This webside informs about travel possibilities to Franz-Josef-Lands, without guarantee for completeness.
Further down, you find an overview over currently offered travel arrangements for Franz-Josef-Land, including brief descriptions and dates. Completeness is not guaranteed and mistakes cannot be excluded, corrections are welcome. The listing of a tour does not say anything about its quality, environmental impacts, and so on.
Booking possibilities via links to commercial websides:
Following each tour description, you may find links to tourism companies, which offer the respective tour program, and which support the information service of this webside on the basis of a sponsoring agreement. While indicating that these companies support this webside as a useful service, the inclusion and order of links does not indicate a ranking of these companies by me, nor does it necessarily mean that I agree with all content or policies of these companies.
With an increasing popularity of this website, also requests of the more surprising kind appear, including questions about how to book scheduled flights, accomodation, transfers within the archipelago, and so on. Seemingly, the very thought is too far-fetched, that there might be still some remote places on Earth (and Franz Josef Land is certainly one of them), where there is nothing like a comfortable touristic infrastructure just waiting for individual travellers (and preferrably unknown to anybody else to safeguard the pioneer feeling, nevertheless).
To make it short: so far, there is nothing like a generally bookable touristic infrastructure to and in Franz Josef Land: no scheduled flight or ship connections to get there (and back), no local accomodations, no shuttle traffic or bookable boats or aircrafts between the islands. The very few stations do not accomodate visitors and the few annual supply calls or flights do not accept touristic customers but are limited to station crews, research expeditions, and so on. Moreover, the russian authorities are extremely reluctant with granting permissions to private expeditions - since 1990, only 3 non-russian private expeditions managed to obtain a permission to visit Franz Josef Land (in addition to commercial touristic visits).
(Status: late January 2013) Initially, a record of 11 touristic expedition cruises to Franz Josef Land was offered for 2012. Of these, only 8 took place in the end, some of them with quite some remaining vacant capacities. In addition, the difficult russian bureaucracy with resulting extra costs and further surprises like the repeated spontaneous blocking of the Murmansk Fjord for military fleet manouvers, thus sealing off Murmansk as one of the 3 biggest ports of Russia and costing several of the cruises precious half days, had together a sobering effect on the tour operators who can utilize their vessels easier in alternative destinations like Spitsbergen or Greenland.
Therefore, it looked for quite a while like that there would be no cruise at all for 2013 with a main focus on Franz Josef Land (except of the nuclear icebreaker North Pole cruises, which have only short stop-overs in the archipelago).
2013: The only cruise offers touching Franz Josef Land known for summer 2013, are the nuclear icebreaker North Pole Cruises (see further down), which may touch the archipelago briefly on the way to/from the North Pole.
A longer 2013 cruise still considered by November 2012, has to be postponed (see 2014 project).
2014: No definite cruise offers registered so far for Franz Josef Land for summer 2014. If interested, you may contact a specialist for a non-binding pre-registration to be informed as soon as offers come in.
Minimum numbers participants: For all arrangements, the tour operators usally require certain minimum numbers of definite bookings to carry through the tours. Otherwise, the booking conditions allow a cancellation with refunding of the amounts paid so far by the customers (see booking conditions of each tour operator).
The tour arrangements are sorted by first departure dates, the order is therefore no ranking or recommendation..
Do you miss links to further companies ? It is our intention to list all tour offers to the archipelago in a general description. Furthermore, we offer supporting companies the possibility of a link to those offers which are bookable via them. A detailed webside like this depends on support. Further companies, who can imagine this webside as a good service also to their customers, are welcome to get in touch with us regarding support for and links on this webside !
Currently (status: early September 2012), no cruise offers with several days within Franz Josef Land are known for 2013, even though the 2013 programs of the typical tour operators for such cruises are published, already. Changes and extra tours are still possible, though.
So far, the islands will be touched only briefly by the North Pole cruises of the nuclear icebreaker 50 LET POBEDY.
The reluctance of the tour operators regarding the western russian Arctic is based to a large extent on limited request for these less known regions on one side, and a range of russian regulations and involved authorities, which make permissions, logistics and visa costly, challenging and often uncalculable. As an example, some of the 2012 cruises each lost half a day because the russian navy closed the entrance of Murmansk fjord (and thereby access to one of Russias 3 biggest ports) repeatedly for military exercises. Imagine a similar act by the british or US navy, sealing off the ports of London or New York at random repeatedly for manouvers: the respective minister of defense would not stay in office much longer. Russia is a different world.
The requirement of going through immigration procedures at the beginning and the end of each cruises forces the vessels to relocate usually from Spitsbergen to Murmansk before the cruise, and especially afterwards to their next destination: costly lost extra ship days in the short summer season.
While such obstacles increase the costs for a limited market, there is good request for these ships in Spitsbergen or Greenland with considerably less such extra costs and uncalculable administrative risks.
But experience with Russia shows also: things can change, surprises are possible. The sudden appearance of travel options cannot be excluded for 2013 or 2014.
If interested in being informed about upcoming travel options for 2013:
Feel free to tell us your interest by e-mail - then we can inform you by e-mail, when we get travel informations to be integrated here in the webside.
Tour operators: feel free to contact us about integration of fitting tour offers.
Dates: (from Helsinki, boarding in Murmansk, return vice versa)
19. June - 02. July 2013 (English)
30. June - 13. July 2013 (English)
14. July - 27. July 2013 (English/German)
25. July - 07. August 2013 (English)
Prices: from ca. 24000 USD per person from/to Helsinki (depending on date, included services, agency).
Participants, languages: International. Languages at least English and partly German. Needed minimum number participants: 75. Maximum: 128 passengers.
Kind of travel: Touristic icebreaker cruise to the North Pole, which may, sufficient time provided (depending on ice conditions in Arctic Ocean) pay a short visit to Franz-Josef-Land on the way up and/or down, with in total maybe 1-3 landings and a total of maybe max. 1.5 days within the archipelago. The remaining 10-11 das on open sea and in the polar ice with lecturing and short celebration at the North Pole.
On these voyages, the focus is clearly on the experience of the powerful icebreaker forcing its way through the ice and on the North Pole, with the short visit to Franz Josef Land as an additional aspect.
Ship: The "50 LET POBEDY" ("50. ANNIVERSARY OF VICTORY") is the newest (commissioned 2007) and strongest vessel in the fleet of Russian nuclear icebreakers, which again has the strongest icebreakers worldwide. In addition on board: 1 big Mi-8 helicopter, 4 Zodiacs (rarely used).
Touristic companies, supporting this website and offering this arrangement for booking: none so far, please send a request for newest status.
The luxurious residential cruiseship THE WORLD could extend its Barents Sea cruise in June 2013 beyond Novaya Zemlya at very short notice also to Franz Josef Land, permitted by the unusually favourable ice situation. On June 12th, the 130 passengers were offered landings on Kap Flora and in Baxter Bay (there, probably first touristic landing, ever) on George Land. The other parts of the archipelago were still inaccessible to her, also because of her minimal ice class.
With 43000 gross tons and a length of 196m, a crew of 250 and up to 200 residential passengers (ca. 130 on this cruise), THE WORLD is by far the biggest tourist vessel ever having sailed to Franz Josef Land, and this call was probably also one of the earliest touristic cruises in a year there, ever.
This spontaneous extension of the route was possible, because THE WORLD was scheduled already for northern Novaya Zemlya, which is together with Franz Josef Land part of the Russian Arctic National Park. Thereby, the ship had most of the necessary paperwork done in good time for permission to visit the national park, now only extended to Franz Josef Land.