At the edge of the world
At the edge of the worldLongyearbyen
Your high-Arctic experience begins by arriving in Spitsbergen, the largest of Svalbard’s three main islands. Gaze in awe as magnificent brown and green mountains rise and ripple up from the High Arctic tundra while rivers of snow-melt trickle through the valley plains, glistening under the summer sun.
Spend a moment just taking in Svalbard. You’re at a latitude more than 78°N and less than 820 miles from the North Pole, the closest you can get to the North Pole. The air is fresh and pure, and the overall temperature in summer is mild, thanks to a warm northern branch of the Gulf Stream.
You’ll make your own way to Longyearbyen, nestled on the banks of a large, sweeping fjord. It is the biggest settlement in Svalbard, home to some 2,000 inhabitants from across the world. It originally sprang up as a coal mining colony in 1906. Today, it is a hub for adventure travelers and scientists and engineers attached to local research projects, like the famous Global Seed Vault.
After checking in to your hotel, in the evening you’ll visit Camp Barentz, located at the foot of Breinosa mountain. There, in the pure wilderness of the High Arctic, enjoy dinner in a cozy wooden cabin and maybe even try some bidos (a traditional, homemade Sámi stew of slow-cooked reindeer meat and vegetables).
Savor your dessert around the campfire, perhaps under the Midnight Sun. End your first day admiring the mountains as we head back to your hotel in Longyearbyen.
Mini-adventure in the High Arctic
Mini-adventure in the High ArcticLongyearbyen
Following your first night in Svalbard, today’s mini-adventure takes you aboard hybrid-electric catamaran, MS Bard. Make the most of the summer climate as you take in Spitsbergen’s magnificent landscapes at Billefjord and Nordenskiöldbreen.
MS Bard is a groundbreaking new catamaran for day cruises. Whenever it approaches glaciers, wildlife, or settlements, it will run silently on electric propulsion. Its specially designed propellers create minimal noise and vibration so as not to disturb Arctic wildlife.
Early in the season, there might still be ice in Billefjord. Switching to the boat's electric motor, we’ll carefully and silently follow the ice’s edge on the lookout for seabirds, walrus, and seals. Enjoy views of the beautiful and vast Nordenskiöld glacier, which crumbles icebergs into the fjord.
Along the way, spot the abandoned coal mining town Pyramiden in the distance, so named after the shape of a nearby mountain. It remained a ghost town for many years, but there have been recent attempts by various individuals to repopulate the area.
On the outer park of Billefjord is Skansbukta, another small settlement and gypsum mine lost to time under the impressive cliffs. MS Bard will also sail past Svenskhuset, the oldest standing building on Spitsbergen and site of the tragic lead poisoning that claimed the lives of 17 hunters and sailors through tinned food.
Admire views of the fjord, glacier, mountains, and Arctic flora in bloom. Then make your way back to Longyearbyen on MS Bard, settling in at your hotel for your last night there.
Last day in Longyearbyen
Last day in LongyearbyenLongyearbyen
Wake up to Arctic sunshine and enjoy breakfast at your hotel. The last day here in Longyearbyen is yours to spend as you like.
If you haven’t already, stroll around town. Browse boutiques selling homemade chocolate, tiny galleries with artwork inspired by life on the Arctic frontier, and bars that serve beer from the local micro-brewery.
You can also arrange to go ‘dry’ dog sledding where the sleds are fitted with wheels instead, keeping the dogs fit throughout the summer season. This means they’ll be ready to go when the snow arrives in winter.
However you decide to spend your day in Svalbard, return to the hotel for lunch before a transfer takes you to MS Trollfjord, your home at sea for the next week. Come evening, the ship will sail further north towards Ny-Ålesund.
*Please note that if the date you make your booking is less than 90 days before your chosen departure date, your voyage will start on Day 3 in Longyearbyen.
Science on the Arctic frontier
Science on the Arctic frontierNy-Ålesund
Wake up early today for impressive views of Kongsfjord, one of the largest fjords in the area. Its entrance is guarded by two colossal creaking glaciers that regularly deposit ice into the fjord.
This stretch is great for spotting walrus basking on shore and for spotting different species of migrating birds, including puffins, king eiders, pink-footed geese, and guillemots.
Arctic fox and Svalbard reindeer can sometimes be spotted on land, while the white beluga whale has also been known to surface in the waters here. If we’re very lucky, we might even see a polar bear prowling the coast for bearded and ringed seals.
At the tip of Brøgger peninsula, on one of Kongsfjord’s shores, is Ny-Ålesund. Like Longyearbyen, it began as a coal mine, but transitioned into a host for scientific stations from the mid-20th century. During the summer, there are over a hundred researchers based in the town, representing 20 glaciology and climate institutes from more than 10 countries.
Wander around what is one of the northernmost settlements in the world, drop in at the local museum and souvenir shop, or send a far-flung postcard back to friends and family from the small post office.
You can also take a guided tour of the Amundsen monument, erected in honor of the great Norwegian explorer’s record-breaking flight to reach the North Pole in 1926. Amundsen flew the airship Norge from Ny-Ålesund and landed in Alaska three days later, successfully doing so via the North Pole.
Unfortunately, it’s time for us to say farewell to Svalbard and to Spitsbergen and sail south back to mainland Norway.
Use this day to relax aboard the ship. If the skies are clear, enjoy some summer sun on deck and keep an eye out for whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Or if it’s not too warm out, head to the sauna for a steam.
Catch a lecture from the Coastal Experience Team for fascinating insight into local history and wildlife. They may also offer a photography workshop to help sharpen your eye to capture stunning shots in the days to come.
