Franz Josef Land Explorer (Greg Mortimer)

Franz Josef Land Explorer (Greg Mortimer)

From AUD $11,300


Welcome Aboard!

These notes will give you a brief idea of what you may experience on this voyage. Our emphasis is on wildlife encounters, personal contact with the environment and visiting sites of historical interest. However, we stress that this is an expedition-style cruise. Our actual program will vary to take best advantage of local conditions, spontaneous opportunities and wildlife. No two voyages are the same; there is always an element of the unexpected.

Franz Josef Land is an archipelago located in the Arctic Ocean, Barents Sea and Kara Sea. It is 1300 kilometres from Murmansk and in 900 kilometres from the North Pole. Franz Josef Land consists of 191 islands, which cover an area of 16,134 square kilometres, stretching 375 kilometres from east to west and 234 kilometres from north to south. It is a sanctuary of Arctic wild life: walrus colonies, polar bears, arctic foxes, marine mammals, bird cliffs, and historical remains. The islands became part of the Russian Arctic National Park in 2012, with a policy to control tourist numbers in order to conserve the pristine environment.

Please note that this itinerary is indicative only as policies in Russia can change with very little notice.

Trip Name
Franz Josef Land Explorer (Greg Mortimer)
Vessel Type: Expedition Length: 104 metres Passenger Capacity: 120 Built: 2018 Proudly named after Aurora's adventurous co-founder, this 104-metre ship is Aurora Expedition's very first, purpose-built expedition vessel. Capable of negotiating the strongest winds and waves, the Greg Mortimer is built to world-class polar standards – designed in close consultation with our expedition specialists, taking advantage of our more than 25 years of experience. The Greg Mortimer redefines expedition cruising for the future, with just 120 passengers on board in the polar regions. Not only is the ship bigger to contend with adverse weather conditions, its added creature comforts make for a more enjoyable journey out on the open ocean. The Greg Mortimer remains true to our ethos and focus on multiple landings, flexible itineraries and family atmosphere – just with an improved home base! As a modern and custom-designed ship, the Greg Mortimer is at the cutting edge of nautical technology. Robust, powerful and built with our guests in mind, this ship marks a significant investment in our fleet's capabilities. From the European Arctic to the depths of Antarctica, and other far-flung destinations in-between, the Greg Mortimer will make your journey a breeze! Greg Mortimer X-BOWX-BOW™ Our expeditions face some of the worst Mother Nature can throw at us. However, this won't be problem on the Greg Mortimer with the introduction of the patented X-BOW™, created by Norwegian ship designer ULSTEIN. As one of the leaders in marine engineering, ULSTEIN's X-BOW™ is an inverted bow concept that's been built on over 100 vessels in the shipping industry. Excitingly, we are the first expedition cruise operator to utilise this technology for the challenging open ocean waves!  Hydraulic viewing platforms  Although there is no doubt that you'll love the aesthetics of the Greg Mortimer, we are all here to admire the spectacular landscape and spot the elusive wildlife in their natural habitat. To ensure you get the best views possible, the new ship features unique viewing platforms, custom-built for the Greg Mortimer. Accessed from Deck 5, the two platforms fold out hydraulically for unobstructed views of passing marine life and seabirds – make sure your camera is locked and loaded! Zodiac launching platform Zodiacs are a vital part of getting up close and personal on your adventure – sneaking into areas that the Greg Mortimer can't reach. On this new ship, there are specially designed launching platforms that enables us to load Zodiacs easily and quickly, allowing you to spend more time exploring on the two to three daily landings. There are 15 Zodiacs that are boarded from either side of Deck 3 (sea level), perfect for when there is a group of fluffy cute penguin chicks that we need a photo of!  Activity Platform Regardless of your destination, we offer a number of additional activities to allow you to see more of the environment. From kayaking and diving to climbing and ski touring, it's these optional activities that often leave the biggest impression on your trip as a whole. Onboard the Greg Mortimer, there is a spacious prep and loading platform for these activities and more – designed in consultation with our expert activity guides. Environmentally friendly Climate change and carbon emissions continue to be major issues that everyone needs to be aware of and actively managing. We at Aurora Expeditions treat preserving and protecting the environment with the upmost importance and this is reflected in several features on the Greg Mortimer. This includes reduced emissions into the air and sea, lower energy consumption, high fuel efficiency, reduced light pollution for minimal wildlife disruption and lower on-board plastic use. It's vital to also mention the state-of-the-art virtual anchoring technology of the X-BOW™, which means the ship can float anchorless while launching Zodiacs, kayaks etc, without disturbing delicate sea floor areas. We are inaugural members of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO), and the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), highlighting our ongoing efforts to protect the most fragile environments around the world. Safety features Safety is always a critical element of Aurora operations, with the Greg Mortimer featuring the most up-to-date and concise safety technology across our fleet. This starts with the return-to-port equipment – not compulsory on a ship of this size – which duplicates the propulsion system. This enables the ship to maintain operating systems and comfort in the event of engine failure. Furthermore, the Greg Mortimer is Polar Code 6 compliant, holds BV class and is fully compliant with the latest SOLAS requirements. It's also built with a Rolls Royce stabiliser system.  