The Svalbard Express – Southbound
Start your journey by experiencing life on the Arctic frontier in Longyearbyen, Svalbard. After two nights on Spitsbergen, board MS Trollfjord to set sail south to the Norwegian coast and a variety of coastal communities large and small.
DAY 1 : Longyearbyen
At the edge of the world
Your High Arctic experience begins by arriving in Spitsbergen, the largest of Svalbards three main islands. Gaze in awe as magnificent brown and green mountains rise and ripple up from the High Arctic tundra while rivers of snow-melt trickle through the valley plains, glistening under the summer sun.
Take a moment to just be here, now, in Svalbard. Youre at a latitude more than 78N and under 820 miles / 1,500 kilometres from the North Pole itself. The air is fresh and pure, and the overall temperature in summer is mild thanks to a warm northern branch of the Gulf Stream.
From Longyearbyen airport, a transfer brings you to the town itself, nestled on the banks of a sweeping, large fjord. It is the biggest settlement in Svalbard, home to some 2,000 inhabitants from across the world.
It originally sprang up as a coal mining colony in 1906. Today, it is a hub for adventure travellers, as well as scientists and engineers attached to local research projects, like the famous Global Seed Vault.
After checking in to your hotel, youll visit Camp Barentz in the evening, located at the foot of Breinosa mountain. There, in the pure wilderness of the High Arctic, enjoy dinner in a cosy wooden cabin and maybe even try some bidos a traditional, homemade Smi stew of slow-cooked reindeer meat and vegetables.
Tuck into your dessert outside around the campfire, perhaps under the Midnight Sun. End your first day admiring the mountains as we head back to your hotel in Longyearbyen.
DAY 2 : Longyearbyen
Mini adventure in the High Arctic
Following your first night in Svalbard, todays mini adventure takes you aboard hybrid-electric catamaran MS Bard. Make the most of the summer climate as you take in Spitsbergens magnificent landscapes at Billefjord and Nordenskildbreen.
MS Bard is a groundbreaking new catamaran for day cruises. Whenever it approaches glaciers, wildlife, or settlements, it will run silently on electric propulsion. This together with its specially designed propellers create minimal noise and vibration so as not to disturb Arctic wildlife.
Early in the season, there might still be ice in Billefjord. Switching to the boat’s electric motor, well carefully and silently follow the ice edge, on the lookout for seabirds, walrus, and seals. Youll also be able to enjoy views of the beautiful and vast Nordenskild glacier which crumbles icebergs into the fjord.
Along the way, you can spot abandoned coal mining town Pyramiden in the distance, so named after the shape of a nearby mountain. While a ghost town for many years, there have been recent attempts by various individuals to repopulate the area.
On the outer park of Billefjord is Skansbukta, another small settlement and gypsum mine lost to time under the impressive cliffs. MS Bard will also sail past Svenskhuset, the oldest standing building on Spitsbergen and site of tragic lead poisoning in tinned food that claimed the lives of 17 hunters and sailors.
Admiring the views of the fjord, glacier, mountains, and Arctic flora in bloom, youll make your way back to Longyearbyen on MS Bard, settling in at your hotel for your last night there.
DAY 3 : Longyearbyen
Last day in Longyearbyen
Wake to Arctic sunshine and enjoy breakfast at your hotel. The last day here in Longyearbyen is yours to spend as you like.
If you havent already, you can spend some time walking around the town. Browse boutique shops selling homemade chocolate, tiny galleries with artwork inspired by life on the Arctic frontier, and bars that serve up beer from the local micro-brewery.
There are also many local excursions on offer such as hikes in the surrounding mountains of Longyearbyen, fossil hunting at Deltaneset, or a walrus safari at Borebukta aboard hybrid ship Kvitbjrn.
You can also arrange to go dry dog sledding where the sleds are fitted with wheels instead, allowing the dogs to exercise throughout the summer season. This keeps them fit for when the snow does arrive in winter.
