For centuries, explorers set out for the North Pole by sled, ship, aircraft and even balloon, but it wasnÂï¿½t until 1948 that a human reached 90Âº north. Now you can voyage there yourself on a 16 or 17-day expedition aboard the nuclear-powered icebreaker 50 Years of Victory, powerful enough to push through the formidable Arctic ice pack. Shore landings are planned in Franz Josef Land and at 90N, the top of the world, and sightseeing by helicopter provides an aerial view of the icebreaker crushing through the Arctic Ocean pack ice. Join this once-in-a-lifetime journey and add your name to the handful of adventurers whoÂï¿½ve stood at the top of the world!
Day 1: Helsinki, Finland
Just six degrees south of the Arctic Circle is a sophisticated city with nightlife, green spaces and a breathtaking harbor--Helsinki, Finland. You're encouraged to arrive early to explore the city, before you settle down for the night in the centrally-located hotel, which is included in the price of your expedition.
Day 2: Embarkation
As the sailing of the worldÂ’s largest nuclear-powered icebreaker depends on the tide, the departure time of the charter flight will be determined by the tide table. This is one of the elements that make every North Pole expedition unique. A coach transfers travelers from the Murmansk Airport to the high-security quay. You may be asked to present identification before the coach can pass through the security gate. Then to the sound of martial music and with the help of tugboats, Victory will set sail on the high tide for her journey to the North Pole.
Days 3-8: The Arctic Ocean
In 2008, 50 Years of Victory made the fastest ever surface crossing from Murmansk to the North Pole Â– 4.5 days. Arctic Ocean conditions are always unpredictable, so it could take as many as 8 days to reach the goal destination. Unpredictability heightens the sense of adventure that underlies all our expeditions. Watching Victory break through the formidable pack ice is a sight youÂ’ll never forget. Crushing through ice meters thick with the ease of a hot knife through butter, Victory can sail in conditions that would defeat most other ships. Be sure to take one of the included helicopter flights for a fascinating aerial view of the icebreakerÂ’s progress.
Day 9: 90Â° North
Although the moment that you reach the top of the world is shared with others, the experience is as individual as you are. Some travelers mark the occasion holding a special memento carried thousands of miles for that one brief event. Others hold signs created on the spot. Others wave their national flags. How will you celebrate?
Day 10: Southbound
Head southbound toward Franz Josef Land after appropriate celebrations at the North Pole. Watching for polar bear tracks on the ice will become an obsession. And if a bear wanders close to the ship, no matter what time of day or night, an announcement is made so travelers can gather on deck to take once-in-a-lifetime photographs. Ivory Gulls, the rarest of Arctic birds, fearlessly dance on the ice within the bearÂ’s reach, eager to dine on the scraps.
Days 11-13: Franz Josef Land and the Arctic Ocean
Franz Josef Land is an archipelago comprised of 191 islands, many covered in ice. They stretch from 80Â°N to 80.9Â°N. They are the most northerly islands in Eurasia, only 900 km (560 miles) from the North Pole. These massive flat topped islands, with steep cliffs where seabirds nest, are often surrounded by fast ice. The helicopter or Zodiacs will transfer you ashore to hike, beachcomb or to just sit quietly watching the scene of nature and wildlife.
Day 14: Murmansk
The return to Helsinki requires a charter flight from Murmansk and just the right tide conditions for docking the ship. Overnight in Helsinki, before departing for home.
Day 15: Helsinki, Finland
After breakfast at your centrally-located hotel, you are free to leave for home or extend your stay.