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General » Polar Regions » Nordøstpassasjen » Nordøstpassasjen - Murmansk - Anadyr

Nordøstpassasjen - Murmansk - Anadyr

Northeast passage


Russia controls one of the greatest seaways in the world. Within Russia it is known as the Northern Sea Route, while the rest of the world calls it the Northeast Passage. Only a handful of expedition vessels have ever transited this seaway, but recent changes in the summer sea ice conditions mean this historic and fascinating sea route is now accessible to a few suitably constructed expedition vessels.
The indigenous peoples of the north coast of Siberia were undoubtedly familiar with sections of this seaway but it wasn't until 1878-1880 that Swedish explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiold completed the first ever transit. Earlier attempts to find a route in the 16th century had been thwarted by either ice or politics or both. The Russian empire had been expanding eastwards and in an attempt to control and tax the burgeoning fur trade, all foreign shipping was banned from 1616 until 1753. Commercial interest in the route was revived in the late 19th century when several trading vessels reached as far as the Ob and Yenisey Rivers and initiated trade with the interior as it proved much easier to ship timber, fur, gold and grain down these rivers than carry them overland to markets in the west.
In 1914-15 the Imperial Russian Navy icebreakers Taymyr and Vaygach made the second transit of the Northern Sea Route in an attempt to render the seaway navigable for strategic purposes. In 1932 the Soviet Union formed the Northern Sea Route Administration. It was headed up by Otto Schmidt who established a number of Polar research and weather stations along the Siberian coast and on the many islands along the way. Personnel at these stations were responsible for reporting weather and ice conditions as well as carrying out invaluable research into the regions unique birds, plants and animals.
At the height of the Soviet administration, large convoys of ships assisted by powerful icebreakers plied this route carrying much needed supplies to Eastern Russia.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s spelled the end of this operation and the number of vessels using the Northern Sea Route dwindled, but there has been renewed commercial interest from international shipping companies in this route which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans due to the huge savings in both time and fuel that it potentially offers.
Our vessel Akademik Shokalskiy is no stranger to this route having participated in a Soviet convoy in the late 1980s and more recently completed the journey unassisted. We invite you to join us on an historic journey which explores the history and development of the route and the many islands along the way.


Day 1: Murmansk

Join the Akademik Shokalskiy and depart. After sailing there will be introductions to ship and crew.

Days 2 to 3: Barents Sea

This sea is named in honour of Dutch Seafarer and navigator Willem Barents who explored the region on two separate expeditions in 1594 and 1596. We will keep a look out for marine mammals and of course seabirds.

Days 4 to 6: Franz Josef Land

This is a huge archipelago of 192 islands located only 10 degrees from the North Pole. They were named in 1870 after the Hungarian Emperor when they were discovered by the Austro-Hungarian Payer-Weyprecht Expedition that was searching for the NE Passage. During our time here we plan multiple landings in search of history, wildlife and flora.

Days 7 to 8: Kara Sea

The Kara Sea is one of the coldest seas in Russia. It lies between Novaya Zemlay, Franz Josef and Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago.

Days 9 to 11: Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago

The Severnaya Zemlya Islands are on the border of the Kara and Laptev Seas and are an extension of the Taimyr Peninsula. The islands were not discovered until 1914-15 by the Russian explorer Vilkitski. They are heavily glaciated with deep fiords and majestic glaciers which make them magnificent for cruising. There is also a great selection and abundance of Arctic wildlife including Polar Bears, Arctic Foxes, Arctic Hares and walruses.

Days 12 to 13: Crossing the Laptev Sea

This sea is bounded in the west by the Taymyr and the Severnaya Islands and the Novosibirskie Islands in the east. Look out for the Laptev Sea Walrus known only in this sea.

Days 14 to 16: Noviye Sebirskiye (New Siberian Islands)

These islands mark the border between the Laptev and East Siberian Seas and consist of three major groups: Southern, Central (Anzhu) and Northern (De Long) Group. The islands are virtually unexplored and are uninhabited apart from the researchers at a couple of weather stations. We will explore the islands with a number of landings in search of Arctic flora and wildlife.