However you decide to spend your day in Svalbard, return to the hotel in the late afternoon for a transfer to MS Trollfjord, your home at sea for the next week. Come evening, the ship will sail further north towards Ny- lesund.
DAY 4 : Ny-lesund
Science on the Arctic frontier
Arise early today to enjoy impressive views of Kongsfjord, one of the largest fjords in the area. Its entrance is guarded by two colossal creaking glaciers that regularly deposit ice into the fjord.
This stretch is also a good place to look out for walrus basking on the shores and for many different species of migrating birds, including puffins, king eiders, pink-footed geese, and guillemots.
Arctic fox and Svalbard reindeer can sometimes be spotted on land while the white beluga whale has been known to surface in the waters here too. If were very lucky, we might even see a polar bear prowling the coast for bearded and ringed seals.
At the tip of Brgger peninsula, on one of Kongsfjords shores, is Ny-lesund. Like Longyearbyen, it began as a coal mine but became host to scientific stations from the mid 20th century. During the summer, there are over a hundred researchers based in the town, representing 20 glaciology and climate institutes from more than 10 countries.
Wander around what is one of the northernmost settlements in the world, drop in at the local bar and souvenir shop, or send a far-flung postcard back to friends and family from the small post office.
You can also take a guided tour of the Amundsen monument, erected here in honour of the great Norwegian explorers record-breaking flight to reach the North Pole in 1926. Amundsen flew the airship Norge from Ny-lesund and landed in Alaska three days later, successfully doing so via the North Pole.
DAY 5 : At sea
Unfortunately, its time for us to say farewell to Svalbard and to Spitsbergen. If time allows, as we sail south back to mainland Norway, we might be able to detour to Recherchefjord, a small fjord to the south of Bellsund.
On board the ship, use the day to relax. If skies are clear, enjoy some summer sun out on deck and keep on the lookout for whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Or if its not too warm out, head to the sauna for a soothing steam.
For some fascinating insights into local history and wildlife, catch a lecture delivered by the Coastal Experience Team. They may also offer a photography workshop to help sharpen your eye to capture stunning shots in the days to come.
Enjoy the sumptuous food and drinks on board, courtesy of our Norways Coastal Kitchen concept that features the finest, most flavoursome, local Norwegian produce. As a treat, there might be tastings of regional specialities or demonstrations by our skilled onboard chefs in the show kitchen.
You can also simply curl up with a good book in the lounge or chat with new-found friends in the bar while reminiscing together about your favourite experiences of the voyage so far.
DAY 6 : Troms and Senja
Exploring Little Norway
Weve arrived back to mainland Norway and our first stop of the day is Troms. The ship will drop off any cargo from Svalbard and pick up cargo bound for ports to the south.
Calling back into Troms after being up at Svalbard follows in the footsteps of history. Most explorers and sailors returning from their Arctic expeditions would descend on the city. The fashion and food they found there seemed so stylish and refined compared to the stark frontier towns that they nicknamed Troms the Paris of the North. Maybe youll have a similar impression?
From Troms, the ship will continue south to the fairytale island of Senja, one of Norways largest islands. Youll be able to embark on optional excursions in Troms that will then meet up with the ship in Senja. One we recommend is a scenic tour that traverses the island of Kvalya leading to a ferry ride to Senja, before rendezvousing with the ship on the islands west side.
Senja is Northern Norways fast-rising star destination, as youd expect for a place ranked among CNNs top ten most beautiful islands in the world. Often proudly described by locals as a mini Norway, the island seems to have a concentration of landscapes inspired by different parts of the Norwegian coast.
Youll have a range of optional excursions on offer in Senja, showing you the best the island has to offer. These could be hikes to distinctive peaks for enviable views, fishing trips, or kayaking on the waters of a tranquil fjord.
DAY 7 : Svolvr
Fall in love with Lofoten
Today is all about exploring the Lofoten archipelago. Hailed as one of the most spectacular areas in all of Norway, youll understand why as you see its jagged green cliffs rise dramatically out of the ocean, climbing high into the sky like giant teeth.
