EXPEDITION TO SPITSBERGEN
Tall Ship Noorderlicht has almost 30 years of experience in Spitsbergen. With us you will experience the Arctic wilderness with spectacular glaciers, encounters with Arctic animals and dive into the history of Spitsbergen.
We offer several voyages in Spitsbergen. They take place from April to September: In the spring, in the summer until the arctic autumn. Experience a life-changing journey with Swan Expeditions on Tall Ship Noorderlicht.
Sailing in Spitsbergen..?
Yes, only with a sailing ship you can discover the real Spitsbergen on a voyage between 7 and 16 days. Larger and only motorized ships are increasingly banned from the most beautiful and vulnerable places.
Smaller ship = better experience
In the past 30 years that we execute sailing expeditions in Spitsbergen, we have also seen an increase of mass tourism. Fortunately, the Norwegian government is making rules to protect vulnerable areas from the larger, motorized ships of up to 200 passengers. Tall Ship Noorderlicht with only 20 guests is still allowed to visit those places.
The characteristic appearance of our Tall Ship Noorderlicht makes an expedition to Spitsbergen a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Staying on our traditional, comfortable ship with its majestic masts and rigging creates a wonderful atmosphere.
Moved by the wind
If there is wind, we will travel under sail as much as possible. Gliding through the arctic waters driven by the wind is a unique experience. Of course it is nice if you want to help with the sailing of the ship. And of course you can take the helm and steer the sailing ship to the next special landing.
With our 30 years of experience in Spitsbergen, we anchor in the most beautiful, most remote fjords and bays of Spitsbergen. With an expedition zodiac we will take you ashore. Our certified guides will always ensure a landing you will never forget. The primeval ice, the glaciers, the wild life. Because we sail with a maximum of 20 guests and we are a relatively small sailing ship, you are able to enter into the real untouched nature of Spitsbergen. An shore-expedition lasts from a few hours to a maximum of half a day.
Anyone who goes to Spitsbergen hopes to see a polar bear. With our 30 years of experience, but also with up-to-date knowledge, we do our utmost to achieve this. Polar bears are wild animals that we don’t want to disturb. If we have polar bears close by, we are on board the Noorderlicht. We don’t want to encounter polar bears on land. That is too dangerous.
You will notice that our guides always carry a riffle against polar bears. Never in the last 30 years have we had to use that weapon. We always make sure we will not have a close encounter with a polar bear on shore. But we just can’t rule it out completely. Therefore this security measure of a weapon is needed.
You will then sail close to the waterside away from your Tall Ship. The image of the magnificent Tall Ship at anchor in the beautiful bay is always a feast for the eyes. The journey with the zodiac is an experience in itself. The zodiac moors against the ice or slides a bit on the snow plate or on the beach. Time to get out and get ready for adventure in another new place!
We are proud that we are a sailing ship and we try to use our sails to reach the expedition areas under sailing. Only that aspect already makes Noorderlicht unique in Spitsbergen. Most other ships are motor ships with all its consequences.
We also need electricity on the Noorderlicht. However, still our footprint is very low compared to the big vessels of up to 200 passengers. We get the energy that we need from our Powerpacks. We have 3 generators on board. Two small and ones and one larger one. This way we can always choose which one needs to be running for what we are doing, so we always have the configuration with the smallest impact on the environment.
Life on board
What immediately stands out is the warm and cozy atmosphere in the ship. There are nice common areas that can be heated well for the arctic areas. There are also 10 comfortable double cabins. Living together on board is a fantastic experience, regardless of your age. The group process is one of the most important parts of an expedition.
Tall Ship Noorderlicht has 10 cabins for 2 people. The cabins are spacious and comfortable. Some cabins share a shower and toilet with one other cabin. Other cabins have the shower and toilet in the sanitary room. A double bed on a sailing ship is not a good idea. As soon as there is some heel, this is not pleasant. Therefore we have two single beds in a bunk bed arrangement.
If you want more privacy, you can choose to book one cabin for one person. We only have a limited number of private cabins available.
Every day our chef and crew prepare a delicious breakfast with various cereals, fresh bread, sweet and savory spreads with coffee, tea, juice, milk. At the coffee and tea moments, something tasty is usually provided.
Lunch is an important meal with bread where something extra or warm is often served. Dinner usually consists of three courses and is prepared with great care.
Because we have a relatively small group of passengers, our cook can always add a personal touch to the food for our guests. Our crew and our guides join in with our guests. This ensures that we are all really sailing the expedition together.
If you have any questions regarding diets and allergies, please contact us.
After breakfast usually follows the first expedition or landing of the day. Lunch on board is after the first landing/expedition, between 12 noon and 2 pm.
