Iceland time 2014.12.17. 06:26





Introduction Of Svalbard


Svalbard formerly known by its Dutch name Spitsbergen), is a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. Situated north of mainland Europe, it is about midway between continental Norway and the North Pole. The group of islands range from 74° to 81° north latitude, and from 10° to 35° east longitude. The largest island is Spitsbergen, followed by Nordaustlandet and Edgeøya.

Administratively, the archipelago is not part of any Norwegian county, but rather forms an unincorporated area administered by a state-appointed governor. Since 2002, Svalbard's main settlement, Longyearbyen, has had an elected local government, somewhat similar to mainland municipalities. Other settlements include the Russian mining community of Barentsburg, the research station of Ny-Ålesund, and the mining outpost of Sveagruva. Svalbard is the northernmost place in the world with a permanent population.

The islands were first taken into use as a whaling base in the 17th and 18th centuries, after which they were abandoned. Coal mining started at the beginning of the 20th century, and several permanent communities were established. The Svalbard Treaty of 1920 recognizes Norwegian sovereignty, and the 1925 Svalbard Act made Svalbard a full part of the Kingdom of Norway. They also established Svalbard as a free economic zone and a demilitarized zone. The Norwegian Store Norske and the Russian Arktikugol remain the only mining companies in place. Research and tourism have become important supplementary industries, featuring among others the University Centre in Svalbard and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. No roads connect the settlements; instead snowmobiles, aircraft and boats serve inter-community transport. Svalbard Airport, Longyear serves as the main gateway.

The archipelago features an Arctic climate, although with significantly higher temperatures than other areas at the same latitude. The flora takes advantage of the long period of midnight sun to compensate for the polar night. Svalbard is a breeding ground for many seabirds, and also features polar bears, reindeer, and marine mammals. Seven national parks and twenty-three nature reserves cover two-thirds of the archipelago, protecting the largely untouched, yet fragile, natural environment. Sixty percent of the archipelago is glacier, and the islands feature many mountains and fjords.

Practical Information On The Ship


Required documents

Valid passport and visa if required. Please make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after your trip ends. Since visa requirements differ for each nationality, we ask that you check with the nearest consulates/embassies and secure visas if required.


Vaccinations are not required for these cruises. However if you are visiting certain parts of Asia, Africa or South America prior to joining the expedition, you may be visiting areas infected with yellow fever. In that case you will need a yellow fever inoculation. Please consult the Public Health Service nearest to you.


Any major health problem, disability, or physical condition that may require emergency care must be brought to our attention prior to the voyage.

Please complete the Personal Information Form which you have received from your booking agent and return it to your booking agent 8 weeks prior to departure.

Personal Medications

Be sure to carry ample supplies of any prescription medications you require as well as medication against motion sickness (sea sickness). Carry your medication in your hand luggage.

General Clothing Advise

he choice of clothing for cold climates is a very personal matter. It depends on your individual experience with cold conditions. Are you more susceptible to cold temperatures than other people?

For your comfort and safety, avoid getting wet (whether from perspiration, precipitation, unsuitable boots or sea spray). Bring wind and waterproof outer layers. Beware of tight clothing that leaves no room for trapped air, which is an excellent insulator. Wool, silk and some of the new synthetic fibers like polar fleece retain heat better than cotton.

The secret to keep warm is the “layer principle”. It is better to have several light layers of clothing than one heavy layer. This also gives you flexibility in your clothing so you can take off a layer if you are too warm or put another layer on if you are cold. The most important layer is the outer waterproof and windproof shell because even a light wind of 6 kph (about 4 mph) can carry away eight times more body heat than still air! The so-called “wind chill factor” measures the increase in cooling power of moving air, whether it’s wind that is blowing or you who are moving rapidly and, in effect, creating a wind against yourself.

A common complaint is “it’s not the cold, it’s the wind”, but an equally common polar maxim is “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!”

Tips to stay comfortable and warm in cold weather


Avoid overdressing to reduce perspiration.

