A large ship in the water

MS Spitsbergen: Practical information and Life on board

From entry requirements to onboard Wi-Fi - here's everything you need to know before travelling with MS Spitsbergen.


The information and descriptions have been checked by our staff and/or local agents to ensure they are correct. However, changes may occur after the date of publication and there may be occasions when Hurtigruten Expeditions or local suppliers may withdraw some facilities. Should we become aware of any significant change, which may be considered to have an effect on the enjoyment of your holiday, we will do our utmost to advise you. Many areas we visit are very remote and affected by prolonged cold weather or difficult terrain. Provision of facilities will be subject to local conditions.

Every expedition cruise is unique. All routes and excursions are provisional and subject to change as weather, sea and ice conditions may affect the itinerary. Excursions may also be subject to minimum/maximum numbers. Hurtigruten AS reserves the right to change the itinerary and the content of excursions without prior notice (see terms and conditions).

Hurtigruten Expeditions cannot allow children under the age of 5 to travel with us to Antarctica and South Georgia. For safety reasons, children under 12 years of age will be considered for participation in each landing.

All cabins have a telephone. Both Wi-Fi and telephone lines will from time to time be out of range due to the vessel’s location.

The MS Spitsbergen is suitable for wheelchair-users. Persons in need of special assistance must travel with a companion. Please note that the gangway must be used to wheelchairs-users to embark / disembark. In ports where tidal conditions or other circumstances require use of a portable gangway, or during landings with tender boats, it is not possible to use/take wheelchairs.

For cruises with embarkation and/or disembarkation in Longyearbyen, we only accept bookings of wheelchair users on request.

Passengers who use a wheelchair must bring their own, standard size, foldable chair.

Our Captains take pride in route planning that minimises the load of the engines and reduces emissions. All waste is stored on board until it is deposited for treatment ashore. We never dump waste in the sea and we ask you not to leave any waste when you are on shore excursions.

In populated areas there are containers for depositing waste, please use them. If you find plastic waste on beaches where we land, we will gladly help removing this from the ecosystem if you bring it back to the ship. We ask you to respect the saying, “Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures and kill nothing but time”.

There is always an English-speaking physician and nurse on board. The ship has a small medical facility with the necessary equipment and drugs to handle small emergencies. In the event of a serious emergency, the nearest hospital will be contacted. Medical consultations as well as medicines will be charged to the passenger affected.

All guests must have personal travel/health insurance. If you depend on medication, remember to bring sufficient supplies to last through any unforeseen delays. We also recommend that you keep your medication in your hand luggage properly labelled and with clear instructions for its use. If you depend on vital drugs, please inform the ship’s doctor upon arrival. Illness on board can lead to quarantine and orders from the ship’s physician and captain, must be followed.

Mobile phones will function in most places on shore. Check with your carrier for details.

The ships comply with all safety requirements and our vessels travelling in icy waters are suitable for this. Upon arrival on board, all passengers will be instructed in safety procedures and the use and location of the safety equipment. Special safety regulations will apply on landings with tender boats. A mandatory briefing regarding the safety guidelines will also be given.

Hurtigruten Expeditions complies with the ISPS-regulations (International Ship and Port Security System) where all luggage is subject to X-ray/metal detector inspection upon arrival port facility or ship. The ISPS regulations also include hand baggage scans in all ports of call throughout the course of the voyage. Cruise lines that operate in United States waters are required by U.S. law to make a Security Guide and certain law enforcement points of contact available to guests.

Weather conditions can make landings and tender cruises with small boats more difficult or sometimes impossible. Remember that unforeseen twists often turn out to be the highlight of a trip. We invite you to be open to the unexpected and flexibility is important on our expedition cruises.

Onboard dress is informal. For all voyages, we advise you to bring breathable rain and windproof clothing. A warm hat, gloves, scarf and thermal clothing can be useful, together with thermal underwear, during the winter months. Sturdy shoes are important for some shore excursions and a walking stick/trekking pole may be useful.