If there's an incident or accident during your adventure, the ship has an on-board, fully-stocked medical centre – where our trained medical team can provide necessary treatment in a timely fashion. Safety continues to be an issue that our team takes very serious and the Greg Mortimer allows us to create an environment where you can concentrate on the brilliant landscape and wildlife, without worrying about your wellbeing. Ship Life As your base and home away from home during your Aurora Expeditions adventure, the Greg Mortimer is designed to serve your every need. It's your bedroom, bathroom, lounge, dining room and even your observatory. Make yourself at home, the Greg Mortimer is yours to enjoy! Observation Points Let's face it – you don't want windowless rooms when travelling around some of the most beautiful locations around the world. This is why the Greg Mortimer is designed with plenty of dedicated observation spaces – ideal for keen bird spotters, wildlife watchers and those wanting to watch the scenery go past. From the indoor 180-degree lounge and outdoor 360-degree open deck, both on deck 8, to the 270-degree open sundeck on level 7, there are plenty of observation points to share around the ship! If these are full, then you can take up a spot on one of the two hydraulic viewing platforms on deck 5. Aurora Expeditions also has an open bridge policy, which means at any point you can come up to the bridge and check out what the captain and officers are up to. From watching navigational practices to observing mapping techniques, you can get a firsthand look at the inner workings of the Greg Mortimer.  Shore excursions Although the ship is fun, the real enjoyment comes from the many shore excursions that are available. Depending on the weather and itinerary, it's possible to take two to three landings daily, taking a look at everything from rock formations and ancient ruins to cute groups of penguins. We know time is of the essence in these wild locations, so the Greg Mortimer has been designed with more Zodiacs (15) than any other Aurora ship, which means you can maximise your time on shore. From four dedicated sea level launching platforms, transfers are quicker, safer and enable you to get closer to the action for a longer period of time. Just remember to charge your camera before you step onto the Zodiac! Activity options One of the great benefits of travelling with Aurora Expeditions is the number of optional activities that you can participate in. From kayaking and skiing to diving and climbing, these are one-in-a-lifetime opportunities that you need to take advantage of.  Aboard the Greg Mortimer there is a specially designed launching platform for all activities, a concept overseen by our activity experts. This area also includes individual lockers in the expansive mudroom and rapid drying areas for wetsuits so you can quickly get warm after exploring in the elements!   Dining From the moment you step onto the Greg Mortimer, we aim to give you the best hospitality service possible. Starting with the official Captain's welcome, as our guests, you're welcome to 24 hours complimentary coffee, tea and snack facilities in addition to the range of different menu options and courses for each meal. Meals are served in large dining room/restaurant with family style dining, perfect to swap stories with your new expedition family. Enjoy the range of house wine, beers and soft drinks included with dinner after a long day in the wild, preparing yourself for another exciting day to follow. On the last day of your trip, the team on the Greg Mortimer put on a special farewell four-course dinner and cocktails – a perfect way to reflect on your time on the ship and consolidate lifelong friendships with the people you've met on-board. On-board entertainment When you’re relaxing during a sea day or you have a little downtime on the ship between excursions, what is there to do onboard the Greg Mortimer? Plenty! On all our expeditions, there are experts who lead presentations in the spacious lecture room so you can understand the region a little better. These often include topics as broad as history and culture to biology and climate change, these presentations aim to educate and entertain. If you're keen to just watch the surroundings and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, you have access to two bars/lounges where the stunning floor to ceiling windows offer a special perspective on the landscape. The Greg Mortimer is also decked out with other facilities for your enjoyment. There is a library on Deck 5 with books and maps and a Wellness Centre complete with gym equipment, sauna and spa. Feeling a little sore after walking around all day? Treat yourself to a massage at the Wellness Centre and feels the aches disappear! Keen photographers and artists will revel in the multimedia room on Deck 5.


