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Practical Information for Expedition Cruises On Board MS Spitsbergen

From passport and visa requirements to general onboard information, get to know MS Spitsbergen before you embark on your upcoming expedition.

MS SPITSBERGEN HANDBOOK

On Board Information

Alcohol Policy

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

Announcements

Announcements will be made over the public address system. Those cabins with a TV may set to the specific channel number. 

Bar Service

This ship has a bar with an excellent selection of spirits, wines, beers, and soft drinks and a lounge with coffee service.

Cabins

There is a wide range of comfortable cabins on board. Please note that check-in at reception may open before your cabin is ready for use. You will be informed at check-in when your cabin is ready for use. You may expect some noise and vibration in some cabins. This varies depending on the location of your cabin. Please note that cabins on deck 6+7 on MS Spitsbergen may have passenger access to outside areas and possibly have an obstructed view due to other passengers walking past. 

Cruise Card

A cruise card will be issued upon arrival on board as part of the check-in procedure in accordance with ISPS regulations. The card serves as a control system on the gangway. 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 on board facilities. To activate the cruise card account you must have a Visa, American Express, Diners Club, or Mastercard. The credit card must be valid for more than three months after your stay on board. Please note that when using your credit card on board the ship, your account will be debited in NOK. The rate of exchange will be the one validated by your credit card company. The evening before the voyage ends the account will be totalled and settled on board, and a receipt brought to your cabin. We regret that there is no facility for cash withdrawals or currency exchange on board.

Drones

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

Electricity

The plugs in your cabins are all 220V/50hz. Suites have 110V for shavers. The plugs are continental two-pin plugs, for which you will need to bring an adapter. 

Entertainment

The emphasis on board is on relaxation and discovery and not on commercial entertainment which is so often a part of conventional cruises. Occasionally, there may be some musical entertainment on board in the evenings.

Fitness Room, Sauna & Hot Tub 

On deck 7, you will find a modern fitness room and comfortable sauna with a fantastic view of the landscape passing by. There are two outdoor hot tubs. 

Gratuity Policy

We have learned that many of our guests wish to give a special thanks to our service crew on board. This is at your discretion to honor service rendered by the crew in bars, restaurants, and cabins. In order to provide some guidelines, we recommend 70 NOK (approx 9 Euro, 12 USD) per guest per day as an average gratuity. Whatever amount you decide to give, please fill in the form you will find in your cabin and give it to the receptionist two nights before the end of the cruise. The amount will then be debited from your cruise card account.

Information & Services 

This ship has a reception and expedition desk, where our staff are available to answer your questions.

Language

Announcements, lectures, and written information are given in English.

Laundry

Laundry service is available on board MS Spitsbergen. No self-service or dry-cleaning is possible.

Lectures

The ships’ 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 everyday in the onboard daily program. 

Library

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

Medical Certificate

A Medical Certificate needs to be submitted by all passengers joining our voyages crossing the Atlantic Ocean, due to the remoteness of these areas.

Observation Lounge

The observation lounges offer large panoramic windows, ample comfortable seats, and even a pair of binoculars so you can view the wildlife and details of the everchanging landscape.

Outdoor Decks

Enjoy the views from the front or back of the ship. Both are perfect vantage points to sit back, relax, and watch the world go by.

Mail

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

Resident Photographer 

Our resident photographer on board MS Spitsbergen will invite you to photography workshops and practical sessions out on deck to enable you to take the best possible pictures on your voyage.

Restaurant & Cuisine

Your voyage includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The open seating for breakfast and lunch buffets creates a relaxed atmosphere. Dinner varies between buffets, set meals, and, weather permitting, barbeques. The type of dinner is announced in the daily program. Our 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. On some voyages we may serve the dinner divided into boat groups. Where possible, we plan our menus around seasonal ingredients, taking advantage of local produce to satisfy healthy appetites stimulated by the fresh sea air. Regular coffee/tea is complimentary throughout the whole voyage. Other beverages and refreshments during the day are not included but may be purchased on board in the restaurant, cafeteria, and bar.

Room Service

Cabins are cleaned daily on board MS Spitsbergen. We regret that meals or drinks cannot be served in the cabins. Fresh towels are available at all times. 

Rubber Boot Rentals

On board you may borrow a pair of high quality boots free of charge to wear during landings and hikes. These boots will be kept on the ship’s tender deck, and you will have your own pair during the whole voyage.

Seasickness

Seasickness pills are available to buy at 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. 

Shop

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

Shore Excursions

A selection of shore excursions are available to pre-book. Where available, we will supply you with excursion information in advance, otherwise you will receive full details and prices on board.