Before travelling

In accordance with Hurtigruten Expeditions requirements, all travellers to Antarctica, Russia and the Northwest Passage must complete a confidential medical declaration form, signed by a doctor, stating that they are fit to travel. This form is found under Entry Requirements on our web page for download. The form must be filled out, brought on board and personally delivered in hard copy to the doctor upon embarkation.

Boarding may be denied if these forms are not presented at time of embarkation.

Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the required travel documents you will be asked to provide prior to boarding the ship. It is the sole responsibility of the guest to identify and obtain all required travel documents and have them available when necessary. A passport is the only valid identification. For some destinations your passport must be valid for more than six months after you return to your home country. At check-in on board, passports will be collected in order to clear immigrations and customs. It is the responsibility of each guest to ensure they comply with any visa travel document requirements at the time of travel. Please pay especially attention to the regulations for our voyages with MS Spitsbergen to Russia.

Please check the entry requirement information.

On some voyages, vaccinations are required. All passengers are responsible for ensuring they comply with any requirements at the time of travel.

Transport & add-ons

Please see the expedition cruise pages for available flight packages. Our Reservations Team will be able to advise you of availability, prices and other details. Any flight times advised at the time of booking are provisional and subject to change; please check before you travel.

Scheduled Flights

The airfares offered are special package tour fares, which cannot be altered or cancelled without charge. All flight package prices are based on specific booking classes. If the relevant booking class is not available a supplement may apply. In economy class, you will be served snacks or sandwiches per airline. If these are not included in the airline's service, you can purchase drinks and snacks for a fee. On intercontinental flights this is usually included. We can offer upgrades to business class on some routes. Depending on the airline, this may also include seats with more legroom. Please note that upgrading may not apply to all sectors.

Luggage allowance varies between airlines and charges may apply if you exceed this, or carriage may be refused. As a rule, each guest can carry a piece of hand luggage weighing approx. 6-8 kg (dimensions and weight depend on the respective airline) on board. Your baggage allowance is set to 1PC (23 kg), but may vary depending on the flight connection; please check with your airline. Further transport guidelines can be found in the respective terms and conditions of our flight partners. If you are planning to take a wheelchair or need assistance at the airport please advise us at the time of booking. Flights may be made early in the morning or in the evening, but they are always adapted to our travel arrangements. Please note that some flights may be transfers or stopovers. Time and/or route changes as well as a change of the machine type are reserved. Our common flight partners are Lufthansa, British Airways, KLM/Air France, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Scandinavian Airlines, LATAM, Iberia and Iceland Air. Please note that rebooking or reimbursement of an already issued ticket will be charged before departure. A transfer or refund of a ticket after travel is not possible. Any flight times advised at the time of booking are provisional and subject to change; please check before you travel.

Included flight Oslo-Longyearbyen

The flights from Oslo to Longyearbyen and vice versa are operated by SAS Scandinavian Airlines or Norwegian Air Shuttle and usually depart in the late evening and arrive at Oslo early in the morning upon return.
Only economy class is available on these flights, no upgrades in higher booking classes is possible. A light meal and non-alcoholic drinks will be served during the flight. You can travel with checked luggage with maximum weight 23 kg and bring one carry-on bag on board with max 8 kg.

Please note that this luggage allowance can differ from the airline you use for your feeder flight to/from Oslo. We kindly ask you to check your flight baggage conditions and make sure you do not bring more.
We are unable to accept responsibility if you miss your own booked feeder flight to/from Oslo in the event of a delay of the flight between Oslo and Longyearbyen.

The standard of the hotels we use is equivalent to 4-stars, centrally located or if more convenient for your booked arrangement, close to the airport. There is no official hotel rating and local hotel categories apply. All rooms have private facilities. Single rooms may be smaller and less conveniently situated and may be double rooms for sole occupancy or purpose-built single rooms. Hotels may charge for some facilities, e.g. saunas. The price for the overnight includes breakfast, if not stated differently on your confirmation.

