Set sail into the depths of the Russian Far East during a unique, 15-day expedition cruise.

Sailing from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to Japan; experience the Sea of Okhotsk where we’ll journey to remote, uninhabited lands where striking landscapes can be found at every turn. With an intriguing history, delve into the chequered past of this region as we’ll be joined on board by a National Geographic Expert and Photographer.

Both on land and sea, witness the remarkable biodiversity that can be found in this corner of the earth as we venture into a land where an abundance of wildlife calls home. Spot the native ribbon seal, Steller sea lions and the Kamchatka brown bear as well as discovering one of the world’s largest Northern Fur Seal colonies during a visit to Tyuleniy.

Explore the many Bays around the peninsula including Vestnik Bay and Kambalnaya Bay as well as the islands of Ptich'i, Zavyalov & Magadan which offer distinct, volcanic landscapes that look like they belong to another world.

Our journey to the Russian Far East will end in Otaru, on Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, home to a beautifully preserved canal area and rich Japanese history that can be found around every corner.

This Expedition Cruise is onboard Ponant’s Le Soléal ship, part of the Sisterships fleet. View full details including deck plans and features onboard here.

Flight Seoul/Petropavlovsk + Transfer included

Trip highlights

Sail into the heart of the Russian Far East and visit some of the region’s most seldom-visited lands that provide spectacular landscapes and a variety of wildlife.

Enjoy encounters with the native peoples who have lived and worked on these islands for generations.

Explore uninhabited islands along the Sea of Okhotsk where wildlife can be found in abundance.

Visit Tyuleniy where you can find one of Russia’s largest sea lion colonies.

Itinerary - 14 Days

1 Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia

Surrounded by active volcanoes, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is the oldest town in the Russian Far East and the centre of Kamchatka Kray. Situated on along the landlocked Avachinskaya Gulf, on the Pacific coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, the city was founded in 1740 during Vitus Bering’s second Kamchatka expedition.

Avacha Bay is one of the most beautiful, and largest in the world and is overlooked by two giant volcanoes and surrounded by a long line of snow-capped mountains. The quiet town is home to the Military Glory Museum and a wealth of natural landmarks that make up the backdrop for the town.

2 Vestnik Bay

Part of the protected Yuzhno-Kamchatsky nature reserve, Vestnik Bay is the perfect stopover to witness local wildlife. From tufted puffins to spectacled guillemots, arctic foxes to bears, there is a wealth of wildlife in the surrounding areas of the bay. Part of the protected South Kamchatka Nature Park, which is one of the six protected areas that make up the Volcanoes of Kamchatka nature park, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This nature park also serves to protect the traditional way of life of the Evenks, the local indigenous population.

Head to shore on a Zodiac© inflatable and enjoy the spectacular sights of the Kamchatka landscapes and the Bering Sea.

3 Kambalnaya Bay

Kambalnaya Bay possess luscious green landscapes alongside freshwater making it an ideal spot for brown bears. Typically, brown bears are solitary animals, apart from females and their cubs however they do congregate when there is a rich food source. Dramatic gatherings can be seen at prime fishing spots such as Kambalnaya Bay, when the salmon swim upstream, making for an utterly amazing scene, if we’re lucky enough to experience it.

4 Ostrova Ptich'i, Sakhalin Oblast

Sakhalin is the largest island in Russia, situated just north of Japan. Separated by the narrow and shallow Strait of Tartary, the island is covered with dense forests, mostly coniferous which ensures a diverse growth of native plants. Wildlife on the island consists of bears, foxes, otters, and sables as well as reindeer in the north and whales such as the North Pacific right whale, the bowhead whale, and the beluga whale.

5 Antsiferov Island & Atlasova

Antsiferov Island is a remote, uninhabited island in the northern Kuril Islands chain. The volcanic island is home to a wealth of rich wildlife including Steller sea lions, northern fulmars and tufted puffins.

