Please note that this is a sample itinerary, dates, s and
itineraries may change without notice, I'm not sure if the tour is still
The islands of the Russian Arctic are one of the last places on the
Earth that we can call “terra incognita”. The Russian Arctic is little
explored, out-of-the-way place, and at moment is almost unknown to the
tourists. During the cruise vacation expedition aboard our powerful
arctic icebreakers we will have the unique opportunity to become
acquainted with the beauties of these islands, most of which were
inaccessible for visits until we organized this expeditionary icebreaker
The Destination-Landing onto Vaigach Island- The Easter Island of the
As you embark upon this exciting and new Arctic Icebreaker Cruise, keep
in mind that this is a unique expedition to a remote and very little
explored part of the globe. Our sample itineraries should therefore be
read as a guide only, depending heavily on weather and ice conditions,
as well as on other circumstances. Our aspiration is to visit historic
sites and to learn the wildlife of these astonishing islands.
In the morning a charter flight brings us from Helsinki to
Murmansk, where we sail from the same day. Today we get acquainted with
our vessel. We need to learn about the inner arrangements of the vessel
to make it easier to find our way around. Expedition Staff members,
helicopter pilots and crew officers will be introduced to us in the
Lecture Hall. Instructions on how to use helicopters, Zodiac type boats
and rescue facilities are mandatory. Lifeboat Drill is also to follow.
Day 2. At sea. Course to Novaya Zemlya.
Day 3.Our icebreaker will sail along the western coast of the Island
Severny of Novaya Zemlya Archipelago. The glacier-coated mountainsides
of this island will reveal their beauty to us. Having reached Novaya
Zemlya we will land at Inostrantsev Bay by helicopters. This bay juts
out vastly into the dry land, setting against the giant outlet glacier
with deep cracks. In the company of our lectors we walk around the
coastline to observe some wonderful species of the Arctic flora.
At Sea. We are on our way to Vise Island.
The area of this island is only some 50 sq. kilometers, and it is named
after the great Russian Oceanologist, Professor Vise. calculated the
location of this island having studied the drift-way of the schooner
“St.-Anna” in 1912-13. This island has been practically discovered on
August 13, 1930, which is exactly 75 years ago.
We shall land onto Vise Island by helicopters. Our purpose is to visit the
real working polar station here. This polar station is one of few
working ones left, and it also can be counted the most northern one in
the western part of the Russian Arctic, since the polar station on
Island has been closed.
At sea. Sailing toward Severnaya Zemlya. Severnaya Zemlya is the
vast Arctic Archipelago, and the Russian Hydrographic Expedition to the
Arctic Ocean has discovered it at the beginning of the last century. The
area of this archipelago is about 32 000 sq. kilometers, it consists of
5 large islands. We intend to take a closer look at this wonderful
Arctic land. It is visited very rarely: the last passenger icebreaker
had visited the archipelago in 1998.
We plan to approach the group of islands, belonging to the small Sedov
Archipelago, and to land onto the Golomyanny Island by helicopters. Here
we shall visit the polar station, which may be called the most
remarkable polar station in the Arctic. Two united families of polar
explorers live and work here permanently for more than 16 years already.
We shall meet them to learn about their life in the Arctic, and will
listen to their amazing stories. Polar bears are frequent visitors to
the station: sometimes they visit it several times a day. We are
planning to visit the most northern museum in the world on Severny
Our itinerary takes us to the Northeast toward the eastern coast of
Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago. Our icebreaker will cross the Red Army
straight. This straight is a very narrow one, and it is hard for
navigation. On our way, we are very likely to see icebergs of various
shapes, to enjoy glaciers. Polar bears are very possible here.
The Red Army straight will lead us out and into the Laptev Sea. We sail
along the coast of October Revolution Island, which is the largest one
of Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago. We plan our next landing to take place
onto the Cape Baranova at Bolshevik Island, where the modern polar
station “Prima” is located. It has been used for scientific purposes
only for a few years, beginning in 1990. It has never been used for
tourism purposes it was part of the arrangements for ski tours to the
Having landed at “Prima” we shall be sailing toward the South-West to
enter Shokalski Straight. In spite of the fact, that this straight is
wider, that the Red Army straight, the Captain and the Crew will also
perform the art of navigation here: there are a lot of icebergs in the
straight, which split from numerous glaciers of the close-by islands.
