For decades the White Sea was a forbidden area and today because of its geographic isolation it remains a region of great mystery. During this voyage we will have six days in the region where we will concentrate on Archangel and the Solovetsky Islands. It was on the Solovetsky Islands that Stalin built one of his infamous Gulags, the ‘Red Army’ established a vital submarine base and an important shipbuilding industry was founded.
The most fascinating aspect of the Solovetsky islands is the 16th century Solovetsky Monastery. This vast Medieval fortress with its fascinating and turbulent history is remarkably well preserved. It is believed that Vikings, both English and Norman came to the White Sea to fish and trade for furs up until the 13th century when global cooling made navigation difficult. In 1553 captain Richard Chancellor was shipwrecked in the White Sea whilst seeking a northern sea route to China. Never one to miss an opportunity, he negotiated trade privileges with Ivan the Terrible which opened diplomatic relations between England and Russia and resulted with a monk from the ancient Nikol-Karelski Monastery becoming the first Russian ambassador to England.
The region is awash with intriguing history, much of which both ancient and modern will be brought to life by our local guides and our guest speaker. Beginning our journey in Norway’s northern port of Tromso we also have the opportunity of exploring the region of the North Cape as well as Murmansk, the largest city north of the Arctic Circle in the world. Here we will visit the cemetery of the officers and soldiers of the Allied Forces who bravely manned the convoys during World War II. To add to your experience, you will be joined on board by an expert team including naturalists who through onboard briefings and lectures will add to your understanding of the geology, flora and fauna of the region.