Smoking

On board, smoking is only permitted in designated areas on deck. All cabins are non-smoking. To show respect for the environment, please use the provided ashtrays when smoking. Throwing cigarette ends overboard is strictly prohibited. A cleaning charge of 1500 NOK will be applied for smoking in your cabin, to cover the cost of cleaning linen and curtains to return it to a non-smoking standard.

Water

The tap water in your cabin is potable, but we recommend drinking our self-produced filtered water by the carafe in the restaurant for quality and freshness.

Walking 

We kindly remind you to be careful walking on board while at sea, especially venturing out on deck. Look out for the signs for warning of wet and slippery decks. Be aware some doors the outer decks are difficult 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 door frames to avoid injury.

Welcome Meeting

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. This is also a great opportunity to meet some of the crew and be introduced to the key personnel on board.

Passport and Visa Requirements

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. Passports are the only valid identification for all of our voyages aboard MS Spitsbergen; ID cards are not accepted. The passport needs to be valid for more than six months after you return to your home country. At check-in, passports will be collected by the crew on board the vessel, in order to clear customs and immigration. Passports will be kept throughout the whole voyage and returned at the end of the trip. Please bring a photocopy of the passport with you. It is the guests’ responsibility to identify and to obtain the necessary visas before commencing their cruise. Based on nationality, many countries still require an entry visa. We regret we are unable to accept any liability if you are denied access to a flight or entry into a country or are otherwise affected by difficulties or costs resulting from your passport not being approved or if you have not obtained the required visa or other documentation. 

See Entry Requirements for updated travel information, visa requirements, and vaccination requirements. 

Flights, Hotels and Transfers

Scheduled Flights

The airfares offered are special package tour fares that cannot be altered or cancelled without charge. All flight package prices are based on coach class; if coach class is not available, a supplement may apply. In coach class, you will be served snacks or sandwiches, depending on the airline. If these are not included in the airline’s service, you can purchase drinks and snacks for a fee. On international flights, these are 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 flights. Baggage allowance varies between airlines and charges may apply if you exceed baggage weight, or carriage may be refused. As a general rule, each guest can carry one piece of hand baggage weighing approx. 13-17 lbs (dimensions and weight depend on the respective airline) on board. Your baggage allowance is set to one piece (50 lbs), but may vary depending on the flight connection; please check with your airline. Additional 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. Please note that some flights may be transfers or layovers. Time and/or route changes and change of type of aircraft are possible. Our common flight partners are Delta, American Airlines, United, Lufthansa, British Airways, KLM/Air France, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Scandinavian Airlines, LATAM, Iberia, and Iceland Air. Please note that rebooking 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 verify before you travel.

Included flight from Oslo-Longyearbyen

The flights between Oslo and Longyearbyen and vice versa are operated by Scandinavian Airlines or Enter Air (2018) and usually depart Oslo in the late evening, and arrive in Oslo early in the morning upon return from Longyearbyen.

Only coach class is available on these flights, no upgrades to higher air travel classes of service is possible. You can travel with checked baggage with a maximum weight of 50 lbs, and bring one carry-on bag on board with a maximum weight of 17 lbs.

Please note that this baggage allowance may differ from the airline used for your connecting flight to/from Oslo. Please check the weight of your baggage to ensure you adhere with airline requirements.

We are unable to accept responsibility if you miss your own booked connecting flight to/from Oslo in the event of a delay of the flight between Oslo and Longyearbyen.

Hotel

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 bathrooms. Single rooms may be smaller and less conveniently situated, and may be double rooms for solo occupancy or purpose-built single rooms. Hotels may charge for some facilities, such as saunas, for example. The price for the overnight hotel stay includes breakfast, if not stated differently on your confirmation.

Transfers

Transfers are included as shown in your personal itinerary. Hurtigruten offers bus transfers from the airport to the pier and some hotels. Transfer times coincide with the ship’s arrival and departure times and your flight arrival and departure times. Waiting at the airport is possible. The duration of the airport transfer can vary depending on the destination, but it usually takes between 20 and 45 minutes. Exceptions are possible where a longer transfer time is needed due to a greater distance between airport and port. You will receive further information on your transfer with your travel documents.

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

 

Land Adventures

Hurtigruten offers a selection of optional Land Adventures that can be added to your Hurtigruten journey. This can be a half-day or full-day Land Adventure, or an overnight tour. A minimum number of participants applies. For guests who are not fully mobile, Land Adventures are available upon request.f

Accuracy Disclaimer

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 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 travels, we will do our utmost to advise you.

Public holidays and religious festivals may also affect the availability of resort and hotel facilities. Tourist offices can provide details of such events. 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, and customs and lifestyles may differ from those to which you are accustomed.

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