May/June 12

Review of 10 day "Noorderlicht" cruise June 2012

A typical day on the "Noorderlicht"
The ship bell wakes you up for a nice breakfast at 8:00 a.m. The view from the breakfast table will give you all the energy you need for this days explorations.
After breakfast the ship guide enthusiastically gives you the overview of today's adventures. One of the highlights from our trip was the visit to Virgohamna.
The evening before visiting Virgohamna the guide led us, through pictures and stories, into the romantic and tragic story of the Swedish explorer Andree and his dream of reaching the North Pole with a balloon. You would not believe how much a difference this evening had for the actual visit at Virgohamna and how much it brought all the historical sites to life.
Another aspect of the guided adventures is watching animal life and enjoying the light and view of the exceptional arctic nature. One of the highlights from our trip was when we were in the zodiac going from ashore and to the ship and the boat was surrounded by curious Harbour seals following us to the ship - real close! An adventure of a lifetime!
Every day expeditions are adapted to whoever wants to join today's adventure:... and also all adventures are according to today's weather conditions. As for our 10-day trip we have had the satisfaction of seeing the sun every day - and also during nights for those who wanted time for philosophical reflections:
Lunchtime is either enjoyed on executions' or on board depending on what we end up doing on today's adventure.
Some days we sail and you might help the crew set the sails if you would like - if not enjoy the view with a cup of warm coffee and some "homemade" biscuits.
The size of "Noorderlicht" allows you to get a great interaction between crew and guests and we recommend it highly!
If you want an arctic experience of relaxation, excitement, unforgettable adventures and knowledge of unique nature and animal adventures served by a crew which always makes your days exceptional - this is the arctic fairytale for you!
Note: Polar bears, Beluga, Minke whale, various species of polar birds, reindeer, arctic fox, ptarmigans and numerous types of seals will more than likely appear in front of your eyes - at least that is what happened on our trip.

Karsten Kleppe
Norunn Solli

30th May 2012

What we feared had happened: Noorderlicht transformed from ´boat in the ice´ to ´boat at the harbor´. We did manage though to stay attached to the ice edge until the 28th of April. At the end of the afternoon a westerly wind broke the ice in which our ice anchors were attached and we were floating free again. Heading back to Longyearbyen to stay there until the start of our sailing trips. The first trip started the 24th of May.

Bellsund Cruise on the Noorderlicht
We boarded the Noorderlicht, a beautiful 100 year-old schooner in Longyearbyen on the 24th of May. After sailing out in the afternoon, we were fed a delicious meal of salmon steaks and adjusted to the rocking of the boat. The crew stayed up to sail into the night, and I was very glad to be snug in my bed when I heard the anchor rushing down into the sea at 4am. We were woken the next morning by a haunting siren-song in the depths of the water. Over breakfast, our guide, Jan, explained that these were the mating calls of the bearded seal. We didn´t see any seals that morning, but the next day we saw two floating on drift ice deep in the fjord. We also had a good look at a couple of walrus flopping about on the drift ice and a glimpse of beluga whales along the shore. In glorious sunshine, we took the Zodiac to land at three different areas, where we hiked to a glacier, explored the bays where beluga were hunted in the 1930s, searched for fossils in ancient rock layers, and hiked near the remains of Russian settlements from the 1800s. Now, the thermometer has dropped more than five degrees. It has been snowing sideways for a good part of the day, and we are snug in the cabin as we sail back towards Isfjorden for another day of exploration and hopefully better weather.
Rosalie Matchett-Short