Wear water repellent outer garments that will keep you dry on the outside and still “breathe” enough so that moisture from your body can escape.

Body heat is most likely to be lost from parts that have a lot of surface area in comparison to total mass-namely, the hands and feet. Keep them warm and dry. For hands, mittens are better than gloves.

Another polar maxim is “if you have cold feet, put a hat on!” If the rest of your body is covered, as much as 90% of the heat you lose can come from your head, so be sure to wear a cap, beanie or balaclava. These items can be pulled down to protect your ears, forehead, neck and chin. The neck also needs protection with a woollen or synthetic scarf, that can be wrapped around the face when travelling against the wind.

Dress in comfortable, loose layers. For anyone out in the cold, it is far better to wear layers of relatively light, loose clothing than one thick, heavy item. Between each layer there is a film of trapped air which, when heated by your body, acts as an excellent insulator. Keep from overheating.

Wool and silk are superior to cotton because they can trap warm air. Synthetic fabrics that spring back into shape after compression are also good. When damp or wet, polyester down is a better insulator than goose or duck down. Polar fleece is popular and recommended.

Commonly Asked Questions


Do I have to be really “fit” and in good health to join this expedition?

You must be in good general health and you should be able to walk several hours per day on rough terrain. However, the expedition is ship-based and physically not very demanding: although we spend as much time as possible ashore, you are welcome to remain aboard the ship if you like. It is very important, in order to join most excursions, that you are able to easily get up and down the steep gangway from the ship to the water level to board the Zodiacs. Staff will assist you in- and out of the boats. Ashore it can be slippery and rocky. You are travelling in remote areas without access to sophisticated medical facilities, so you must not join this expedition if you have a life-threatening condition, need daily medical treatment or have difficulty walking.

What is the age range aboard?

Passengers on a typical voyage range from their 30s to their 80s - with a majority usually from 45 - 65 (a little bit younger on our sailing vessel). Our expeditions attract independent-minded travellers from around the world. They are characterised by a strong interest in exploring remote regions. The camaraderie and spirit that develops aboard is an important part of the expedition experience. Many departures have several nationalities on board.

Can I recharge my batteries and use electrical appliances on board?

Yes, the power supply is 220v, 50Hz. The wall plugs accommodate two thick round pins like those found in most European countries. You may need a transformer and international adapter for your particular equipment.

Are there restrictions on what can be done while ashore?

Yes, an overriding concern is the protection of the wildlife, environment and cultures in any of the areas we visit. We will address conservation issues in the on-board briefings and the expedition staff will assist you ashore.

How much time do we spend ashore?

That is hard to say. Our aim is to spent as much time ashore as possible. But that depends on the weather and the constraints of time and distance. Depending on the voyage, you may spend several days aboard the ship, followed by a series of landings, each several hours long. On some voyages you land two or three times every day. During our time at high latitudes we will have almost continuous daylight. We would like to show you as much as possible but leave it up to you to skip an excursion.

Sea sickness?

Many people ask us if they will get sea-sick. This depends very much on the individual. Our experience is that a small percentage of people get sick on any trip and most of these people are fine after a day or so at sea. If you feel that you are particularly susceptible to sea-sickness then it is a good idea to talk to your local doctor. Bring motion sickness tablets, be sure you have eaten enough and feel rested.

Sailing & combating sea sickness: We expect to sail at night most of the time but also during the day to visit different landing places. Anticipate some rough seas during the voyage (crossing the Drake passage or Denmark Strait). Should you be prone to motion or sea sickness, please consult your physician which medication is appropriate and its side effects. To avert motion sickness, avoid alcohol, tobacco, excess liquids, and confined spaces. Most people feel better sitting on deck looking at the horizon or lying in bed. Oddly, you will feel better with some food, such as crackers or dry toast in your stomach. Many people eat to avoid feeling sick. Remember, once you start to experience motion sickness, medications are of little help, so take it well in advance. For those with room mates please take care of each other. If your room mate is not well it is good to bring him/her dry biscuits and tea. Also inform the doctor, expedition leader or Hotel Manager about the situation.

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