Solid ice is no match for the brave vessel as she carves her path through the icy eternity with ease. The Arctic wind pummels the tide, but you’re snug on deck in your expedition parka. The ultimate goal is in sight - at 90 degrees north you can’t get any higher. Ready to stake your claim to the very top of the world, you’re chasing the dreams of every explorer under Polaris.
I really enjoyed the whole trip and have been recommending it to everybody. It was a good mix of different forms of travel and we saw the most interesting places.
J Fisher - Northern Spain & Portugal
Don’t forget to pack your gloves, things are about to get chilly. Set out for Singapore this afternoon with British Airways and then set forth for Helsinki with Finnair.
Your Arctic expedition begins in the Finnish capital of Helsinki, where we begin to acclimatise – it’s an average of 17 degrees in summer, not so far removed from parts of Australia at this time of year. We have two nights to admire the contemporary art of the Klaus K Hotel, centrally located a stone's throw from Vanha Kirkkopuisto park.
Helsinki is a chic city of blossoming culinary culture, architectural innovation and waterside charm. There’s time to stroll around the harbour or explore the KIASMA modern art gallery and the Hvittrask museum of architecture. We reconvene later for an Arctic briefing, amping up the excitement of what’s to come, before a Welcome Dinner tonight.
You’re sure to wake up bright and early – today’s the day we’ve all been waiting for! Taking a short charter flight from Helsinki to Murmansk, Russia’s last frontier before the Arctic, w ready ourselves to come face to face with 50 Years of Victory.
The world’s largest nuclear powered icebreaker, this hardy workhorse has pioneered, rescued and salvaged in some of the harshest climates in the world. It’s also your reliable home for the next eleven nights. The adventure begins here as cabins, boots and expedition gear are assigned. This is really happening – there’s no turning back now – the North Pole is waiting on the horizon!
Warm on deck in your expedition parka after a hearty breakfast, you notice dramatic changes in the landscape over the Barents Sea. The first icebergs begin to float by as wilderness takes over. As with any great expedition, safety briefings are conducted before the fun begins. Feel the tingle of anticipation as you learn the protocol for helicopters and Zodiacs. With all formalities dismissed, why not seek out the team of experts who are always on hand for a chat around the ship. Ever wondered what a glaciologist does? Pop in on an informal discussion and you too can become an expert on the science of the ice.
Our onboard experts live and breathe these ice lands with a passion and they’re more than happy to share their knowledge with you – but be warned, their adventure spirit is highly infectious!
The ship is a sight to behold, especially from the air. Now’s your chance to catch a view of the action with the definitive adrenalin kick – a helicopter ride over the ice with a birdseye view over the ship.
Take an insightful tour of the engine room – prepare to be amazed by the roar and thunder of machinery.
Today’s the big day. Hearts pound with anticipation as the ship is meticulously manoeuvred into position at exactly 90 degrees north. It’s an impressive spectacle as everyone on board gathers on deck, resplendent in their bright parkas with champagne poised. Cue an eruption of cheers and applause as the mission to the Geographic North Pole is completed.
We take a rosy cheeked walk on the very top of the world as the festivities move from deck to ice and the celebration gets into full swing. Prepare to lose yourself in the exhilaration of true north – past guests have been known to indulge in many zany antics to celebrate including golf, polar painting and of course the obligatory dip into the icy waters. Do you have the mettle to go for a swim?
A delicious polar BBQ will warm you up whatever you choose. Imagine how good that will taste as you’re wrapped up on the ice, toasting your success together.
The main goal may have been accomplished, but the adventure is far from over. There’s still plenty of time to break the ice.
The ship’s restaurant is a great place to swap stories with fellow explorers over delicious lunches and hearty dinners, or toast your success over a warming brandy in the bar – you’re bound to find kindred spirits among this hardy bunch of pioneers.
This is your chance to bask in the glory of having conquered the very pinnacle of the world, reaching further than many great explorers could ever have dreamed of. Don’t forget to take some time away from it all as you steam your cares away in the sauna, grab a rejuvenating massage or take a relaxing dip in the ship’s pool. Keen for a work out with a view? You’ll never miss a blink of scenery as the ship’s fully equipped gym features panoramic windows! How could desolation be so beautiful?
Bound south, we enter a remote world of dense pack ice, towering volcanic mountains, icebergs and glaciers at Franz Josef Land. Keep your eyes peeled for seals, walrus and polar bears on the ice – it’s here where you’re most likely to encounter them. Weather permitting, we take our trusty Zodiacs to explore the hinterland, hoping to find the mysterious spherical rocks that abound on Champ Island and Cape Flora.
Want to know more about the migration of whales? Or the best places to spot polar bear cubs? Seek out the onboard team of marine biologists and conservationists who are always ready to inspire you with facts.
Tufts of green herald our arrival back into civilisation as we set our course for Murmansk. Your mission has been a success. The conquests of the last ten days may seem surreal as you imagine the failed efforts of explorers past.
DISEMBARK 50 years of victory
We bid a fond farewell to our vessel and fly from Murmansk to Helsinki, for one last night at the Klaus K Hotel.
You’re one of a privileged few people ever to have undertaken such a journey. Departing Helsinki later this afternoon via Singapore with Finnair and British Airways you can't wait to tell your epic tales to friends at home.
Imagine a trip where you won’t have to lift a finger, or worry about bringing your wallet.
All meals are included with your tour price along with beer, wine and soft drinks. Dining experiences can range from Michelin-starred restaurants to intimate local eateries.
She’s robust, square and far from ladylike, but what 50 Years of Victory lacks in beauty she makes up for in power and dedication – a hulking beast with a benevolent disposition, ready to smash through ice up to three metres thick. Her sheer immensity is an inspiration, a tribute to the spirit of pioneers, a vessel of heroic exploration ready to conquer the unconquerable as she has since 2007. Locked by ice, the path ahead looks impossible to navigate. But the huge vessel powers through. The roar and chomp as it cuts through the ice is nothing short of a triumph. You’re more than just spectators in this intrepid mission. With ice walks, expeditions by Zodiac, onboard lectures from geologists, historians and conservationists – not to mention flights over the ice in the ship’s helicopter – you’re never far from the action. Go deeper into no man’s land and stake your claim to the very pinnacle of the world...
Not normally the type of food that would be served on a Russian icebreaker, the chefs onboard will ensure we have enough delightful fuel to keep us warm.
Standard Twin Cabin
1 lower berth, 1 sofa bed; TV set and DVD player; opening windows; private facilities with shower. Size: 14 sq.meters
Use the ships inflatable zodiacs to explore the untamed wilderness of Franz Jozef Land and search for Arctic wildlife.