Adventure Cruises in Svalbard

The picturesque archipelago of Svalbard is located between Norway and the North Pole. Svalbard is a small and quiet place with several islands that are any travel enthusiast’s dream. The islands, especially Longyearbyen, are a tourist hotspot comprising several adventure activities and excursions. It is flocked by tourists all year round, be it during the Polar Summer or the Winter. One can visit unexplored underground ice caves or hope to catch the world-renowned Aurora Borealis in these locales.

Top Things to Do in Svalbard

Svalbard is strategically located between mainland Norway and the North Pole, which has kept more than half of the region protected from human intervention. It boasts of extremely rare wildlife that includes 21 animals, namely bearded seals, humpback whales, little auk or the ‘sea dove,’ walruses, polar bears, and so on.

While the tranquillity of Svalbard’s nature is one of the most impressive attractions, it’s not all the place has to offer. Travelers can plan a day of exploring Longyearbyen, including cultural attractions like the Svalbard Church and the North Pole Expedition Museum. Some of the most exciting adventure sports and wilderness excursions are listed below:

Whale Watching

While most voyages to the Artic primarily include whale spotting, Svalbard is often overlooked as a whale-watching hotspot owing to the reign of the polar bear over the archipelago. Additionally, the summer currents at Svalbard, rich in nutrients, attract not only whales but other cetaceans from all over the globe. This is the only place in the world where travelers with an adventurous streak can snorkel alongside dancing orcas! Since whales move towards warmer currents at Svalbard, the period between May and September is ideal for whale-watching.

Explore the Wilderness with Man’s Best Friend

Dogsledding is a major attraction at Svalbard and is conducted all year round. The white wilderness of Svalbard is best discovered while sledding atop the pristine snow. Summertime sledding consists of packs of dogs pulling sleds supported by wheels for ease.

Kayaking in Svalbard

The mighty glaciers at Svalbard are best explored by kayaking in the icy waters of the Norwegian archipelago. Accompanied by a trained guide, travelers can experience a jolt of adventure as they’re encouraged to take up kayaking in the placid waters of Svalbard. The Svea Glacier from Longyearbyen features the ever-evolving mammoth ice structure home to seagulls and polar bears.

Explore the Underground Beauty of Ice Caves

Over half of Svalbard’s topography is covered by glaciers that can be explored during winter. A world of wonder can be found even underneath the glaciers! Melted waters from the glaciers have developed passages leading to fascinating ice caves that can be visited differently. For instance, those looking for some after-hours fun can embark on a moonlit trail to the Larsbreen glacier that goes over the frozen riverbed and up the Sarkofagen mountain. Atop the 350-meter climb, the entrance to the ice cave is located. Other trips include a snowcat ride to the Longyear Glacier. The structure of the ice caves changes every year, so the excursion throws surprises even to a seasoned guide. It’s one of the best ways to explore Svalbard's ancient frozen flora and fauna.

Delve into Svalbard’s Culture and History

The award-winning Svalbard Museum offers a slice of the distant archipelago’s distinct culture and history. The artifacts displayed at the Museum offer a glimpse into the flora and fauna that have survived in the icy environment. The museum also serves as a reminder of how humans have exploited natural resources brutally, especially in the form of whaling and mining in Svalbard.

Polar Bears and Northern Lights

A trip to the Svalbard archipelago can never be complete without spotting the regal polar bear or sitting in bemusement under the symphony of the Northern Lights. The Aurora Borealis frequently appears in the bucket list of many a traveler, and there’s no better place to sight this unique phenomenon than Svalbard. The Polar Night at Svalbard enables one to view the dancing lights in the morning as well.

Top Tips for Visiting Svalbard (where applicable)

On the extremes of nature, Svalbard takes environmental consciousness very seriously. There are a few guidelines every traveler must consider following in order to enjoy Svalbard while respecting its precarious ecosystem:

  • Longer Stays: It is encouraged that travelers stay at Svalbard for longer since each trip to and from Svalbard leaves an indelible carbon footprint.
  • Plan Non-Motorised Activities: Ditch the snowcat for a while and indulge in some plain old hiking across the snowy topography of the archipelago.
  • Safety First: Adventurous excursions at Svalbard must always be planned with experienced and certified guides for the safety of visitors.
  • Longyearbyen Community Guidelines: These guidelines are available on the internet and inform visitors how they’re expected to conduct themselves in Longyearbyen. For instance, picking flowers is a strict no-no at Longyearbyen!

Best time to cruise Svalbard

Svalbard unveils one delight after another from month to month, so there’s no ‘perfect’ time to visit this pristine archipelago. However, travelers can align their trip with specific places they want to visit and the natural phenomenon they want to experience. For instance, those interested in spotting whales in the icy cold waters of Svalbard are encouraged to visit the place between May and September when the currents are warm. From mid-May, the ice surrounding Svalbard starts clearing up, opening channels for cruises. This period, also known as the Polar Summer, is especially recommended if wildlife encounters and photography are the main itinerary goals. However, those interested in experiencing the enigmatic Northern Lights are encouraged to plan their trip between October and February. The Auroral Borealis is visible only when there’s no trace of sunlight, so the Polar Winter is the best period to visit Svalbard for this. Outdoor adventures are best done in the sunny winter, ranging from March to April.

Where do Svalbard cruises depart from?

Svalbard cruises usually depart from Longyearbyen. It’s the administrative point of the Svalbard archipelago, and the easiest way to reach Longyearbyen is to fly. There are flights from Oslo all year round, especially during the summer months. It takes 15 minutes by road to reach the town from the airport.