Sailing in Svalbard; Whalers Footsteps
- Vessel: Noorderlicht
- Where: Svalbard, Norway
- Duration: 11 days
- Embark: Longyearbyen Harbour - 23 June 2023, 16:00
- Disembark: Longyearbyen Harbour - 3 July 2023, 09:00
Follow in the footsteps of the Arctic whalers as you explore Svalbard with tall ship Noorderlicht.
Join tall ship Noorderlicht high in the Arctic circle on the island of Svalbard as you embark on an adventure of a lifetime.
Svalbard has a rich mining and whaling history with ice topped mountains, glistening glaciers and abandoned settlements alluring many an adventurer. This sailing expedition will follow in the footsteps of our whaling ancestors while soaking up the epic wilderness that this archipelago has to offer.
- Skippered sailing
- Private cabins
- All-inclusive board
- Bucket list location
- Polar bears!
- Sail area & highlights
- Life on board
- Travel planning
- The boat
- What's included
- Boat schedule
Your Sailing Area
One of Europes last great wildernesses, Svalbard sits high in the Arctic circle, halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. With more polar bears than humans, ice covered fjords, colossal glaciers and soaring mountains really hit home how wild, rugged and fragile this beautiful landscape is. Often referred to as the “land of the midnight sun” when from mid-May to late September, the archipelago sits in 24hour daylight, this epic terrain is certainly not for the faint hearted!
Discovering Svalbard under sail with a tall ship is by far the best and most sustainable way to see the very best of this Arctic archipelago. Svalbard has strict tourism policies in place with travellers unable to leave the main town of Longyearbyen without a registered guide. Noorderlicht has been given special permission to sail and explore this magical landscape with a registered guide onboard meaning guests are in safe hands at all times.
Below is a rough day-to-day guide of what to expect based on previous voyages but please bear in mind that all itineraries are subject to the weather. As you board, the Captain will have a better idea with updated forecasts of what you can expect from your adventure sailing holiday in Svalbard.
Day 1: Longyearbyen
Longyearbyen is the largest inhabited settlement in Spitsbergen and the world’s most northerly inhabited town with more than 1000 inhabitants. Discover the fascinating history of the island as you join Noorderlicht on the ‘floating pier’.
Enjoy a welcome from the crew and captain, before a delicious first dinner on board while the ship sets course towards Trygghamna bay, where it will anchor for the night.
Day 2: Visit to seabird cliff Alkhornet
Head ashore to explore the whaling and hunting station of the Pomor in Trygghamna. From here you can hike to 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 and Polar Bears.
Sail into the beautiful strait of Forlandsundet located between the main island of Spitsbergen and the island of Prins Karls Forlandet. At the bay of Grimaldibukta, Nooderlicht will anchor for the night and go ashore at Murraypynten to admire the walrus colonies and discover the beautiful panoramic views of the rugged mountains and glacial landscapes of Spitsbergen.
Day 3: Bird cliff Fuglehuken & the gem Magdalena Fjord
Journey to Grimaldibukta to continue in a northerly direction sailing the Forlandsundet strait. Due to its shallow draft, Noorderlicht is one of the few ships that can navigate these waters while you keep an eye out for large groups of walruses that can often be found at Sarstangen and Poolepynten!
If the weather permits, sail to Fuglehuken, the northernmost tip of Prins Karls Forlandet. Large numbers of guillemots and kittiwakes nest here on the steep cliffs and here we also find graves of whalers. After a walk ashore, sail further north to the breath-taking blue-green bay of the Magdalenafjord, one of the most impressive fjords in Spitsbergen. With rugged and pointed mountain peaks and impressive glaciers, it’s an Arctic paradise.
Day 4: Center of the Dutch whaling industry: Smeerenburg
Set sail for the island of AmsterdamØya, known for its 17th century whaling history. The settlement consisted of warehouses, homes and a blacksmith shop. Horseshoe-shaped ovens were used to boil the blubber of the whales, extract oil which was used for soap and fuel for lamps. Today, little can be seen of the activities that took place 400 years ago with some remains of blubber ovens, tombs and houses.