Enjoy the sumptuous food and drinks on board, courtesy of our Norway’s Coastal Kitchen concept that features the most flavorful local Norwegian cuisine. Treat yourself to tastings of regional specialties or demonstrations by our skilled onboard chefs in the show kitchen.
You could also curl up with a good book in the lounge or chat with new-found friends in the bar while reminiscing about your favorite experiences of the cruise so far.
Exploring ‘Little Norway’
Exploring ‘Little Norway’Tromsø – gateway to the Arctic
We’ve arrived back to mainland Norway and our first stop of the day is Tromsø. The ship will drop off cargo from Svalbard and pick up cargo bound for ports to the south.
Calling back into Tromsø after reaching Svalbard follows in the footsteps of history. Most explorers and sailors returning from their Arctic expeditions would stop back in the city. The fashion and food they found there seemed so stylish and refined compared to the stark frontier towns that they nicknamed Tromsø ‘the Paris of the North’.
The ship then continues south towards Senja, one of the country’s largest islands and northern Norway’s fast-rising star destination, as you’d expect for a place ranked among CNN’s top ten most beautiful islands in the world. Often proudly described by locals as a ‘mini Norway’, Senja seems to have a concentration of landscapes inspired by different parts of the Norwegian coast.
To best explore this fairytale island, we’d recommend disembarking in Tromsø and joining one of our optional excursions.
Fall in love with Lofoten
Fall in love with LofotenSvolvær – at the heart of Lofoten
Today is all about exploring the Lofoten archipelago. As you see its jagged green cliffs rise dramatically from the ocean, you’ll see why it is hailed as one of the most spectacular areas in all of Norway.
See pretty fishing villages made up of red-roofed houses on stilts that cling to the edges of mountainous islands. Here and there, single fishermen huts known locally as “rorbuer” dot the islands—specks of red amidst a sapphire blue sea and the lush mountainside greens.
You’ll find that life in Lofoten is supremely calm and peaceful. Time seems to stand still here, as if it’s trapped in the sheer beauty of the islands.
The beating heart of the archipelago is the town of Svolvær, where the ship will be based for most of the day. There are shops and restaurants to enjoy, and you can spend hours exploring and getting to know the town.
You have a variety of handpicked Lofoten excursions to experience the mountains, islands, and villages around Svolvær.
Take an optional hike to a white-sand beach, where you can help in a beach clean-up before going for a swim. Alternatively, join us on a kayaking tour to explore the raw beauty and crystal-clear waters of Henningsvær.
Highlights of the Helgeland Coast
Highlights of the Helgeland CoastBrønnøysund – coastal charm right in the middle of Norway
The ship continues south and reaches the midpoint of the Norwegian coast. This is the Helgeland Coast, a well-known stretch full of distinctive mountains that have inspired many a charming myth and local folklore.
As we sail, look out for the Vega archipelago, a cluster of some 6,500 islands, skerries, and islets. There’s a UNESCO World Heritage Centre on the island of Gardsøy which showcases how highly prized eider down is harvested from the local eider ducks by providing little huts for them to build their nests in.
We will base the ship in the town of Brønnøysund which features a lovely marina and a Neo-Gothic stone church from 1870. Spend your time exploring the town or joining optional excursions such as kayaking, cycling, or a cruise by RIB.
Further along from Brønnøysund is the unique Torghatten Mountain. The first thing you’ll notice about Torghatten is the hole that pierces right through its centre. Legend states that the hole is the work of an arrow fired by a spurned troll at his would-be lover and that Torghatten Mountain itself is the fossilised hat of a Troll King who attempted to block the arrow.
At an easy pace, it takes about an hour to reach the hole in Torghatten on an optional excursion. The panoramic view of the trees and islands stretching out before you is well worth it.
Secret of the Sunnmøre Alps
Secret of the Sunnmøre AlpsÅlesund
The ship will make a brief stop in the town of Ålesund, known for its Art Nouveau architecture and picturesque position on a peninsula below Mount Aksla. We’ll offload any cargo here as well guests who are joining excursions.
The magnificent Hjørundfjord stands some 5,570 feet high near Ålesund, cutting through the peaks of the Sunnmøre Alps. Its picture-perfect position embedded in the Sunnmøre Alps means it is the area’s hidden gem that most other ships never see.
Those who discover Hjørundfjord rank it as a serious contender for their favorite fjord in Norway. Its deep blue waters and verdant mountainsides seem perfectly proportionate and aligned, as if sculpted deliberately by nature’s artistry.
On the western banks of one of Hjørundfjord’s branches is the idyllic village of Sæbø. This is where the ship will pick up guests who had previously left the ship at Ålesund to go on an excursion.
We are fast approaching the last day of our cruise. While bittersweet, what better way to celebrate our Svalbard Express experience than a merry farewell dinner on our last night. It’ll also be a chance to look back at the many highlights of the journey we shared together.
End of your cruise
End of your cruiseBergen – gateway to the fjords
You’ll arrive in Bergen, a beautiful city on Norway’s west coast. Majestic peaks famously surround the city, earning Bergen the nickname of ‘The City of Seven Mountains’.
It’s time to disembark the ship and make your own way to the airport. Say a fond farewell to your fellow passengers and the crew of MS Trollfjord, who made your Svalbard Express journey so comfortable. Alternatively, you could choose to extend your stay in Norway.
You won’t soon forget the slices of paradise you’ve seen along the Norwegian coast as part of this iconic cruise. If you’ve taken in optional excursions, you will have photos of you kayaking, hiking, fishing, or cycling in some of the most beautiful scenery you’ve ever seen.
We know you’ll take fond memories home with you and we wish you a safe onward journey. This is the Svalbard Express. We hope to see you back here with us soon.