Arctic Polar Adventure

August 3rd – 16th, 2022  

SKU: 20220803-Arctic Category: Tags: , , ,


This tour is SOLD OUT. We will be offering a 2023 Tour. Please email to be on the priority email list! 

McKay Photography Academy Presents Polar Bears, Fjords, and the Russian Arctic!

EXCLUSIVE PHOTOGRAPHY EXPEDITION – We are down to the last final remaining spots!

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!


  • Dates: August 3rd – 16th, 2022 – Rescheduled dates
  • 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.
    • $2000 deposit and a payment plan on balance offered interest-free over 18 months.

Included During Tour Dates:

  • Personalized Instruction with MPA team**
  • McKay Team Image Reviews with Editing 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

**Note – Instructors are scheduled but may change without notice. You will always have a top MPA instruction team!

NOT Included:

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

David and Ally McKay and the MPA team will personally be your host on this trip. You will be photographing, learning and enjoying Photography, Travel, Friendship, and Adventure all together on one of the most amazing photographic tours in the world! 

Our heart’s desire is for everyone to have an experience of a lifetime that you are unable to get with anyone else! We work incredibly hard to make sure our guests are well taken care of, have plenty of photographic instruction and enjoy an amazing adventure. This is why our clients return again, and again!

Once your registration is complete, MPA will be in touch to work with you on a payment plan. Due to limited space, this tour is available on a first-come-first-serve basis.



  • David McKay
  • Ally McKay
  • Toby Gelston
  • David Carr
  • Kaz Mayeda

*Note – Instructors are scheduled but may change without notice. You will always have a top MPA instruction team!


Q. Will we see and photograph wildlife? 
A. YES! You will be amazed at the amount of wildlife. You will get opportunities to get up close (VERY CLOSE) to varieties of birds, and varieties of other marine wildlife. This truly an experience that cannot just be “explained” but has to be lived!

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.

Q. How physically in shape do you need to be?
A. As there is very little hiking, and even that you can choose as an option, you do not have to be in great physical shape.  HOWEVER, you should be in realistically good health and understand that although there are doctors as well as a medical clinic on board, we will be far from a hospital. If you are in good health and can walk a mile, you are just fine.

Q. How rough are the seas? 
A. The seas in this area are relatively calm.  On our past journey we had relatively smooth seas to and from Svalbard with very little seasickness by anyone.  Preparation is really the key. Prior to leaving port, the doctors on board give a seminar and help individuals prepare for seasickness with patches and medications.  Most people do fine, however, if you are easily sick from motion sickness, you should be aware that we are on a vessel in the Drake Passage. 

Q. Are the Zodiacs rough? 
A. No! Actually quite smooth and fun and there are an easy boarding and de-boarding process.

Q. Is it safe? 
A. Our ship, the Sea Spirit, will have some of the best and experienced crew available in the region. You can feel assured that you are in great hands while onboard!

Q. How are the accommodations?
A. WONDERFUL!  Please see below for descriptions of the ship and rooms!

About Our Vessel

Carrying a maximum of 114 passengers, the M/V Sea Spirit is an outstanding polar-approved vessel and the perfect home away from home. With luxurious amenities paralleling that of a fine hotel, this all-suite vessel is highly maneuverable and capable of navigating the narrow bays and channels of polar waters.


AdventureSmith Explorations’ Sea Spirit review includes a detailed description of the small ship including deck plans and a photo gallery. Our polar experts have been aboard nearly every first-class vessel in the Arctic and Antarctica. Please read our Sea Spirit review below.

Sea Spirit was built at the Nuovi Cantieri Apunia shipyard in Carrara, Italy, in 1991 as the Renaissance V, and subsequently sailed as the Spirit of Oceanus for Cruise West before being modified in 2010 to make her more suitable for polar cruising. The vessel has been operating on expedition voyages to the Arctic and Antarctica since late 2010.

The Sea Spirit is a luxury vessel and certainly one of the most accommodating ships to cruise polar waters. Stabilizers provide the smoothest sailing possible throughout the journey. Her open bridge policy allows guests to interact with the captain and officers while navigating landscapes from a special view angle.

Common Areas Aboard Sea Spirit

Spacious common areas aboard the Sea Spirit include a library offering a large collection of polar books and DVDs on the Club Deck, a presentation lounge with state-of-the-art equipment for briefings, lectures and recaps on the Ocean Deck, numerous outdoor deck areas to enjoy passing scenery and outdoor barbecues, a gym including aerobic and weight-lifting equipment on the Sports Deck, an infirmary with a licensed medical doctor and a polar boutique.

There is elevator access to all passenger decks, and a zodiac landing platform allows for rapid deployment of passenger landing craft on the aft of the Main Deck.

Meals Aboard Sea Spirit 

The Sea Spirit has a full-service bar, so expect spirits and wine to flow freely during the voyage. Plus, coffee, tea, cocoa, and bottled water are available around the clock. Nightly four-course meals are prepared by top chefs and an expert kitchen staff. Special diets are easily accommodated with advance notice. Meals are served in a single, leisurely seating on the Main Deck.

Activities Aboard Sea Spirit

Optional excursions including hiking, kayaking, birding and snorkeling are available during your stay on the Sea Spirit. Daily briefings by staff naturalists prep you for any activity you may desire, as well as wildlife viewing. An onboard gym on the Sports Deck provides a great place to unwind. The gym is open daily and offers stationary bikes, several treadmills and some multi-functional training machines.


All cabins on the Sea Spirit feature an exterior view and spaciousness not commonly found on other expedition ships of this size. All cabins have a flat-screen TV, DVD player, in-room safe, refrigerator, individual temperature control and hair dryers en suite. Satellite phone and internet access is available in every cabin. Private facilities in each cabin include a sink, toilet and shower. Nearly all suites offer either two twin beds or a king size bed, with the exception of the Owner’s Suite, which has a fixed king bed.

Triple Classic

Located on Oceanus Deck, averaging 226 square feet, with two twin beds that convert into a king bed if desired, comfortable sofa bed, picture window and two wardrobes.

Main Deck Suite

Located on Main Deck, averaging 248 square feet, with two twin beds that convert into a king bed if desired and a minimum of two portholes for exterior views.

Classic Suite

Located on Oceanus Deck, averaging 226 square feet, with two twin beds that convert into a king bed if desired, picture window and two wardrobes.

Superior Suite

Located on Club Deck, averaging 215 square feet, with two twin beds that convert into a king bed if desired and picture window overlooking outside walkway.

Deluxe Suite

Located on Sports Deck, averaging 258 square feet, with two twin beds that convert into a king bed if desired, sliding glass door to private balcony and walk-in closet or wardrobe.

Premium Suite

Located on Sun Deck, averaging 323 square feet, with two twin beds that convert into a king bed if desired, en suite lounge area and sliding glass door to private balcony.


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!

Tour Pack

Please download the Tour Packet from link below.  Much of the information contained in this packet is also available under the Tour Prep page here on the web site. However, this packet will also include some gear specifics for this tour.  Please note that specific flight information, arrival and departure times, accommodations, and other logistical information may not be in this packet. Those items will be emailed to you at various times in the planning process of each tour. 

mpa-2020-Arctic Tour Packet Client


Go to Top