After hours of exploring the High Arctic island of Svalbard on snowmobiles, I thought we’ve seen everything. But then there was an unexpected surprise. In the middle of what seemed like nowhere, there it was: a sailing ship frozen into the ice of the fjord.
It is a century-old Dutch schooner called “Noorderlicht”, which stays trapped here in ice up until May and then it’s free to sail the arctic waters for 5 months before returning back to it’s “docking” spot. It has been re-rigged and refitted 20 years ago, transforming it into the only in the world ice-bound hotel and making it a perfect romantic destination for those who likes it rough. When we arrived, one such couple was celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary there.
You can get to the schooner on dogsled or snowmobile and spend a night, or a few, in one of their ten twin cabins. There is also a chef to cater to your hunger needs. “And in the deckhouse you will find an excellent selection of… (no, not cognacs) books about Spitsbergen and Norway”. So it really helps if you have +1 there. Otherwise there isn’t much to do, apart from waiting for a polar bear to pay a visit, which come, on average, every other day. That’s why you are also advised against leaving the schooner, unarmed at least.
Huskies are very much valued there and are taken great care of. They become your parters in crime and your new best friends. Not only they can get you from A to B, but they also sense polar bears nearby and notify the owners. Funnily, they also become great friends with polar bears, finding them as great game companions.
Of course, your first choice of transport would be a snowmobile. And it would only be fair if its power was measured in huskies, in stead of horses. Getting to the ship from Longyerbyen, the main nearby settlement, would take you a good few hours. And since the sunset was upon us, it was time to go home. I can only imagine, you don’t want to ride through the polar bear infested Arctic in total darkness 🙂