Sailing Holidays in Svalbard
This mystical island realm is a place of polar bears, whales, fairy tales and northern lights. A snowy wilderness that will captivate those seeking to explore Svalbard under sail.
Home to the world’s northernmost small town and northernmost airport (for scheduled flights), the Svalbard archipelago lies halfway between Norway and the North Pole, in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. Surrounded by soaring mountains, ice-covered fjords and large glaciers, this rugged and fragile landscape is astonishingly beautiful and although it’s the size of Ireland, there are only 30 miles of road here which means a sailing holiday on Nooderlicht is the best way to discover Svalbard.
WILDLIFE WATCHING IN SVALBARD
From mid-May until late September, the archipelago enters a period referred to locally as the ‘Polar Summer’, where the Midnight Sun shines bright and bold – it doesn’t drop below the horizon again until late August, leaving day and night to become one. This bold end of winter marks the return of numerous migratory birds as the waters start to throb with life once more. The seas here are rich in nutrients offering a tempting abundance of food to walruses, seals and whales who visit the fjords to feast in the cold waters. Wildlife watching is one of the main attractions in Svalbard and the thrilling thought of sighting polar bears, walruses, narwhals and bowhead whales (to name but a few) lures visitors each year. Wildlife viewing is best done on the water and being on board a boat offers the perfect experience as it silently glides through the water, taking care not to disturb any arctic wildlife.
Polar bears in Svalbard outnumber the human population by around 1,000 and with the ever-present risk, you will soon notice that residents of Longyearbyen do not leave town without a high-powered rifle, although the chances of encountering one face-to-face are incredibly small.
SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS IN SVALBARD
Aside from the breathtaking wildlife watching opportunities, it is the magical Northern Lights which keeps Svalbard firmly on the tourism map. As Philip Pullman so eloquently describes, these ‘great curtains of delicate light’ are truly wonderous and whilst sightings are more likely during the winter months, the aurora borealis are visible year-round. In fact, Svalbard is the only permanent settlement on earth where the dayside Northern Lights can be experienced, and these differ in colour, vibrancy and strength from the dancing aurora usually viewed in the evening and night hours. During our sailing holidays in Svalbard, we ask all guests to keep their eyes peeled for this truly phenomenal phenomenon!
THE HISTORY OF SVALBARD
The archipelago, remote as it may be, also boasts a rich history. It served as a Nazi outpost in World War II and the soldiers stationed here were the last to find out that they had lost the war. Prior to this, the Svalbard islands were home to a whaling operation, established in 1611 by the Dutch and English, which remained fully functional until the 19th Century when the Norwegians took charge of the territory. However, the archipelago was essentially a mining outpost with coal mining one of the key industries. Visit the historic town of Barentsberg, the second largest settlement in Svalbard and once home to more than 1,000 Russian miners. Today only around 400 Russian and Ukrainian miners remain as the coal mining industry dwindles and greener energy sources, along with sustainable tourism, take its place.
EXPERIENCE SVALBARD SUSTAINABLY
Svalbard really is a bewildering and impressive archipelago, offering some of the most beautiful artic adventures in the world alongside some of the most sought-after wildlife. It is a place where glaciers reign, snowy mountains rise high into the clouds and the aurora dances above the rugged wilderness. It is a destination on many a bucket list and with the Norwegian government introducing stricter tourism rules – including a ban on helicopters and submarines as well as restrictions for cruise ships – a sailing holiday to Svalbard on board classic schooner Nooderlicht remains one of the most sustainable, natural and least impactful ways to explore this fragile, remote and mysterious corner of the world.