Kamchatka Peninsula is part of the Russian Far East territories. It covers a total area of approx 270,000 km2 (100,000 ml2) located in the Pacific Ocean and to the west of Sea of Okhotsk. Russian Federation's Kamchatka Krai (administrative region) consists of Commander Islands, Karaginsky Island and the Kamchatka Peninsula. Its total population is around 320,000 (ethnic Russians) plus about 13,000 Natives (Koryaks). Most of the population is in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (around 180,000) and in Yelizovo (around 40,000).
Among the most visited by cruise ships Kamchatka Peninsula destinations are:
- Lavrova Bay (part of the Koryaksky Nature Reserve) is uninhabited. It features a shipwreck from the 1970’s, an abandoned fish camp, exotic scenery (conical peaks, jagged cliffs, valleys with waterfalls, freshwater streams), wildlife (brown bears, mountain sheep, Arctic hare, Steller’s sea eagles).
- Petra Bay has a lighthouse at its entrance and two lakes at its end. Wildlife is represented by spotted seals (aka larga seal) and lots of birds.
- Russkaya Bay ("Russian Bay", aka Akhomten zaliv) is located in the Avachinskiy Gulf's southwestern part. It has length of 2,5 ml, width of 0,5 ml, rocky shores, mountains (called “Seals’ shallow”). This bay (zaliv in Russian) is often used by ships as temporal stop during poor weather and also for taking fresh water.
- At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War and increased danger of the sailing at Kamchatka waters the bay “Russian” became one of the main stations of the forming caravans from cargo ships with strategic goods en route from the ports of Canada and the United States to Vladivostok. By the time of development of the oceanic fishing and fishing and fishing-processing fleets at the 70s the bay “Russian” was used actively for taking fresh water from natural reservoirs, next for transshipment of the fish production, fishery equipment, crew-exchange. Narrow, deeply shooting out the bay “Russian” resembles in form the fiord by its steep mountain slopes. It’s one of the most picturesque places in the Petropavlovsk region. There was paved a sea route for tourists.
- Utashud Island is located in Vestinik Zaliv (Messenger Bay) across from the Vestnik River's estuary. The island is actually three small islands, two of which linked, while the third one during low tide is reachable on foot. The landscape features flat slopes and the remains of a partially-sunken ship. Wildlife is represented by brown bears, a large population of sea otters, seals (Steinneger’s and spotted), grey whales (spring through late December), large colonies of seabirds (10 different species, over 22,000 pairs, including slaty-backed gull, tufted puffin, sea eagles).
- Kvachina River and Utkholok Peninsula's water basins total 736,000 acres (around 3,000 km2) and meet at Cape Utkholok to drain into Sea of Okhotsk.
- Govena Peninsula (in the northern part) is bounded by Olyotorsky Bay and by Olyotorsky Peninsula. This area features picturesque fjords, Jagged mountaun peaks, abundant wildlife (brown bears, mountain sheep, Arctic hare).
- Bukhta Yuzhnaya Glubokaya is a bay near Novoolyutorka (on the Peninsula's eastern coast). Other popular with their scenery places are Lisvenichnaya (in Avacha Bay) and Kekurny Cape (in Russkaya Bay).
- Anastasiya Bay (also Anastasia Bay) is part of the Dezneva Bay. Here (mainly small) cruise ships anchor and their passengers board the ship's Zodiac boats to go ashore to the nearby coves for wildlife watching (walrus).
- Olyutorsky Gulf is bounded by Govena Peninsula (separating it from Korfa Bay) and by Olyutorsky Peninsula. This bay extends around 83 km (52 ml) inland, has max width of 228 km (142 ml) and max depth of 1km (0,6 ml). On its western coast is the Pylginsky Ridge (with highest elevation point 1357 m (4452 ft). The bay is ice-covered between December and May.
- Kronotsky Nature Reserve (UNESCO World Heritage Site) is a protected wilderness area reserved for the natural sciences studies in the Russia's Far East. The park was created in 1934, totalling 10990 km2 (4240 ml2). The park contains Russia's only geyser basin (Valley of Geysers), several mountain ranges, numerous volcanoes (some active, up to 3,5 km / 11500 ft high). Kronotsky Nature Reserve is visited mainly by scientists, but also by over 3,000 tourists annually (including cruise ship passengers). Tourist must obtain permits. Land-based tourist come here via helicopters and pay a fee of around USD 700 for a day visit. Wildlife is represented by over 750 plant species, a large population of over 800 brown bears (some weighing over 540 kg / 1200 pounds). The Valley of Geysers is the world's 2nd largest geyser field - after Mutnovsky (a volcano complex in the Kamchatka Peninsula's southern part). The Valley of Geysers has length of 6 km (3,7 ml), width of 13 km (8 ml). In this area there are approx 90 geysers and over 500 geothermal hot springs, located predominantly on the Geysernaya River's left bank. The largest geysers (at least 20 of all) can shoot more than 25 m (80 ft) into the air during minute-long eruptions that occur at approx 6 hours.
Cruise ships to Kamchatka Peninsula may also stop at the Karaginsky Island and at the much smaller Verkhoturov Island - approx 45 km (28 ml) to the north.
- Karaginsky Island is an uninhabited isle in the Karaginsky Gulf (Bering Sea). It is separated from the Kamchatka Peninsula by the Litke Strait (width 40 km / 25 ml). The island has length of 101 km (63 ml) and width of 27 km (17 ml), total area of 2404 km2 (928 ml2) and highest elevation of 912 m (2992 ft). Migrant reindeer herders live on the island in temporary shelters. The Island is covered with tundra vegetation (many flowers.
- Verkhoturov Island has length of 3,5 km (2 ml) and average width of 0,5 km (0,3 m).
Kamchatka Peninsula cruise terminal
Kamchatka Peninsula is visited predominantly (almost exclusively) by small-sized, expedition-type cruise vessels, specially equipped with Zodiac s(Inflatable boats) for going ashore. Ship's crew is well-trained and expert lecturers on board provide daily information on the visited destination's history and wildlife. The cruise season is from April-May through late September, during which daily temperatures are around 20 C (70 F).