NEW YORK -- EuroCruises said it will charter the Kristina Regina
for cruises next summer on Russia's White Sea -- an area that has
been closed to non-Russian vessels for the past 70 years.
The 200-passenger, Finnish-flagged Kristina Regina will call on
White Sea ports in the Solovetski Islands and Archangel as part of
a two-week sailing from Copenhagen, Denmark, to the north of
Norway, departing June 18.
Bjarne Mikkelsen, EuroCruises' president, said he is positioning
the ship for White Sea itineraries because "people are always
interested in what's new and this is the last area within Russia
that has not been explored by tourists. I went there myself, and
the rich cultural history of the region is reason enough to take
the cruise," he said.
The closest that most U.S. visitors usually come to the White
Sea is an area south of the sea at Lake Onega, which is included on
some Volga River cruises between Moscow and St. Petersburg.
EuroCruises' White Sea/ White Nights Expedition Cruise already is
half booked, according to Mikkelsen.
Before arriving from the North Cape, the Kristina Regina will
call at Murmansk, Russia, a busy port where the Allied Forces
supported the Russians' struggle during the latter part of World
Entering the White Sea, the ship will call on the Solovetski
Islands, which consist of three large islands and several smaller
ones that cover 140 square miles.
The largest island was a notorious gulag for political prisoners
under the Communist regime. "You cannot see any traces of the work
camps here," said Mikkelsen, "but it is estimated that hundreds of
thousands perished on the islands during Stalin's reign of
The same island that operated the gulag also was home to a
shining star of Byzantine architecture -- the Solovetski Monastery,
founded in the 1420s by an order of monks that continues its work
The monastery was taken over by the Naval Academy of the Soviet
Army but was reopened in 1991 and has been the subject of a United
Nations reconstruction program.
"Under Communism, the monastery fell into disrepair and the wear
and tear shows. But after you pass through the monastery's dreary
fortress, the walls are dripping with gold, and the icons are
spectacular," Mikkelsen said. "The island is so peaceful and
there's nothing there but countryside and monks growing their
Archangel, the other White Sea port of call, is a major timber
and fishing port surrounded by small villages and the Open Air
Wooden Architecture Museum Reserve.
The full cruise itinerary includes Norway's Kristiansand,
Bergen, Geirangerfjord, Bronnoysund, Svolvaer (Lofoten Islands) and
Tromsoe. The sailing concludes in Kirkenes, Norway, and is followed
by a Lapland safari to nearby Ivalo, Finland.
The cruise is priced from $3,399, double, including roundtrip
air from New York, transfers and one night in Helsinki. For
information and reservations, agents can call (800) 688-3876 or