Spitsbergen is an island in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard about 650 kilometres (400 miles) north of Norway. The archipelago ranges from Bear Island at 74° North to Rossøya at 81° North.


It is by far the largest wilderness area of Europe; it covers an area of about 62,500 km², about the size of Ireland. About 60% of the land is glaciated. Since 1925 Norway has sovereignty over Spitsbergen according to the international Spitsbergen Treaty.

The name Spitsbergen was given by the Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz, who discovered the islands in 1596 during a mission to find a new sea route to the fabled land of Cathay, the Far East. The meaning of the name Spitsbergen in the Dutch language is "Jagged Peaks" because of the sharp pointed mountains that Barentsz met in the north-west of Spitsbergen. Spitsbergen, which has a population of about 3000 in 4 settlements, is still today virtually an unspoilt wilderness.


It is an amazing location for and Arctic cruise providing incredible wildlife encounters, stunning land and seascapes and a chance to experience life in the high Arctic.

The main settlement is Longyearbyen, which has approximately 2000 inhabitants and is one of the world's northernmost villages. It is also the location where you will board ship for your Arctic cruise of Spitsbergen.


Some of the locations you may visit include:



Port at Longyearbyen - Longyearbyen town centre - Airport at Longyearbyen - Barentsburg - Ny-Ålesund - Krossfjorden -
Liefdefjord - Sjuøyane (Seven Islands) - Lagoya - Storoya - Kvitoya - Alkefjellet - Palanderbukta - Torrellneset - Sundneset -
Diskobukta - Hornsund - Van Keulenfjord - Alkhornet - Fuglehuken - Fuglesangen - Raudfjorden - Ahlstrandhalvoya - Bockfjord


Port at Longyearbyen - 78°13′ N 15°33′ E

Your arctic Spitsbergen voyage will embark and disembark here.


Longyearbyen town centre - 78°13' N 15°36' E

Depending on your itinerary you may overnight here before or after you voyage. The town has several shops, restaurants and a museum.


You could certainly spend a day here and in the surrounding area. You could also opt to do some additional activities with some of the local suppliers.


Airport at Longyearbyen -78°14' N 15°29' E

Your flight will arrive and depart from this airport.


Barentsburg - 78°04′ N 14°13′ E

Barentsburg is the second largest settlement on Svalbard after Longyearbyen, with about 500 inhabitants (as of 2007), almost entirely Russians and Ukrainians. The Russian-owned company Arktikugol has been mining coal here since 1932 taking over from the Dutch who had been mining there since the 1920's.

A visit here is like stepping back into the old Soviet Union with many reminders of that era in the design and decor of the buildings.
Coal is still mined in Barentsburg and regularly exported to buyers in Northern Europe.



Ny-Ålesund - 78°55′ N 11°56′ E

Ny-Ålesund, or New Ålesund, is one of the four permanent settlements on the island of Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago. It is located on the Brøgger peninsula at Kongsfjorden and like the rest of Svalbard, it is administered by Norway.


Ny-Ålesund is inhabited by a permanent population of approximately 30-35 persons. All of them work for one of the research stations or the logistics and supply company which runs the research village.

In summer the activity in Ny-Ålesund is greatly increased with up to 120 researchers, technicians, and field assistants occupying the facilities. Currently Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, France, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea and China all maintain research stations at Ny-Ålesund, although not all are inhabited throughout the year.


Research carried out at Ny-Ålesund includes climate change & ecosystem response, UV-radiation & biological effects, long-range transported pollutants & ecotoxicology.


Krossfjorden - 79°9′ N 11°45′ E

The English explorer Jonas Poole entered Krossfjorden in 1610, naming it Close Cove. John Daniel later named the fjord Closse Sound in 1612. A small bay in the south-western entrance of Krossfjorden, named Cross Road by Poole, now known as Ebeltofthamna, was the location of the first whaling station in Spitsbergen in 1611. The remains of a later, semi-permanent station have been found there as well on a long, low arm of the beach between the fjord and a lagoon. On the other side of the lagoon's mouth there is a graveyard from this period. The name of this small harbour was later used to refer to the fjord as a whole, resulting in the modern name of Krossfjorden.


The name originates from the placing of a cross by Poole in 1610 on the side of a hill a mile west of Ebeltofthamna, on which he wrote the day and year of his arrival, as well as who sent him.



Liefdefjord - 79°34' N 12°58' E

The magnificent Liefdefjorden is home to the impressive glacial landscapes of the Monaco Glacier, a sight of truly awe inspiring grandeur.

At Liefdefjorden you can walk on the tundra observing pink-footed geese as well as common and possibly king eiders.


Sjuøyane (Seven Islands) - 80°41′ N 20°57′ E

Sjuøyane (Seven Islands) is the northernmost part of the Svalbard archipelago. The principal islands are Phippsøya, Parryøya, Martensøya, Nelsonøya and Waldenøya, the islets are Tavleøya, Vesle Tavleøya and Rossøya. Rossøya, more a skerry than an island, is in 80°49'44" the northernmost land of Svalbard and thus of Norway. You can get some beautiful icy seascapes here.


At Phippsøya, north of Nordaustlandet you will be at 81 degrees north, just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole. Polar bears inhabit this region, along with ivory gulls. The ship will usually sit for several hours in the pack ice, taking in the spectacular surroundings.