Sailing / second landing
Depending on what the Spitsbergen offers, we will then sail to the next expedition area. Sometimes we use the whole afternoon for that. Another time we go on second expedition or landing. Dinner takes place between 6 and 8 pm. In the evening there is room for a lecture or briefing from the guides and of course to chat or read a book. Sometimes there is still sailing in the evening or at night and it is nice to participate in the sailing of the ship.
Our ships are sailed by an international, professional crew. On board we have a captain, mate, cook, deck crew, and 1 or 2 guides. Total maximum 5 crew members and 2 guides. They are together responsible for a safe trip and are therefore trained and certified on the basis of internationally applicable regulations. Our cook provides daily breakfast, an extensive lunch (often hot) and dinner. Dietary preferences can also be taken into account, such as meatless and allergies.
Our guides are fully certified and have extensive experience leading landings and expeditions. They have different areas of expertise. One knows a lot about flora and fauna, the other knows a lot about the history of Spitsbergen or about the impact of the changing environment in the polar regions.
Because we have one guide for every 10 guests, we can provide customized expeditions and landings. One guest simply has different wishes than another guest. Our guides will give briefings about the expeditions before and after the various expeditions. They will also give lectures and presentations about their various fields of expertise. With a maximum of 20 guests and two guides, these are pleasant and informative moments.
The crew and guides usually sleep in their own part of the ship. They eat and live in the same areas as our guests. That gives a pleasant informal atmosphere on board. That way we are really experiencing the expedition together.
As soon as the Noorderlicht is a few miles out to sea, a sense of calm descends on the ship: there is no longer a cell phone connection. Can you imagine? A day without your mobile? This is your life aboard our vessel. There is no contact with the outside world. Or, at least almost ...
Of course there are other ways in which Tall Ship Noorderlicht can be in contact with the outside world 24/7. For example, we have an iridium LT 3100 satellite telephone connection which we can always use to call and be called in case of emergency.
During the voyage, the captain provides updates at least once a day about what is going on, where the ship is sailing and what the plans are. These are always pleasant moments.
And there is always, 24/7, someone you can ask questions and can discuss anything.
History of Tall Ship Noorderlicht
The history of Tall Ship Noorderlicht begins a century ago as the lightship Kalkgrund II. The ship was originally rigged as a three-masted schooner and not equipped with an engine. The ship already has a really beautiful hull.
From lightship to houseboat
After being used as a lightship for a while, the ship is converted into a houseboat. Unfortunately, it fell into a bad condition… But the rusty hull was refitted into an expedition ship in 1992. We are then one of the first ships to take guests to the still unknown Spitsbergen.
Frozen in the ice of Spitsbergen
After years of wonderful expeditions in to Spitsbergen, the ship is also frozen in winter in 2003 as a kind of hotel ship to house researchers with sled dogs. Due to the rising temperatures, this will come to an end in 2015, and the ship will start a new period as an expedition ship to unique destinations. In total we have almost 30 years of experience on Spitsbergen
Safety and certification
Noorderlicht meets all safety requirements set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The crew and guides are well trained in dealing with emergencies, but especially in preventing them. Every year, the entire ship and crew are inspected by various government agencies.
This already starts when you step aboard the ship. As a new crewmember you will be part of our safetydrills that take place during the start of our expedition. Do you have questions regarding safety aboard? Do not hestitate to ask one of our crewmembers about it during your stay.
Booking and Costs
Although our expeditions on our sailing ships are the most unique of all the voyages you can make on Spitsbergen, they are still very affordable. A 7-day expedition costs about 2500 euros and a 16-day circumnavigation towards 5.500 euros (VZR garant has secured the paid travel money. More about it here).
That is based on full board, coffee, tea, juice, etc. Only your personal (alcoholic) drinks are for your account. The flight and your transfer from Longyearbyen airport to your ship (15 min) is not included.
Payment for the expedition is always in advance by bank transfer. You pay for your drinks on board the day before departure by (credit)card.
When you have found your expedition of choice, you can start booking. For expeditions of more than 3000 euros that are booked more than 60 days in advance, you only pay 30% first. If the expedition is already within 60 days of booking or for less than 3000 euros you pay the entire travel sum direct.
We have a number of unique items for sale on board. Think of sweaters, polos and caps that you will either wear yourself and that remind you of your expedition on Noorderlicht. Or you can take it with you for your friends or family at home where everyone is curious about all your stories.
It is customary for guests to tip the crew. This can be arranged when paying for your drinks and merchandise on the last day. For example, consider 5% of the travel sum.
With your booking you will receive a link to your personal account. There you will find all information about your expedition. We also ask you to complete your personal information in your account. Do you pay in partially payments? Then you will also find the second invoice in your personal account 2 months before the trip.