“Spitsbergen” is Dutch - spits meaning “pointed” and bergen meaning “mountains.” It was so named in 1596 by Dutch Arctic explorer Willem Barentsz. It took some time for the name to catch on – English whalers would refer to the archipelago as Greenland until the late 1780s. The Norwegian name is Svalbard.
Touched by three seas – The Norwegian Sea, the Greenland Sea, and the Arctic Ocean – Spitsbergen is the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago of northern Norway.
Its rugged mountains and rolling tundra offer plenty of opportunities for hiking and snowshoeing. Spitsbergen is by far the largest wilderness area of Europe and offers some of the finest scenery and wildlife experiences in the world.
Cruises to Svalbard
Full Spitsbergen Circumnavigation
PLA07-22 Take a cruise around Spitsbergen and explore the icy waters of the North Atlantic. This special expedition offers you the chance to catch site of whales, reindeer, Arctic foxes, walruses, seals, and the star attraction, the polar bear.
6 Jul - 15 Jul, 2022
Watch for wildlife in iconic Arctic terrain
RVR26-22 The North Spitsbergen cruise sails to some of the remotest locations of northern Europe. The expedition gives you the opportunity to spot historic whaling remains, glaciers, a variety of Arctic birds including the Little Auk, and polar bears.
s/v Rembrandt van Rijn
6 Jul - 16 Jul, 2022
Full Spitsbergen Circumnavigation
HDS07-22 Take a cruise around Spitsbergen and explore the icy waters of the North Atlantic. This special expedition offers you the chance to catch site of whales, reindeer, Arctic foxes, walruses, seals, and the star attraction, the polar bear.
7 Jul - 16 Jul, 2022
Dutch scientific expedition to Spitsbergen
OTL08-22 This is a voyage, with a group of scientists on the ship, who will follow-up on the investigations which Dutch researchers began on Edgeøya in the 20th century. Academic voyage organized by the Dutch University of Groningen to the Island Edgeøya south...
13 Jul - 22 Jul, 2022
Explore the shores and seas of an amazing island
RVR27-22 The North Spitsbergen cruise sails to some of the remotest locations of northern Europe. The expedition gives you the opportunity to spot historic whaling remains, glaciers, a variety of Arctic birds including the Little Auk, and polar bears.
s/v Rembrandt van Rijn
16 Jul - 26 Jul, 2022
Svalbard cruise video
Looking out over the pack ice after reaching 80 degrees north, this was the moment when I really felt like I was in the
During Cleanup for Sarah, we encourage our staff and followers on social media to join us in removing litter from nature
Svalbard cruise reviews
Where do we go on Svalbard?
Svalbard is one of our core Arctic locations, a great place for enjoying wildlife, activities, and scenery. For this reason, there are too many areas we visit to list here. For details on intended routes and landing sites, see the Svalbard page at ouRead more »
What is the best time to travel to Spitsbergen?
This depends on what you want to experience at Spitsbergen. In case you want to experience the Polar night or the Aurora Borealis, November to February is the best time to travel to Spitsbergen. Do you want to see the midnight sun and enjoy boat tripRead more »
When is the winter season in Spitsbergen?
The sun sets for the last time in Spitsbergen in mid-September and rises above the horizon again in mid-February. The winter landscape and temperatures prevail until May.Read more »
What is the temperature and weather like in Svalbard?
The weather in Spitsbergen differs per area and location. Although snow can occur throughout the year in Svalbard, the North Atlantic Current helps provide Svalbard with warmer temperatures than many other areas within similar latitudes. HoweverRead more »
Where can I see polar bears during a Svalbard voyage?
As polar bears can travel great distances in a day, it is impossible to say where and when we will spot them. Sea ice is the best place to look, so we tend to focus our efforts there. Though you will have a good chance of seeing polar bears in SvalbaRead more »
What wildlife can I see in Spitsbergen?
Your cruise to Spitsbergen will come with an enormous amount of opportunity to spot wildlife. Polar bears are obviously the main attraction regarding wildlife. There are six national parks throughout Spitsbergen, and Svalbard alone is known to cRead more »
Svalbard is located in the high Arctic and shares the Arctic’s designation as a technical desert when it comes to annual precipitation (or lack thereof). Particularly the eastern part of Svalbard sees relatively little precipitation annually. The west coast sees more precipitation in the form of rain and snow. Depending on when you take your Svalbard cruise you can expect temperatures to average anywhere from -14°C in the winter to 6°C in the summer.
Facts about Svalbard
- The name “Svalbard” is an old name (going back to at least the 1100s) meaning “cold coasts.”
- Longyearbyen, Svalbard’s only true town, was founded by an American in 1906. It has a little over 2000 inhabitants.
- Almost 65% of Svalbard is a protected nature reserve or a national park.
- Svalbard is the archipelago (chain of islands) off the north coast of Norway.
- Svalbard has the world’s third biggest ice sheet, coming behind only Antarctica and Greenland.
- Svalbard is made up of 4 main islands, and almost 150 smaller islands.
- Nobody gets buried on Svalbard. Because of the cold in the ground bodies generally fail to decompose, meaning that the graveyards would quickly get overrun. Therefore bodies are shipped to mainland Norway and buried there.
Travel to Svalbard
Travel to Svalbard and experience one of the Earth’s northernmost human inhabitations. Your Svalbard expedition cruise will take you to a beautifully stark landscape of glaciers and rugged snow-capped mountains. During your Svalbard holiday you’ll explore the preserved and protected history of the region, watch high Arctic wildlife on both land and at sea. Come during the late autumn/early winter months and your Svalbard cruise will be capped off by the great wonder of the Polar skies, the Northern Lights. For the polar bear enthusiasts special polar bear itineraries are arranged to offer the best polar bear experiences.
Polar bear video by Vedat Mihmat