Weather permitting; we shall try to land onto the appropriate tabletop
The Kara Sea. Sailing toward the Island Belyi. On the way we might visit
the Island of Izvestiy CIK and Vilkitsky Island. There are also polar
stations on these islands. The work of the one on Belyi Island has been
started again in 2002, and still is incomplete.
Landing onto Belyi Island. There is a working polar station on the
island. Way of life of polar explorers it strictly defined by certain
principles and rules, common for the Arctic region. Nevertheless, way of
life of each polar explorer community boasts certain peculiarities.
Inhabitants of each of the polar stations we visit will be glad to tell
us their own unique stories.
At the Kara Sea. Sailing toward Vaigach Island.
Landing onto Vaigach Island-
The Easter Island of the Arctic!!
History and Location.
The most extraordinary destination in the Arctic Ocean!! - Vaigach
Island is located to the south of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago right on
border of the warm Barents and cold Kara seas. The island is separated
from the continent by the narrow winding passage Yugorski
Shar that is usually ice-filled till the mid-summer. This water pass is
violently dangerous due to the fast moving icebergs that mercilessly cut
wooden sailing vessels to shreds in the 1700th and 1800th Centuries. It
has a very mysterious Ancient History considering the fact that no one
to this date truly knows who discovered this strange and mysterious
island over 1,200 years ago!! And just as mysterious as it’s past, so
are its inhabitants of this island, for mysteriously more than 300 years
ago, they did also disappear into the history books much in the same
manor as did the inhabitants of Easter Island!!
However, the main reason of the island’s being uninhabited was much more
The peculiarity of Vaigach is primarily due to the fact that for many
centuries it was the Sacred Island for the Nenets (Nentsy) people.
According to their legends their gods’ abode was located here.
Deer-herders and hunters annually visited the island to make sacrifices
to the mighty deities and to pray for protection from enemies and good
luck in hunting.
Even during the 19th century nobody dared to live on Vaigach , and only
in the 20th century (during the Soviet times) the permanent residences
were found here: the frontier post and the radio station in the Vaigach
settlement in the north of the island, and the Varnek settlement in
Lyamchina Bay on the south-western shore numbering less than 100
inhabitants. Every summer the Nenets people visited the island to make
ritual sacrifices. They had to cross the Yugorsky Strait in the frail
boats or just on the sledges with the reindeers. And it is worth
mentioning that crossing that passage was quite complicated due to
ice-floes and strong tidal flows even in the mid-summer.
Ancient and Legendary…
The Nenets people called the deserted island Hebidya Ya, that means “the
Saint Land”. This is where the most ancient of the known Nenets
shrines were situated – the shrines of their main deities. ‘The children
and the grandchildren” of those gods have their own shrines in different
parts of the continental tundra – from the White Sea to the Enisey
In the sacred sites the nenets mounted huge wooden idols. The most
esteemed gods were Vesako (“the Old Man”) and Hodako (“the Old
Woman”). Vesako ‘lived’ in the southern part of Vaigach on the Dyakonova
Cape. The idol of Vesako was a high wooden figure with seven
faces, accompanied by the retinue of 400 smaller wooden idols depicting
the men, women and children, and also about 20 stone statues.
This was the description of the main shrine on Vaigach made by the first
European visitors. The English Captain Steven Barrow arrived on the
island in 1556, and the Dutch navigator Willem Barents saw its coast 40
years later. Remarkably, but almost at the same time with Barents
another Dutch Seamen – Captain Roggeven discovered the small Easter
Island in the Pacific Ocean. Nowadays it is world-known because of the
ritual god’s statues installed on its coast. The statues of Easter
Island are made of stone, while the statues of Vaigach were wooden.
