Russian High Arctic- Polar Bears, Walrus and more!

August 1st - 14th 2020

Welcome to Franz Josef Land!

A Photographic excursion for ALL LEVELS

Including Beginner through Advanced!

This is a trip of a life-time and will be an unforgettable photography adventure unlike anything else anywhere in the world!

Check out this video!


The Adventure:

This extraordinary expedition to Franz Josef Land is as unique and authentic as the place itself. Starting in Longyearbyen in the Norwegian territory of Svalbard, we cross the icy, wildlife-rich Barents Sea to the Russian High Arctic. In Franz Josef Land we discover unparalleled landscapes, wildlife, and history in one of the wildest and most remote corners of the Arctic.

Back in Svalbard we have the opportunity to explore beautiful fjords and islands on the northwestern coast of Spitsbergen. Here we seek the full range of Arctic wildlife in one of the world’s most impressive polar desert environments.

This exclusive offering NOT AVAILABLE ANYWHERE else is made possible due to our relationship with Poseidon Expeditions and their ship the Sea Spirit.  Poseidon Expeditions in one of only a hand full of operators allowed to venture into the high Russian Arctic Archipelago of Franz Josef Land. Less than 1000 people a year visit this area and it is still as wild and beautiful as it sounds!

We have been able to secure a LIMITED number of spots on the Expedition for McKay Photography Academy at a price that is less than if you were to book directly with the ship itself! Plus, of course, you get the McKay team as instructors alongside you on the journey! 


Arctic Wilderness: Franz Josef Land 

Franz Josef Land, part of the Russian Arctic National Park, is a nature sanctuary. Polar bears, walrus, endangered bowhead whales, and other Arctic wildlife can be spotted anywhere, anytime in and around the archipelago. Svalbard is a similarly protected wilderness where we find flowering tundra and tidewater glaciers.

Steep cliffs and scree slopes in both island groups accommodate enormous colonies of nesting seabirds such as dovekies, guillemots, and rare ivory gulls. 24-hour daylight allows us to exploit every opportunity for wildlife viewing in this unique polar ecosystem.


  • Dates: August 1st – 14th 2020
  • Price: $12,995 based on double occupancy cabins This is less than you would pay directly with the ship AND you get the experience with McKay Photography Academy and the opportunities not available to others on board.  
    • (single supplements are not available- we will pair you with a roommate of the same gender)
  • Payment plan option available:
    • Interest-FREE Payments over 18 months! ($2000 deposit required)
  • Airport: Arrive/Depart – Longyearbyen-Svalbard Airport (LYR)

Included during tour dates:

  • Instruction with David and Ally McKay and the MPA team
  • McKay Team Image Reviews with Lightroom and Photoshop Instruction
  • Photographic Workshop Presentations. 
  • Luxury Expedition Ship Sea Spirit (max 114 passengers)
  • Larger Comfortable Suites
  • Arrival Night Hotel – Pre-Embarkation
  • All Transfers In-Country Included
  • Rubber Boots for Shore Landings – to borrow!
  • Zodiac Excursions and Shore Landings ( weather permitting)
  • An Exclusive Expedition Parka is Yours to Keep! 
  • Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner while on Board- Prepared by a chef and his team. 
  • Emergency Evacuation Insurance of US $150,000 per person

NOT included:

  • Transportation to and from Longyearbyen-Svalbard Airport (LYR)
    • Commercial flight accessible!
  • Trip Insurance (Required)
  • Personal Expenses such as soft drinks, alcohol, laundry, souvenirs, etc.
  • Staff Gratuities


Base Itinerary as Scheduled* 

*Subject to change based on many factors but date and time are set

Day 1:
Welcome to Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Norwegian territory of Svalbard and starting point of our expedition. After arriving via scheduled commercial flight service, you are free to explore this fascinating Arctic settlement. Be sure to see the excellent Svalbard Museum and take advantage of quality shopping and dining opportunities in the town center. Your hotel for the night has been arranged by us and is included in the price of the voyage.

Day 2:
In the afternoon we welcome you aboard the luxury expedition ship M/V Sea Spirit. Explore the ship and get comfortable in your home away from home for the extraordinary adventure to come. Savor the anticipation of your Arctic dreams coming true as we slip our moorings and sail into a true wilderness where wildlife abounds. The scenery as we sail through Isfjorden on our first evening is spectacular and there is already the possibility of marine mammal encounters.

Days 3 – 4:
From Isfjorden we proceed straight to Franz Josef Land across the Barents Sea. Presentations and workshops by our expert staff prepare us for what lies ahead.

In these far northern latitudes, it is possible to encounter sea ice even in summer. Along the way, we’ll remain vigilant for sightings of ice-dependent marine mammals such as the elusive bowhead whale, various Arctic seal species, and the majestic polar bear.

Days 5-11
This is expedition cruising at its most authentic. As such, our route and exploration opportunities in Franz Josef Land are heavily dependent on weather and sea ice. Our experienced captain and expedition leader decide our best route and continually adjust plans as opportunities warrant in this wild and remote corner of the Arctic.

Between obligatory initial and final calls at the Russian polar station Nagurskoye in Cambridge Bay we are free to explore the many waterways and islands of this unique Arctic wilderness.

The archipelago, part of the Russian Arctic National Park since 2012, is a nature sanctuary. Polar bears and other quintessential High Arctic wildlife—such as walruses and some rare whale species—can be spotted anytime, anywhere in and around Franz Josef Land. Scree slopes and cliffs around the islands host enormous nesting colonies of seabirds such as guillemots, dovekies, and kittiwakes. We’ll take advantage of the 24-hour daylight to exploit every opportunity for wildlife viewing.

Franz Josef Land is dominated by glaciation, which covers 85% of the archipelago. Immense tidewater glaciers and glittering icebergs provide a stunning backdrop to our voyage. Franz Josef Land is also home to some interesting geological features, such as the mysterious stone spheres on Champ Island. Collectors of geographical extremes may take note that Cape Fligely on Rudolf Island is the northernmost point of land in the Eastern Hemisphere.

Franz Josef Land also offers visitors the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of famous polar explorers at well-preserved historical sites. The journals of explorers such as Julius von Payer, Benjamin Leigh Smith, Frederick George Jackson, and Fridtjof Nansen come alive at Cape Norway, Cape Flora, Eira Harbour, and Cape Tegetthoff. Memorials, monuments, crosses and the remains of dwellings are a testimony to incredible historical events that are further illuminated by our expert lecturers.

Tikhaya Bukhta is currently a Russian Arctic National Park ranger station occupying Soviet-era research buildings and was also a major base for polar expeditions. Nearby the fascinating columnar basalt cliffs of Rubini Rock are home to thousands of nesting seabirds.
Our primary focus during this expedition is the exploration of the Russian archipelago of Franz Josef Land. However, the number of days spent there depends on ice conditions. Final daily programs are subject to change and the decision of the captain and expedition leader.

Days 12-13
Following our week of exploration in Franz Josef Land, we cross back through the bountiful waters of the Barents Sea and then along the coastal islands of the Svalbard Archipelago. From panoramic open decks, enjoy Arctic landscapes and wildlife sightings. Bountiful inshore and offshore waters are home to walrus and a wide variety of whales.

The crossing also gives our expedition team the opportunity to offer a final presentation or two in the Oceanus Lounge.

Day 14
After breakfast, we say farewell in the town of Longyearbyen, where we started our expedition. We provide a transfer to the airport, or to the town center if you plan to spend more time here. As you look back on your wonderful experience, you may already be looking forward to your next incredible adventure to the ice!