Arctic Expedition Longyearbyen Day 1 of 9

Cruises > Arctic Expedition Longyearbyen Day 1 of 9

Here, we provide a short overview of the beginning of our Arctic Expedition Longyearbyen, Day One of Nine. It was an amazing voyage onboard the Ocean Explorer of Aurora Expeditions.

We sat on a short 3-hour flight from Norway’s mainland. Then, we went to the arctic landscape of the Svalbard Islands. This remote region offers an unusual break to explore raw wilderness adventures. It’s also a chance to witness unique animal life and indulge in the vibrant city of Longyearbyen.


Svalbard’s polar climate and rich wildlife have captivated travelers for generations. Longyearbyen, an international city, hosts many cultural events. This includes concerts, festivals, and exhibitions.

Here, you can enjoy Arctic food traditions by dining on delicacies. Tourists and locals experience native feasts of reindeer, grouse, and Arctic char at one of the many local restaurants. Additionally, Svalbard boasts a local beer brewery and offers one of Norway’s most extensive selections of Champagne.

What You Can See and Do in Longyearbyen

You can embark on exciting trips by boat, kayak, snowmobile, or dog sledding from the busy city of Longyearbyen. For adventure enthusiasts, hiking and skiing are popular activities. However, it’s important to prioritize safety and always venture outside the city border with a professional guide. Lonely Planet describes Svalbard as “close as most mortals can get to the North Pole and still capture its spirit.”

We also got to have a glimpse of the notable Svalbard Seed Vault. Often dubbed the “Doomsday Vault,” this facility serves as a global backup for agricultural heritage. The Global Crop Diversity Trust, the Nordic Gene Bank, and the Norwegian government created this concept.

The vault is at the mountainside of the remote Svalbard archipelago and opened on February 26, 2008. Because of its extremely cold and dry environment, the location ensured the long-term preservation of the seeds.

It is a witness to international cooperation. Over 1,700 seed banks and research institutions from nearly every corner of the world have deposited seeds in the vault. This spirit of collaboration ensures that the world’s agricultural heritage remains intact for future generations.


Svalbard | The Cold Coasts

Despite its name, which means “cold coasts,” Svalbard experiences a relatively mild climate compared to other areas at the same latitude. The constant midnight sun during summer and the dark period during winter offer two different and amazing experiences.

From the middle of November to the end of January, the polar night is a unique happening exclusively to Svalbard. During this time, darkness fills the region, allowing for breathtaking views of the beautiful northern lights even during daylight hours.

While whaling and mining were once major industries in Svalbard, the focus has shifted to polar exploration and tourism. Svalbard’s nature is unforgiving and fragile. Thus, nearly two-thirds of its surface is under protection. It is crucial to exercise caution and respect for the wild animals that inhabit this environment.

Longyearbyen, the main town of Spitsbergen, is the largest island in the Svalbard archipelago. It’s also a fascinating blend of its Arctic surroundings and worldly influences.

Art galleries, pubs, restaurants with varying wine lists, stores, and a tiny mall coexist in this unique town. Remnants of its industrial past, particularly from the coal mining era, serve as reminders of its rich history and heritage.

Our Tour of Longyearbyen

During our tour of Longyearbyen, we visited the captivating Svalbard Museum and Camp Barents. This presentation allowed us to interact with huskies and gain insight into the lives of polar bears.

We savored a delicious lunch inside Camp Barentz. It was breathtaking at the foot of the mountain, Breinosa, just below Mine 7. Among the hidden gems we found was Barentz Hus, one of the buildings at the camp. It’s a replica of the cabin where the discoverer of Svalbard, Willem Barentz, spent the winter in 1596 on Novaya Zemlya.

Here, one can immerse themselves in the Svalbard vista, far away from the busy town. Lucky visitors may even glimpse Svalbard reindeer, grouse, or foxes. Our expert hosts remained wary of any potential polar bear appearances.

We basked in the experience, enjoying drinks, a delicious homemade lunch, campfire coffee, and indulgent desserts.

The Museum in Svalbard

The Svalbard Museum showcases artifacts from the island’s history since its settlement and displays local plants and animals. Its exhibitions emphasize the islands’ intricate connection between nature and human cultural history.

The museum’s core exhibit, “Life in Light and Ice,” tells the region’s history. It covered the first whalers to the present society and focused on mining, research, and tourism.

Another museum worth visiting is the North Pole Expedition Museum. This museum tells stories of travels to the North Pole, mainly using airships, skis, dog sleds, and boats. It has two floors that hold a fascinating collection of old documents, newspapers, pictures, and original expeditions. It also had movies, historical artifacts, letters, and more.

The exhibit shows the explorers’ relentless efforts to reach the North Pole and pursue mysterious frozen horizons. Curiosity, personal ambitions, and scientific research fueled their adventures.

The Svalbard Brewery

For those seeking a unique experience, visiting the Svalbard Brewery is a must. Enjoy a tasting session of beers brewed in the Arctic at the world’s northernmost craft brewery.

Longyearbyen also offers excellent shopping galore. Local shops provide a wide range of souvenirs, making finding the perfect gift for family and friends easy.

