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For 2021 departures -
Day 1: We will embark our vessel in Longyeabyen, in the late afternoon
After arriving in Longyearbyen, the ‘capital’ (actually the administrative centre) of Spitsbergen, you may wish to visit the Svalbard Museum which has an interesting collection on the history of Spitsbergen, the mining industry and polar exploration. In the afternoon we sail, setting course for Alkhornet, a high cliff. Below the cliffs we often see Arctic Fox and reindeer. We continue to Trygghamna to visit the remains of a 17th century English whaling station and an 18th century Russian Pomor station.
Day 2 - 5: We set sail to the fjord system of Bell Sund
We leave Trygghamna early in the morning and sail to the north side of Bellsund. Bellsund is a fjord system with two major branches (Van Mijenfjord, Van Keulenfjord) and one smaller side bay (Recherchefjord). The geology is fascinating and has created amazing landscapes, such as the long, narrow island of Akseløya that blocks Van Mijenfjord almost completely. In Fridtjovhamna, the calving glacier Fridtjovbreen is surrounded by picturesque mountains. The rich wildlife of the area has attracted hunters throughout several centuries - we will walk in their footsteps and see remains of their huts - for example, at Ahlstrandhalvøya. Recherchefjord is one of the places in Spitsbergen with the highest concentration of historical sites, dating back to 17th century whalers and the mining period of the early 20th century. The glacier Recherchebreen ends at a lagoon, likely to be frozen in October, with many smaller icebergs. Polar Bear are likely to be present anywhere in the Bellsund area, and we will keep a keen watch to find them. We have also seen Beluga (white whales) in this area.
Day 6: We will visit an inhabitated Russian settlement in Barentsburg
We will pay a visit to Barentsburg, the only inhabited Russian settlement in Spitsbergen, or to Colesbukta, an abandoned Russian coal mining settlement.
Day 7: We will sail into the Isfjord system
We sail into the inner reaches of the Isfjord system, where during nights with open sky we will experience temperatures of minus 10 degrees C, and new ice will be forming on the heads of the fjords.
Day 8: Our final morning, we will disembark the ship in the morning in Longyearbyen
Departure by scheduled flight from Longyearbyen to Oslo.
For 2022 departures -
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.
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 sets sail and head South towards Bellsund. In the night we will drop anchor at the island of Akseløya.
Day 3: AkselØya landing - Fridjofbreen Glacier
In the morning, we will land at AkselØya, a long and narrow island in the mouth of the Bellsund, blocking the majority of the Van Mijenfjord. This island is named after the sailing schooner that the Finnish explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiold chartered for his 1864 expedition to Spitsbergen. Here we will see that the ancient traditions of pelt hunting are preserved. After the walk we go to the caving glacier Fridtjofbreen which is surrounded by picturesque mountains. Keep a good eye out for belugas who have often been spotted here in previous years! In the evening we will look for an anchorage for the night at Midterhuken.
Day 4: Remains of Beluga hunting
From Midterhuken we have a fantastic view of the youngest mountainridge (65 million years old !) of Spitsbergen. A collision of continental plates has created the fold and break lines that we can see on the mountain. On the cliffs we find noisy colonies of guillemots, kittiwakes, little auks and Norwegian fulmars. The droppings of these birds provide rich nutrients that makes the surrounding tundra remarkably green and fertile. This tundra in turn provides a good breeding ground for arctic foxes and herds of reindeer. Even polar bears are regularly spotted here in search of food. After the morning hike, we will resume the journey to the bay of Fleur de Lyshamna, where we will be dropped off near 3 old rowboats that once belonged to the Norwegian beluga hunter Ingvald Svendsen. From there we walk to Kvitfiskstranda ('white whale beach') where there is a hut called Bamsebu, a whaling station built by the same Svendsen. At this location, a massacre of whales took place in the 19th century and the bones of the animals are still to be seen on the beach as a reminder of the grim past. Fortunately, despite the massive hunting of belugas in the past, they are now spotted again regularly in the fjords!
Day 5: History in the Recherchefjord
We plan a final landing in the Bellsund at the Recherchefjord. The high concentration of historical sites in this fjord are proof of the fact that the rich landscapes and abundant animal life have attracted many hunters and other professions. During the 17th and 18th century it harboured one of the largest whaling fleet in Svalbard and in the early 20th century, a coal mine was developed. Remains from these periods can be seen here at several locations. After the landing we will sail back North, back to the Isfjord. Depending on the availability of a berth in the port of Barentsburg, we will sail towards the Russian mining settlement.
Day 6: Ghost Town in Soviet style: Barentsburg
In the morning we will visit the town named after Willem Barents. 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. When everyone is safely back on board, we leave for Borebukta. We will try to get as close as possible to the northwestern end to get a look at the steep glacier front of the Borebreen. We then continue to the west side of the bay, close to the Nansenbreen, where we will anchor for the night.
Day 7: Sailing towards Longyearbyen
In the morning we will organize a final landing at Cape Bohemanflya. Here we find a piece of Dutch history in the form of the former Dutch mine in Rijpsburg. It was expanded by the Dutch in 1920 with cabins for coal mining. Because the coastal waters here are very shallow, the Dutch found out that shipping coal here was very difficult. In 1921 it was therefore decided to transfer the activities to Barentsburg. Here we will visit an old hut from the 1900 and the foundations of the removed huts. Since August 31st 1920, there has also been a monument to Queen Wilhelmina in the form of a large stone pyramid. Weather permitting, we will spend the rest of the day sailing back to Longyearbyen. Upon arrival in the Arctic town, you may enjoy some free time to buy the 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 where the crew has a last surprise in store for you. The rest of the evening you can enjoy your last night with the crew and your fellow travellers.
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.