glimpse of the tundra of the high Arctic, we may even try a landing in the tundra or a zodiac cruise in front of our first glacier. Fingers crossed!
Days 5-11 Franz Josef Land
Franz Josef Land is a stark yet beautiful world of glaciers, mosses and lichens. Approximately five million sea birds nest on the archipelago every year, with the thick-billed guillemot accounting for approximately 20%. Other seabirds such as fulmar, kittiwake, Brünnich's guillemot, black guillemot and little auk are common throughout the archipelago. On the flat tundra, nest other species such as: common eider, purple sandpiper, Arctic skua, glaucous gull, ivory gull, Arctic tern and snow bunting. Franz Josef Land is home to two Arctic giants – the Polar bear and the walrus. There is also a population of Arctic fox, which typically have their territories near seabird habitats. The waters of Franz Josef Land are visited by whales, including humpback, bowhead, narwhal, and white beluga whale. Walrus, ringed seals, bearded seals and an amazing species of mammals, choose Franz Josef Land and the water areas around it as their home. While there are many exciting places we can choose to visit over the following week, weather, wind, and sea-ice conditions will determine our itinerary in Franz Josef Land. A sample of some of the places where we may land, hike, photograph or view spectacular wildlife and scenery include: Bell and Mabel Island The remains of an empty cabin built in 1880 by British explorer Benjamin Leigh Smith can be found on Bell Island. On Mabel island offers an opportunity to get close to a little auk colony as the birds nest between the rocks on the slope above the beach where the Zodiacs land. Cape Flora - Northbrook Island Located in an unglaciated area in the Southwest of Northbrook Island, Cape Flora is one of the most famous historical site in Franz Josef Land because it is one of the most accessible locations in the archipelago and often served as a base for polar expeditions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Cape Flora features some of the most beautiful tundra in Franz Josef Land, but landings on the rocky beach, which is prone to swell from the Barents Sea can often be tricky. Cape Flora is where Benjamin Leigh Smith’s vessel Eira was shipwrecked in 1881, after being trapped in pack ice. Geographers bay (Prince George Land) Prince George is the largest and longest island of the Franz Josef Archipelago. Most of the island is covered in large glaciers and ice domes, such as the Brusilov Ice Dome - the highest point of the island. A landing at Geographers Bay allows for a hike up one of the ice domes to stretch our legs and to enjoy the wonderful views over the archipelago, as Prince George Island is not fully glaciated. It’s also a great spot for enjoying the typical flowers of the north Arctic tundra. Tikhaya Bukta (Hooker Island) Tikhaya Bay was a major base for polar expeditions, and where a team of meteorologists from the Russian Sedov station were marooned at the beginning of the Second World War. It was also the location of a meteorological station between 1929 and 1963. The remains of the old Russian station is worth a visit and after thousands of rusting barrels were found and cleared here five 5 years ago, the station now resembles a ghost town or a living museum. You will also find here the world’s northernmost (Russian) post office! Rubini Rock (Hooker Island) The impressive basalt cliffs create the best bird cliffs in the archipelago housing more than 100,000 birds comprising of mostly Brünnich guillemot, but also kittiwake and little auks. The bird cliff lies just off Calm Bay and is perfect for Zodiac cruises. The island is a volcanic plug, the central remains of conical volcano. Cape Tegethoff (Hall Island) The place of the first landing in 1873 by Austro-Hungarian expeditioners Julius Von Payer and Karl Weyprecht after the Tegethoff sunk in 1873. Beautiful basalt rocks and bird cliff rookery of guillemot, gulls, kittiwake and little auks. Cape Triest, Champ Island Champ Island is famous for the incredible stone spheres (geodes), commonly called “Devils Marbles” with sizes ranging from tennis balls to boulders that are three metres in diameter! These rocks are a unique geological feature that can be found only in the Arctic regions. Keep a look out for walrus in the water or hauled out on the beach during our wet landing. Sarko Passage - Newcombe sound (Nansen archipelago) Beautifully glaciated landscape featuring an enormous glacier front with a lot of sea Ice. It’s one of the best spots to marvel at glaciers, ice and perhaps polar bears! Cape Norway (Jackson Island) The place where the famous Norwegian explorers Fritjoj Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen spent the winter of 1895-96 after returning from their attempt to reach the North Pole. We can see the remains of the stone hut built by the men including a big log that was used as a makeshift roof. A commemorative plaque provides marks this event where the men survived the winter until the following summer, when they resumed their journey southwards. Cape Fligely (Prince Rudolf Island) At 81° 51’N, this is the northernmost point of Eurasia, where we can cruise along the ice edge and perhaps get a glimpse to the North Pole in clear weather conditions. Teplitz Bay (Prince Rudolf Island) An abandoned old Russian meteorological station is located here – it was once the northernmost weather station in the world. The bay is often chock full of ice but provides a marvellous opportunity to enjoy the northernmost zodiac cruise! Walrus Haulout at Stolichky (Stoliczka) or Apollonov Island Walrus can be found everywhere on the sea ice in the Franz Josef archipelago. We hope to visit one of the established haul out sites to observe them on land. Polar bears can be seen almost everywhere on, or between the islands. We may see some on land but we hope to find them on the pack Ice, their natural habitat. Seeing polar bears is a highlight of a voyage to Franz Josef Land and can happen at any moment. We will change the itinerary in case we encounter one or more polar bears, maximising every opportunity spending time observing the king of the Arctic!
Days 12-13 At Sea
The return crossing of the Barents Sea offers some good opportunities to encounter whales, perhaps the elusive bowhead whale if we’re lucky, and certainly plenty of opportunities to photograph sea birds.
Day 14 Murmansk
Back in Murmansk for clearance procedures before continuing to Kirkenes.
Day 15 Kirkenes
Arrive in Kirkenes in the morning, farewell your expedition team and fellow passengers as we all continue our onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature. A transfer to the airport is included in the cost of the voyage.
Please Note:
Please refer to this itinerary as a guide only, as changes may occur due to political circumstances, and unpredictable sea and weather conditions. Flexibility is key, when joining us on our expeditions.

