Adventure Sailing Holiday: Spitsbergen
Sail and explore the magical polar wilderness of Spitsbergen
If you've ever dreamt of weaving your way into icy coves to anchor for the night, listening to the crack of nearby icebergs and the calls of walruses and reindeer ashore, then you will love Spitsbergen. Incredibly remote, awe-inspiring and unlike anywhere else you will ever get to sail, this land is full of history. See nature at its most beautiful, rare wildlife and be part of what is a true adventure.
NO PREVIOUS SAILING EXPERIENCE REQUIRED. FULL TUITION GIVEN
These are the available dates and routes. To book your place, please select the dates from the drop-down above the ‘Add to Cart’ button.
TRIP CODE: TTL21062021
- Start date / place: June 21 2021. Tromso, Norway
- End date / place: July 02 2021. Longyearbjen, Svalbard
- Full price: £2,999
- Deposit: £1,200
Please see ‘TRAVEL – GETTING TO & FROM YOUR TRIP’ tab for advice on start and end points.
This is 40% of the trip price and is non-refundable. On making payment, your berth is guaranteed.
Paying the balance
The balance of the invoice can be paid at any time. It must be received by Rubicon 3 90 days before the trip start date or your place will automatically be cancelled. We will remind you of the date nearer the time.
Cancellations and moving trips
Our expedition sailing yachts only have between 7 and 10 berths on them. When you book, you are committing to take one of these places. Due to these very limited numbers, we will often have turned away someone else who would have liked the berth. Unlike many other holidays, please understand this gives us little if any flexibility to make changes or to move trips. We will always endeavour to assist you (& the earlier you tell us the better), but unless we can find someone else to take your place, we usually cannot move your booking.
This is a typical itinerary. What makes expeditions so special however is that there can be no fixed itinerary and so no part of this is guaranteed. It is indicative of a typical expedition to this region. The wind and the weather ultimately shape what’s possible each day and you are in the very high latitudes where the weather can be glorious or cold and harsh. But that’s what the adventure’s all about!
Briefings and training
Today is all about getting up to speed with the boat. Whether you are a complete novice or more experienced sailor, everyone benefits from detailed introductions, safety briefings and training sessions. You will have two highly experienced instructors to guide you through every aspect that you need to know to have a great sailing holiday. By lunchtime we should be casting off the lines, hoisting the sails and working through all the key sailing manoeuvres such as tacking and gybing, reefing and knot tying! By the end of the day everyone on board should feel comfortable with the basics – even though there’s more to learn and practice every day. We’ll find a lovely anchorage to spend the night under the Norwegian stars.
Passage to Svalbard
This is the most exciting of offshore sails, and one you will never forget. Already near the northern tip of Norway, you are about to sail over 500nm further north, right up to polar Svalbard. It is an epic route across the Baring Strait, leaving the mysterious and rarely visited Bear Island to starboard and on north. It’s quite possible we will have to start keeping an ice watch a good hundred miles south of the tip of Svalbard. As it’s huge snowbound cliffs rise over the horizon, it is a spectacular moment. We sail past its southern tip, past the legendary and windswept Hornsund and finally turn east into Isfjord (The name ‘Ice Sound’ was given in 1610 by the English whaler Jonas Poole ‘because it was covered with Ice’) and Longyearbjen.
We’ll take a day in Longyearbyen for some R&R after the long sail and to pick up the obligatory rifles which everyone must carry here to protect against (the extremely remote) chance of polar bear trouble. It is the world’s northernmost town and is the capital of the Svalbard archipelago. It started as a mining operation in 1906 but much of the original town was burned down during the Second World War and the coal mines are gone. Today, Longyearbyen (population: 2,111) is a jumping-off point to explore the Norwegian Arctic, offering the amenities of art galleries, museums, pubs, a school, university, and sports complex. (The North Pole Museum, which focuses on the history of North Pole exploration, is worth a visit to learn about the Arctic territory you’re visiting.)
The vast Isfjorden is over 60nm long and an absolute treasure trove of much of the best that Svalbard has to offer. The wind and weather will determine what we can see and in which order, but here’s our wish list!
East of Longyearbjen, thei mini fjord has the most famous trapper’s station in Svalbard, and it’s really worth finding our more about the stories, anecdotes and life of Hilmar Nois. There’s a great hike through a canyon here, where thousands of years of ice melt and weather have cut through the rock. We can get through to a place called the Colosseum. Expect to see the wonderful Northern Fulmar and Arctic Fox here. It’s a stunning area that you’ll remember for years to come.
If w make it here, we can stop in front of the mighty Nordenskioldbreen glacier. With care we can jump in the RIB and have a very special experience here and get some wonderful photos!
This eery, extraordinary abandoned Russian mining town has stood deserted for near on quarter of a century. It used to be seen as quite an extravagant posting in the days of the USSR, free from the usual restrictions on daily life. But when the USSR collapsed, it became ever more cut off and life here became all but intolerable. Finally, it was abandoned almost overnight and it now stands as an extraordinary monument to a different time.