Day 5: The Zeeuwsche uitkijck & ‘Spitse bergen’
Today there is a planned shore excursion near Ytre NorkskØya. In 1617, whalers from Zeeland built a blubber cookery and were able to keep a good lookout over the sea for whales from the highest point of the island. On the coast remains of the blubber furnaces and the graves of Dutch whalers can still be found, very well preserved in the frozen subsoil.
Sail south again to Virgohamna where the steep mountains with sharp peaks in this area are the most striking of all of Spitsbergen!
Day 6: The glaciers of the Kongsfjord and Krossfjord
Sail to the beautiful Kongfjord and Krossfjord where Noorderlicht 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, along with breeding colonies of black-billed guillemots, kittiwakes and puffins.
These majestic Norwegian fjords feature the historical heritage of the English. The English obtained the right to hunt south of the Magdalenafjord and the Dutch were granted control over the northwestern corner of Spitsbergen.
Day 7/8 : Ghost Town in Soviet-style: Barentsburg
In the next few days Noorderlicht will turn south and make her way back to the Isfjord, making a stop in the sheltered and beautiful bay of St. Johnsfjord. Depending on the availability of a berth in Barentsburg, sail towards the Russian mining settlement and 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 for most of Spitsbergen.
Day 9: Dutch coal mine Rijpsburg
In the morning you can take a short walk through Barentsburg where the expedition leader will show you the sights of the mining town. When everyone is safely back on board, Noorderlicht will set her sails and leave for Borebukta.
Day 10: Sailing towards Longyearbyen
After breakfast, it’s time for one last stop at the historic mining settlement of Cape Bohemanflya before our sail back to Longyearbyen.
Day 11: Goodbye Noorderlicht
After a hearty breakfast, you can disembark by 09:00.
All voyages for Noorderlicht
Guest berths: 20 Rig: Schooner
Originally built in 1910, Noorderlicht has a colourful history and has spent much of her life sailing the Baltic Sea and exploring Svalbard. With various refits, hull extensions and rigging reconfigurations, she now sails as a graceful two-masted schooner taking guests on bucket-list sailing holidays in the Arctic.
With comfortable accommodation for up to 20 guests in private twin cabins, Noorderlicht offers guests whale watching and wildlife expeditions exploring the Arctic waters of Northern Norway & Svalbard. Her size and draft mean she can reach some of the most remote areas of Svalbard so she is a great way to discover the hidden gems that this breathtaking part of the world has to offer.
Low impact and environmental travel go hand-in-hand with Noorderlicht’s ethos. Her ability to set sail and explore this part of the world is the best way enjoy the beautiful unspoiled nature.
In the early 90’s she was refitted to become a charter vessel and so her accommodation below decks was given careful consideration. She has ten comfortable twin cabins that all share four bathrooms. The galley and downstairs seating area sits in the middle of the ship with another seating area and bar in the deck-house.
Noorderlicht is sailed by her loving owners along with a friendly crew who are all well trained to sail the wilderness of Svalbard. They invite guests to get involved with sailing Noorderlicht but it is certainly not mandatory!
Deck planMore about Noorderlicht
Life on board Noorderlicht
Sailing and exploring the wilderness of Svalbard with expedition vessel Noorderlicht is an experience of a life-time. Exploring this fascinating landscape from the comfort of your own tall ship is a bucket list holiday, perfect for the adventure traveller.
Noorderlicht has been sailing and exploring Svalbard for over 10 years so her crew are well versed in the nuances of this remote and wild location. On all Svalbard expeditions, not only is there a full crew but a qualified and verified guide is present at all times. Guests are not permitted to go ashore without the guide due to the risk of Polar bears and the harshness of the environment. The guide is permitted to carry a shotgun for the safety of the guests and crew. Guests will be briefed upon arrival but ultimately, the crew’s aim is to make this adventure a fun, awe-inspiring and unforgettable experience.
Sleeping and Relaxation
The interior of Noorderlicht is authentically decorated giving an informal, cosy and nautical atmosphere below decks. There are spacious seating areas in the upper-and lower deck salon for all the passengers. There is a small board library available filled with informative lecture about the concerning area, but also some fine novels. Besides there is a small, cozy bar in the upper deck salon.
