Franz Josef Land

Journey to the North Pole Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group
Destinations:
North Pole, Finland, Russia, Arctic
Programmes:
Polar Expeditions
Trip Code:
PNP
Activity Level: Leisurely
Leisurely

You are healthy, enjoy the outdoors and want a relaxing trip. No experience is required.

Days Flight Inclusive
14 Days Land only
Min age: 18

Trip Overview

This journey combines the raw power of the ship with the use of helicopter flights for aerial viewing. Crushing through pack ice that is metres thick, the 'Victory' can sail in conditions that would defeat any other ship. Reaching the ‘top of the world’, the experience of standing where all directions are south, is incomparable. There will be time to perform the shortest possible circumnavigation of the globe before heading south to explore the remote Franz Josef Land. With its massive flat-topped islands and steep basalt cliffs, this archipelago is a birdwatcher's paradise. This is quite simply a voyage without comparison.

At a Glance

  • 11 nights on the ship, 2 nights hotel in Helsinki
  • Expedition cruising in comfortable conditions
  • Countries visited: North Pole, Finland, Russia, Arctic

Trip Highlights

  • Circumnavigate the globe and reach 90° North - 'the top of the world'
  • Discover the remote archipelago of Franz Josef Land with its 191 islands
  • Travel aboard the world's largest and most powerful icebreaker
  • View the icy wilderness from the ship's helicopter
  • Accompanied by extremely qualified Expedition Staff

Is This Trip for You?

Travelling Conditions

The voyages are designed to be as flexible as possible, taking advantage of circumstances and events as they occur, as well as passengers’ wishes and particular interests wherever possible. The atmosphere on board is relaxed and friendly with expedition staff, including naturalists and Polar experts, on hand and the opportunity to mingle with people from all over the world. The ship is kept warm, clean and comfortable with a wet / mud room in which to hang gear and store boots ready for the next adventure.

On the Zodiac cruises you are sitting still for most of the time with the potential for some sea spray and a cold headwind - if you are not dressed appropriately you will get cold. On the shore excursions, the majority of landings are ‘wet’ which means that the Zodiacs beach and you are helped to slide into the ankle deep shore break before walking up onto dry land (wellington boots are issued to all passengers). There are, of course, no paths, so be prepared for slippery, rough terrain and sometimes fairly deep snow. Back on board the cosy ship after each adventure, you can have a sauna and/or a hot shower and then relax with a tea, coffee, hot chocolate or something stronger from the bar.

Optional activities

Hot Air Ballooning option

Clients can sign up for tethered hot air ballooning flights during the voyage. Flights will be carried out using a basket that can carry three guests plus the pilot. The basket has a door that makes access very easy. We aim to deliver these flights right at the North Pole; however, weather conditions will dictate the exact location. Each flight will be around 15 minutes in duration. There are only 50 places available for each voyage.

Here are some reasons why you may want to join one of the flights:

See the top of the world from the top of the world

Photography opportunity and bragging rights

A certificate is provided as a memento.

Polar Itineraries

All Polar itineraries should be treated as a guide only - it is possible that, amongst other things, the capricious nature of wind, visibility and ice, intelligence from previous sailings, changes in local landing regulations or the expert opinion of the crew onboard may lead to adjustments to the route published.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

The Exodus group forms part of the ship’s complement (max of approx. 100), enjoying the relaxed, intimate and informal atmosphere, which breaks into smaller groups to facilitate the frequent excursions. We offer these cruises in conjunction with our partner, Quark Expeditions, and Exodus participants will join an international group, not all of whom have booked through Exodus. Occasionally some of these may be younger than 12 years old, the Exodus' stated minimum age for this trip.

We work with many fine Expedition Leaders and Polar Experts, bringing a diversity of interests including zoology, Polar history, geology, ornithology and ocean sciences. The ship’s operating crew is Russian and have many years of experience in Polar Regions and are committed to ensuring a safe and memorable journey. Each day your cabin will be serviced by the housekeeping crew, and your meals served by the friendly and attentive restaurant staff. There is also a resident medical officer.

Adult min age:
18
Max group size:
128

Itinerary

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Helsinki, overnight in hotel.

    Our journey starts in Helsinki where we spend the night at a centrally located hotel.

  • Day 2

    Charter flight to Murmansk, Russia; board ship and embark.