Transfers are included as shown in your booked arrangement. Hurtigruten Expeditions offers bus transfers from airport to the pier and some hotels. The transfer times comply with the ship arrival and departure times and your flight arrival and departure time. Waiting times at the airport are possible. The duration of the airport transfer can vary depending on the destination but it takes usually between 45-60 minutes (depending on traffic). Exceptions are possible where a longer transfer time is needed due to a greater distance between airport and port. With your travel documents, you will receive further information on your transfer.

For guests who are not fully mobile, wheelchair-accessible transfers are available upon request.

Hurtigruten Expeditions offers a choice of optional Pre- and post-programmes that can be added to your Hurtigruten Cruise. This can be a half or full-day excursion or an overnight tour. Due to changing conditions, the order of sights might vary. A minimum number of participants applies. For guests who are not fully mobile, pre- and post-programmes are on request.


Guests are respectfully reminded that only beverages provided by the ships restaurants and bars can be consumed on board. Alcoholic beverages purchased in ports-of-call will be stored by the ship and delivered to your cabin on the last day of the sailing.

A cruise card will be issued upon arrival on board as part of the check-in procedure in accordance with ISPS regulations. All our guests are requested to wear this card when disembarking the ship in all ports of call and landings.

The card serves as a control system on the gangway enabling the ship to know which of our guests are on board and ashore at any time. This card, in addition to being the key card for your cabin, is also your payment card on board. The card is the only means of payment for the onboard facilities.

To activate the cruise card account, you must have a Visa, American Express, Diners or MasterCard. Other credit cards can be used to pay for the final invoice, but not for activating the cruise card account. In the morning 24 hours before your voyage ends, you will receive a draft copy of your account.

The evening before the voyage ends the account will be totalled and settled on board, and a receipt will be emailed you. Please note that when using your credit card on board the ship, your account will be debited in NOK. The currency on board is Norwegian Kroner (NOK). Credit cards that are used to make payments on board must be valid for at least three months after the journey has ended. The rate of exchange will be the one validated by your credit card company.

Please note that there is no money exchange service or facility for cash withdrawls on board.

The daily programme is shown on the on board TV system with a list of port calls, landings, lectures, meals and activities on board. All our published plans are subject to change.

Please note the use of passenger-operated drones is not permitted during your voyage. This is for general safety as well as the protection of the vulnerable wildlife and other passengers’ personal security.

The plugs in your cabins are all 220V/50hz. Suites have 110V for shavers. The plugs are continental two pin plugs, which may require an adapter.

The working language on board is English. Announcements and written information are also given in German. Announcements may be given in French and Chinese on selected departures. In order to be able to accommodate lectures in another language than English, we will offer a possibility for an “in ear” translation to German.

A laundry service is available on board at a low cost. No self-service or dry-cleaning is possible.

The ship complies with all safety requirements and is a modern vessel suitable for sailing in icy waters. Upon arrival on board all passengers will be instructed in safety procedures, and the use and location of the safety equipment. There is a safety plan situated on the inside of the cabin door.

We stress the importance of becoming acquainted with the ships safety plan. Special safety regulations will apply on landings with the tender boats. Please follow the instructions given by the Expedition Leader and crew/ staff. Special lifejackets for use during landings will be handed out to all passengers before first landing. A mandatory briefing regarding the safety guidelines will also be given.

You can hand in your mail at the reception, and for a limited amount covering service fee and stamps we will forward the post in every port where it is possible. The time from sending the postcard to when it gets to the recipient may be relatively long. Hurtigruten AS has no responsibility for lost mail.

Seasickness pills are available for purchase in the reception. If you are prone to seasickness it is recommended that you bring pills that you are familiar with. You may also buy “sea bands” on board.

On board, smoking is only permitted in designated areas on outside decks. Do not smoke in your cabin. To show respect for the environment, please use the provided ashtrays when smoking. Throwing cigarette butts overboard is strictly prohibited.

