Explore ‘Svalbard’ with Swan Expeditions
Explore ‘Svalbard’ with Swan Expeditions
Step aboard our Tall Ship and be amazed at the versatility of the Arctic wilderness with spectacular glaciers, encounters with Arctic animals and delve into the history of Spitsbergen with a visit to historic whaling stations.
Become part of the crew while sailing our Tall Ship from Iceland to Greenland, and back.
Longyearbyen is the largest inhabited settlement in Spitsbergen and the world’s most northerly inhabited town with more than 1000 inhabitants. This is the star- and endingpoint of all of our expeditions in Spitsbergen. Our Tall Ship will be waiting for you at the so-called ‘floating pier’ where you can embark from 16:00. After a welcome from the captain, the mooring lines will be cast off and you will receive a comprehensive safety briefing from the crew.
The name Trygghamna comes from the original Dutch name ‘safe harbor’, because of its sheltered and safe anchorage possibilities. We often hike to the Alkhornet cliff, where 10,000 pairs of different seabirds breed. The cliffs are composed of carbonate rock, which is more than a billion years old. The tundra at the bottom of the cliff receives nutrients from the sea birds and provides meadows for reindeer, nesting sites for geese and shelter for Arctic foxes. Therefore, this location is very suitable for spotting these animals as well as polar bears.
In the Forlandsundet, as in the Isfjord, a lot of floating sea ice has probably accumulated. If the entrance of the fjord is free of ice, at nightime we will sail into the St. John Fjord. This beautiful and sheltered fjord system contains multiple glaciers and is one of the favorite spots of the captain. If we are lucky, we can enjoy the singing of the bearded seals at night.
The name Barentsburg was given in 1924 by the Dutch Spitsbergen Company to the then Dutch mining settlement. In 1926 the mining town was taken over by the Russians, after which it grew into a town of miners with more than 1000 inhabitants. Today there are still about 400 people of mainly Russian or Ukrainian descent. Since the mine has not been profitable for a long time, the focus has shifted more and more to tourism. From where our ship is moored, we will first have to climb some 140 wooden steps before we enter the main street.
This bird cliff overlooking the Hinlopenstraat is literally translated as “the mountain of the guillemots”. We will take our time at this natural wonder viewing the 60,000 short-billed guillemots breeding here. The Noorderlicht is small enough to cruise along the base of the cliff, eliminating the need to view it from the zodiac, so sit back and relax to see the seabirds up close.
Histocally, the northern part of the 88km long Forlandsundet has always been a fear to many whalers, because of the Forlandsrevet sandbar. Willem Barentsz called this northern part the ‘Forlandsundet Keerwyck’, because they had to turn at the sandbank for the shallows. Due to its shallow draft, our ship is one of the few ships that can navigate these waters. In the meantime, do not forget to keep an eye out for large groups of walruses that can often be found at Sarstangen and Poolepynten! They form a beautiful scene with panoramic mountains in the background that cameras love.
In Murraypynten, named after a Scottish oceanographer, we often make a landing to spot walruses from at close range. Murraypynten is a peninsula north of the Grimaldibukta. From the hills you have a beautiful panoramic view of the rugged mountain and glacial landscape of Spitsbergen and the flat landscape at the foot of the mountain makes it wonderful and easy to walk. On the south side of Murraypynten you can visit a ruin of a hut built by a German expedition in 1963.
These fjords offer numerous sights. For example, we may organize a landing on the Blomstrandhalvoya peninsula, where the remains of a marble mine can be seen at Ny London. From this location we also have a beautiful view of the Tre Kroner, the three iconic mountain peaks that shine through the ice cap.
Alternatively, in bad weather conditions, we can visit the former mining town of Ny Alesund. Ny Alesund is the world’s most northerly settlement and today a renowned polar research center. Big names such as Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and aviation pioneer Umberto Nobile have started their historic polar expeditions here.
This is a former port used for transporting coal to the Soviet settlement Grumantbyen. Here you can see the remains of the once thriving coal industry and will visit the abandoned hut of the Russian geologist Vladimir Rusanov.
This island is largely covered by the two large ice caps Austfonna and Vestfonna. From a distance the landscape seems inaccessible, cold and inhospitable, but many places are unexpectedly open and lush. Compared to the rest of Spitsbergen there are fewer remains of human activity to be found here, due to the isolated location, although we can find traces of Norwegian and Russian influence on the landscape.
Fuglehuken, the northernmost tip of Prins Karls Forlandet. Willem Barentsz is said to have set foot ashore here in June 1596 as the first traveller to Spitsbergen. Large numbers of guillemots and kittiwakes nest here on the steep cliffs and here we also find graves of whalers.
Magdalenafjord, one of the most impressive fjords in Spitsbergen. This fjord, on the northwest corner of Spitsbergen, was first discovered and named by Willem Barentsz. With rugged and pointed mountain peaks and impressive glaciers you find yourself here in a small Arctic paradise. In the mouth of the inlet, at Graveneset, roughly 160 graves from whalers from the 17th and 18th century are found between the remains of two furnaces which were used to boil the blubber of the whales.
Smeerenburg, a former settlement of Dutch whalers that grew into the center of Dutch whaling in the period from 1617 – 1646. The settlement consisted of warehouses, homes and a blacksmith shop. Horseshoe shaped ovens were used to boil the blubber of the whales, to extract oil which was used for soap and fuel for lamps. Today, remains of blubber ovens, tombs and houses can still be found here and there. After our visit we often sail to Sallyhamna to anchor for the night. In this area, full of shallow spots, polar bears have been spotted frequently!
Here a Harlinger blubber cookery can be found on the Danish island. Since there was no place for merchants from Stavoren and Harlingen at the blubber cookery in Smeerenburg, they built the ‘Harlingertraankokerij’ in 1636 on the adjacent ‘Deenseiland’. By this time, the whale population was already declining significantly, which meant that the activities of the ‘Harlingertraankokerij’ had already ended after 10 years. The remains of the blubber ovens, associated buildings and some graves from the whaling era are still visible.
In Bellsund we often organize a landing at Midterhuken, where we have a fantastic view off the youngest mountain chain (65 million years) of Spitsbergen. A collision of continental plates has created the fold and break lines that we can see on the mountain.
The 15 km long Negribreen, is one of the largest and most impressive glaciers in Spitsbergen. Curiously, the white glacier is also called ‘Black Glacier’ after Baron Christoforo Negri (1809-1896), an Italian geographer. The glacier has receded significantly in recent decades, but still has the widest calving front on the main island of Spitsbergen. As we approach the glacier, we will encounter blue icebergs, the blue colour indicating very old ice. A beautiful sight where every photographer can indulge themselves! Moreover at this location ivory gulls and Norwegian fulmars are often spotted.