    From Helsinki, a charter flight will take you to Murmansk, Russia, where you’ll embark on the voyage to the North Pole and get acquainted with 50 Years of Victory, the world’s largest and most powerful icebreaker.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Days 3-6

    Travel north in the Arctic Ocean, with the ship breaking through the formidable pack ice.

    Watching Victory crush through the Arctic pack-ice is a sight you’ll never forget, made even more memorable by taking a helicopter flight for a thrilling aerial view of Victory and expansive Arctic Ocean.

    You can expect the days, and hours, to present variable sailing conditions this far north. The crossing from Murmansk to the North Pole can take us anywhere from 5 to 8 days.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 7

    90° North, with time to celebrate reaching the top of the world.

    All the anticipation of the prior days reaches a climax as we reach the North Pole! Many travelers find themselves overcome with emotion, while others are in a festive and celebratory mood.Take photos, wave a flag, enjoy the moment! Later, everyone enjoys a champagne toast and a BBQ on the ice. Take a Polar Plunge into the icy waters marking the North pole. Add an exclamation to your success by rising high in a hot air balloon to commemorate this great moment (weather dependent).

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 8

    Travel south in the Arctic Ocean.

    As 50 Years of Victory makes her way back through the churning pack ice, we may spot Polar bears on the hunt with Ivory gulls following close behind - eager to dine on leftovers.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Days 9-10

    Visit Franz Josef Land; helicopters and zodiacs are used to transfer ashore for landings.

    This group of 191 islands forms the most northerly archipelago in Eurasia, and lies entirely within the Arctic Circle. Here we'll explore Cape Flora, and discover historic remains from three ill-fated Arctic expeditions.

    When conditions permit, Zodiac trips beneath towering cliffs will explore remote seabird rookeries. Onboard helicopters again provide aerial sightseeing and our Zodiacs transferyou to seldom visited landing sites.

    This part of the Arctic Ocean is so remote that Franz Josef Land was discovered after Antarctica. It is the most northerly archipelago in Eurasia and lies entirely within the Arctic Circle. We may see walrus and Polar bears on these islands, which we'lll explore on Zodiac excursions and helicopter sightseeing rides.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Days 11-12

    Southbound at Sea.

    During our southbound journey, as it was on our journey north, we keep a vigil for Polar bears on ice. No two Polar bear sightings or North Pole voyages are the same.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 13

    Disembark in Murmansk; charter flight to Helsinki, night in hotel.

    The return to Helsinki requires a charter flight from Murmansk and just the right tide conditions for docking the ship. Overnight in Helsinki, in a centrally located hotel.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 14

    End Helsinki.

    Our adventure finishes after breakfast in Helsinki.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Accommodation

50 Years of Victory

The Journey to the North Pole is offered on the 50 Years of Victory, which is an  Ice Breaker. Please visit the Polar Fleet page (www.exodus.co.uk/polar-holidays/polar-fleet) for Ship Information and Deck Plans.

The Icebreaker

The 50 Years of Victory is an actual icebreaker – an enormously powerful ship, carrying the highest ice rating in the world, and equipped with helicopters for aerial sightseeing. Some of our most extraordinary journeys are only made accessible on very grown up Polar-Class icebreakers.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single only guarantees a room for single use. It does not always mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All meals while on the ship included.

Typical Meals

The ships galley offers good quality service and cuisine throughout, with excellent chefs preparing international menus including vegetarian dishes, accompanied by a wide variety of drinks from around the world on sale.

Breakfast: Buffet style – unlimited tea and coffee, a selection of fruit juices, hot options including bacon and eggs or omelettes, a selection of bread and toast and jam/honey/marmalade, fruit and cereal.

Lunch: Three course set meal or buffet, or the occasional BBQ.

Dinner: Three or four courses with a starter of soup and/or salad, a choice of mains with at least one vegetarian option and a dessert, with tea and coffee.

Transportation

During the expedition, you will visit remote and isolated sites that are accessible only by Zodiac landing craft. Designed for expedition work, these large and heavy-duty inflatable vessels are extremely safe.