Pretty fishing villages appear as strings of red-roofed houses on stilts that cling picturesquely to the edges of mountainous islands. Here and there, single fishermen huts known locally as rorbuer dot the islands, specks of red amidst a ceylon blue sea and the lush mountainside greens.
Youll find that life in Lofoten is supremely calm and peaceful. Time seems to stand still here, as if stopped in its tracks by the islands sheer beauty.
The beating heart of the archipelago is the town of Svolvr where the ship will be based for most of the day. There are shops and restaurants to enjoy, and hours can be spent exploring and getting to know the town yourself.
To experience the mountains, islands, and villages that can be discovered around Svolvr, youll have a variety of handpicked top Lofoten excursions that will help you do just that.
Engage in an optional hike to one of the local white-sand beaches where you can help us in a beach clean-up before going for a swim. Dont worry about having to choose between a mountain hike and kayaking either. With the long summer days, you might be able to do both, giving you the best of sea and summit.
DAY 8 : Brnnysund
Highlights of the Helgeland Coast
The ship continues south and reaches the midpoint of the Norwegian coast. This is the Helgeland Coast, a well-known stretch full of distinctive mountains that have inspired many a charming myth and local folklore.
We will base the ship in the town of Brnnysund which features a lovely marina and a Neo-Gothic stone church from 1870. Spend your time exploring the town or joining optional excursions such as kayaking, cycling, or a cruise by RIB.
One highlight of the area is a visit to the Vega archipelago, a cluster of some 6,500 islands, skerries, and islets. Theres a UNESCO world heritage centre on the island of Gardsy which showcases how highly prized eider down is harvested from the local eider ducks by providing little huts for them to build their nests in.
Further along from Brnnysund is the unique Torghatten Mountain. The first thing youll notice about Torghatten is the hole that pierces right through its centre. Legend states that the hole is the work of an arrow fired by a spurned troll at his would-be lover and that Torghatten Mountain itself is the fossilised hat of a Troll King who attempted to block the arrow.
At an easy pace, it takes about an hour to reach the hole in Torghatten on an optional excursion. The panoramic view of the trees and islands stretching out before you is well worth it.
DAY 9 : lesund and Urke
Secret of the Sunnmre Alps
The ship will make a brief stop in the town of lesund, known for its Art Nouveau architecture and picturesque position on a peninsula below Mount Askla. Well offload any cargo here as well guests who are joining excursions.
Near to lesund, cutting through the peaks of the Sunmre Alps, some 1,700 metres high, is magnificent Hjrundfjord. Its picture-perfect position embedded in the Sunnmre Alps means it is the areas hidden gem and a secret from most other ships.
Those who do discover Hjrundfjord rank it as a serious contender for their favourite fjord in Norway. Its deep blue waters and verdant mountainsides seem perfectly proportionate and aligned, as if sculpted deliberately by natures artistry.
On the banks of one of Hjrundfjords branches is the idyllic village of Urke, made up of less than 40 residents. This is where the ship will pick up guests who had previously left the ship at lesund to go on an excursion.
We are fast approaching the last day of our voyage. While bittersweet, what better way to celebrate our Svalbard Express experience than a merry farewell dinner on our last night. Itll also be an opportunity to look back fondly at the many highlights of this journey weve all shared together.
DAY 10 : Bergen
End of your voyage
We arrive in Bergen in the morning, a beautiful city on the west coast of Norway. Majestic peaks famously surround the city, giving Bergen its nickname, The City of Seven Mountains.
Its time to disembark the ship and take a transfer to the airport, but not before saying fond farewells to your fellow passengers and to the crew of MS Trollfjord who made your Svalbard Express journey such a comfortable one.
Youve travelled as part of this historic, iconic voyage to pieces of paradise along the Norwegian coast you wont soon forget. If youve engaged in optional excursions, will you have photos to share of you kayaking, hiking, fishing, cycling in some of the most beautiful scenery ever seen?
We know youll take fond memories home with you and we wish you a safe onward journey. This has been The Svalbard Express. We hope to see you back here with us soon.