The sleeping area is situated at the lower deck in 10 twin cabins. All cabins have upper and lower berths, a built-in closet, a washbasin with cold and warm water and a mirror. In your cabin you will also find 220V power outlet to charge your electronics. Furthermore the ship has 5 toilets and 4 showers which are for common use.
If we have learned anything from our years of experience on sailing ships, it is the importance of good and nutritious food on a ship! Although the Arctic area gives rise to limitations on the possibilities and supplies of the food onboard, our professional cook will prepare you excellent meals from the international kitchen three times a day.
Full kit information will be given at the time of booking or can be requested beforehand- please just email us at [email protected]
A 50% deposit is required at the time of booking with the final balance due 90days before departure.
How cold is it in Svalbard?
Temperatures vary from April through to September. Depending on the time of year you can expect lows of -30 and highs of +10. It is hard to predict but appropriate clothing is paramount.
- All inclusive meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and hot drinks)
- All bedding (pillow, sheets & duvet)
- Full crew plus tuition
- Marina and fuel fees
- All tender trips to and fro the boat
What’s not included
- Any flights
- Transit hotels
- Travel to and from the boat on the day of joining/leaving
- Travel insurance
- Sailing Insurance (Please read our Sailing Insurance page for more information)
- Crew tips
- Personal expenses
What COVID policies are in place for sailing with Noorderlicht?
There are currently no Test & Sail policies in place for the 2022 season. Guests will just need to ensure they are following any international guidelines to travel to the boat.
Are all meals included?
Yes, all meals on board are included in the price. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and hot drinks) Alcohol is not included.
Can you cater for dietary needs?
We can cater for vegetarian, dairy-free and gluten-free. We cannot cater for a vegan diet.
What language is spoken onboard?
Do I need to tip the crew?
Tips are not mandatory but are welcomed by the crew (and can be paid by card or in cash €)!
What are the sleeping arrangements?
10 x Twin Cabins with shared bathrooms
Are bedding and towels provided?
All bedding is provided but please bring your own wash towels. Micro-fibres are great - quick-drying and lightweight for travelling.
How many toilet/showers does she have?
4 shower rooms and an extra single toilet
Is there an age limit?
Yes. No children younger than 11. Above aged 16 is fine, but ages 11-16 we must check directly with the boat on a case by case basis.
When is the best time to see the Northern lights in Norway/Svalbard?
You have the best chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis from mid-late September through to mid-March.
How cold is it in Svalbard?
Temperatures vary from April through to September. Depending on the time of year you can expect lows of -30 and highs of +10. It is hard to predict.
Are muck boots (similar to Wellington boots) essential?
Yes 100%. Without them your Svalbard experience could be limited, as they will absolutely be required for a number of shore landings from the RIB/tender.
What luggage type is best for taking on a boat?
Duffel type bag; made with water-resistant material is desirable. If you must take a hard suitcase (though we do not recommend it) it must be kept in your cabin.
Is there Wi-Fi?
No, but you should easily be able to reach 3G/4G from the shore.
Can I charge my phone/camera?
Yes. There are power points in all cabins. Please bring 2-pin European adaptors.
Are life jackets provided?
Are waterproofs provided?
Do I need sailing experience?
No, absolutely not! Just a lust for adventure.
Will I be sea sick?
Everyone reacts differently but we recommend if you are at all worried to take some medication 24 hours before departure.
From: Longyearbyen Harbour
To: Longyearbyen Harbour
To see where the ports are, along with your likely sailing area, please view the sail area & highlights.
Fly into Oslo or Tromsø to get a connecting flight to Svalbard. There are several flights a day into Longyearbyen airport from Oslo and Tromsø in Norway. Your easiest route from the UK to Longyearbyen (LYR) Airport for Svalbard is from London Heathrow via Oslo with airline SAS.
Taxis and buses meet each incoming /outgoing flight, even the ones in the middle of the night and will stop at the marina on request, and the airport shuttle service stops at all hotels in the centre.
STAY IN SVALBARD:
There are plenty of places to stay in Svalbard. Try Gjesthuset 102, Mary-Ann’s Polarrigg or Funken Lodge.
Please note that you need a guide to travel anywhere outside the town of Longyearbyen due to the risk from polar bears.