PLEASE NOTE: The autumn Spitsbergen voyages are ideal for enjoying solitude at the onset of winter, a very special season. The month of September is still fine to sail outside the Isfjorden. 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.
The central Spitsbergen cruise offers the chance to explore both the beautiful fjord region as well as the history of the people who have lived and worked here. The expedition is also a wonderful way to enjoy the wildlife in its natural habitat and one of the great attractions in the Arctic: The Northern Lights.
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 – 5: Glacial fjords, historic finds
Leaving Trygghamna early in the morning, you sail to the north side of Bellsund. Here you find a fjord system with two major branches: Van Mijenfjord and Van Keulenfjord – and one smaller side bay, Recherchefjord. The geology has created particularly unique landscapes here, such as the long and narrow island of Akseløya, which blocks Van Mijenfjord almost completely. In Fridtjovhamna, the calving glacier Fridtjovbreen is surrounded by picturesque mountains.
The rich wildlife of this area has attracted hunters throughout the centuries. At Ahlstrandhalvøya you can walk in the hunters’ footsteps, examining the remains of their huts. Recherchefjord has one of the highest concentration of historical sites in all of Spitsbergen, ranging from 17th century whaling culture to the mining period of the early 20th century. The glacier Recherchebreen ends at a lagoon, likely to be frozen in October, and several smaller icebergs. Polar bears are commonly sighted all over Bellsund, so keep your eyes open for them and for the belugas that frequent this area.
Day 6: Russian waypoints
You next pay a visit to Barentsburg, the only inhabited Russian settlement in Spitsbergen. An alternative is Colesbukta, an abandoned Russian coal mining settlement.
Day 7: Chasing the Arctic chill
Sailing into the inner reaches of the Isfjord system, you can see the new ice that is forming on the heads of the fjords. You may also experience temperatures as low as -10° C (14° F).
Day 8: 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 »