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Venture where only the most intrepid explorers have gone before, on a thrilling voyage to the Russian High Arctic and the Kara Sea, where isolated isles and ice-fringed waters harbor dazzling wildlife and intriguing histories. Experience exploration in its purest form aboard the Polar Class 5 National Geographic Endurance, charting a course from the fjord-laced coast of northern Norway to the historic port of Murmansk, Russia, to remote Arctic archipelagos including Franz Josef Land. Seek out thriving wildlife—including polar bears, whales, walruses, and seabird colonies—and experience a pristine wilderness reached by few visitors. IMPORTANT NOTE: A Russian Tourist Visa is required for this voyage. Call for details.
Fly to Oslo, and check in to our hotel upon arrival. In the afternoon, get acquainted with the charming capital on a guided tour. Walk among the city’s famed Vigeland sculptures—hundreds of life-size, expressive human figures that adorn terraced parklands. Then, delve into Norway’s history of polar exploration at the Fram Museum and climb aboard its namesake, a record-setting, wooden ship. Enjoy an evening at leisure. Take a charter flight to Tromsø, known as the “gateway to the Arctic” due to the numerous polar expeditions that originated here, and embark National Geographic Endurance. (Day 2: B,D; Day 3: B,L,D)
Explore Norway’s spectacular northern coast, which was carved by glaciers over millions of years. Glide through sublime, steep-walled fjords, marveling at the mountainous islands and chiseled peaks that lace these shores. Watch for seabirds and marine mammals and learn about the region’s natural history from our expedition team. (B,L,D)
Cross into Russian waters and venture ashore at Murmansk, the largest seaport above the Arctic Circle and the final city founded by the Russian Empire. This ice-free harbor served as a vital supply port during World War II, and today supports a thriving fishing industry. See Murmansk’s gold-domed Russian Orthodox church and pay your respects at the scenic lighthouse, built to memorialize sailors lost at sea. At the Museum of Murmansk Shipping Company, delve into the history of Arctic exploration along the Great Northern Sea Route. Then, step aboard the Soviet-era Lenin, a nuclear-powered icebreaker turned fascinating museum, and learn about indigenous culture at the Museum of Regional Studies. (B,L,D)
Enjoy the National Geographic Endurance’s many amenities as we cross the Barents Sea and continue further north toward the Kara Sea. Soak in the ship’s infinity-style outdoor hot tubs, take in panoramic views from the rooftop observation deck, and enjoy talks from our onboard experts about the wildlife and geology that await us. (B,L,D)
Spend a few days exploring the ice-draped coastlines of the Novaya Zemlya (“New Land”) archipelago, a chain of rugged islands that has yet to be thoroughly explored. Watch for Arctic wildlife as we navigate past Ice Harbor, where Dutch explorer Willem Barents was marooned for the winter of 1596 to 1597. Seals, walruses, and polar bears may be found on coastal ice floes year-round, and rich birdlife inhabits the shorelines during the summer months. Depending on weather and ice, we plan to make a number of landings on these rarely visited shores. (B,L,D)
An extension of the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia, the Kara Sea is one of the coldest seas in the world, formed by glacial ice during the last ice age. Frozen for most of the year, these waters provide an important source for fish—including cod and salmon—and harbor iconic marine creatures including seals, whales, and polar bears. In keeping with the nature of a true Arctic expedition, our day-by-day itinerary will remain flexible. We’ll leverage the extensive experience of our captain and crew, as well as of our technological resources and ice-strengthened ship, to chart a course through one of the most remote regions on Earth. Commune with an array of Arctic wildlife along the shores of Solitude Island, as Ostrov Uyedineniya is sometimes called. In 1993, this desert tundra became part of the Great Arctic State Nature Reserve—Russia’s largest expanse of protected land—to preserve the fragile wildlife that lives in this harsh landscape. Venture further into the reserve on Ostrov Isachenko, the largest island of the Kirov archipelago. Go for walks onshore with our naturalists, spotting birds on sandy beaches and in the fertile intertidal zone; and enjoy daily adventures by kayak or Zodiac. (B,L,D)