English and Dutch seamen mentioned that the Vaigach idols had
blood-stained eyes and mouths, as Nentsy ‘fed’ their gods with the blood
of sacrificed deer. The sacred cave was located close to Vesako. The
frightful howl was allegedly heard from this cave during the sacrifices.
idol of Hodako - a stone block resembling a human figure with a pointed
head – was mounted in the northern part of Vaigach, at the Bolvansky Nos
cape. Hodako was the mother of the Earth and the hunting patroness.
Moreover, the shrine of the supreme god Num was in the central part of
the island on the Bolshaya Bolvanskaya Mountain. And Neve- Hege (the
Gods’ mother) stood close to Him, at the cliff with the deep cleft. The
Europeans discovered these two shrines much later, as they were hidden
far from the coast, in the area difficult to access. Vesako and Hodako
had four sons who went away to different points of tundra.Nyu-Hegu was
worshipped near quaint rock in the south of the island, while Minissei
was worshipped on one of the Urals` peak that is known now as
Konstantinov Kamen, Yalmal was bowed to on a small peninsula of Obskoya
bay (it is believed that Yamal peninsula descends from this name). The
ultimate sacred place was a Kozmin coppice on Kanin peninsula.
Sanctuaries with wooden gods were erected in all the aforementioned
places, and sacrifices took place over there.
During the 1930’s Stalin KGB expedition has been working here. We shall
observe the remains of the barracks by this expedition, which was after
copper and zinc ores. Here we shall also meet local people – the Nentsy.
Having sailed around Vaigatch Island from the east, our icebreaker will
enter the Barents Sea via the straight Yugorsky Shar. Since the ancient
times this straight has been used to sail from the Barents Sea into the
Kara Sea and vice versa. In 1594 the vessels of Barents Expedition
sailed across this straight. Russians and pomors have been using it to
get to creeks of Siberian rivers starting from XVI century.
Back to Murmansk. Transfer to airport for a charter flight to Helsinki.
Please note: read this itinerary as a guide only; our exact route and
program varies according to weather and ice conditions and the wildlife
Kapitan Dranitsyn Ice Breaker
"Kapitan Dranitsyn" is a powerful conventional propelled ice breaker,
constructed in1982 at shipyard Wartsila, Finland. "Kapitan Dranitsyn" is
a powerful ice breaker intended for working in the conditions of the
Northern Sea Route and the Baltic Sea. Since 1993 this ice breaker has
paved the way to the most remote places on our planet. Within the last
few years she was modified and achieved the class as a passenger vessel
in addition to all the international certificates. "Kapitan Dranitsyn"
has49 comfortable outside cabins for 100 passengers. All the cabins
have: a big bathroom, a desk and two beds. Standard cabin is intended
for comfortable accommodation of three people. Public places include
spacious drawing rooms, bars, warmed swimming pool, gym and sauna. From
the navigation bridge you can see excellent views and the landscapes can
be admired from all the decks. The vessel has a library, a lift and a
Qualified chefs prepare varied international cuisine, and experienced
staff attend your needs. The bar has a large supply of alcoholic and
Having the capacity of 24,000 h.p., the case of 45 mm and displacement
of 12,288 tons, we are capable to subdue the polar water elements
without any problems. The ice breaker is equipped with the best
satellite navigation system and communication facility, including the
convenient phone/fax - Inmarsat.
Expedition staff, officers and crew
Russian captains are the conventional experts at polar expeditions. They
will provide you with a safe and unforgettable voyage. The policy of
"the open deck" will allow you to attend the navigation bridge
practically 24 hours, to observe the work of the crew and to enjoy the
views from the decks. Our stewardesses will clean your cabin daily.
The programs are developed in the way to give to the passengers the
maximum information about Arctic regions and the areas we visit. The
guides will lead the lectures and reply to all your questions. Landings
are carried out by Zodiac boats and helicopters.
This trip seems to have been changed for 2007 and the itinerary and
destinations may have changed. We will be checking on this real
soon for a positive verification.