Day 17: East Siberian Sea

It was in this sea that the Jeannette, captained by George Washington De Long, became stuck fast in ice, drifted and was crushed and sunk in 1881. Wreckage from the Jeanette was found in Greenland in 1884 giving Nansen the idea for the now famous 1893-96 Fram Expedition.

Day 18: Medvezhyi Islands

There are no permanent settlements on these little known and seldom visited islands. They are covered in tundra and known to have a good population of Polar Bears.

Day 19: Ayon Island and Village

This island and village is home to a small group of Chukchi Reindeer herders. We enjoy their hospitality and learn about reindeer herding.

Day 20: East Siberian Sea

This sea occupies the area between the Novosibirskie Islands and Wrangel Island. Three of Siberia’s major rivers flow into it – the Indigirka, Alazaya and the Kolyma. It was in this sea that the Soviet vessel Chelyuskin with 111 people on board became trapped in ice and sank in 1934.

Days 21 to 23: Wrangel Island

Wrangel Island is one of those islands that you have to visit to appreciate. It is a Federal Nature Reserve of international significance and importance and also a World Heritage Site. A lot of its significance lies in the fact that it is a major Polar Bear denning area. It is also the last landfall for migratory species flying north. Each summer thousands of birds migrate here to breed, including Snow Geese, Snowy Owls, skuas, Arctic Terns, Ross’s, Sabine’s and Ivory Gulls.

Day 24: Kolyuchin Island

Early this morning we will pass close by the place where the Swedish explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiold wintered over in 1878. Later this morning we plan to land on Kolyuchin Island, where there is an abandoned Polar research and weather station and some great bird cliffs.

Day 25: Cape Dezhnev and Uelen Village

Early this morning we will be at Cape Dezhnev, the eastern extremity of the Eurasian continent. This afternoon we visit the nearby village of Uelen. Here we enjoy the hospitality of the local people who are predominantly Chukchi and enjoy a cultural performance and visit the bone-carving studio.

Day 26: Whale Bone Alley and Gil’mimyl Hot Springs

We visit Whale Bone Alley on Yttygran Island, one of the most significant and intriguing archaeological sites in the Arctic. This afternoon we plan a landing at the Gil’mimyl Hot Springs.

Day 27: At Sea

Crossing the Gulf of Anadyr there will be opportunities for pelagic birding, marine mammal watching and lectures.

Day 28: Anadyr

The expedition finishes in Anadyr. After a final breakfast it will be time to disembark. There will be a complimentary transfer to the airport or to a central downtown hotel.

Important Notes: 

These expeditions are subject to approval from various Russian Federal and Regional Authorities and may have to change depending on these approvals. Permits have been lodged for all the sites mentioned in the itinerary, depending on approvals these may have to be amended or substituted. We will endeavour to keep participants fully informed of any changes in the itinerary as and when they occur.

Enquire for a full itinerary.

North East Passage: The Northern Sea Route - Eastbound 29 August 2017 
Voyage #: SHO1736

29 August, 2017 to 25 September, 2017


Main Deck $19800.00 USD pp Available

Superior $21400.00 USD pp Available

Superior Plus $24200.00 USD pp Available

Mini Suite $25200.00 USD pp Available

Heritage Suite $27200.00 USD pp Available

Additional charges:

Local Payment $500.00 USD pp

This trip includes:

Pre/Post cruise transfers, all on board ship accommodation with meals and all expedition shore excursions.

This trip does not include:

All items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities. International/domestic flights, visas and travel insurance.

Additional Charges:
Private charter flight Anadyr to Nome $1,300 pp
(All prices are per person in USD)

Murmansk to Nome
SHO #1736 29th August - 24th September 2017

Murmansk to Anadyr
SHO #1736 29th August - 25th September 2017