Franz Josef Land Explorer (Greg Mortimer) reverse itinerary:

show main itinerary
Please refer to this itinerary as a guide only, as changes may occur due to political circumstances, and unpredictable sea and weather conditions. Flexibility is key, when joining us on our expeditions.
Arrive in Kirkenes in the morning, farewell your expedition team and fellow passengers as we all continue our onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature. A transfer to the airport is included in the cost of the voyage.
Back in Murmansk for clearance procedures before continuing to Kirkenes.
The return crossing of the Barents Sea offers some good opportunities to encounter whales, perhaps the elusive bowhead whale if we’re lucky, and certainly plenty of opportunities to photograph sea birds.
Franz Josef Land is a stark yet beautiful world of glaciers, mosses and lichens. Approximately five million sea birds nest on the archipelago every year, with the thick-billed guillemot accounting for approximately 20%. Other seabirds such as fulmar, kittiwake, Brünnich's guillemot, black guillemot and little auk are common throughout the archipelago. On the flat tundra, nest other species such as: common eider, purple sandpiper, Arctic skua, glaucous gull, ivory gull, Arctic tern and snow bunting. Franz Josef Land is home to two Arctic giants – the Polar bear and the walrus. There is also a population of Arctic fox, which typically have their territories near seabird habitats. The waters of Franz Josef Land are visited by whales, including humpback, bowhead, narwhal, and white beluga whale. Walrus, ringed seals, bearded seals and an amazing species of mammals, choose Franz Josef Land and the water areas around it as their home. While there are many exciting places we can choose to visit over the following week, weather, wind, and sea-ice conditions will determine our itinerary in Franz Josef Land. A sample of some of the places where we may land, hike, photograph or view spectacular wildlife and scenery include: Bell and Mabel Island The remains of an empty cabin built in 1880 by British explorer Benjamin Leigh Smith can be found on Bell Island. On Mabel island offers an opportunity to get close to a little auk colony as the birds nest between the rocks on the slope above the beach where the Zodiacs land. Cape Flora - Northbrook Island Located in an unglaciated area in the Southwest of Northbrook Island, Cape Flora is one of the most famous historical site in Franz Josef Land because it is one of the most accessible locations in the archipelago and often served as a base for polar expeditions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Cape Flora features some of the most beautiful tundra in Franz Josef Land, but landings on the rocky beach, which is prone to swell from the Barents Sea can often be tricky. Cape Flora is where Benjamin Leigh Smith’s vessel Eira was shipwrecked in 1881, after being trapped in pack ice. Geographers bay (Prince George Land) Prince George is the largest and longest island of the Franz Josef Archipelago. Most of the island is covered in large glaciers and ice domes, such as the Brusilov Ice Dome - the highest point of the island. A landing at Geographers Bay allows for a hike up one of the ice domes to stretch our legs and to enjoy the wonderful views over the archipelago, as Prince George Island is not fully glaciated. It’s also a great spot for enjoying the typical flowers of the north Arctic tundra. Tikhaya Bukta (Hooker Island) Tikhaya Bay was a major base for polar expeditions, and where a team of meteorologists from the Russian Sedov station were marooned at the beginning of the Second World War. It was also the location of a meteorological station between 1929 and 1963. The remains of the old Russian station is worth a visit and after thousands of rusting barrels were found and cleared here five 5 years ago, the station now resembles a ghost town or a living museum. You will also find here the world’s northernmost (Russian) post office! Rubini