Around Spitsbergen by Sailing Ship 16 daysAboard: SV Noorderlicht
This fantastic 16 day voyage will see you sail around Spitsbergen, the largest wilderness area in Europe, aboard an historic two-mast schooner ship. This exciting sailing experience will bring you up-close to the spectacular scenery and amazing wildlife that makes Spitsbergen one of the most fascinating places to visit in the world. On this very special Arctic cruise your ship will attempt to navigate entirely around the island, visiting enthralling areas such as Hornsund, Wilhelmøya and Trygghamna to name but a few. Enjoying thrilling Zodiac and land excursions throughout, you will be on a constant lookout for the abundant Arctic wildlife that resides in this remarkable part of the world including walrus, whales, reindeer, myriad birdlife, and, of course, polar bears! Added to the unique experience of sailing aboard a traditional sailing vessel, this is an adventure not to be missed.
- Sail aboard an historic 2 mast schooner sailing ship
- Attempt a navigation of the spectacular island of Spitsbergen
- Exciting Zodiac and shore excursions
- Breathtaking scenery at every turn
- Abundant Arctic wildlife including Polar bears, whales, walrus and reindeers
- Myriad birdlife
- Full board accommodation on board with all meals, snacks and hot drinks
- All zodiac excursions and landings with expert guides
- Programme of expert lectures
So much to experience
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All our itinerary holidays are fully customisable
Your unique Arctic sailing trip will begin in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Svalbard archipelago, where after having arrived independently you can enjoy a stroll around this former mining town before making your way to the port to embark your ship in the afternoon. After settling in to your historic schooner ship and meeting your new shipmates we will set sail through Isfjorden in the early evening towards Trygghamna. As we sail you may spot the first minke whale of your voyage, and upon arrival in Trygghamna we will stop here for the evening and enjoy our first night on board.
Various flight and land package options are available for transport to and from Longyearbyen, please enquire for full details.
Trygghamna & Alkhornet
This morning we will transfer to shore via Zodiac boat to explore Trygghamna and see the remains of a 17th-century English whaling station and 18th-century Pomor hunting station. Later you can enjoy a walk to the large seabird cliff of Alkhornet to observe the birds scouting for breeding places as the Arctic spring sets in, and the Arctic foxes that stalk below the cliffs. If the ground is relatively free from snow, which we expect it to be, it is also common to see reindeer here grazing on the lush vegetation.
Fuglefjorden & Ytre Norskøya
Today we plan to sail into Fuglefjorden, passing scenic Svitjodbreen and Birgerbukta along the way. Here we have great chances of seeing great skuas and maybe even some polar bears. Whilst we are here we will board our Zodiac boats to reach the shore to visit Birgerbukta to see some 17th-century Basque ovens once used for cooking whale blubber.
In the afternoon we plan to visit the small but very special and historically significant island of Ytre Norskøya. The island served as a Dutch whaling lookout for many years and we can enjoy a gentle walk along the shore to see some more 17th-century blubber ovens and pay our respects at the graves of some two hundred Dutch whalers. This is also a well known breeding spot for Arctic skuas and common eiders, which we expect to see in good numbers.
As with all polar sailing expeditions, itinerary flexibility is the key, and each day your captain and experienced crew will determine the best course to travel in order to provide you with the very best scenic and wildlife observation opportunities. As such, our itinerary over the course of the next 12 days will be flexible, but there are a number of particular spots we expect to visit as we circumnavigate this spectacular island.
Sailing east across the top of Spitsbergen we will sail to either Sorgfjord or Murchison Bay. In Murchison Bay we can board the Zodiacs to visit the shore to see the extensive polar desert that is home to numerous reindeer as well as a Swedish research station. Following our northern exploration, the ship will sail southwards into the Hinlopen Strait, a wildlife wonderland surrounded on all sides by lofty ice caps, to explore around the area. In the Hinlopen Strait we plan to board our Zodiac boats to enjoy an exciting cruise among the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in search of sightings of the polar bears, ringed seals and bearded seals that abound here.
Wilhelmøya is another popular polar bear spot where we hope to visit to enjoy some shoreline or inland hikes across the tundra, with more strenuous hikes rewarding in spectacular elevated views. Other possible landing spots in this area include the stark polar desert of Svartknausflya and the narrow picturesque waterway of Heleysundet.
As we continue to sail southwards along Spitsbergen’s east coast the plan will be to make a landing in Freemansundet, although ice conditions may mean this is deemed too unsafe. We also hope to take a Zodiac cruise to Kapp Lee on Edgeøya to enjoy a walk amongst the area’s mesmerising geological formations in search of sightings of reindeer and walruses. From Kapp Lee we may also take a visit to a large canyon in Diskobukta which is home to a large colony of kittiwakes that are stalked by roaming Arctic foxes and polar bears waiting for birds and eggs to opportunistically fall from the ledges.
Having sailed west along the south coast of Spitsbergen we will then reach the spectacular side fjords of the Hornsund area which boasts awe-inspiring scenery of towering spire-like mountain peaks of up to 4,695 feet. This area perfectly demonstrates why early Dutch explorers named this island Spitsbergen, meaning “pointed mountains.” Here we will sail along the large glacial deposit at Brepollen at the head of the fjord where we have excellent chances of spotting more polar bears and bearded seals from the ship.
The next region on our thrilling Spitsbergen circumnavigation will be Bellsund, one of the largest fjord systems in Svalbard. We plan to land at Ahlstrandhalvøya, at the mouth of Van Keulenfjorden to enjoy a walk to see the lush vegetation that is found here owing to the ocean currents which make this area relatively warmer than other areas in the archipelago. Here we will see the piles of beluga skeletons that remain as a haunting reminder of the whale slaughtering that happened here in the 19th century. Thankfully, these magnificent marine animals were not hunted to extinction and we have good chances of coming across a pod here. We also hope to take a Zodiac cruise along the side fjords of Bellsund to explore the tundra and search for sightings of reindeer and little auks. As your ship makes its way back to Longyearbyen we may, if time allows, make a last stop at Barentsburg, the only inhabited Russian settlement in Spitsbergen.
Circumnavigation complete, our arrival back into Longyearbyen signals the end of our exciting Arctic sailing cruise, and after breakfast you will disembark and bid a fond farewell to your expedition team and new-found friends. You may wish to spend some further time here exploring this unique Arctic town or enjoying some of the many extra excursions and activities that are on offer here. Please enquire for details of the land-based activities that we would be happy to arrange for you. Otherwise, it’s sadly time to make your way to the airport for your onward or homeward flights, filled with memories of the adventure of a lifetime.
A view from Above
Built in 1910, Noorderlicht is rigged as a two masted schooner with alternative diesel engine. It has a strengthened, steel hull and sails Arctic waters throughout the summer and autumn. There are 10 cabins, each with wash basin and twin bunks and shared showers and toilets. Cabins are all below deck and have daylight from roof lights. There is a bar/dining room/lounge and library/dining room/lounge. Noorderlicht offers a true sailing experience and passengers are encouraged to assist with raising and lowering sails and steering.
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Having amassed a host of extraordinary adventures in destinations all over the world, Amy’s experience, skills and enthusiasm for helping clients plan their ideal itinerary will help make your holiday unforgettable, action packed and life-changing.
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With a lifetime of unforgettable nature and adventure based travel under his belt, Simon shares his passion, enthusiasm and hands-on experience to help create the perfect itinerary for every client.