Make the most of 24 hours of daylight, joining our naturalists on deck to spot beluga whales and other marine mammals in the shallow coastal waters surrounding the archipelago of Severnaya Zemlya. Separated from the Siberian mainland by the Vil’kitskogo Strait, this chain of islands is roughly the size of Indiana and remains one of the planet’s most recently charted territories—only known since 1913 when an ocean expedition discovered this vast expanse of Arctic tundra. Depending on ice and weather, we will schedule a variety of hikes and Zodiac cruises to best explore the area. Continue navigating these waters as we journey east and pass Cape Chelyuskin, the most northerly point of the Eurasian continent. (B,L,D)
Experience the grandeur of life at the top of the planet amid the dramatic scenery of the world’s northernmost archipelago, Franz Josef Land. For much of the year, vast ice sheets cover the surface of these uninhabited islands, located some 550 miles from the North Pole. Learn about the 2013 expedition to the archipelago led by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala as part of the Pristine Seas project, which resulted in the first deep-sea footage of the rare Greenland shark. Set out by Zodiac and kayak to experience dramatic icescapes and seldom-seen coastlines, and search for wildlife on the shores or in the sky. Venture ashore with our National Geographic photographer and naturalists to explore this untouched wilderness where fresh discoveries await each day. (B,L,D)
As we sail back to Norway, reflect on our adventures while scanning the water for marine life and enjoying life onboard. Take a yoga class, unwind with a massage in the wellness center, and curl up next to the fireplace in the library. Share images with our National Geographic-Lindblad certified photography instructor, and marvel at footage captured by the ship’s underwater camera. Our voyage culminates with a farewell dinner on board. (B,L,D)
Arrive in Tromsø and disembark our ship. Enjoy a tour of the city before taking a charter flight back to Oslo. Check in to our hotel near Oslo airport and spend the evening at your leisure. (B,L)
After breakfast, transfer to the airport to catch your flight home. (B)
All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting.
Vessel Type: Expedition Ship Passenger Capacity: 126 Built: 2020 A next-generation expedition ship, purpose-built for polar navigation. National Geographic Endurance is a next-generation expedition ship, purpose-built for polar navigation. A fully stabilized, highly strengthened, ice-class Polar Code PC5 (Category A) vessel, it is designed to navigate polar passages year-round, and safely explore unchartered waters, while providing exceptional comfort. Its patented X-BOW® is key to its design; its powerful wave-slicing action provides an extremely smooth ride in even adverse conditions, and even reduces spray on deck, for superior observation. She carries a full suite of expedition tools and offers a variety of experience-enhancing amenities. The luxury of comfort on expedition National Geographic Endurance comfortably accommodates 126 guests in 69 outside-facing cabins. Cabins are efficiently designed, with sizes range from the 140-square-foot solo cabin to the 430-square-foot category 7 suite. Fifty-three of the 69 cabins, including all 12 of the solo cabins, will feature small balconies with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that bring in the spectacular views and ample natural light. Comfort & convenience in every room Every cabin has two portholes, a large window or balcony, and temperature controls. Bathrooms are modern and stocked with botanically inspired hair products, soap, and shower gel, plus a hairdryer. Cabins are equipped with expedition command centers with tablets and USB/mobile device docking, TVs, Wi-Fi connections, and hair dryers. Dining: Food served aboard is fresh, local, and delicious, and sourced from suppliers who share our values of sustainable use whenever possible. Meals aboard are almost always served in the dining room, located aft of the lounge deck. When weather conditions allow, lighter fare may be served on the observation deck. There is no assigned seating and our dining room accommodates the entire expedition community in a single seating. During meals your expedition leader, naturalists, and any guest speakers aboard will join you. Public Areas: Two restaurants, a Chef’s Table for small group dining, Observation Lounge with bar, gym, Wellness area, infinity-style outdoor hot tubs, library, main lounge with full service bar, 24-hour beverage, state-of-the-art facilities for films, slideshows and presentations, and a photo workshop area; plus, an expedition base with lockers for expedition gear, and an “open bridge” for access to our captain, officers and the art of navigation. Meals: Two restaurants, featuring local, sustainable choices and unassigned seating for flexible, inclusive dining; plus a Chef’s table for intimate, small group dining. Main restaurant has 270º views, and the Observation deck restaurant features lighter, made-to-order fare. Cabins: All cabins face outside with large windows, private facilities and climate controls. 