A true adventure among glaciers, fjords and mountains on Svalbard’s northwest coast!

Svalbard Northwest

Svalbard Northwest is, in our eyes, the most exciting and spectacular part of Spitsbergen. This is not just any sightseeing cruise where you sit and watch the landscape quietly pass by. On board with SeilNorge you sail as part of the crew. We explore and experience together, in a small group with the perfect adventure boat. We have 8 days at our disposal, light both day and night, and we are ready for a real expedition!

This adventure is an exploration of the glaciers, fjords and mountains that Svalbard Northwest have in abundance. In addition, we will enjoy the rich wildlife and dive into the area’s history and culture. This is one of our more active expeditions in Svalbard, where we go on mountain hikes ashore and really immerse ourselves in the desolate arctic landscape!

Expedition among rocks, mountains, ice and fjords

The area we visit on this expedition is where the Svalbard archipelago got its first name from the Dutch explorers; Spitsbergen – the land of pointy peaks. And the landscape here is incredibly spectacular, desolate and vast. With rock, mountain, ice and snow as main ingredients.

This experience is a deep dive into the subject of fjords and glaciers – and we will do it on several levels. We will sail around and go for hikes in the fjords, and we will try to get up to and onto different glaciers with crampons, axes and ropes. We will learn about the formation of the fjords, the movements of the glaciers, the lifecycle of the ice. Not least about the challenges and future of the glaciers in a time of an increasingly warmer, changing climate. Few other places on earth is climate change as evident as in Svalbard. A warmer climate affects both the permafrost, glaciers and sea ice, and the entire ecosystem is under pressure.

History, culture and wildlife

In northwest Svalbard Northwest, explorers from east and west have tried their hand at hunting, trapping and mineral extraction over the centuries since the archipelago was discovered in 1596. We pass by remains of this activity on our route through the many fjords here. Such as Kongsfjorden, Krossfjorden and Magdalenafjorden, along with the countless glaciers we pass such as Kongsbreen, Lillehöökbreen and Monacobreen.

In these areas, whalers and trappers have had ample access to game in the past. And there are still today good chances of seeing whales, seals and a bustling birdlife, perhaps even polar bears. Although the populations of most of the wildlife here have been dramatically reduced in the last couple of hundred years, as in the rest of the world. With the sailboat as our mobile base, we get close to nature and wildlife. And with a small group, we have great flexibility in relation to weather, wind and where we anchor and explore ashore.

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.

This expedition is primarily a great voyage of discovery, but also an excellent opportunity to learn about sailing and navigation. Not least about using the boat as our base for discoveries and experiences on land. We are all adventurers – and we explore together. Are you ready for a summer polar adventure with participants from all over the world in Svalbard?

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

 

With SeilNorge to Svalbard Northwest

Be inspired by this film clip from one of our Svalbard expeditions.

If you are looking for magnificent views, respect the nature and would love to get acquainted to the most amazing species that have managed to cope with the rough climate, are curious about fascinating history of polar expeditions and mining, are happy to try out new things and adapt to the environment and meet a bunch of excellent people with similar interests, then go for it. Unforgettable experience guaranteed :)

Alfred N, Svalbard Northwest

Itinerary

Day 1: The adventure begins!

We meet by the boat in the harbor of Longyearbyen at 14:00. We start with getting to know each other, before we go through the plan for the week. We familiarize ourselves with the boat and equipment, and stow the boat with provisions and equipment. Life on expedition requires cooperation, and before departure we go through routines and procedures onboard, for sailing and emergency situations. In Longyearbyen there is midnight sun this time of year, and we will make the most out of the afternoon and evening to sail towards the mountain Alkehornet on the opposite side of the Isfjorden. Throughout the night we continue our voyage on the inside of the island Prins Karls Forland, and through the narrow passage by Forlandsrevet.

Day 2: Krossfjorden and glaciers

During the second day we reach Krossfjorden and Lilliehöökfjorden. Here we’ll visit the 14th of July-bay and Lilliehöökbreen with its eight kilometer long glacier front. This is an impressive sight! here is no need to rush in these surroundings, and we take our time to digest the impressions. After an eventful day, we sail out the fjord again and continue north towards Magdalenafjorden.

Day 3: Magdalenafjorden

This beautiful fjord with icebergs in the water and high peaks around is named after the guardian angel of early Basque whalers; Maria Magdalena. Magdalenafjorden was an important base for whaling already from the 16th century. Many also died here, and at one place several hundred burial sites can be found. As we sail further north we reach more protected waters amongst the north-western Islands in the Smeerenburg-fjord. We will visit islands with history dating from the 17th century when whale hunters dominated this area. At the peak in the 1630s there were about 250 boats here hunting 750 whales per summer. Thus the whale population sank quickly and so did the number of whalers. Then 250 years later the islands became relevant again, this time as a base for several polar expeditions in the 19th and 20th century. Virgohavna was among others, the base for Swedish Salomon August André’s balloon flight attempt to the North Pole in 1896-97. 

Day 4-6: Fjord-sailing on the north shore

The next few days we will sail into the fjords at the north coast of Svalbard; Raudfjorden, Liefdefjorden and Bockfjorden. These fjords are home to a rich wildlife, and we can expect to see reindeer, seals and maybe polar bears. The glaciers in the area are fascinating; we collect fresh ice at Monacobreen for our drinks at the world’s northernmost bar; Texas Bar. The last night before we turn around we spend the night in Mushamna, which is a very special and well protected bay. Which also has a long history as a trappers station all up until today.

Day 6-7: Sailing south via Ny-Ålesund

In the morning we start the return south towards Longyearbyen. We pass the north-west islands and stop by Ny-Ålesund, the world’s northernmost all-year community and a research town for researchers from all over the world. Then we sail southwards on the inside of Prins Karls Forland to the mouth of Isfjorden, which leads us to the largest settlements on Svalbard, with Longyearbyen being the largest. As we approach Longyearbyen, we pass Isfjord Radio lying at the entrance of the Isfjord, an old radio station which today is an attractive place for accommodation. We hopefully have time to stop at the Russian mining town of Barentsburg; a special place with its own rhythm and atmosphere.

Day 8: Return to Longyearbyen and goodbye for now!

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 trip start and end in Longyearbyen

You 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.

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