As close to the landscape, wildlife and grandeur around Svalbard as possible!

Arctic Sailing around Spitsbergen
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Welcome on board for a very special nature experience! We invite you to an exclusive voyage around Svalbard – by sailboat! This expedition gives you the opportunity to see Svalbard in a way few have done before you. With a sailboat and as a small group, we are flexible and get close to nature and wildlife. Both at sea and on land by foot. Come join us; we will get wind in the sails, salt water in our hair and experience a lot along the way! On our Arctic Sailing around Spitsbergen expedition.

From Longyearbyen and all around Spitsbergen

During 12 days we sail clockwise around the entire island of Spitsbergen. With the sun and with the current. On the northern side of the archipelago, we go ashore on Nordaustlandet, before sailing through the Hinlopen Strait, around Barents Island, and into Storfjorden. We fill the days with hiking on land, fishing from the boat, bonfires and games on the beach, exploring glaciers and ice, whale and seal safaris and of course sailing! The program is packed with highlights and we will visit many beautiful places.

Stunning landscapes and bustling wildlife

Svalbard is wild and fierce in its own way. Onboard our expedition, Arctic Sailing around Spitsbergen, we are by ourselves, far from Longyearbyen and civilization. So we take the time to dwell in nature and let the vast landscapes sink in. With the sailboat, we are able to enter small lagoons and sheltered harbors. Places you may only have read about in the old expedition tales. On Svalbard, there is midnight sun until mid-August, so it will be bright around the clock.

During the 850 nautical miles in varied landscapes there are good opportunities to see polar bears, whales, seals and a bustling birdlife. We are visiting the animal kingdom and it’s always exciting to see if we spot all the animals on our wish list!

Nature decides

When sailing in Svalbard’s arctic waters, the ice conditions determine where we reach. From the end of July the ice has usually retreated enough for us to reach all the way around Spitsbergen. In the summer of 2019, however, there was a lot of ice in the south of Hinlopen still at the end of July. Nevertheless, we got through as the first boat of that season, with good cooperation and some long ice watches. 

We can therefore obviously not guarantee that we manage to sail all the way around Spitsbergen. As we must emphasize that the ice conditions determine whether we get around or not. We do what we can to get around, but if the sea ice doesn’t let us, we ‘ll have to turn around and sail as far south on the west side as we have time for instead. It will be an equally wonderful experience anyhow!

If this is your first time at 78 degrees north you will have a meeting with the Arctic that stays in your body and mind for a long time. And if you’ve been to Svalbard before, this trip will give you many new and exciting experiences that it’s definitely worth a new trip to the archipelago.

Be part of the crew on board

SeilNorge will provide skipper, co-skipper and a dedicated Svalbard guide on board. The guide and remaining crew on board take responsibility for being polar bear watch on land. En route for sail or motor, we include everyone in the sailing and all tasks onboard. From standing behind the helm and hoisting sails, to cooking, cleaning and planning the sailing legs. We mostly sail around the clock and divide everyone into watch teams. Where we rotate with 4 hours on and 8 hours off.  In addition, we add a few shorter shifts each afternoon, so that the night shifts also rotate between the watch teams throughout the expedition. When we are at anchor we always rotate the shifts with one awake anchor watch, while the rest can sleep.

Our Svalbard circumnavigation is primarily a major exploration, but also a great opportunity to learn a lot about sailing and navigation. Not least the use of a boat as a starting point for explorations and experiences ashore. Are you ready for the summer’s great polar adventure?

Our expedition vessel, Valiente

It’s not just any sailboat we use on this trip, but our 70-foot expedition boat Valiente. She is a very sturdy and comfortable boat built in steel for sailing in arctic waters. The boat is amply equipped and has large outdoor areas, a wheelhouse, and a saloon with a 360-degree view. Here you can see pictures and read more about Valiente.

Environment & Sustainability

The Arctic is a vulnerable area under pressure from people and the climate. In SeilNorge we are committed to taking care of the environment to the greatest extent possible. We believe that small boats with few people and little pollution and waste are significantly less harmful to the environment, climate and local wildlife than larger vessels and cruise ships. Along the way at the places we visit, we try to clean up rubbish. We only take memories and pictures home, and avoid leaving any traces behind. 

Keeping the lowest possible carbon footprint is important to us. We sail as long as there is wind, and we work purposely with food, purchasing and waste management. Even if we have to use our engine for propulsion when there is no wind, our trips are among the most sustainable ways to experience the Arctic.

