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Explore the Arctic’s Franz Josef Land Archipelago with Poseidon Expeditions

Artic polar bear swimming

Poseidon commenced its 2018 summer season in July in the Russian High Arctic – the newest frontier in polar expedition cruising – with a rendezvous of its two ships in the Franz Josef Land Archipelago.

Meeting on July 11 at 80º 48’ N/50º 44’ E near Prince George Island, Poseidon’s 128-passenger, nuclear-powered icebreaker 50 Years of Victory and its 114-passenger expedition ship Sea Spirit together celebrated their respective first voyages of the season to this remote archipelago of 190 glaciated and snow-covered islands.

While the ships’ routings are considerably different, they both have the distinction of taking intrepid polar adventurers to an area that few other ship passengers will ever have the opportunity to explore. The region is now largely under management of the Russian Arctic National Park System, but was off-limits for foreign travelers until recent decades. For the ships’ meeting, the massive icebreaker paused on its route to 90º North – the geographic North Pole – while the Sea Spirit was in the midst of an eight-day exploration of the archipelago – the most in-depth in the expedition cruise industry.

With its Sea Spirit, Poseidon Expeditions also has the distinction as the only cruise operator that can travel directly from Svalbard to Franz Josef Land, where passengers clear customs and immigration in Alexandra Land. This saves approximately a day of sea travel in each direction, compared with other vessels, including the 50 Years of Victory, which clear customs and immigration on mainland Russia and must travel longer and further to attain the group of  polar islands.

More days at the archipelago translate into better opportunities for wildlife viewing, and the Sea Spirit’s eight days there did not disappoint. Polar bears totaling 17 were spotted on seven days, and walrus were seen even more frequently. Guests also encountered bearded and ringed seals and humpback, bowhead and beluga whales, and myriad sea bird nesting cliffs and colonies. Reports from the Sea Spirit’s expedition leader even noted that some planned activities – such as shore landings and kayaking excursions – were delayed or postponed for safety reasons because there were simply too many polar bears or walrus in the vicinity.

For inquires and reservations in North America, or to request a catalog, agents can contact the company’s Providence, RI, sales and reservation office at SalesUSA@poseidonexpeditions.com or by telephone at 347-801-2610.

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