Rock (Hooker Island) The impressive basalt cliffs create the best bird cliffs in the archipelago housing more than 100,000 birds comprising of mostly Brünnich guillemot, but also kittiwake and little auks. The bird cliff lies just off Calm Bay and is perfect for Zodiac cruises. The island is a volcanic plug, the central remains of conical volcano. Cape Tegethoff (Hall Island) The place of the first landing in 1873 by Austro-Hungarian expeditioners Julius Von Payer and Karl Weyprecht after the Tegethoff sunk in 1873. Beautiful basalt rocks and bird cliff rookery of guillemot, gulls, kittiwake and little auks. Cape Triest, Champ Island Champ Island is famous for the incredible stone spheres (geodes), commonly called “Devils Marbles” with sizes ranging from tennis balls to boulders that are three metres in diameter! These rocks are a unique geological feature that can be found only in the Arctic regions. Keep a look out for walrus in the water or hauled out on the beach during our wet landing. Sarko Passage - Newcombe sound (Nansen archipelago) Beautifully glaciated landscape featuring an enormous glacier front with a lot of sea Ice. It’s one of the best spots to marvel at glaciers, ice and perhaps polar bears! Cape Norway (Jackson Island) The place where the famous Norwegian explorers Fritjoj Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen spent the winter of 1895-96 after returning from their attempt to reach the North Pole. We can see the remains of the stone hut built by the men including a big log that was used as a makeshift roof. A commemorative plaque provides marks this event where the men survived the winter until the following summer, when they resumed their journey southwards. Cape Fligely (Prince Rudolf Island) At 81° 51’N, this is the northernmost point of Eurasia, where we can cruise along the ice edge and perhaps get a glimpse to the North Pole in clear weather conditions. Teplitz Bay (Prince Rudolf Island) An abandoned old Russian meteorological station is located here – it was once the northernmost weather station in the world. The bay is often chock full of ice but provides a marvellous opportunity to enjoy the northernmost zodiac cruise! Walrus Haulout at Stolichky (Stoliczka) or Apollonov Island Walrus can be found everywhere on the sea ice in the Franz Josef archipelago. We hope to visit one of the established haul out sites to observe them on land. Polar bears can be seen almost everywhere on, or between the islands. We may see some on land but we hope to find them on the pack Ice, their natural habitat. Seeing polar bears is a highlight of a voyage to Franz Josef Land and can happen at any moment. We will change the itinerary in case we encounter one or more polar bears, maximising every opportunity spending time observing the king of the Arctic!
Over the next two days at sea, enjoy informative and entertaining lectures from our expert expedition team including naturalists, historians and geologists. Time and weather permitting, we may cruise along the coast of Novaya Zemlya on day 4, to have a first glimpse of the tundra of the high Arctic, we may even try a landing in the tundra or a zodiac cruise in front of our first glacier. Fingers crossed!
After sailing overnight into Russia, we stop in Murmansk, to undergo formalities to enter Russia. During clearance procedures, we may go on a city of Murmansk visiting the monument to the soldier of WW2 and also the first nuclear icebreaker Lenin.
Arrive in Kirkenes, Norway, located on the border with Russia. Join a pre-arranged half day excursion or activity prior to boarding the Greg Mortimer late afternoon. Airport transfers will be included if arriving on preferred flights into Kirkenes. You’ll have time to settle into your cabin before our important briefings. Sail the scenic Bokfjord to reach the Barents Sea on our way to Murmansk in neighbouring Russia.
* = Indicative
Map for Franz Josef Land Explorer (Greg Mortimer)
Greg Mortimer, the ship servicing Franz Josef Land Explorer (Greg Mortimer)