A cleaning charge of 1 500 NOK will be applied for smoking in your non-smoking cabin, to cover for the cost of cleaning linen and curtains to return it to a non-smoking standard. E-Cigarettes, according to Norwegian law, are the equival of tobacco cigarettes and therefore smoking is only permitted in the designated smoking areas.

If you have special requests (e.g. dietary or medical) please inform us as soon as possible. We will do our best to meet such requests but cannot guarantee to do so and under no circumstance will any such request be accepted by us so as to form part of a contractual agreement.

We kindly remind you to be careful walking on board the ship while at sea, especially venturing out on deck, mind the signs for warning of wet and slippery decks. Be aware the doors toward the outer deck are potentially dangerous in windy conditions. Please adhere to the signs and announcements when it is not advised to go outside. While walking inside, hold on to railings but not to door frames to avoid injury.

The tap water in your cabin is safe to drink, we serve self-produced potable water by the carafe in the restaurant. Complimentary sparkling and still water for all meals. Water refill stations are available on board.

Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship. Note that it is limited connectivity, and that both internet and telephones from time to time will be out of range due to the vessel’s location. Due to capacity limitations the provided, included Wi-Fi is limited to browsing and not streaming. Please contact the reception if you have any questions related to the Wi-Fi usage.

Facilities & services

There is a wide range of comfortable cabins on board. MS Spitsbergen has cabins with private facilities. Please note that check in hours in reception may open before the cabin is ready for use. You will be informed at check-in when your cabin is ready for you.

You may expect some noise and vibration in some cabins. This varies depending on the location of your cabin. Also, noise affects people differently and what may be a problem for one person may not be a problem for others. Please note that some cabins on decks with passenger access to outside areas may sometimes have an obstructed view due to other passengers walking past.

MS Spitsbergen offers a gym, sauna and outdoor hot tubs, available for all guests. All opening hours will be announced on board.

The ship has a small selection of books on different topics that is available to guests while on board.

The Observation lounges offer large panoramic windows with ample and comfortable seats. There will be binoculars for sale in the onboard shop.

The ship has spacious outdoor areas. They are perfect vantage points to sit back, relax and watch the world go by.

On board we serve a buffet breakfast. Lunch and dinner varies between buffets and set meals, all in accordance with your daily program. Meal times and type will be announced in the daily programme. In our main dining, the Head Waiter will assign tables prior to arrival. Information about table number and meal times will be in your cabin upon arrival. Please provide information regarding special requests for seating arrangements and dietary to your sales office/travel agent.

On the ships holding an A la Carte restaurant, our suite guests may eat their breakfast in a la carte style. 

Soft drinksand the ship wine and beer is included for all meals (from April 2020). Coffee and tea is included throughout the day.

Food delivered to the cabin upon order. Subject to charge: Service fee per order.

Exception: included for suites.
Opening hours 07:00 – 23:00

No room service available on disembarkation day.

In our on board shop you can buy modern clothing suitable for Expedition cruis. Our Expedition Team will be happy to give you expert advice on how to dress properly in polar areas. We offer a great range of both warm and practical clothing, and we focus fabrics with natural fibres. We also offer souvenirs, handicrafts, and postcards. In addition, we also stock a small selection of soap, toothpaste and other personal effects.

À la carte dining option
On the ships holding an A’la carte restaurant suite guests are offered to eat their dinner here any day they wish. Reservations must be done on board.

Suite breakfast
On the ships holding an A’la Carte restaurant suite guests are offered to eat their breakfast here. High-end breakfast for suite guests only. A la carte breakfast served at the table.

Room service
Offered to all suite guests free of charge within the opening times.

Suite check-in
For suite guests, there will be an exclusive check-in in a separate area onboard the ship, where the guests may meet and greet some of the ships officers.

Welcome greeting
On embarkation day, the suite guests will find a carabiner watch, a bottle of champagne and a welcome greeting from the captain inside their suite after check-in.

Turn-down service
Daily turn-down, including fresh towels, chocolate or similar on the pillow, turn-down of the bed.

Laundry service
Free of charge for all suite guests.

