Sailing & Exploring Svalbard
- Vessel: Noorderlicht
- Where: Svalbard, Norway
- Duration: 16 days
- Embark: Longyearbyen Harbour - 4 July 2023, 16:00
- Disembark: Longyearbyen Harbour - 19 July 2023, 09:00
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Spend 16 days circumnavigating the Arctic wonders of Svalbard with tall ship Noorderlicht.
Join tall ship Noorderlicht in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard for an epic 16 day circumnavigation sailing expedition.
Follow in the footsteps of whalers, discover abandoned settlements and watch the spectacular Arctic wildlife with the safety of a trained guide. Navigate vast swathes of ice fields, explore colossal glaciers ashore and make life long memories. This voyage is perfect for the adventure traveller looking for that next bucket list location.
- Skippered sailing
- 16 day circumnavigation
- Private cabins
- Full board
- Bucket list location
- Polar bears!
Your Sailing Area
High in the Arctic circle between Norway and the North Pole sits the worlds northernmost icy town of Svalbard. One of Europe’s last great wildernesses, where there are more resident Polar bears than humans, Svalbard is a fairy-tale like but formidable landscape.
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.
Colossal glaciers, ice covered fjords, dramatic snow-peaks and an abundance of Arctic wildlife are a constant reminder of how fragile this wild and rugged world really 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!
The aim of this epic expedition sailing voyage sis to spend 16 days circumnavigating the island of Svalbard. 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: Embarkation in Longyearbyen
Climb aboard Noorderlicht in the small snowy town of Longyearbyen – the largest inhabited settlement in Spitsbergen. Enjoy a welcome from the crew and captain, before a delicious first dinner on board while the ship sets course towards Bellsund, where it will anchor for the night.
Day 2: Glacier Fridtjofbreen and the historic sights in the Bellsund
Explore ashore at Midterhuken in the Bellsund where there are fantastic views of the 65 million year old mountain chain of Spitsbergen. During lunch, Noorerlicht will sail to Kapp Toscane where you can enjoy a short walk to Kvitfiskstranda (‘white whale beach’) before setting the sails again towards the Hornsund or the South Cape of the island of Spitsbergen.
Day 3-4: Around the South Cape towards the east of Spitsbergen
If the weather – and ice conditions are favourable, you will visit the Hornsund, one of the most inhospitable and icy fjords of Svalbard.
This fjord is home to many steep glacier fronts with a high chance of encountering seals and belugas. Visit the Polish research station in Isbjornhamna, where we can get information about their scientific wildlife programs.
Due to the currents that converge here, from the Arctic Ocean and the Barents Sea, it is important to plan this Cape crossing carefully. As soon as we arrive in the Storfjorden, we have a good chance of encountering groups of whales. We then sail in a northerly direction to the island EdgeØya – well known for its large reindeer population as well as for its polar bears.
Due to the flat and accessible island, we have the possibility of a landing at Kapp Lee near Dolerittneset (‘Dolerite point’). The wide tundra is dotted with reindeer antlers and whale bones and you can often find arctic foxes and large colonies of kittiwakes here.
Day 5: Visit the impressive Negribreen, Heleysundet.
After breakfast, we will visit Negribreen, one of the largest and most impressive glaciers in Spitsbergen. 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 indicates very old ice!
After taking plenty of time at Negribeen, we will attempt to sail through the Heleysundet, a narrow channel notorious for its strong currents. In the channel, there is a nameless bay where only our red sailing ship is known to have anchored. The crew of Noorderlicht has given this bay a name: the ‘Noorderlichtbukta’. Here we have the possibility of a nice walk under and on top of the cliffs of Straumslandet.
Day 6: The famous bird cliff Alkefjellet
Depending on the tide, we leave the Heleysundet to set sail in the direction of the spectacular bird cliff Alkefjellet. We will take our time at this natural wonder viewing the 60,000 short-billed guillemots breeding here. 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.
We will spend the rest of the day sailing in a northerly direction through the Hinlopenstraat. The Hinlopenstraat is a 150 km long strait that separates Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet and is often difficult to navigate because of the dense pack ice. Once in the Lomfjorden, we will look for an anchorage for the night.
Day 7: Nordaustlandet – the northeastern limit of our trip
After a morning walk in Faksevagen with impressive views over the glacier Gullfaksebreen, we cross the Hinlopen Strait towards the most northeastern island of this trip: Nordaustlandet. This island is largely covered by the two large ice caps – Austfonna and Vestfonna. 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.
We may take an evening walk at the special landmark Kinnvika, where a Swedish-Finnish research station dating from 1957-58 can be visited. The project was abandoned in 1959 when funding ran out, making the 10 vacant wooden buildings now seem mysterious.
Day 8-9: 80 degrees north towards the ‘de Zeeuwse Uitkijck’
During the next two days, we celebrate passing the most northerly point of our journey at a latitude of 80 degrees north. We sail along the island of Moffen, a walrus and bird sanctuary, where we keep a good lookout to see groups of walruses. In this northern area, the ice determines where to sail and where to go ashore.
Possibly during one of these days, we will find an anchorage close to Ytre NorkskØya where we hopefully can land at the’ Zeeuwsche Uitkijck. Here 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.
Day 10: Whaling history at Smeerenburg
Sailing further on to the West, we proceed to AmsterdamØya, where we can get a good insight into 17th-century whaling. Here you will find Smeerenburg, a former settlement of Dutch whalers that grew into the centre 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, extract oil which was used for soap and fuel for lamps. Remains of blubber ovens, tombs and houses can still be found here and there.
Day 11-12: The glaciers of Kongsfjord and Krossfjord
Sailing South, we will aim to find the breathtaking blue-green bay of the Magdalenafjord. With rugged and pointed mountain peaks and impressive glaciers, it’s an Arctic paradise.
We sail onwards to the beautiful Kongsfjord and Krossfjord 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.
Day 13: Walruses and a panoramic view on the Prins Karls Forlandet
Today we will start early, sailing a southerly course towards the St. Johnsfjord. To get there we will navigate the Forlandsundet strait. 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, Noorderlicht is one of the few ships that can navigate these waters although the crew will need full concentration.
If we can complete this passage, we will make a landing at Murraypynten and walk the hills with a beautiful panoramic view of the rugged mountains and glacial landscapes of Spitsbergen.
In the afternoon we will continue the journey south, towards the St. Johnsfjord, where we will anchor in the sheltered bay.
Day 14: Ghost Town in Soviet-style: Barentsburg
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.
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 Noorderlicht.
Day 15: Sailing towards Longyearbyen
In the morning we hope to make a final landing in Colesbukta, before sailing back to Longyearbyen.
Day 16: 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.
- Full board (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
Travel insurance notes
As this is an active adventure holiday, we advise that everyone has the appropriate personal accident travel insurance whilst onboard in addition to standard travel insurance which would cover you in the time between making your booking and departing for your adventure. These policies can sometimes be combined so please check with your travel insurance provider.
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.