Arctic: Svalbard/Spitzbergen 2017



This photo tour covers important parts of Svalbard with its glorious wildlife and amazing ice. One of the goals of this expedition is to sail to the Bowhead Whales, which live along the ice edge in the Greenland Sea. We will follow the routes of the 17th century whalers, who nearly exterminated the Atlantic whale population in the 18th century. This century we have indications that the Bowhead Whale populations are recovering all over the Arctic. The course of the expedition will be much dictated by the sea-ice and fjord ice.

The itinerary is subject to change.

Excellent news: this tour is now a full charter!

Instead of our original plan of renting cabins on the ship, we have just changed this to a full charter. E.g. we will be the only ones on board, no other passengers, just us photographers. \o/ This also means we will have control over where the ship goes and stops. Circle around that iceberg two more times? You got it! Get a bit closer to that polar bear? Sure.


Everything you ever wanted to know about Spitzbergen, about this specific tour, about our vessel, the Noordenlicht, about the wildlife and why Svalbard is called the Galapagos of the Arctic:

Interesting Facts

  • Did you know that Svalbard holds the Global Seed Vault? (Video)
  • Did you know that on Svalbard you can find the northern-most ghost town in the world? It's named Pyramiden, look it up.


Day 1: We arrive in Longyearbyen and embark our vessel s/v Noorderlicht late afternoon

After arriving in Longyearbyen, the ‘capital’ (actually the administrative centre) of Spitsbergen, you may wish to visit the Svalbard Museum which has an interesting collection on the history of Spitsbergen, the mining industry and polar exploration. In the evening we sail, setting course for Trygghamna where we will see the remains of a 17th century English whaling station and an 18th century Pomor hunting station, which we will visit the next morning.
Highlights : ✓ Svalbard Museum ✓ Longyearbyen

Day 2: We will walk from Tryghamna to Alkhornet

From Trygghamna we walk to Alkhornet a large seabird cliff, where the first birds are prospecting their breeding places. Below the cliffs is a den of Arctic Fox and Reindeer graze on the lush vegetation. In Forlandsundet we visit a haul out place of Walrus at Poolepynten or Sarstangen, if sea ice allows us. Highlights : ✓ Arctic Fox ✓ Alkhornet ✓ Svalbard Reindeer

Day 3: We sail into Kongsfjord to the 14th of July Glacier

In the morning we sail into Kongsfjord to the 14th of July Glacier where we cruise in zodiacs. Not far from the glacier we will visit a breeding site for Brünnich’s Guillemot, Auk and Puffin, which in this time of the year begin to prospect their breeding places. Alternatively we may sail into Magdalena Fjord one of the most beautiful places on Spitsbergen, with many impressive glacier faces. During a shore visit we will view the remains of 17th century English whaling activities.
Highlights : ✓ Puffin ✓ 14th of July Glacier ✓ Magdalenafjord

Day 4:

Today we will try to visit Ytre Norskøya, a small island which was used for many years as a lookout point for Dutch whalers. There we can still follow their tracks to the summit of the island.  On shore the remains of 17th century blubber ovens can be found near the graves of 200 Dutch whalers.  Alternatively we land at Smeerenburg on Amsterdamøya, where the Dutch whalers had a summer settlement where they processed the whale oil in the same period.

Day 5 - 7: At sea

At sea sailing from 80 N to 76 N along and in the outer fringes of the ice edge looking for Bowhead Whales, Harp Seals, Hooded Seals, Polar Bears and migrating seabirds like Little Auks, Brünnichs Guillemots, and Kittiwakes.
Highlights : ✓ Sailing ✓ Whale spotting around Spitsbergen ✓ Bowhead Whale

Day 8: At sea enroute to Bell Sund

At open sea with good chances for Northern Bottlenose Whales. Highlights : ✓ Northern Bottlenose Whale

Day 9 - 10: We will walk in the footsteps of the old hunters and see remains of their huts