Consider buying a cozy Svalbard sweater or a box of locally handmade chocolates. As a duty-free zone, Longyearbyen also boasts an impressive selection of sports and outdoor clothing shops.

Refined and improved, the description shows the wonders of Svalbard, inviting tourists to embark on a unique journey. It was full of unique experiences and breathtaking vistas. Most importantly, it promoted a deep appreciation for the fragile beauty of this remote destination.

Embarking on our Expedition

Embarking on an exciting 9-day Arctic Expedition has been an adventure. From polar bear encounters to stunning glaciers, each day has woven a tapestry of breathtaking moments and memorable experiences. So, prepare for an extraordinary Arctic Expedition Longyearbyen experience with Aurora Expeditions and the Ocean Explorer.

Arctic Expedition Day 1 – July 24th, 2023, Monday


We knew it would be a memorable Arctic expedition from the first moment in Longyearbyen. We were in the Arctic Circle at 78′ North.

Our journey began in Longyearbyen’s picturesque coal mining town, surrounded by majestic mountains. The Ocean Explorer, a purpose-built vessel, promised a safe and comfortable expedition through the Arctic Ocean.

The Svalbard archipelago, the gateway to the high Arctic, has mesmerizing beauty and diverse wildlife. It may not be the Arctic Ocean’s largest island, but its pristine landscapes differ.

As we set sail from the west coast, the surroundings gave us stunning views. Glaciers, fjords, and deep-sea expanses define the Arctic region’s unique character. Well, expect nothing less from the home of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and the stunning northern lights.

After touring the Longyearbyen surroundings, we bid farewell to civilization. We eagerly expected encounters with Arctic wildlife like foxes, reindeer, and guillemots instead of fellow humans.

Embracing Full Expedition Mode: Briefings and Preparations

We swiftly transitioned into “expedition mode,” donning lifejackets and waterproofs. Then, we were ready to embark on a thrilling zodiac ride to the Ocean Explorer. These small ships can efficiently maneuver through icy waters while maintaining a minimal environmental impact. Eventually, these zodiacs became our trusty companions throughout the Arctic Expedition Longyearbyen.

We first stepped into the mudroom upon arrival onboard, where the friendly crew warmly welcomed us. Adrian captures our excitement in a photograph before we head to the bar for refreshing drinks.

Guided by attentive stewards, we walked through the decks, settling into our comfortable cabins. These cozy staterooms served as our home away from home for the next several days.


Finally, it was time for the safety and lifeboat drill, signaled by the resounding sound of the ship’s horn. We donned bulky orange lifejackets, beanies, and warm clothing in the lecture theatre. We made sure we were well-prepared for any situation in this Arctic expedition.

Moving forward, we ascended to deck 7, where the polar class life vessels awaited. The lecturer told us these boats can hold 136 people each for up to 5 days.

Then, with the safety drill complete, we gathered for a warm welcome from our experienced expedition leader, Mario. Briefings from Hotel Director Ulises, Doctor Andres, and Expedition Manager Samantha followed. Their valuable tips helped us make the most of our time on the Arctic cruise.

Meeting Our Team for the Arctic Expedition

1st Dinner Onboard

Our evening continued with a delightful dinner skillfully prepared by the talented galley team. Then, the attentive wait staff served us in the dining room. I followed a whole food plant-based cuisine and enjoyed some wonderful vegetable soup and mixed salad.

Also, I could enjoy some spicy tofu on a bed of mushrooms and sorbet with raspberries. It was truly a surprise, and was looking forward to the chef’s creation in the coming days.

The talented galley team skillfully prepared our delightful dinner, served by the attentive wait staff in the dining room.

Following dinner, we participated in the expedition jacket swap, ensuring we stayed cozy and comfortable in the challenging Arctic environment. We will be well fed on this Arctic Expedition Longyearbyen while enjoying the sights.

Our Group Composition | Expedition

The excitement grew as the kayak team met for a briefing with their expert guides. Together, we formed a diverse group of 102 passengers worldwide. Some were from UK, Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, and India. Still, some of us came from Kazakhstan, Malaysia, the USA, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, and Denmark.

Eighty dedicated crew members and an exceptional Expedition Team accompanied us on this Arctic cruise in Longyearbyen. It comprised 18 experts with diverse specialties. Some covered polar exploration and polar bear safety to geology, history, and marine and terrestrial biology. There were also crash courses for photography, wilderness first response, and kayaking.

Aurora Expeditions’ small-group approach, honed over 30 years, provided an intimate, immersive experience. In addition, expert guides accompany the trips. This ensures that guests venture into this remote wonderland, gaining insights into the polar region’s unique ecosystem.

Finally, after traveling countless hours of Svalbard cruising, it was time to relax. We inhaled the refreshing sea air and immersed ourselves in the breathtaking scenery of Svalbard. We embarked on this extraordinary Arctic Expedition to Longyearbyen, opposite the South Pole, hoping to forge priceless memories.

Everyone was eager to embrace the wonders of the Arctic with open hearts and adventurous spirits. And to experience the land of the midnight sun. I believe an amazing experience awaits us on the Arctic Expedition Longyearbyen.

Check Karin’s India Educational Trip

Contact us at 1-321-985-5178 or complete this form to discuss your vacation plans.