Head south to the Kuril Islands, a vast chain of volcanic islands separating the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean. These islands offer a fascinating primitive and authentic beauty. Atlasova Island is named after the Russian explorer Vladimir Atlasoc, and it was the first of the Kuril Islands to be discovered. It offers many black sand beaches, rocky and lush coastlines, and one of the most perfect cone volcanos in the world, that has inspired many legends.

6 Sailing Along Krutogorova River

During your expedition, sail along the Krutogorova River, which displays an extremely complex interconnection with a floodplain throughout that boasts a freshwater flow and a whole host of marine wildlife, particularly salmon. The unexplored river flows west for nearly 200 miles to the famous Sea of Okhotsk.

7 At Sea

During your day at sea, make the most of your time on board Le Soléal. Catch up with our onboard National Geographic Expert and Photographer as they give greater insight into the destination via lectures and workshops or visit the photo gallery area where you can take a look at some of the professional photos that have been taken during your trip so far. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or head to the observation lounge to enjoy some reading whilst taking in your surroundings, where you may be lucky enough to spot some wildlife in the waters below.

8 Zavyalov Island & Magadan

Zavyalov Island is a relatively large mountainous island located within the northern part of the Sea of Okhotsk, close to Magadan. Visiting this uninhabited island might give you the chance to get up close with some of the area's wildlife, including seabirds and sea lions.

Capital of the Kolyma Region, Magadan is a town surrounded by wild landscapes with endless pine trees, vast rushing rivers and green hills that are certainly worth exploring. The history of Magadan dates back to the 1930s where it was used as a base for transferring Gulag prisoners who arrived by sea to work at the Kolyma gold mine. Magadan has now become one of the major ports of Eastern Siberia and is sometimes called “the Saint Petersburg of the Far East” due to its architectural unity and its sumptuous orthodox cathedral with golden domes.

9 Okhotsk

Used as the main Russian base on the Pacific Coast between 1650 to 1860, Okhotsk is where the Okhota River meets the Sea of Okhotsk. Today Okhotsk is the centre of fishing in the region and the port exports significant quantities of salmon and other fish. Experience local life and admire the great diversity of wildlife which can be spotted here.

10 Iony Island

Another spot of this biologically rich area is Iony Island, which lies in the middle of the Sea of Okhotsk. Although very small in size, it’s a paradise for wildlife. Bird species such as guillemot, kittiwakes, or aukllets, and a huge amount of Steller’s Sea Lions occupy the few rocky beaches.

11 Piltun Bay

Piltun Bay, in the north-east of Sakhalin, is an important site for the highly endangered Western Grey Whale. There’s also a high variety of seabirds, so try to spot some Aleutian Tern and Steller’s Sea-Eagles ashore.

12 Nabilskiy Bay

Nabilskiy Bay is located on the north-eastern coast of Sakhalin Island. In this area, fishing is one of the most typical activities, although the exuberant nature offers you some very nice hikes and you can also visit some archaeological sites.

13 Tyuleniy

Tyuleniy is one of the most remarkable wildlife spectacles on earth. This island is less than 1 mile long and yet is home to over 100,000 northern fur seals, thousands of Steller’s Sea lions and thousands of guillemots. The island is appropriately named “seal” in Russian. Often shrouded in fog, we will approach by zodiac and hope to catch sight of this remarkable abundance of life.

14 Korsakov

Founded in 1853 as the first Russian military outpost on Sakhalin Island and the port opened in 1909.

Korsakov city offers a mix of Russian and Japanese structures. During your visit, you can go up the hill just behind the cruise terminal for a great view over the harbour or take a trip to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk to learn about the local history and folklore as well as discover some of the island’s diverse flora and fauna.

15 Otaru, Hokkaido

End your expedition cruise to the Sea of Okhotsk in Otaru. A lively harbour town that boasts outstanding natural beauty. Bordered by the Sea of Japan, Otaru is a former industrial capital of which the influence is still visible today. The town’s open canals along with its 19th-century brickwork make for a striking city, particularly when covered in snow during the winter months.

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