Greg Mortimer

Vessel Type: Expedition

Length: 104 metres

Passenger Capacity: 120

Built: 2018

Capable of negotiating the strongest winds and waves, the Greg Mortimer is built to world-class polar standards – designed in close consultation with our expedition specialists, taking advantage of our more than 25 years of experience.

The Greg Mortimer redefines expedition cruising for the future, with just 120 passengers on board in the polar regions. Not only is the ship bigger to contend with adverse weather conditions, its added creature comforts make for a more enjoyable journey out on the open ocean. The Greg Mortimer remains true to our ethos and focus on multiple landings, flexible itineraries and family atmosphere – just with an improved home base!

As a modern and custom-designed ship, the Greg Mortimer is at the cutting edge of nautical technology. Robust, powerful and built with our guests in mind, this ship marks a significant investment in our fleet's capabilities. From the European Arctic to the depths of Antarctica, and other far-flung destinations in-between, the Greg Mortimer will make your journey a breeze!

Greg Mortimer X-BOWX-BOW™

Our expeditions face some of the worst Mother Nature can throw at us. However, this won't be problem on the Greg Mortimer with the introduction of the patented X-BOW™, created by Norwegian ship designer ULSTEIN. As one of the leaders in marine engineering, ULSTEIN's X-BOW™ is an inverted bow concept that's been built on over 100 vessels in the shipping industry. Excitingly, we are the first expedition cruise operator to utilise this technology for the challenging open ocean waves! 

Hydraulic viewing platforms 

Although there is no doubt that you'll love the aesthetics of the Greg Mortimer, we are all here to admire the spectacular landscape and spot the elusive wildlife in their natural habitat. To ensure you get the best views possible, the new ship features unique viewing platforms, custom-built for the Greg Mortimer. Accessed from Deck 5, the two platforms fold out hydraulically for unobstructed views of passing marine life and seabirds – make sure your camera is locked and loaded!

Zodiac launching platform

Zodiacs are a vital part of getting up close and personal on your adventure – sneaking into areas that the Greg Mortimer can't reach. On this new ship, there are specially designed launching platforms that enables us to load Zodiacs easily and quickly, allowing you to spend more time exploring on the two to three daily landings. There are 15 Zodiacs that are boarded from either side of Deck 3 (sea level), perfect for when there is a group of fluffy cute penguin chicks that we need a photo of! 

Activity Platform

Regardless of your destination, we offer a number of additional activities to allow you to see more of the environment. From kayaking and diving to climbing and ski touring, it's these optional activities that often leave the biggest impression on your trip as a whole. Onboard the Greg Mortimer, there is a spacious prep and loading platform for these activities and more – designed in consultation with our expert activity guides.

Environmentally friendly

Climate change and carbon emissions continue to be major issues that everyone needs to be aware of and actively managing. This includes reduced emissions into the air and sea, lower energy consumption, high fuel efficiency, reduced light pollution for minimal wildlife disruption and lower on-board plastic use. It's vital to also mention the state-of-the-art virtual anchoring technology of the X-BOW™, which means the ship can float anchorless while launching Zodiacs, kayaks etc, without disturbing delicate sea floor areas. 

