This adventure voyage on MS Nordstjernen is the essential Spitsbergen experience. You spend one night on land and the rest at sea sailing along the west coast of Spitsbergen. Explore the extraordinary Arctic landscape, glaciers, fjords and magnificent Arctic Wildlife. If we are really lucky we might just see the King of the Arctic; the polar bear.
Spitsbergen is the crown of Arctic Norway; an island forged by wind, ocean, ice and snow. Because of its location it is a biological hot spot. This is where the frigid Arctic Ocean meets the warmer currents of the Gulf Stream.
Longyearbyen and Barentsburg
The fascinating settlements of Spitsbergen have their own distinct atmosphere. A common aspect is the rough and tumble pioneering spirit on which they were founded. This adventure starts in the Norwegian settlement often referred to as the capital of Svalbard. Here you’ll find all the amenities of a modern small town – situated in a fantastic Arctic landscape. The history of Longyearbyen is rich with a tradition of coal mining, and remnants from the early mining ventures can be seen everywhere. In the Russian settlement of Barentsburg, there will be opportunities to visit the Pomor Museum (optional) and see a lively folklore show. After this visit we will continue out of Isfjorden and head north along Prins Karls Forland.
Crossing 80° N
We sail into Magdalenefjorden and the North West corner. Here you’ll cultural her¬itage; a whaling station from the 16th cen¬tury, . We will make a tender boat landing here. Moffen is a high latitude islet, set above the 80th parallel. It is popular with walrus, and we will try to reach this far north if wind and ice condi¬tions allow.
Striking fjords and Ny-Ålesund
Woodfjorden and Liefdefjorden are large fjords in North Spitsbergen that offer a strikingly varied landscape – from large plains to remnants of extinct volcanoes and even the northernmost hot spring on earth. When we are cruising towards the Monaco glacier, we might get lucky and spot a polar bear searching for seals or bird eggs. Kongsfjorden is the largest fjord on the northwest coast of Spitsbergen. The landscape varies from large tundra plains to alpine peaks with dramatic glaciers tumbling into the ocean. At the end of the fjord, you will find the majestic Kongsbreen (King’s Glacier). At 78º 55’ N, Ny-Ålesund is one of the world’s northernmost year-round communities. Previously a coal mining community, Ny-Ålesund is now an advanced High Arctic research station. A number of countries run their own national research stations here, and there is a lot of activity here in the summer. On our way back to Longyearbyen, we will sail into the most prominent fjord system on Svalbard. Marvel at the large U-shaped valleys, carved out of the mountains by giant glaciers that covered the area ten thousand years ago.
The grand dame of Hurtigruten
Explore this extraordinary natural world from MS Nordstjernen, a ship that is rich in character with an aura of nostalgia. She was built for the Hurtigruten fleet in 1956, but has been extensively modernized. Her classic wooden interior fittings combined with more modern comfort creates an extraordinary atmosphere. Because MS Nordstjernen is a small vessel, she will take us to the less accessible pearls of these beau¬tiful coastlines, making your voyage one-of-a-kind and truly unforgettable.
During the entire adventure, our programme of shore excursions will take you close to both Arctic wildlife and the cultural reminders of the early whaling era.
Your adventure starts with an overnight stay in Longyearbyen. This Norwegian settlement is a unique little town. While the arctic environment is dominant, it is also a surprisingly cosmopolitan place, with art galleries, pubs, long wine lists at restaurants, stores and a mini-mall. Longyearbyen is often called an antidote to the stress of modern day life and is a prime destination for adventure travellers. Reminders of the history and heritage of early coal miners can be seen everywhere. When Coal Mine number 1 was opened in the 1930’ s, the miners moved into flimsy two-story barracks. When World War II ravaged Europe, Svalbard was also impacted when Nybyen was set on fire in 1943. After the war, the miners moved back and into the newly built barracks. These “barracks” have been completely renovated to offer our guests a high standard of comfort. Spitsbergen Hotel was originally built as an accommodation and dining area for employees of Store Norske Spitsbergen Coal Company. It was also the company’ s official representational building. Its interior and architecture made it Longyearbyen’ s grandest construction. The hotel is preserved and decorated using its history. It’s well worth walking through the corridors and public areas to look at the historical photographs and pictures, old maps and newspaper stories. Situated on “The Hill”, it gives you great views of Longyearbyen, the Lars- and Longyear glacier. The hotel was constructed in 1947, but has been extensively refurbished over the years. You spend the night in one of these hotels.
After breakfast, you are invited to a guided sightseeing tour in Longyearbyen that includes visits to the Svalbard Museum and Gallery Svalbard. This fantastic museum is really worth a visit, as it will provide you with a great deal of background information on all that you will come to experience on your expedition. Then its time to embark on the adventure and MS Nordstjernen. We sail south in Isfjorden until we reach the Russian settlement Barentsburg. This “company coal mining town” has been Russian since 1932, and is still home to about 500 people. Here you can explore the exotic collection of old Russian artefacts and architecture, join a folklore show or soak up the real Russian atmosphere in the local pub.
For thousands of years, the Tlingit Indians have called this place home. Located near the city of Hoonah, and home to a historic cannery, Icy Strait Point also offers travelers the chance to view wildlife like humpback whales, orcas, seals, eagles, and brown bears, or to explore monuments to the region’s fishing heritage.
Kongsfjorden is the largest fjord in the Northwest coast of Spitsbergen. It is also known as King’ s Bay. There is also a very good chance that we will cruise into a large side fjord called Krossfjorden. The landscape varies from large tundra plains to alpine peaks with dramatic glaciers tumbling into the ocean. Be sure to sight for the mountain Mitra – named for a ‘ Mitre’ or a catholic bishop’ s hat – located on the northern shore of the entrance to Kongsfjorden. At the end of the fjord you will see the majestic Kongsbreen (King’ s Glacier) with the three characteristic nunataks: Nora, Dana and Svea –named after the three Scandinavian countries. Later we dock at Ny-Ålesund. Situated at 78º 55’ N, this is one of the world’ s northernmost year-round communities. Previously a coal mining centre, it is now an advanced High Arctic research station. A number of countries run their own national research stations here, and the activity is particularly high in the summer.
Located in central Spitsbergen, Isfjorden is the most prominent fjord system on Svalbard. We will spend the morning sailing towards Longyearbyen. One of the most noticeable mountains in this area is Alkhornet, where thousands of brünnich’ s guillemots nest during the summer season. As we sail into the outer parts of the fjord, the landscape changes. Marvel at the large U-shaped valleys, carved out of the mountains by the giant glaciers that covered the area some ten thousand years ago. After disembarkation in Longyearbyen you have the rest of the day at your disposal. Then there will be a farewell dinner in the hotel in the evening.
Your Spitsbergen adventure is over. After transfer to the airport it’s time for the flight back home.