Sail to the ‘Top of the World’

While I am not a fan of either adventure travel or expedition travel, this story caught my attention because, let’s admit it, there is something undeniably cool (no pun intended) about the prospect of standing at the top of the world.

Polar expedition provider Poseidon Expeditions is offering significant early booking savings on three 2018 voyages aboard the only passenger-carrying vessel in the world that can attain 90 degrees north, the point of the geographic North Pole.

Passengers form a circle around the North Pole, Poseidon Expeditions
Passengers form a circle around the North Pole
Three 13-day adventures depart from Murmansk, Russia in July 2018 aboard the nuclear-powered Russian Federation icebreaker i/b 50 Years of Victory, or 50 AET ПОБЕАЫ, which will take guests on their round-trip voyage to the geographic North Pole.

The most powerful icebreaker ever built, the ship generates 75,000 horsepower and is capable of smashing through Arctic Ocean ice up to three meters thick.

The focal points of the journey are discovery, history and wildlife.

Experienced guides will aide guests in spotting puffins, gannets, guillemots and other bird life on excursions ashore. While on deck, passengers may see a variety of whale species including humpback, fin and minke. Walruses and harp, bearded and other species of seals are often seen on ice floes.

As if the thrill of standing at the top of the world and riding the most powerful icebreaker ever built weren’t enough, passengers also have the opportunity to explore the rarely visited Russian Arctic Archipelago of Franz Josef Land.

Passenger paints 50 Years of Victory
The remote wilderness area is home to a variety of iconic High Arctic wildlife, including polar bears and, in the surrounding waters, seals, walrus, and the elusive bowhead whale. The archipelago also hosts an abundance of nesting Arctic seabirds such as the rare ivory gull.

The icescape of the Arctic Ocean provides an intricate and ever-changing world of subjects for both aspiring and experienced artists. Primeval landscapes, intriguing geological features, poignant historical remains, and charismatic Arctic wildlife in Russia’s Franz Josef Land provide a wealth of inspiration for the photographer or painter. An included photography program gives guests the chance to learn and practice photography skills alongside an expert photographer.

Weather permitting, “flightseeing” is included on Poseidon Expeditions North Pole cruises. Guests can take to the skies aboard the icebreaker’s on-board helicopter and witness the ship plowing its way through the ice. Aloft, guests will also have a unique vantage point from which to experience the unparalleled beauty of the vast frozen Arctic Ocean.

When conditions prevent landings by Zodiac, the helicopter is also utilized to achieve landings in Franz Josef Land, providing unparalleled access to this remote and hard-to-reach Arctic wilderness.

On-board helicopter for flightseeing, excursions
While the voyages to the top of the world will surely be inspiring and could likely be accurately described as “once in a lifetime,” there are concessions to be considered.

“i/b 50 Years of Victory is not a tourist ship,” Poseidon Expeditions’ website says. “Rather, the icebreaker was purpose-built to pilot scientific and cargo ships to hard-to-reach areas of the Arctic and along the Northeast Passage.” The ship can accommodate 128 passengers and has a crew complement of 140.

While not exactly Spartan, accommodations might best be described as humble. Six categories of cabins are available, ranging from the 14 square meter Standard Twin to the 33 square meter Arktika Suite. Each cabin class can accommodate two passengers.

Elsewhere, the ship offers public spaces that create friendly, casual atmosphere for socializing and get-togethers. Gourmet cuisine is served in its open-seating dining room.

Mini-suite aboard  50 Years of Victory
The ship has an Aft Saloon for lectures, presentations and socializing; Bar & Lounge with front view; Shop; Library & lounge; Gym; two Saunas and Swimming Pool with heated sea water. There is also a Clinic on board with a licensed doctor in attendance.

Early booking rates are available for 13-day departures July 8, July 19 and July 30, 2018. Per person, double occupancy rates with applicable discounts of $1,435 to $2,255 per person range from $27,260 to $42,840 per person, double occupancy.

Rates include one pre-voyage hotel night; group transfers from airport to hotel before embarkation and to the ship on day of embarkation plus a trip to the airport or central location upon disembarkation. Shipboard accommodation and all meals are included while at sea, and a tea and coffee station is available 24 hours daily.

Fares also include all scheduled landings and excursions; expert interpretation throughout the voyage by Expedition Leader and Team; branded Poseidon Expeditions parka; use of rubber boots for shore landings; welcome and farewell beverages; all port fees; pre-departure materials; digital voyage log; medical insurance covering the risks of evacuation and repatriation.

To qualify for the discounted rates, reservations must be made by July 31, 2017. More details and itinerary are available on Poseidon Expedition’s website.

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Photos provided by Poseidon Exhibitions
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