PLEASE NOTE: All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions and in order to take advantage of opportunities to see wildlife. The on-board expedition leader determines the final itinerary. Itineraries may mention places that require permission to land, which must be granted by the relevant national authorities. Such permission is not granted prior to the publishing of these itineraries. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises. Willingness to compromise on comfort is a basic requirement on board of a historic traditional sailing vessel. Important information about the sailing program: the boat is equipped with sails and these will be used in good conditions (open sea, water depth, appropriate wind conditions, time availability). This is not guaranteed. The captain decides whether to use the sails or the engine. There is no claim to one or other propulsion method. If sails are used, they are operated by the crew. Guests follow the safety instructions of the team. Average cruising speed for s/v Noorderlicht is 6 knots.
Day 1: Largest town, biggest island
You touch down in Longyearbyen, the administrative center of Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. Enjoy strolling around this former mining town, whose parish church and Svalbard Museum make for fascinating attractions. Though the countryside appears stark, more than a hundred species of plant have been recorded in it. In the early evening the ship sails out of Isfjorden, where you might spot the first minke whale of your voyage. In the evening you sail for Trygghamna, where you see the remains of a 17th-century English whaling station and 18th-century Pomor hunting station, both of which you can visit the next morning.
Day 2: Foxes, seabirds, and grazing reindeer
From Trygghamna you walk to Alkhornet, a large seabird cliff where the birds are scouting out breeding places. Below the cliffs is a common place to spot Arctic foxes, and you may also see reindeer grazing on the lush vegetation if there’s not too much snow.
Day 3: Remains of the whalers
You sail into Fuglefjorden amid views of Svitjodbreen and Birgerbukta, both breeding areas for great skuas as well as likely spots to see a polar bear. On Birgerbukta you can see 17th-century Basque ovens once used for cooking whale blubber. The aim next is to visit Ytre Norskøya, a small island that served for many years as a Dutch whaling lookout. Here you can still follow the whalers’ tracks to the summit of the island, passing popular bird cliffs on the way. On shore are the remains of more 17th-century blubber ovens, while Arctic skuas and common eiders breed among the graves of some two hundred Dutch whalers.
Day 4 – 15: The many sights of Svalbard
Today you start by sailing either to Sorgfjord or Murchison Bay, on the north side of which lies an extensive polar desert that is home to numerous reindeer as well as a Swedish research station. You then continue through Hinlopen Strait, surrounded by lofty ice caps.
Over the following days, you may visit the following sites:
Lomfjord – This is a beautiful fjord fringed by towering mountains offering a great opportunities for a hike.
Wilhelmøya – A tundra landscape in which polar bears can possibly be seen, Wilhelmøya is also a good area for shoreline, inland, and altitude-gaining hikes.
Svartknausflya – You may take an excursion to this stark polar desert, which is almost devoid of vegetation but rich with invertebrate fossils and whale skeletons along its raised beaches.
Heleysundet – A narrow but picturesque waterway between Spitsbergen and Barents withthis route can only be made against the current.
Freemansundet – Depending on conditions, you may also sail through this waterway. A walk at Kapp Lee may introduce you to a few new reindeer and walruses, and you might also visit a large colony of kittiwakes nesting in a canyon in Diskobukta. Arctic foxes and polar bears with their young often roam this canyon, scavenging for birds that fall from the ledges. Sub-fossilized whale bones are scattered across the raised beaches.
Hornsund – You continue your Spitsbergen voyage by sailing into the labyrinth of side fjords around Hornsund. At Brepollen rests a large glacial deposit at the head of the fjord. Sailing along the glacier front will afford you good chances of spotting bearded seals and polar bears. The geological formations in this area are vibrant and mesmerizing.
Bellsund – En route to Longyearbyen, you may reach Ahlstrandhalvøya. More fascinating geological formations can be seen here, as well as the remains of 20th-century beluga hunting. (This is still a good area to see beluga.)
Barentsburg – If time allows you could then pay a visit to Barentsburg, the only inhabited Russian settlement in Spitsbergen. A side option is Colesbukta, an abandoned Russian coal mining settlement.
Day 16: There and back again
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. You disembark in Longyearbyen, taking home memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.
Highlights you might experience
s/v Noorderlicht is well suited for sailing among small islands and offers good open-deck viewing areas, also when under sail. Full ship info »