ARCTIC SPRING

North west Svalbard

SAILING AREA

TRAVEL INFORMATION

The trips in the Arctic spring are one of the most beautiful and purest trips that sailing ship Noorderlicht makes. It is the best time to discover the polar region in its most Arctic form. The landscape is still pristine white and because there is often floating ice in the fjords, there is a great chance of spotting polar bears, seals & walruses. The bird populations that have taken shelter in warmer places in winter, the razorbills, kittiwakes, skuas and puffins are slowly making their way back to the Arctic and the first nesting seabirds can be seen. From the end of April in Svalbard we experience the midnight sun, which means that there are 24 hours of daylight. In the mornings and evenings, the light is phenomenal, making these trips extremely suitable for photography enthusiasts.

Voyage details

  • Period May & June
  • Duration 8 nights
  • Embarkation Longyearbyen
  • Disembarkation Longyearbyen
  • Ship Reade Swan // Noorderlicht
  • Price from € 2250

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SAILING AREA

ITINERARY

PLEASE NOTE: All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. Landings are subject to site availabilities, permissions, and environmental concerns per AECO regulations. Official sailing plans and landing slots are scheduled with AECO prior to the start of the season, but the expedition leader determines the final plan. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises

Day 1: Embarkation in Longyearbyen

You will arrive at the small airport of Longyearbyen, located about 15 minutes drive from the centre of the small town. Longyearbyen is the largest inhabited settlement in Spitsbergen and the world’s most northerly inhabited town with more than 1000 inhabitants. If you have the opportunity, it is an absolute must to visit the Svalbard museum. Here you can delve into the history of the island, the coal mining industry, the wealth of unique polar animal species, scientific developments and the many polar expeditions. After your visit, you can take a walk into the former mining town where you will find several shops offering a collection of unique Arctic products and souvenirs. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which preserves the global variety of agricultural crops, is also located nearby.

Our sailing ship Noorderlicht 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. Afterwards you will enjoy a delicious first dinner on board, while the ship sets course towards Trygghamna bay, where it will anchor for the night. The name Trygghamna comes from the original Dutch name ‘safe harbor’, because of its sheltered and safe anchorage possibilities. In the 17th century the bay was frequently visited by whalers to boil the oil from the blubber of the bowhead whale.

Day 2: Visit to seabird cliff Alkhornet

After a healthy breakfast, you will be asked to prepare for the first zodiac landing in Trygghamna, where you can see the remains of a 17th century English whaling station and a 18th century hunting station of the Pomor (Russian hunters). From here we will hike to the 428-meter high Alkhornet cliff, where some 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. Shortly before lunch all guests will be brought safely back aboard where everyone can warm up whilst enjoying a hot lunch. In the meantime, depending on weather conditions, the crew will set sail and head North.

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.

Day 3: St. Johns towards 14th Julibukta

In the morning, in consultation with the expedition leader, a spot will be selected to go ashore. The time of year means that it can sometimes be difficult for the group to take a long walk.

For lunch everyone is brought back on board. If the wind is favorable to us, we will hoist the sails under the guidance of the crew. The ship will attempt to sail out of the fjord in a northerly direction towards the Forlandsundet, a beautiful strait located between the main island of Spitsbergen and the island of Prins Karls Forland. Because this sailing area may still be in the grip of winter, there is opportunity to spot a lot of wildlife including ringed and bearded seals.

Historically, the Forlandsundet strait has always been a fear for many whalers, because of the Forlandsrevet sandbank on the north side. Due to its shallow draft, the Noorderlicht is one of the few ships that can navigate these waters although the crew will need full concentration. 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.

Depending on the ability to accomplish this passage, we will either sail to the Krossfjord or go to Poolepynten to spot the walrus populations.

Day 4 : The glaciers of Kongsfjord and Krossfjord

In the morning you will wake up in the beautiful Kongsfjord and Krossfjords where we will be greeted by the towering face of the “14th July” glacier. Bearded seals often lie to rest on the broken ice floes, and near the glacier we may find breeding colonies of black-billed guillemots, kittiwakes and puffins.
 
These fjords offer numerous sights. For example, we may be able to 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.

Day 5 : Walruses and panoramic view at Murray points

Today, early in the morning, we will head South for Grimaldibukta. In Murraypynten, named after a Scottish oceanographer, we hope to 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. In the afternoon we will continue the journey south, back to the Isfjord, where we will anchor in the sheltered bay at Ymerbukta in the evening.

Day 6 : Ghost Town in Soviet style: Barentsburg

The Esmarkbreen glacier flows into the bay of Ymerbukta, where we will organize a landing in the morning. Depending on the availability of a berth in Barentsburg, we will sail towards the Russian mining settlement where we will arrive towards the end of the afternoon. After an adventurous journey in the unspoilt nature of Spitsbergen, you will have the opportunity to move freely without the supervision of a guide with a rifle, as is necessary in most of Spitsbergen.

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 the dock where our ship is moored, we will first have to climb some 140 wooden steps before we enter the main street. Here we will see that the Soviet period has left its mark. There is a life-size bust of Lenin in the middle of the town, billboards with photos of workers and modernist Soviet buildings. Furthermore you can find the world’s most Northerly brewery and find the Pomor museum. In the evening you can enjoy the locally brewed beers and Russian snacks, together with part of the crew of the Noorderlicht.

Day 7 : Sailing towards Longyearbyen

In the morning we hope to make a final landing in Colesbukta, a former port used for transporting coal to the Soviet settlement Grumantbyen. We will see the remains of the once thriving coal industry and will visit the abandoned hut of the Russian geologist Vladimir Rusanov. Weather permitting, we will spend the rest of the day sailing back to Longyearbyen. Upon arrival in the Arctic town, enjoy some free time buying your last souvenirs or simply take a walk to soak up all the impressions of the week. Around dinner time you are expected back on board. The remainder of the evening is yours to share with the crew and your fellow travelers.
 

Day 8: Goodbye Noorderlicht!

Unfortunately, our adventure through the Arctic landscape of Spitsbergen has come to an end. After a hearty breakfast, you are kindly requested to disembark by 09:00. We hope that we have been able to show you the variety and beauty of Spitsbergen and that you enjoyed an unforgettable experience on board the Noorderlicht.

TALL SHIP READE SWAN

SAILING AREA

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SVALBARD | SPITSBERGEN EXPEDITION