Day 1 - Day 1 Embark the Greg Mortimer in Kirkenes
Arrive in Kirkenes, Norway, located on the border with Russia. Join a pre-arranged half day excursion or activity priorto boarding the Greg Mortimer late afternoon. Airport transfers will be included if arriving on preferred flights intoKirkenes.You’ll have time to settle into your cabin before our important briefings. Sail the scenic Bokfjord to reach the BarentsSea on our way to Murmansk in neighbouring Russia.
Day 2 - Day 2 Murmansk
After sailing overnight into Russia, we stop in Murmansk, to undergo formalities to enter Russia. During clearanceprocedures, we may go on a city of Murmansk visiting the monument to the soldier of WW2 and also the firstnuclear icebreaker Lenin.
Day 3 - Days 3-4 At Sea
Over the next two days at sea, enjoy informative and entertaining lectures from our expert expedition teamincluding naturalists, historians and geologists.Time and weather permitting, we may cruise along the coast of Novaya Zemlya on day 4, to have a first glimpse ofthe tundra of the high Arctic, we may even try a landing in the tundra or a zodiac cruise in front of our first glacier.Fingers crossed!
Day 4 - Days 5-11 Franz Josef Land
Franz Josef Land is a stark yet beautiful world of glaciers, mosses and lichens. Approximately five million sea birdsnest on the archipelago every year, with the thick-billed guillemot accounting for approximately 20%. Other seabirdssuch as fulmar, kittiwake, Brünnich's guillemot, black guillemot and little auk are common throughout thearchipelago. On the flat tundra, nest other species such as: common eider, purple sandpiper, Arctic skua, glaucousgull, ivory gull, Arctic tern and snow bunting. Franz Josef Land is home to two Arctic giants – the Polar bear and thewalrus. There is also a population of Arctic fox, which typically have their territories near seabird habitats. Thewaters of Franz Josef Land are visited by whales, including humpback, bowhead, narwhal, and white beluga whale.Walrus, ringed seals, bearded seals and an amazing species of mammals, choose Franz Josef Land and the waterareas around it as their home.While there are many exciting places we can choose to visit over the following week, weather, wind, and sea-iceconditions will determine our itinerary in Franz Josef Land. A sample of some of the places where we may land, hike,photograph or view spectacular wildlife and scenery include:Bell and Mabel IslandThe remains of an empty cabin built in 1880 by British explorer Benjamin Leigh Smith can be found on Bell Island. OnMabel island offers an opportunity to get close to a little auk colony as the birds nest between the rocks on the slopeabove the beach where the Zodiacs land.Cape Flora - Northbrook IslandLocated in an unglaciated area in the Southwest of Northbrook Island, Cape Flora is one of the most famoushistorical site in Franz Josef Land because it is one of the most accessible locations in the archipelago and oftenserved as a base for polar expeditions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Cape Flora features some of themost beautiful tundra in Franz Josef Land, but landings on the rocky beach, which is prone to swell from the BarentsSea can often be tricky. Cape Flora is where Benjamin Leigh Smith’s vessel Eira was shipwrecked in 1881, after beingtrapped in pack ice.Geographers bay (Prince George Land)Prince George is the largest and longest island of the Franz Josef Archipelago. Most of the island is covered in largeglaciers and ice domes, such as the Brusilov Ice Dome - the highest point of the island. A landing at Geographers Bayallows for a hike up one of the ice domes to stretch our legs and to enjoy the wonderful views over the archipelago,as Prince George Island is not fully glaciated. It’s also a great spot for enjoying the typical flowers of the north Arctictundra.Tikhaya Bukta (Hooker Island)Tikhaya Bay was a major base for polar expeditions, and where a team of meteorologists from the Russian Sedovstation were marooned at the beginning of the Second World War. It was also the location of a meteorologicalstation between 1929 and 1963. The remains of the old Russian station is worth a visit and after thousands of rustingbarrels were found and cleared here five 5 years ago, the station now