Bathrobes and Binoculars will be available with a possibility to buy.

Activities & entertainment

An expedition cruise with Hurtigruten is rigged towards maximizing your experiences of the places we are going to. On days when we are not landing we encourage you to spend as much time as possible out on deck. Join our educational talks and lectures at different locations on board. A travel experience is often much richer if you have knowledge and understanding about the nature, wildlife, culture and history of your destination.

Our Expedition Team will make sure you are well prepared for the experiences ahead of you. They will also re-capitulate and answer questions in hindsight. You will not find bingo, arcade games and entertainment theatres often found on conventional cruise ships. Our aim is to get you closer to unique environments and to allow you to share the experience with your fellow travellers. Occasionally there may be some light entertainment on board in the evenings.

On many of our voyages we are landing in areas with snow, wet, muddy ground. The weather may be foul and cold. This is part of being an explorer. We have therefore chosen to lend you a pair of special purpose boots that will keep you both dry and warm – so that you can focus on your experience, not cold toes.

On some of our itineraries we will ask you to use our boots since we have made sure they are rinsed and declared clean from seeds or other biological material that could, unintentionally, lead to spread of invasive species into fragile environments. If you require a pair of boots on your voyage we will lend them to you, for free, for the duration of the voyage. We carry sizes from 32 to 50. If you need a smaller or larger size than this, we encourage you to bring your own on itineraries calling at Svalbard, Antarctica, Arctic Canada, Iceland or Norway.

The onboard Expedition Team is composed of the Expedition Leader, the Assistant Expedition Leader, the Expedition Coordinator plus several lecturers and experts. Your Expedition Leader will regularly update you on the progress of the trip as well as the different points of interest and wildlife sightings that may occur. Biographies of the Expedition Team can be found on board. In the ships science center, you will be able to find information regarding the trip and book optional excursions and activities

The ship’s experienced lecturers command an in-depth knowledge of the areas in which we sail. They will conduct, on a regular basis, lectures on topics such as biology, history and geology throughout the voyage. The lecturing schedule will be announced every day in the on board daily program.

Our on board photographer will be there to assist guests in the use of their photo equipment and to help improve their photo skills. To enhance the experience of the places we explore, we use photography actively with our guests. Slideshow shared onboard before the end of the voyage and made available for all guests in an Expedition Logbook - including a selection of photos as well as the Daily Programs, Expedition Team biographies, Maps from the voyage and more for sharing/download.

We offer a selection of excursions that can be pre-booked with only remaining places sold on board. We do advise that you book well in advance in order to avoid disappointment due to the excursion being fully booked. Please note that registration is binding and once on board the Expedition Team will advise you of booking deadlines for excursions still available.

Our excursions have English speaking guides unless otherwise indicated and other languages cannot be guaranteed. Excursions are subject to cancellation due to weather conditions and dependent on number of participants. All expedition shore landings and small boat cruising during our call in Antarctica are included the program. All excursions are subject to availability.

Along with the optional excursions available to book, the Expedition Team also arrange a variety of activities during the voyage. These will depend on location and season, but may include hiking, small boat cruising, kayaking, snowshoeing or camping. A limited amount of kayaking is available for booking prior to select voyages, but all other activities are booked on board and subject to availability.

The sturdy boats enable both water-based exploration and safe landings in otherwise inaccessible areas. You will need to be fairly agile to board these but there is otherwise no need to worry about travelling in them. The crew will show you what to do and as long as you follow their instructions, after a few times it will become second nature.

On all landings in small boats guests are expected to wear proper footwear. In Antarctica it is mandatory to use rubber boots for all landings. For all other destinations boots can be useful. You are welcome to bring private rubber boots, or you can borrow a pair on board free of charge. See separate point “Equipment rentals”. Landing operations depend on favourable conditions.

Upon arrival on board, there will be a mandatory passenger safety drill before departure. There will also be a welcome meeting where security information as well as practical information about the cruise will be given, and an opportunity to meet some of the Officers, crew and Expedition Team members.

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