Bell Sund is a fjord system with two major branches (Van Mijenfjord, Van Keulenfjord) and a side bay (Recherchefjord). The geology is fascinating and has created amazing landscapes, such as the long, narrow island of Akseløya that blocks Van Mijenfjord almost completely. In Fridtjofhamna, the calving glacier Fridtjofbreen is surrounded by picturesque mountains. The rich wildlife of the area has attracted hunters throughout several centuries - we will walk in their footsteps and see remains of their huts - for example, at Ahlstrandhalvøya. Recherchefjord is one of the places in Spitsbergen with the highest concentration of historical sites, dating back to 17th century whalers. We see often Polar Bears and we have also seen Beluga (white whales) in this area. Much is depending on the fjord –ice how far we can sail into these fjords.
Highlights : ✓ Bell Sund ✓ Recherchefjord ✓ Glacier Fridtjofbreen

Day 11: Our last day. We disembark the vessel in Longearbyen in the morning

Departure by scheduled flight from Longyearbyen to Oslo.

History of the Noorderlicht

The Noorderlicht was originally built in 1910 in Flensburg, Germany as a three-masted schooner. For most of her existence she served as a light-vessel on the Baltic. In 1991 the present owners purchased the hull and re-rigged and refitted her thoroughly, under the rules of Register Holland.

Perfect for expedition cruising among small islands

The Noorderlicht now has a well-balanced two-masted schooner rig and is capable of sailing the seven seas, and is therefore well suited for expedition cruising among small islands and offer good open deck viewing areas, even when under sail. The 2 inflatable zodiacs enable landing and wildlife viewing opportunities in otherwise inaccessible areas. The qualified captains have great experience of the oceans. Together with the rest of the crew, they will do everything possible to ensure that you have a wonderful and unforgettable journey.

Comfort and character

The Noorderlicht provides accommodation for 20 travellers in comfortable twin cabins. All cabins have upper and lower berths, a cupboard and wash basin with hot and cold water. Shared shower (4) and toilet (5) facilities are conveniently located. Instead of portholes, the cabins have frosted glass in the ceiling, where the play of daylight shines into the cabins.








Boat picture under CC-BY-SA 3.0
Compass picture under CC-BY-SA 3.0


Title: Arctic: Svalbard/Spitzbergen 2017
Start: May 17 2017
Duration: 11 nights / 12 days
Location: Svalbard, Spitzbergen
Language(s): English, German
Host(s): Chris Marquardt, Tim Vollmer
Experience required: none
Price: 4950 USD

Single Supplement: see below

Shoe rating:
(click for details)

How physical is this workshop/tour?

Rating for Arctic: Svalbard/Spitzbergen 2017:

There will be no major hikes on this tour, but we've given it a "3-shoe" rating because you will require sturdy and warm shoes with good soles.

easy (mostly in and around the classroom)
light (some walks, mostly easy terrain, no flip-flops please)
moderate (includes usually optional walks over mixed terrain, suitable shoes and clothing required if not mentioned otherwise)
heavy (includes trekking, hiking boots, altitude under about 10,000 ft)
very heavy (think trekking at altitude, Himalayan tours)

If you have questions about details, please don't hesitate to contact me any time via email at, on Twitter @chrismarquardt or on Facebook
Sold out.

We have a waiting list for this tour. Please email to get on the list.

If you have any questions about this tour, please don't hesitate to email me You can also reach me on Twitter @chrismarquardt or on Facebook.

(receive sporadic emails with workshop updates)



  • Voyage aboard the Noorderlicht (details in the itinerary)
  • All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea
  • Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff
  • all transport from Svalbard
  • Free use of snow shoes
  • Transfers and baggage handling between the airport, hotels and ship only for those passengers on the group flights to and from Longyearbyen
  • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the programme
  • AECO fees and governmental taxes
  • Comprehensive pre-departure material.
  • Professional photography instructors Chris Marquardt and Tim Vollmer

Not Included

  • Airfare & transportation to Svalbard
  • Alcohol
  • Tips
  • Anything that's not explicitly mentioned above

Single supplement

Prices are per person in a double room. Single supplement: US$4950

Reserve your spot

To reserve your spot on the workshop, a non-refundable deposit of US$ 1000 is required.

Balance payment

The balance payment is due Jan 1 2017 (you will receive a separate invoice). Registrations after Jan 1 2017 date will receive an invoice over the full price.

Author: Chris Marquardt

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Shoe pictograms 1 and 2 by Alex Podolsky under a CC BY 3.0 US license