In Svalbard, we follow AECO’s guidelines for encounters with wildlife, beach cleaning, cultural heritage sites and for visitors and operators in the Arctic

 

Arctic Sailing around Spitsbergen with SeilNorge

Get inspired by this short film about SeilNorge recorded on this specific trip here!

Exploring Spitsbergen by sail boat was an amazing experience, stunning scenery and great people to share it with.

Ellen R, Arctic Sailing Around Spitsbergen

Itinerary

Day 1: The adventure begins!

We meet at 14:00 at the dock in Longyearbyen. We start by getting to know each other, before going through the plan for the week. We familiarize ourselves with the boat, and stow up with provisions and equipment. Life on expedition requires cooperation, and before departure we go through routines and procedures for sailing and emergency situations. In Longyearbyen there is midnight sun at this time of year, and we take advantage of the bright afternoon and evening to sail towards the world’s northernmost settlement, Ny-Ålesund.

Day 2: The world's northernmost settlement New Ålesund

If we are lucky, we will meet a walrus colony already this morning in Forlandssundet. A little farther north we get to the entrance of Kongsfjorden where we find the research town of Ny-Ålesund. Here we moor for a trip on land. Ny-Ålesund is also known as the starting point for Roald Amundsen’s journey to the north pole with the airship “Norway”. The Kongsfjord itself is considered one of the most beautiful places on Svalbard, so now it’s time to check that the setting on the camera is correct and start snapping the good memories. In the heart of the Kongsfjord there are three pyramidal mountains, Dana, Nora and Svea, named after the Scandinavian countries. The mountains and the majestic glaciers in the area make this fjord a truly beautiful sight!

 

Day 3-4: Cultural monuments in the desolate north

We continue north, to the northwest corner of Spitsbergen. Here we sail into the Smeerenburg Fjord, an area that takes its name from Dutch whalers in the 17th century. There are clearly visible cultural remains from the activity in “Spekkbyen” (blubber town). All remains from before 1946 are completely protected on Svalbard. We continue onwards to Virgohamna, which also has visible remains from the early whaling, but also carries a lot of polar history from the period this place was used as the starting point for reaching the north pole. Both for Swedish Salomon August Andrée’s ballooning, and the attempt by Walter Wellman by airship. We then head east and enter the fjords on the north side of Spitsbergen as Woodfjorden. Where we stop at the Mushamna trapper station for a bonfire and stories on land.

Day 5-6: 80 degrees north!

From Mushamna we continue north and east approaching the milestone of the trip; 80 degrees north. At our northernmost point, we find both cold champagne and a suitable ice floe from the pole ice for a real celebration! Who will be the first to swim above 80 degrees north?? The trip then goes towards Nordaustlandet, where we hope the weather permits a trip on land so we can stretch our sea legs. Down in the Hinlopen Strait we are in an area with a lot of shifting currents, upwelling and life in the sea, and with constant small and large icebergs from the surrounding glaciers floating around us. Keep an eye out!

Day 7-9: With the bow to the south

We are now about halfway and we are heading south. We sail through Freemansundet, an area known for many polar bears. Furthermore, we pass the inner parts of Storfjorden, a large and shallow fjord that extends all the way down to the southern parts of Spitsbergen. Along the way, we pass some of the most beautiful and least visited areas in the whole of Svalbard. Along this east coast there are several mountains we can climb, like Keilhaufjellet which is a good alternative with a direct ascent. We are now approaching Sørkapp, which we have to round before we turning northwards up the west side and towards Hornsund.

Day 10-11: In the direction of civilization

We spend the last days on board along the west coast up towards Isfjorden and Longyearbyen. On the way we pass by Hornsund. An incredibly beautiful area, with good protection against weather and wind from the sea. A somewhat more inland climate makes this a good area for anchoring, and the possibilities for mountain hikes are many. In the bottom of the fjord, four glaciers meet, and the sight and sound of the glaciers calving into the sea is nothing less than enormous. As we approach Longyearbyen, we pass Isfjord Radio at the mouth of Isfjorden, an old radio station that is now an attractive place to stay. Once inside Isfjorden we hopefully get time for a stop in the Russian mining town of Barentsburg; a special place with its own rhythm and atmosphere.

Day 12: Back to Longyearbyen

The last morning we sail into Longyearbyen, we clean and wash the boat, pack our things and check out at 14:00. We encourage everyone to stick around at least until the next day, with accommodation on land, if possible. So we could meet for a farewell dinner on land in Longyearbyen this last night. Thanks for a terrific adventure!

