Arctic swim, brewery stop and husky experience
On August 28, the familiarization trip Cruise Norway touched down in Svalbard, venturing up the mountainside above Longyearbyen Airport to Mine No. 3 for a lecture on Svalbard’s rich history as a that mining community and dined on a typical soup of the region. Dressed in overalls and a hard hat, they explored underground – a hands-on experience that demonstrated how technology and safety have evolved over the years in mining, allowing the group to trying to maneuver equipment once used by the mining community and daring to venture into a narrow tunnel.
“It’s an authentic experience that your guests deserve,” said VisitOSLO cruise manager Eva Britt Kornfeldt, who works closely with Svalbard Cruise Network and VisitSvalbard.
AIDA Cruises delivers the experience to its passengers, with its shore excursion program supervisor Jana Valentine saying, “I have no doubt [about its suitability for passengers] because our mostly German guests are in great shape and enjoy outdoor tours, which include walking and activity programs. I think they would crawl through the tunnel. Not all of them, but some, most likely.
The experience lasts three hours and operators get a discount when booking directly with the mine.
The group saw the steel container containing backup copies of the Nordic seed collection and the Global Seed Vault is located a few meters from the mine. The entrance gate to the World Arctic Archive – designed to withstand global disasters and containing manuscripts from the Vatican Library, scientific breakthroughs and contemporary cultural treasures – was also visible.
Svalbard Husky Experience
After a guided coach tour of the colony, participants departed for Advent Valley for an afternoon filled with husky dogs and the chance to learn about their behavior from experienced husky owner Audun Salte. Every day his over 100 dogs at Svalbard Husky AS run outside the yard and working alongside his vet partner he speaks out about unethical husky ownership and against keeping dogs in cages. “We explore the connection between dogs and exploration,” Salte noted, “a lot of our products…are about hanging out with the dog and having fun with the dog.”
The facility “expands outward, building a larger running yard for the dogs” with the addition of a winterized catering venue that will allow cruise passengers to combine activities organized by Svalbard Husky with refreshments.
Cruise passengers are generally welcomed to dog sledding on the dock, but, says Salte, “more and more people are choosing just to visit and spend time with the dogs.”
Valentine continued, “I always try to come up with something new and awesome, and with Audun, I was totally impressed that he said it’s not the most important point that customers are happy, but may the dogs have a good life. I always try to consider sustainability, and being here and seeing Svalbard for myself, you get a whole new perspective and respect for nature, and so I think destinations like Svalbard need to be protected. It’s great to find sustainable shore excursions that are also good for locals.
Swan Hellenic Senior Director, Destination Management Daniela Sordi and Mystic Cruises Route Planning and Port Operations Manager Luisa Gómez-Albo Sanchís have revealed they will be “considering” a husky experience on each of their routes.
Svalbard Husky is currently working on an initiative to turn biogas from animal waste.
The northernmost brewery in the world
A trip to the northernmost brewery followed, with a story tied to each drink, its founder and how it came to fruition shared with every bite. A history of alcohol consumption on the archipelago and a concise step-by-step account of how the drinks are made accompanied the tasting. A wall of glass in the intimate venue where the tastings take place allows visitors to watch the production process in action.
The venue is suitable for 50 passengers at a time, and the maximum number served in a single day is 300 – a figure reached this summer. Locally prepared dishes can be served to cruise passengers during tastings or tastings can be conducted at alternative restaurants in Longyearbyen as required.
Water from glaciers, malt from Finland and hops from the United States make up the ingredients, with 2,000 cans packed every hour. Alcohol is served on board Hurtigruten and AIDA Cruises ships, among others, to support local commerce.
During the tour, cruise passengers enjoyed a presentation by Arctic Husky Travelers founder and veteran of several North Pole dog sledding trips, Tommy Jordbrudal, who painted a picture of his experiences with huskies – and encounters with polar bears.