We can jump into the RIB again here and as we explore you may well see bear tracks in the snow along the beach. In the shallow inner parts of the fjord we might see red throated divers, long tailed ducks, common eiders, king eiders and even common scoter. Before now we have seen polar bears, beluga whales and seals in here, all on the same day.
Here we can explore the long spit between Ymerbukta and Trygghamna. We can hike alongside the glacier and really get to appreciate the scale of these huge masses of ice and the shapes and forms within them. They are an extraordinary sight, yet the sounds of the glacier can be just as mesmerising. You’ll hear constant little cracks as the ice pops and every now and then a thunderous rumble as a piece of the glacier calves somewhere in the distance. We can also see many remains of the Russian and the Dutch whaling era here before we sail back to Longyearbjen for a final night together as a crew.
Debriefs, clean up and goodbyes
It’s always amazing how quickly everyone has become firm friends and the boat and its routines seem so familiar. Yet it’s time to wrap it all up and head home. We’ll get the boat back to how we found it, sign logbooks, exchange emails and disembark by 1200hrs (we prefer if you don’t, but if you need to catch a ferry or flight, you can leave as early as you need to on the last day).
JOINING & LEAVING THE BOAT
- You should join the boat at 1100hrs on the start day. It is important you are not late.
- You will disembark between 0700 and 1200hrs on the end day.
- For exact start and end locations, please see the ‘Dates & Prices’ tab
INFORMATION TO HELP GET TO AND FROM THE START AND END POINTS
- Tromso airport (IATA code: TOS) is also well served by Norwegian, Wideroe and SAS. You will nearly always have to connect in Oslo or Stockholm. The airport is about a 20 minute taxi ride to the boat, which is usually docked next to Sjøgata.
- If you are staying overnight before or after your trip, the Clarion Collection Hotel With is well placed.
- Longyearbjen airport (IATA code: LYR) is well served by Norwegian and SAS. You will nearly always have to change somewhere in Norway first, so allow a full day for the travel and flights often arrive and depart at 0100 or 0200hrs (it’s 24 daylight here!)
- A taxi will connect you between the airport and Longyearbjen harbour
AGE & EXPERIENCE
These adventure sailing holidays are open to anyone aged 18 – 70 years. No previous sailing experience is required for this route
CLOTHING & EQUIPMENT
We provide the foul weather clothing, life-jackets and all other technical equipment you will need. You need to bring a sleeping bag and some waterproof boots.
FITNESS TO SAIL
We believe that as many people as possible should be able to head out to sea and have a great adventure. However, it is essential for everyone’s safety that you are in a fit enough state to be on board. Ability to complete the five exercises below is a pre-requisite for joining as a crew member. They are not designed to be physically taxing and almost everyone should be able to complete them. Rather they are in place to check that you have the stability and basic physical condition to be on-board. If when you join the vessel the skipper believes you are not capable of completing these exercises, you will probably not be allowed to embark. If you have any doubts at all about your ability to complete these exercises safely, you must contact your doctor before attempting them.
Four weeks before your trip start date, you will be sent final joining instructions. At this time you will be asked to complete our medical declaration. At the time of booking, it is your responsibility to be sure that you will be able to pass all the criteria at the start date of your trip. If you cannot pass the criteria you will probably be refused permission to board.
- All crew must have adequate travel insurance in place for your sailing holiday.
- We strongly recommend that you arrange insurance as soon as you book. This ideally will cover you for any mishaps, medical or otherwise, in the build-up to your holiday so that should you have to cancel, you can reclaim your fees.
- Please note we will not refund your money or cancel your invoice due to medical issues that disqualify you from joining your trip.
- For our latest guidance on travel insurance, please read here.
TRIP CATEGORY: OFFSHORE SAILING
For a full explanation of what to expect with the various trip ratings please click here.
INCLUDED IN YOUR SAILING HOLIDAY
- Fladen immersion suits. These will keep you warm in even the coldest, windiest conditions.
- Ocean-spec lifejackets. These are the best on the market.
- All on-board food and snacks.
- Daily sailing lessons and tuition from two highly experienced instructors.
- RYA sailing qualifications can be earned where applicable.
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- Your travel to and from the start and end points.
- Travel insurance (see our travel insurance page here)
- Any alcohol – but feel free to bring your own or buy some along the route.
- Any meals you eat ashore.
Everything’s included except for flights, travel insurance, a sleeping bag and some waterproof boots. There are no hidden extras.
- These expeditions have small numbers of people on board. When you book, you are committing to being a part of the crew.
- These are genuine adventure sailing holidays and you will be helping sail the boat, planning where we go, navigating, cooking and keeping the boat clean and tidy.
- When you book, the deposit is non refundable. It is possible to cancel subsequently, however you may still be liable for the balance of the invoice, depending on how close you are to the start date when you cancel.
- Please ensure you have read and agreed to the T&Cs and Trip Notes before booking.