In Longyearbyen

If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience Longyearbyen in advance of the trip, then we recommend staying an extra day or two before traveling home. It’s always smart to add time for some rest and resetting before and after such a trip. To let the impressions sink in and feel the vibe.

Changes to the program

The program should be seen as a starting point, which we adapt depending on weather and conditions underway. We reserve the right to constantly improve the program for the better. With us along the way, we always have dinghies for beach landings and small expeditions. We have fishing equipment for the cod, and hiking equipment for bonfires and summit climbs – we are ready for adventure, are you?!

What is included?

  • A trip experience with sailboat – experienced skipper with local knowledge on board
  • Co-skipper and crew/guide on board
  • All food we eat on board during the trip
  • Our Comfort Package, which consists of accommodation onboard in a shared double cabin (bunk or double bed) with a ready-made bed (warm and nice duvets and pillows!)
  • An environmentally friendly, local, sustainable, unique, exotic and exclusive Norwegian adventure holiday
  • A shared experience and friendship with like-minded adventurers from around the world
  • A lot of time outdoors – raw and honest nature experiences
  • Use of our shared equipment: dinghies, kayaks, fishing equipment, etc. when possible
  • All boat-related costs such as diesel, propane and harbor fees
  • Personal safety equipment; Helly Hansen inflatable lifejacket
  • Survival suit and Search and Rescue (SAR) Insurance for everyone onboard
  • Instruction, advice, guidance and practical training in boating and sailing

What is not included?

  • Travel to and from the start/end location
  • Optional meals at a cafes/restaurants during the trip
  • Entrance to galleries, museums, or other alternative activities that you/we may come up with
  • Rental of equipment and/or activities from external operators, ex. paddling, glacier hiking or surfing where possible
  • Drinks such as wine, beer or exclusive apple juice and other luxuries (yes, we drink beer and wine on board, bring your own)
  • Travel insurance and/or cancellation insurance – (up to you, but recommended!)

Important info

Travel

This expedition start and end in Longyearbyen, Svalbard.

ou find more information on travel, equipment and other tips under Practical info.

Deposit and payment

You only pay a deposit (NOK 6000) upon registration, the remainder of the payment is due 60 days prior to departure.

Safety and risk onboard

We are all about people, and so we also take safety very seriously. On our trips we practice sail- and boat handling also for safety, and we spend time going through various situations that can arise at sea, how to handle them and how to avoid them.

Onboard a boat everyone must know what to do in critical situations and in the event of an emergency. Our philosophy is that partaking and participation builds safety. It is important for the safety of the whole boat that you are a participant onboard, not just a passenger.

Therefore all our trips are to be considered sailing courses in addition to being great  holidays and adventures: You are trained to make up the crew onboard and so we build a capable team onboard.

Feel free to contact us for a chat about safety and risk on our adventures.

Level of the trip

No sailing experience? No problem! Our sailing adventures welcome both novices and seasoned sailors for an inclusive and enjoyable experience. Whether you’re new to sailing or a salty sea dog, our trips cater to all levels.

We aim to transform beginners into sailors quickly while offering experienced participants greater responsibilities and challenges. Our mainland sailing journeys involve 44-50 feet boats navigating coastal and protected waters, occasionally crossing open stretches for excitement. Route adjustments based on weather and conditions ensure a safe and adaptable voyage.

Trips are not overly strenuous; with rotating positions, participants can balance sailing and relaxation. Active engagement minimizes seasickness, and if it occurs, it passes swiftly. Weather, however, is unpredictable, with the potential for stronger winds and various conditions in northern Norway and the Arctic, making each trip a true sailing adventure. Be prepared for calm winds and rough weather—embracing the elements for an unforgettable experience.

What we expect from you

Our trips require a little effort from you who are joining – everyone on board must be ready to contribute and to give of themselves also socially; the more you open up, share and interest yourself in the others onboard, the more enjoyable it gets. 

When you’re sailing with us you are invited to take part in the running of the ship and all that comes with it. You will be sailing, docking, navigating, looking out for whales and icebergs, but also making food, serving others, doing dishes and helping clean the boat during the trip, and contributing in other ways when needed. Onboard we are all in the same boat and when all help out, the ship is most happy. 