SvalBad Floating Sauna
A dip in the arctic waters outside Port Longyear against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks followed a visit to the newly opened SvalBad floating sauna. “They are very popular, people have also been going to the Nordic floating saunas in Oslo,” said Kornfeldt the growing popularity of the concept. Drinks and a light snack may be served to passengers during the activity.
The Svalbard Museum is open from 10 p.m. to 5 p.m. year-round except Christmas Day and can accommodate about 40 cruise passengers at a time, according to Saskia Heynecamp who works at the museum and helps coordinate and organize guided tours. The venue moved in 2006; now less than 2km from Port Longyear, it reaps the benefits of being next to the Norwegian Polar Institute and Svalbard University Centre, benefiting from new exhibits showcasing the latest research such as the permafrost exhibit currently on display.
Natural history, ecology and cultural traditions through the ages are preserved in the museum. ‘We work strongly with guides [coming with passengers]. It’s helpful because the museum is only in English and Norwegian,” notes Heynecamp, who is enthusiastic about the concept of cruise lines using local tour guides who have good knowledge of the museum. “An hour is a good time to be here for passengers – but ideally 1.5 hours.” Early opening options are available for operators. The museum shop sells jewelry, art and a selection of locally produced handicrafts, with purchases supporting the local community.
Oslo whirlwind tour
Before Svalbard, the familiarization trip gathered in Oslo for a whistle city tour offered by the Oslo Guides Bureau. Operational since 1996, it has 200 guides and is “always reliable and punctual”, according to guide Marit Utaker.
A quick walking tour of the city center led to the Opera House and Munch Museum a stone’s throw from the harbor before a sightseeing drive past the Cathedral, Norwegian Parliament, University of Oslo, Royal Palace and the fortress and castle of Akershus. The party was then offered a moving tour of the Holocaust museum – now filled with an exhibit on hidden racism – and shown the Nazi sympathizer’s secret bunker Vidkun’s Quisling during World War II, with a 45-minute tour being the most suitable for passengers.
In 2026, a new Viking museum will open in the city.
“Oslo is attractive, it’s the capital of Norway and it’s a destination that people know,” said Hans Lind, Director of Itinerary Planning, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings which has Oslo on its itineraries through 2025. Attractions like the Holocaust Museum and others are “very appealing to customers aboard Regent Seven Sean Cruises and Oceania Cruises” in particular, the “younger demographic” of Norwegian Cruise Line rather frequenting restaurants or participating in family-oriented activities. Michelle Sanchez, shorex coordinator – Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line reminds us that Oslo’s many museums are particularly suitable for adult cruise passengers.
Passengers can expect to spend up to 45 minutes at the museum, which can be combined with Huk Beach less than five minutes away by vehicle.
Together with hiking trails and beaches, Bygdøy Peninsula near downtown is also enriched with a handful of museums. There, familiarization trip participants had the chance to meet the oldest boat in the country at the norwegian maritime Museum before a unique visit to the Fram Museum, housing Fridtjof Nansen’s polar sailing ship, Fram.
A few meters away, the Kon-Tiki museum houses the archives of Thor Heyerdahl – one of history’s most famous explorers – recognized by UNESCO for their contribution to world heritage. The original Kon-Tiki raft used to cross the Pacific Ocean and the Ra reed boat can be seen, along with original artifacts from Heyerdahltravel bag with characters from Easter Island and a giant moai replica.
The venue’s trademark drink, ‘Kon-Tiki Landing’, along with snacks were served during a 10-minute film documenting HeyerdahlThe Adventures of , with a longer, one-hour, Oscar-winning version shown in the movie theater, which seats 60 passengers. Conferences on HeyerdahlSea crossings, archaeological digs and more are offered in the museum’s auditorium, which seats 55 passengers. Opportunities to meet Heyerdahlthe director’s granddaughter or “going behind the scenes” in the director’s office are also possible. The venue can accommodate cruise passengers outside formal opening hours (10am-6pm in summer / 10am-5pm in winter) where pre-arranged.
Bygdoy is also home to the Norwegian Folk Museum, which can be reached by boat from the town hall pier.