53 cabins have balconies. Cabins are equipped with expedition command centers with tablets and USB/mobile device docking, TVs, Wi-Fi connections, and hair dryers. Expedition Tools: Zodiac landing craft, kayaks, snowshoes, cross-country skis, undersea specialist operating a remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and underwater video camera for unique access to polar marine world, hydrophone, aerial remote-controlled camera and video microscope. Special Features: A full-time doctor, undersea specialist, National Geographic photographer, Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor and video chronicler, an internet cafe and laundry. Wellness: The vessel is staffed by our wellness specialists and features a glass-enclosed yoga studio, gym, treatment rooms and spa relax area, and high- and low-heat saunas with ocean views. Expedition Landing Craft: Key to our operation is our fleet of expedition landing craft, which we use to land in places that would otherwise be inaccessible. With 8 of these boats and two loading stations used every time we disembark, we’re able to transfer guests off the ship quickly, so you can be out on adventures, not idly waiting. The expedition landing craft we use are 19 feet long, powered by four-stroke outboard engines, and are capable of comfortably carrying 10-12 people. They are widely recognized as the safest and most versatile small boats afloat. Remotely Operated Vehicle: Capable of reaching 1,000 feet, far beyond the range of any Scuba diver, the ROV allows you to literally view parts of the undersea that are as unexplored as the moon. Chances are you, like many of our guests, will be struck by how surprisingly colorful undersea life is in these unlikely places. And this glimpse may fundamentally change how you view the ocean. Kayaks: National Geographic Endurance will be equipped with a fleet of kayaks large enough to ensure everyone who wants to can paddle at every opportunity. Consequently, prior kayaking experience isn’t necessary—many of our guests have their first kayaking experience in extraordinary locations. Our custom-designed floating platform lets us deploy kayaks from the ship, or any location we want—including far from shore. Kayakers are usually free to explore where they want within boundaries set by the undersea specialist and officer of the watch. Underwater camera: Our undersea specialist will dive often during your expedition, even in Alaska, with cold-water gear, to shoot high-definition, Cousteau-like footage of the deep. Colorful nudibranchs, swimming, plant-like crinoids, and mysterious fish with antifreeze blood that thrive in the frigid sea will give you an entirely new appreciation of the marine environment. Video microscope: Naturalists will use the video microscope to help explain all elements of the environment, including tiny organisms that are the building block of the marine ecosystem. Spellbinding live views of krill at 80x magnification fills the high-definition screens in the lounge with vivid detail, and fills every onlooker with a sense of wonder at the importance of otherwise unobservable creatures. Hydrophone: This underwater microphone is deployed to listen to the vocalizations of marine mammals. Real time transmissions of their eerie, haunting sounds can be broadcast through the ship or recorded for later playback. Few experiences in nature are as captivating as watching humpback whales feed close to the ship as their vocalizations play through the ship’s PA system. Electronic charts: An electronic chart showing the ship’s location, course, and speed is almost always on display in the lounge. Open bridge: You’ll find our captains are engaged, knowledgeable members of your expedition who are eager to share their passion with you. Venture’s open bridge features comfortable spaces to sit, enjoy the view, drink your morning coffee, or simply chat with the officers. Snorkeling gear & wetsuits: On warm weather itineraries where there will be snorkeling, you’ll select a mask, snorkel, fins, and wetsuit that remain yours for the duration of the expedition. There’s no need to pack and tote your own gear, although guests who prefer to are welcome to bring their own.
• Sail aboard our new, state-of-the-art polar ship to the northern reaches of the planet, and ply the icy waters of the Kara Sea, only navigable for a few months of the year. • Set foot on the world’s northernmost archipelago, Franz Josef Land, following in the path of a 2013 expedition by National Geographic’s Pristine Seas team. • Explore along the sandy shores of Ostrov Isachenko, part of Russia’s Great Arctic State Nature Reserve, and watch for polar bears from the ship’s deck. • Learn about indigenous culture in Murmansk, Russia, and take a guided tour of the world’s first nuclear-powered icebreaker.