Our experience is that doing things together with others out in nature, and not least cooperating and doing activities with new people and different personalities than you might have around you normally, is what creates the best, most interesting and memorable moments and stories:)

Equipment and packing

As with all activities, there is plenty of special equipment and clothing for sailing. If you don’t have any of this, you will get very far with normal hiking/outdoor equipment. You do not need to buy a lot of new equipment to join our trips. Use what you have, borrow what you need from a friend, purchase used equipment, and if you have to invest in new equipment – buy quality items that will last! What you need is something waterproof and windproof on the outside, and layered warm clothing underneath.

Some jackets may not be waterproof “enough”, or might not perform too well in salt water, so you can consider a set of oilskin for the wettest days (available for rent or purchase onboard). A pair of higher rubber boots for disembarking from the dinghy is very good to have, as well as indoor shoes below deck. Out at sea and in the Arctic it can be cold even in summer, so bring both swimwear and plenty of warm clothes. Well before departure, we will send you a detailed recommended packing list.

Read more and see our packing tips here:

PS: In a sailboat, you pack in a bag or sack, not in a rigid suitcase. 🙂

Food & cooking onboard

On our trips, you will be part of the crew onboard and get the chance to participate in all tasks for the operation of the boat. This includes cooking and preparing food – everyone take turns in the galley! Skippers and crew assist as much as they can along the way.

We have great menus with tasty, healthy and “boat-friendly” food, and for each trip we order provisions for all meals onboard. If you have allergies or preferences, let us know in the registration form and we will take that into account as best as we can. You are also most welcome to bring any special food or drink with you. Why not bring some specialities from your country or region for the boat to enjoy? 

During a weeklong trip we often sail by a good restaurant or two where we can have dinner on land. Some places we need to pre-book and we will then need to choose a menu before we arrive. More about all of this when you come onboard!

Life onboard & accommodation

Life on a sailboat is super social and fun, but it might feel a bit intimate at first. No worries though, that vibe usually fades after the first hour. Everyone chips in to run the boat, and we’re all part of the crew, which means quick bonding.

We’re keen to get to know you and hope you’ll connect with the rest of the crew. It takes some patience, generosity, and an open mind to thrive, but soon you’ll be focused on making new friends and enjoying raw nature experiences once sea life feels like home.

Sleeping arrangements in shared cabins with double or bunk beds can be a bit of a puzzle, but we’re pretty good at figuring it out. Let us know if you have preferences. You’re on your own for land accommodations before or after the trip.

The boat provides heating and good food, but fresh water isn’t always abundant. Water conservation means not showering every day, but when near freshwater sources, we make the most of it. But nothing beats a morning sea swim for that fresh feeling.

Safety and risk on our expeditions

As mentioned, we take safety very seriously. Even more so on our expeditions, as we then explore really remote waters and terrain, cross open oceans and sail into areas with additional risk factors such as sea ice or poor charts and uncharted waters. We deal with this by having an extra focus on the situations we may encounter among everyone onboard, for each expedition. We sail in these remote areas only in the most optimal seasons; and we use larger and very solid boats for our expeditions. Which are both equipped and sized to cope with this type of expedition trips and waters very well.

We are absolutely certain that sailing is the safest and most accessible way to visit these very inaccessible places we go on our expeditions. However, all sailing in general, and particularly sailing in arctic regions and over open seas, involves a certain risk that you must be aware of when joining.

Level of the expedition

Some have their first sailing experience ever, joining us on an ocean crossing! Please note that our expeditions require a certain physical health and mobility level.

The boats we sail on our expeditions are larger, robust and sit well in the sea. On our sailing expeditions we both sail in more coastal, sheltered waters, and cross open stretches of waters. On some of our expeditions even ocean crossings over several days at sea. An incredibly wonderful and special experience!

Weather dictates our journey, and we adapt each expedition’s program accordingly, often allowing extra days for flexibility in assessing and choosing optimal weather windows. Despite planning and preparations, we can’t control the weather, so be prepared for various conditions. The proximity to nature’s forces on such expeditions is a rare and rewarding experience.

On expeditions, we sail with many participants, forming watch teams for a solid onboard team spirit. Rotating watches around the clock ensures active involvement without overwhelming fatigue.

As everyone participates actively during the week or more onboard, seasickness is rare. If you anticipate seasickness, consider bringing remedies, such as seasickness plasters, often effective for longer expeditions. Consult your doctor for advice on seasickness and any necessary medications. Feel free to ask us about seasickness as well.

Any questions? Need travel tips? Practical information?


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