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Wrangel Island cruise simply bought simpler


You’ve cruised to the Caribbean, around the Greek Islands, down the Danube River in Europe, and maybe you’ve even made it to Antarctica – what’s left for you in the cruising world?

Why not head north, waaaay north; high above the Arctic Circle lays Wrangel Island. It might just be the last new place on earth to cruise. Even though it’s remote, it just got a little easier to get there. Heritage Expeditions is sailing a new ship from Nome Alaska to Wrangel starting in their 2022 season!

This unknown island at the top of the earth, has been in a tug-of-war between the US, Russia, and other countries throughout history, with it now ultimately part of Russia’s Far East. You might have heard of Wrangel Island due to its tragic expedition history with the famed and failed last voyage of the Karluk, but presently it’s home to some of the most rare and endangered animals, and landscape in the world.

A Very Different Kind of Arctic Island

The island boasts the world’s largest population of Pacific walrus and the highest density of polar bear dens. It is a major feeding ground for the grey whale migrating from Mexico and the northernmost nesting ground for 100 migratory bird species, many endangered. Currently, 417 species and subspecies of vascular plants have been identified on the island, double that of any other Arctic tundra territory of comparable size and more than any other Arctic island.

Wrangel Island was named a UNESCO World Wildlife Heritage Site in 2004, this island is a unique jewel in the High Arctic few people get to experience.

Expedition Cruise to Wrangel Island

If you are going to the last place on earth to cruise, then of course don’t expect this to be your typical cruise ship! I was a passenger on Heritage Expedition’s Spirit of Enderby, a Russian Polar Expedition ship based out of New Zealand.

Heritage is known for their trips to introduce you to the remote, unknown places like the Subantarctic islands I went to a few years ago (LINK) and seldom seen islands and cultures in Melanesia (LINK).

Expedition cruising is more rugged, unplanned, and unpredictable than the typical cruise that you may be used to. Granted, you still do eat like a royalty, however the ship I was on was small and basic. I stayed in a basic cabin with 2 bunks, a desk, and sink. The ship held 50 passengers and an expedition team.

Heritage Adventurer – A New Ship for 2022

Heritage Expeditions used the Pandemic to make big changes – they acquired a new flagship vessel for their polar expeditions! I loved the Spirit of Enderby, but it certainly wasn’t for everyone. However, the new Heritage Adventurer will provide a mix of expedition style travel and a touch of elegance.

Heritage Adventurer expedition ship
The new Heritage Adventurer Photo via Heritage Expeditions

The Heritage Adventurer is Often referred to as the ‘Grande Dame of Polar Exploration’ due to her celebrated history and refined design, she was purpose-built for adventure in 1991 at Finland’s Rauma shipyard and specifically designed for Polar exploration.

As the new flagship, the Heritage Adventurer will sail with 140 guests and will be going to beyond the Arctic and Antarctic circle on all of the Heritage Itineraries.

5 Reasons to Cruise to Wrangel Island

1. Rare Wildlife to View and Photograph

Wrangel Island Polar Bears

The island has been referred to as the Polar Bear maternity ward in the past because it has the largest population of denning polar bear freely making Wrangel Island their home for a few months. Some days we’d take the zodiac out and see more than 10 in one area.

Wrangel Island polar bear
Polar Bear encounters on Wrangel Island

Plus, the crew is excellent at educating you about Polar Bear safety as well as the current challenges the bears face with the disappearing ice. In fact one of the few areas where the United States and Russia actually work as a team is on polar bear research around Wrangel Island.

Wrangel Island Extreme destinations
Curious polar bears check out our Zodiac

The expedition team is made up of PhD’s of botany, marine biologists, expert birders, biological scientists, as well as multi language speakers who grew up in the Chokotka region of Russia we traveled through. You will most definitely walk off the ship smarter and more informed.

Birds and Astonishing Bird Cliffs

This trip to the Russian Arctic is a birders dream; Cormorants, Snow Geese, Kittiwakes, Puffins, Snowy Owls, Guillemots, and more. Plus, you’ll see some of most densely populated bird cliffs in the world.



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