Lagoya - 80°10′ N 18°00′ E

Lagoya lying northeast of Spitsbergen, this island boasts a lagoon where walrus congregate in large numbers and Sabine's gulls may also be seen. Disembark at Sorg Fjord for a nature walk with the likelihood of seeing walrus and possibly ptarmigans in addition to the graves of 17th century whalers.

Storoya - 80°12′ N 28°0′ E

This island, situated east of Nordaustlandet, is reachable in favourable ice conditions. There are huge walrus colonies and polar bears also thrive here.

This island, situated east of Nordaustlandet, is
reachable in favourable ice conditions. There are huge walrus colonies and polar bears also thrive here.


Kvitoya - 80°09′ N 32°35′ E

Kvitoya (White Island) is almost completely covered by an ice cap (Kvitøyjøkulen) with the classical, hourglass-shaped dome, which has given it its name. It is a part of the Nordaust-Svalbard Nature Reserve.


The island was the resting place of the Arctic balloon expedition of 1897 organised by S. A. Andrée. The expedition had attempted to overfly the North Pole in a hydrogen balloon, but was forced down on the pack ice about 300 kilometres north of Kvitøya on July 14, less than three days after their launch. They all sadly died within weeks of reaching the island. The expedition remains were not discovered until 1930.


Alkefjellet - 79°30' N 18°0' E

The bird cliffs at Alkefjellet are home to tens of thousands of Thick-billed Murres and Brunnich's Guillemots nesting precariously on the ledges. Fox and polar bears are often seen patrolling the base of the cliffs in search of food.

A zodiac cruise along these cliffs if a great experience.


Palanderbukta - 79°37' N 20°30' E

On the east side of Hinlopenstrait is Palanderbukta on Nordaustlandet.

It is home to Reindeer, Pink-footed Geese, breeding Ivory Gulls, and Walruses. If you are on a walking expedition there is an opportunity to do extended treks here.


Torrellneset - 79°21' N 20°46' E

Torrellneset, also on Nordaustland is home to many walruses.


Sundneset - 78°12' N 21°03' E

Sundneset is located at the south-eastern corner of Barentsøya. It is a lush tundra of vegetation and often hosts large numbers of reindeer. If you are on a walking expedition you may follow the river up to a waterfall, covering about 17 km to enjoy great views.


Sundneset is also a regular landing location with shorter walks to the waterfall with good opportunities to encounter reindeer.


Diskobukta - 77°55' N 21°22' E

Diskobukta is located on the west side of Edgeøya. You can Zodiac cruise through the shallow bay and land on a beach littered with whale bones and tree trunks, which have drifted here from Siberia.

There is also a chance to climb to the rim of a narrow gully which is inhabited by thousands of Kitttiwakes, Black Guillemots and Glaucous Gulls.


During the breeding season, the base of the cliffs is patrolled by Arctic Foxes and Polar Bears, especially females with young cubs, searching for young birds that have fallen from the nesting ledges.


Hornsund - 76°57′ N 15°46′ E

This impressive region of southern Spitsbergen boasts a stunning landscape of towering mountain peaks, the highest reaching 1,431 metres. The 14 magnificent glaciers offer very good chances of spotting seals and polar bears Also visit the Polish research station and nearby colony of thousands of pairs of nesting little auks.


Van Keulenfjord - 77°34′ N 15°20' E

Landing at Ahlstrandhalvøya at the mouth of Van Keulenfjorden you will find piles of Beluga skeletons, the remains of 19th century whaling activity. There is a good chance to spot a pod of Belugas in the area.


Travelling north to the pack ice 

Depending on ice conditions and schedule the expedition leader may decide to bring the ship as far north as possible to meet the pack ice. From there heading north you would finally come to the North Pole but that is work for the large icebreaker ships.


Alkhornet - 78°13' N 13°49' E

Alkhornet, at the northern entrance of Isfjorden, is a striking landmark. The landscape around this large bird cliff is lush and beautiful.


Fuglehuken - 78°54' N 10°30' E

Land at the northern tip of Prins Karls Forland near Fuglehuken, where Barentsz probably set foot on Spitsbergen for the first time. Seabirds nest on the cliffs and along the coast you will see Harbour Seals, the only population found in Spitsbergen. You can also observe the remains of the Polar Bear hunting era, with demolished set guns and bear traps.


Fuglesangen - 79°50' N 11°49' E

At Fuglesangen, you will visit a colony of Little Auks or Dovkies. A backdrop of steep mountains dusted with snow makes this shore landing an excellent photo opportunity. Sitting on the hillside watching the little auks flying in their sweeping circles is a great sight.


Raudfjorden - 79°40′ N 12°0′ E

Raudfjorden is a beautiful fjord with spectacular glaciers. It is home to Ringed and Bearded Seals, seabird colonies and surprisingly rich vegetation.


Ahlstrandhalvoya - 77°34' N 15°0' E

The rich wildlife of the area has attracted hunters throughout several centuries - remains of their huts are visible at Ahlstrandhalvoya.

Bockfjord - 79°29' N 13°32' E

At Bockfjord there are warm water springs with colourful sediments, close to the shore and about 10 km inland. There is a dormant volcano located there also which you can climb.