Weather & Seasonality

Joining Instructions

Travelling land only: 14 days starting and ending in Helsinki

Your trip normally starts at our hotel in Helsinki in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary described below. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions - sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start:
Helsinki
Location end:
Helsinki

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Boots – Rubber boots are essential for a Polar expedition, but to eliminate these from your packing list we will loan you a pair for the duration of the voyage.
Parkas – A complementary Quark parka will be provided on the ship.
Trousers – Waterproof trousers are essential for Zodiac travel as well as activities on shore.
Gloves – To keep your hands warm and dry, pack a minimum of two pairs of gloves: a pair of thin polypropylene gloves to be worn underneath warm outer gloves.
Hat and Scarf – Pack a warm, woollen hat or cap that covers your ears, as well as a scarf, neck gaiter or other face protection.
Socks – For maximum warmth, we suggest that you wear two pairs of socks to wear inside the rubber boots.
Outer Clothing – Pack woollen or fleece jumpers and tops, plus several turtlenecks for layering.
Underclothing – Pack silk or polypropylene underwear since it will keep you warm without adding bulk.
Knapsack or Backpack – To keep your hands free for shooting photograph, bring a water resistant or waterproof knapsack or backpack.
Shoes – Non-slip shoes for walking around the vessel.

Optional Equipment

Swimsuit
Sunglasses
Binoculars
Camera, extra batteries, film or memory cards
Protective sunscreen
Electric converter with adapter plug set
Small medical kit containing prescription medicines and over-the-counter medication for basic ailments such as stomach upsets, allergies, headaches and seasickness
Snow poles or trekking poles

Practical Information

Passport

Finland

Most nationalities, including British, require a full passport that must be valid beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Russia

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

Finland

Russia

All nationalities require a visa for Russia. These requirements will vary depending on your nationality. For British nationals visa applications must now be made in person at a visa processing centre, located in London and Edinburgh. At the time of application, fingerprints will be taken. We will be providing a new type of service to assist with the application process; however we will no longer be able to submit the application on your behalf. It is your responsibility to arrange a visa prior to travel, but we will provide you with more information after booking to help and advice with this. The cost of the visa is currently GBP108.40. For more information please click here

Please note: The visa application takes approximently 5 working days. You can arrange for your passport to be posted back to you or returned to the visa processing centre to collect it in person. 

 

Arctic

No visa required for British passport holders.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

There are no specific health risks on this trip.

Vaccination

Finland

There are no specific health risks.

Russia

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever.

Arctic

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Finland's Timezone:
Europe/Helsinki EEST (GMT +03:00)
Russia's Timezone:
Europe/Moscow MSK (GMT +03:00)

Electricity

Finland's Electricity:

220-240V. European adapter required. 

Russia's Electricity:

Russia uses European standard two pin plugs.

Arctic's Electricity:

The electrical supply on board most of the Polar vessels is 220v/50Hz.

The electrical outlets found in the cabins and around the ships on most Polar vessels accept standard European two round pin plugs, so you may need to bring your own travel adapter.

The electrical supply at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge is 120v/60Hz, same as most North American plugs.

on the 50 Years of Victory is 220v 50Hz

Money

Finland's Currency

The national currency of Finland is the Euro (EUR), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 1.2 to the UK£ and 0.9 to the US$.

Russia's Currency

The national currency of Russia is the Russian Rouble (RUB), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 88 to the UK£ and 69 to the US$.

There are no restrictions on the import of Russian currency, (subject to the maximum of US$ 3000 equivalent which may be bought into the country without declaration); though local exchange rates are invariably better than those in the UK. The exchange rate does fluctuate considerably, so it is best to check just before departure.

Arctic's Currency

On board all Polar vessels USD are accepted as the primary currency.

The Canadian dollar is the standard currency at Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge.

ATM Availability

ATMs dispensing Euros are readily available in Helsinki. Credit cards are widely accepted in Finland.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

On board the ships all transactions are in US dollars. You may require some Euros before or after the trip while passing through Finland.
At the conclusion of your voyage, you will be presented with an account. This will include any drinks from the bar, laundry or ship’s shop purchases for which you have signed. You may pay for this in US Dollars cash, credit card (Visa or MasterCard ONLY) or US dollars Traveller’s Cheques.
Please note: on the last evening, once your ship account has been settled, credit card payments are no longer accepted. It is therefore advisable to bring at least some US$ cash if you wish to purchase drinks from the bar or any items from the on board shop at this time.

Tipping

The appropriate amount to tip the staff and crew is a personal matter but it is customary to provide an end-of-cruise gratuity (as a rough guide approximately US$13-15 per day per passenger would be appreciated)

Aerial view of 50 Years of Victory

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 16 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE –STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to www.exodus.co.uk for online booking, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.