resembles a ghost town or a living museum.You will also find here the world’s northernmost (Russian) post office!Rubini Rock (Hooker Island)The impressive basalt cliffs create the best bird cliffs in the archipelago housing more than 100,000 birds comprisingof mostly Brünnich guillemot, but also kittiwake and little auks. The bird cliff lies just off Calm Bay and is perfect forZodiac cruises. The island is a volcanic plug, the central remains of conical volcano.Cape Tegethoff (Hall Island)The place of the first landing in 1873 by Austro-Hungarian expeditioners Julius Von Payer and Karl Weyprecht afterthe Tegethoff sunk in 1873. Beautiful basalt rocks and bird cliff rookery of guillemot, gulls, kittiwake and little auks.Cape Triest, Champ IslandChamp Island is famous for the incredible stone spheres (geodes), commonly called “Devils Marbles” with sizesranging from tennis balls to boulders that are three metres in diameter! These rocks are a unique geological featurethat can be found only in the Arctic regions. Keep a look out for walrus in the water or hauled out on the beachduring our wet landing.Sarko Passage - Newcombe sound (Nansen archipelago)Beautifully glaciated landscape featuring an enormous glacier front with a lot of sea Ice. It’s one of the best spots tomarvel at glaciers, ice and perhaps polar bears!Cape Norway (Jackson Island)The place where the famous Norwegian explorers Fritjoj Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen spent the winter of 1895-96after returning from their attempt to reach the North Pole. We can see the remains of the stone hut built by the menincluding a big log that was used as a makeshift roof. A commemorative plaque provides marks this event where themen survived the winter until the following summer, when they resumed their journey southwards.Cape Fligely (Prince Rudolf Island)At 81° 51’N, this is the northernmost point of Eurasia, where we can cruise along the ice edge and perhaps get aglimpse to the North Pole in clear weather conditions.Teplitz Bay (Prince Rudolf Island)An abandoned old Russian meteorological station is located here – it was once the northernmost weather station inthe world. The bay is often chock full of ice but provides a marvellous opportunity to enjoy the northernmost zodiaccruise!Walrus Haulout at Stolichky (Stoliczka) or Apollonov IslandWalrus can be found everywhere on the sea ice in the Franz Josef archipelago. We hope to visit one of theestablished haul out sites to observe them on land. Polar bears can be seen almost everywhere on, or between theislands. We may see some on land but we hope to find them on the pack Ice, their natural habitat. Seeing polar bearsis a highlight of a voyage to Franz Josef Land and can happen at any moment. We will change the itinerary in case weencounter one or more polar bears, maximising every opportunity spending time observing the king of the Arctic!
Day 5 - Days 12-13 At Sea
The return crossing of the Barents Sea offers some good opportunities to encounter whales, perhaps the elusivebowhead whale if we’re lucky, and certainly plenty of opportunities to photograph sea birds.
Day 6 - Day 14 Murmansk
Back in Murmansk for clearance procedures before continuing to Kirkenes.
Day 7 - Day 15 Kirkenes
Arrive in Kirkenes in the morning, farewell your expedition team and fellow passengers as we all continue ouronward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature. A transfer to the airport isincluded in the cost of the voyage.
Day 8 - Please Note:
Please refer to this itinerary as a guide only, as changes may occur due to political circumstances, and unpredictablesea and weather conditions. Flexibility is key, when joining us on our expeditions.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
12-07-202026-07-2020AUD $0Aurora Stateroom
12-07-202026-07-2020AUD $0Balcony Stateroom
12-07-202026-07-2020AUD $0Balcony Suite
12-07-202026-07-2020AUD $0Junior Suite
12-07-202026-07-2020AUD $0Captain's Suite


    • Photograph unique stone spheres at Champ Island
    • Visit Nansen’s winter camp at Cape Norway
    • Look out for walrus, rorqual and elusive bowhead whales
    • Watch for hunting polar bears on pack ice and on land
    • Marvel at the frozen landscape of Franz Josef Land
    • 85% of which is glaciated