All the way north, to the polar ice edge by sailboat.

Svalbard to the Ice Edge

Welcome on board an expedition where we aim to sail all the way up to the polar ice edge north of Svalbard. The atmosphere, tranquillity and sounds along the ice edge are some of the wildest things we know. The ice edge is also one of the most exciting and rich biotopes in the Arctic, with wildlife both in the sea and on the ice.

Bustling wildlife along the ice

Up by the ice, we find a bustling animal life above and below water. Did you know that the ice houses its own adapted species of algae? It grows on the underside of the sea ice! The Arctic cod, which has antifreeze in its veins, is also an important part of the ecosystem here. Which in turn becomes food for seals and whales. We will get to experience a bustling bird life – and maybe we will meet the very rare and nearly threatened ivory gull? Last, but not least, we of course scout around the clock for the queen of the Arctic; the polar bear!

On Svalbard, the midnight sun shines until mid-August, so it will be bright all day and night. You will have a great encounter with the beautiful and uninhabited arctic landscape. On this expedition we sail far beyond the areas normally accessible from Longyearbyen. This means you get to experience something totally unique, whether you have been to Svalbard several times before or this is your first trip to the “land north of the northerlies”.

Experience for life!

This expedition is for those who want to explore the ice edge and the wildlife here. For those who dream of blue seas, white ice and the high yellow sun filling the entire horizon. Above 80 degrees north! Pack your hiking boots, curiosity and binoculars for this trip. And join us explore, experience, live and learn. Maybe you’ll come home with the wildlife photo of the decade or a piece of sea ice in your luggage. And certainly new friends for life!

Along the way, we hope to fish cod for dinner. And we sail past some of the mighty glacier fronts, calving large icebergs straight into the fjord. With the sailboat as our mobile base, we get close to nature and wildlife. We are flexible in relation to weather conditions, and we anchor and explore ashore.

Will we get all the way to the ice edge?

The polar ice cap in the Arctic is in constant motion, and this is unfortunately the area of ​​the globe where climate change is affecting the most today. With the shrinking sea ice cover summer after summer, we may end up sailing further and further north. This trip departures at the start of summer, when the average sea ice extent is still at its greatest. The ice edge can however, in certain years, be too far north for us to reach. Or it can cover even the Sjuøyane islands in the very north of Svalbard, so we don’t get there either. Though we haven’t experienced that since 2014.

Should the sea ice be too far for us to reach, we will instead sail to Nordaustlandet and Sjuøyane, Norway’s most northerly landmass. Then we would even get the opportunity to land at Norway’s most northerly point, Rossøya!

Where we find the ice edge is just as exciting every year. As the ice is always moving and will be located at a different latitude every year, we follow satellite images of the ice edge and the ice charts throughout the spring to get an idea of where it might be for our adventure!

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 and the ice edge

Be inspired by this film clip from Svalbard here.

Probably the best possible way to experience Svalbard?! This being a sailing trip allowed us to visit many places and have great flexibility. Knowledgeable tour leaders and guides made the trip all the more entertaining and educational. Living in close quarters with people you didn’t know from before means that you really get to know each other quickly, and towards the end of the trip the group becomes like a family. This was a fantastic experience, and I look forward to future adventures with SeilNorge!

Ingeborg, Svalbard to the Ice Edge

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: The world’s northernmost settlement

If we are lucky, we might get to meet a walrus colony in Forlandsundet already this first morning. A little further north we reach the entrance to Kongsfjorden, where the research town Ny-Ålesund is situated. Here we moor for a trip ashore. Ny-Ålesund is also known as the starting point for Roald Amundsen’s voyage to the north pole with his airship “Norge”. Kongsfjorden is considered to be one of the most beautiful fjords in all of Svalbard. The perfect time to get our cameras set up and start snapping some good memories. In the heart of Kongsfjorden are three pyramid-shaped mountains: Dana, Nora, and Svea – named after the three Scandinavian countries. The combination of the mountains and the majestic glaciers in the area make the fjord a truly breathtaking sight.

Day 3-4: Around the northwest corner towards the ice!

Around the north-west tip of Spitsbergen we find a wonderful “archipelago”, with large islands, mountains and glaciers, instead of small islets and cays. Well past these islands, and possibly having spent the chance for a trip ashore, we set our course straight up towards the polar ice! This could be a longer sea crossing of one to two days, or only a shorter leg to the northern tip of Sjuøyane/Nordaustlandet. This year’s ice conditions will decide!

Day 5: Wildlife safari along the ice edge.

When we hopefully hit the ice edge, we follow it eastwards and see where the sea clears up as we get closer to land. The ice decides again. We sail calmly along the ice while we scout for bears, seals and other animals. We have experienced that the whales also thrive around the ice edge. 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 go for a swim at above 80 degrees north??

Day 6-7: Around Sjuøyane and southwards

After memorable experiences all the way up here by the polar ice, and perhaps an expedition dream about the North Pole planted in some of us on board, we have to turn the bow south. If we have hit the ice further south, we can have time to sail past Sjuøyane and Nordaustlandet on the way back. Maybe we will have time for a mountain hike here as well. To a viewpoint where we see  south towards the glaciers that cover most of the entire Svalbard archipelago. Further south, we will sail past Verlegenhuken, the northernmost point on the island of Spitsbergen, and further past the fjords on Spitsbergen’s north coast. If we have enough time, we might sail by the trapping station Mushamna, with its well protected lagoon, for a night’s rest at anchor.

Day 8-9: Back towards civilization

The last few days are spent heading back towards Isfjorden. Where we adapt landings and excursions to distance covered and remaining time. We certainly have only seen a fraction of all the exciting places along the northwest coast on our way north, so we’ll have another opportunity now. The northwest corner is full of cultural remains, around Smeerenburgfjorden and Virgohamna. And at the entrance to Isfjorden, the large fjord where also Longyearbyen is located, we pass Isfjord Radio. An old radio station that was once the Svalbard community’s only communication with the outside world. Today it is an attractive accommodation. When we enter Isfjorden, we hopefully have time for a stop in the Russian mining town of Barentsburg; a special place with its own rhythm and atmosphere.

Day 10: Back to Longyearbyen and goodbye!

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, Svalbard.

You find more information about travel, equipment and other tips under Du finner informasjon om reise, utstyr og praktiske 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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