Arctic Expedition: Skansbukta Day 2 of 9

Cruises > Arctic Expedition: Skansbukta Day 2 of 9

Welcome back to our exciting Arctic expedition in Skansbukta aboard the Aurora Expedition’s Ocean Explorer! Today, we probe into the charming world of Skansbukta, a hidden gem nestled in the polar regions.

As we journey through the Northwest Passage, the day promises encounters with nature’s wonders. It showed us a glimpse into life in the Arctic.

Our Arctic Expedition Reaches Skansbukta

Our journey takes us closer to the elusive Northeast Passage, a route once sought by explorers for its value. On this day, we had the rare chance to trace their footsteps and immerse ourselves in the history of polar exploration.

Our first night aboard the Ocean Explorer was a fitting introduction to our Skansbukta expedition in the Arctic. We departed from Longyearbyen in peaceful weather.

The gorgeous mountains and glaciers, matching Svalbard’s allure, stood out in sharp relief under the radiant evening sun. Then, our journey began with a scenic cruise up Isfjord, the largest fjord system in Svalbard, offering lovely vistas. 

The following morning, we gathered in the lecture room for required activities, building on last night’s takeoff excitement. The Zodiac briefing amused us with the ‘Zodiac 3 Step’ and the ‘Sailors Grip,’ the current dance crazes on board. A demo by the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators briefed us on the guidelines for our visit to Skansbukta. It was to ensure that we tread carefully in this pristine wilderness. 

Our excitement peaked as we received a briefing on the do’s and don’ts while exploring polar bear country. Next, we followed a thorough biosecurity check and cleanse of our outdoor gear. Then, we prepared to venture out and embrace the wonders of Svalbard.

Skansbukta Expedition: A Paradise in the Arctic


Skansbukta, located in East Greenland, is a gripping stop on our Polar expedition. Unlike larger ships, our small ship allows us to explore landing sites that larger ships can’t reach. Aboard our trusty Zodiac boats, we sailed easily through sea ice, approaching the shore.

As we venture further into the Arctic Circle, the landscape transforms into a pretty tableau of ice and wild terrain. Then, our expert expedition team guided us toward hidden treasures.

We found a trapper’s cabin, which offered a glimpse into the rugged life of early Arctic explorers. Our Arctic expedition aboard the Ocean Explorer ensures a unique experience in Skansbukta with the Northern Lights dancing above.

Geographic Beauty and Climate

Skansbukta is a scenic location located in the Sørkapp Land region of Svalbard, a group of islands in the Arctic Ocean. Specifically, Skansbukta sits on the southern coast of Spitsbergen, which is the largest and densest island in the Svalbard group.

It has rugged coastal terrain, clear Arctic waters, and stunning glacial landscapes. Towering snow-capped mountains surround the area.

Skansbukta has cold temperatures, strong winds, and snow. Winters in this region are long and extremely cold, with temperatures often dropping well below freezing.

In the winter months, ice covers the sea surrounding Skansbukta. Also, summers are short, with temperatures remaining relatively cool, even in the warmest months. The extreme shifts in daylight create a unique climate that shapes life in Skansbukta. The differences go from 24-hour daytime in summer to months of polar night in winter.


Svalbard is a remote and icy Norwegian territory known for its stunning polar landscapes and unique wildlife. Of course, Skansbukta is no exception.

Visitors get to see iconic Arctic creatures such as polar bears, Arctic foxes, and many seabird species. The waters around Skansbukta also teem with marine life, including seals and whales.


Its remote location and Arctic environment influence the cuisine in Skansbukta and the rest of Svalbard. Local cuisine often includes traditional Norwegian dishes with lots of hearty, warming foods to combat the cold.

Often, you’ll find reindeer stew and smoked or pickled fish on the menu. There’s also Arctic char and seafood like king crab. Local bakeries offer delicious pastries and bread, while cafes serve hot drinks to keep you warm in the chilly weather. Because of its seclusion, many food items are from overseas, making dining in Skansbukta a unique cuisine experience.


Skansbukta, being a remote area, doesn’t have a distinct culture of its own. Instead, it’s part of the broader Svalbard culture. The culture here is a product of the island’s history of exploration, mining, and scientific research.

There’s a strong focus on preserving the fragile Arctic nature. The small community that exists in Skansbukta is diverse. It has residents and researchers from various countries who contribute to the cultural tapestry of Svalbard. Visiting Skansbukta offers a chance to engage with people from around the world who share a passion for the Arctic.

Polar Midnight and Midnight Sun

Skansbukta experiences extreme changes in daylight throughout the year. During the summer months, the Midnight Sun occurs, where the sun doesn’t set for a long period. Then, in the winter, Skansbukta plunges into polar darkness, with the sun not rising above the horizon for months.

Things to Do in Skansbukta

Truly, Skansbukta is an ideal place for those seeking an immersive Arctic experience.

Scientific and Historical Significance

Because of its remote and relatively untouched location, Skansbukta has attracted scientific research expeditions over the years. Researchers studying climate change and Arctic systems often choose this area as a base for their work. Additionally, historic trapper cabins and research stations dot the landscape, offering glimpses into the region’s past.

Sailing to Billefjord

Around noon, we set course for Billefjord, joined by the warm sunshine and the enchanting company of a lone minke whale. When we dropped anchor at Skansbukta, a picture-perfect Svalbard afternoon greeted us. It was sunny, and warm, with a gentle cooking breeze.

Mt. Skansen, a majestic 500-meter-high peak, dominated the landscape, its dramatic strata and skyline creating a stunning sight. Sea kayaks are available for adventurous souls. This allows guests to paddle through Arctic waters.

These special offers make it easy to connect with its natural beauty on a personal level. So, the kayakers formed an impressive fleet as they sailed on their first Arctic seaborne tour.

Meanwhile, those on land explored a quaint hut on the beach, now a popular holiday spot for Longyearbyen locals. Along the fine gravel beach, we discovered the ruins of an abandoned ‘gypsum’ mine from the early 20th century. Then, we found a lovely old beached boat from the mining operations. 

Ascending toward the cliffs, panoramic views of the Arctic bay rewarded us. Sometimes, we got glimpses of a peaceful reindeer grazing in its natural habitat. Among the botanical treasures was the rare sighting of the pale blue blooms of the Boreal Jacobs Ladder. Therefore, it was a true highlight of the expedition for nature enthusiasts. 

Next, we rode on a zodiac along the cliffs at the entrance to Billefjord. It revealed marble-like rock forms, where puffins and guillemots made their homes.

Wrapping Up Day 2

As the day drew to a close, we gathered for Captain Maxim’s welcome drinks. Then, he extended his warm wishes and introduced us to the heads of the expedition’s various onboard departments. This steadfast team ensured the smooth functioning of our Arctic journey. 

A tempting dinner awaited us, a fitting conclusion to a fantastic first day aboard the Ocean Explorer. As we sailed up the west coast of Spitzbergen, excitement brewed. We looked forward to the adventures that awaited us on the north coast on the morrow.

Indeed, Skansbukta had left an indelible mark on us. This set the tone for an incredible Svalbard experience that we knew would stay with us for a lifetime. 

Our Arctic expedition aboard Aurora Expedition’s Ocean Explorer continues to unfold, promising more extraordinary encounters and remarkable stories to share. So, stay with us as we go deeper into the secrets of this polar realm. Join us in reaching the North Pole and the remote wilderness of Northeast Greenland.

Also, check out Day 1 of 9 of the Arctic Expedition.

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