Safety features

This starts with the return-to-port equipment – not compulsory on a ship of this size – which duplicates the propulsion system. This enables the ship to maintain operating systems and comfort in the event of engine failure. Furthermore, the Greg Mortimer is Polar Code 6 compliant, holds BV class and is fully compliant with the latest SOLAS requirements. It's also built with a Rolls Royce stabiliser system.  If there's an incident or accident during your adventure, the ship has an on-board, fully-stocked medical centre – where our trained medical team can provide necessary treatment in a timely fashion. Safety continues to be an issue that our team takes very serious and the Greg Mortimer allows us to create an environment where you can concentrate on the brilliant landscape and wildlife, without worrying about your wellbeing.

Ship Life

Greg Mortimer is designed to serve your every need. It's your bedroom, bathroom, lounge, dining room and even your observatory. Make yourself at home, the Greg Mortimer is yours to enjoy!

Observation Points

Let's face it – you don't want windowless rooms when travelling around some of the most beautiful locations around the world. This is why the Greg Mortimer is designed with plenty of dedicated observation spaces – ideal for keen bird spotters, wildlife watchers and those wanting to watch the scenery go past. From the indoor 180-degree lounge and outdoor 360-degree open deck, both on deck 8, to the 270-degree open sundeck on level 7, there are plenty of observation points to share around the ship! If these are full, then you can take up a spot on one of the two hydraulic viewing platforms on deck 5. Aurora Expeditions also has an open bridge policy, which means at any point you can come up to the bridge and check out what the captain and officers are up to. From watching navigational practices to observing mapping techniques, you can get a firsthand look at the inner workings of the Greg Mortimer. 

Shore excursions

Although the ship is fun, the real enjoyment comes from the many shore excursions that are available. Depending on the weather and itinerary, it's possible to take two to three landings daily, taking a look at everything from rock formations and ancient ruins to cute groups of penguins. We know time is of the essence in these wild locations, so the Greg Mortimer has been designed with 15 Zodiacs, which means you can maximise your time on shore. From four dedicated sea level launching platforms, transfers are quicker, safer and enable you to get closer to the action for a longer period of time. Just remember to charge your camera before you step onto the Zodiac!

Activity options

From kayaking and skiing to diving and climbing, these are one-in-a-lifetime opportunities that you need to take advantage of.  Aboard the Greg Mortimer there is a specially designed launching platform for all activities, a concept overseen by our activity experts. This area also includes individual lockers in the expansive mudroom and rapid drying areas for wetsuits so you can quickly get warm after exploring in the elements!  

Dining

From the moment you step onto the Greg Mortimer, we aim to give you the best hospitality service possible. Starting with the official Captain's welcome, as our guests, you're welcome to 24 hours complimentary coffee, tea and snack facilities in addition to the range of different menu options and courses for each meal. Meals are served in large dining room/restaurant with family style dining, perfect to swap stories with your new expedition family. Enjoy the range of house wine, beers and soft drinks included with dinner after a long day in the wild, preparing yourself for another exciting day to follow. On the last day of your trip, the team on the Greg Mortimer put on a special farewell four-course dinner and cocktails – a perfect way to reflect on your time on the ship and consolidate lifelong friendships with the people you've met on-board.

On-board entertainment

When you’re relaxing during a sea day or you have a little downtime on the ship between excursions, what is there to do onboard the Greg Mortimer? Plenty! On all our expeditions, there are experts who lead presentations in the spacious lecture room so you can understand the region a little better. These often include topics as broad as history and culture to biology and climate change, these presentations aim to educate and entertain. If you're keen to just watch the surroundings and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, you have access to two bars/lounges where the stunning floor to ceiling windows offer a special perspective on the landscape. The Greg Mortimer is also decked out with other facilities for your enjoyment. There is a library on Deck 5 with books and maps and a Wellness Centre complete with gym equipment, sauna and spa. Feeling a little sore after walking around all day? Treat yourself to a massage at the Wellness Centre and feels the aches disappear! Keen photographers and artists will revel in the multimedia room on Deck 5.

Cabin layout for Greg Mortimer
• Photograph unique stone spheres at Champ Island

• Visit Nansen’s winter camp at Cape Norway

• Look out for walrus, rorqual and elusive bowhead whales

• Watch for hunting polar bears on pack ice and on land

• Marvel at the frozen landscape of Franz Josef Land - 85% of which is glaciated
Enquire now about Franz Josef Land Explorer (Greg Mortimer)

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