Get to know Svalbard before your voyage with our overview of frequently asked questions.
WHAT ARE THE CUSTOMS REGULATIONS IN SVALBARD?
At ”Nordpolet” visitors can buy a certain amount of tax-free alcoholic drinks. Tourists have to show their airline ticket when shopping and are allowed to buy in total:
2 bottles containing more than 21% alcohol
1 bottle of wine containing 14-21% alcohol
6 cans/bottles of beer
Wine (up to 14%) can be bought without producing an airline ticket. Not all of the above can be taken from tax-free to the mainland. Each person is only allowed to buy 2 litres, e.g.:
1 litre of alcohol (more than 21%) and 1 litre wine (14 to 21%)
2 litres of wine (14 to 21%)
2 litres of wine (less than 14%)
It is possible to buy more but you will have to pay duty on it. In total, visitors are allowed to shop for NOK 6000 of goods without paying taxes.
WILL I GET SIGNAL ON MY PHONE?
Mobile phones can be used in Longyearbyen and Barentsburg only. There is no mobile coverage during the voyage at sea.
WHAT IS SHOPPING LIKE IN SVALBARD?
Svalbard is a tax-free area which means that many commodities are cheaper here than on the Norwegian mainland. Longyearbyen has a variety of shops selling everything from perfumes to outdoor- and sports equipment, gifts and souvenirs. Norwegian Kroner (NOK) is used all over Svalbard, also in the Russian settlement of Barentsburg. Credit cards are accepted in Longyearbyen. There is also a cash dispenser in the centre of Longyearbyen. In Barentsburg credit cards are accepted as well as Norwegian Kroner (NOK), USD, and Euro. In Ny-Ålesund credit cards and Norwegian Kroner are both accepted. However, we do recommend our guests to bring cash in NOK for use ashore.
DO I HAVE TO TAKE OFF MY SHOES INDOORS?
On Svalbard it is a tradition to take off your shoes when entering private houses, hotels and certain shops and public offices. Aboard the ship you may wear ordinary shoes or tennis shoes. Shoes with good soles are recommended for use outdoors on deck and for excursions ashore. On board the ship as well as in the hotel we advise you to bring a pair of shoes to use indoors. It is important that the shoes have a good grip (no slippery sole).
WHAT ARE THE SEASONS IN SVALBARD?
From April 19th till August 23rd Longyearbyen has Midnight Sun. From October 26th till February 16th it is dark, and from November 14th till January 29th it is what we call the polar nights which means that it is still dark but the sun is lower than 6º below the horizon.
DO I NEED A WEAPON FOR PROTECTION AGAINS POLAR BEARS?
On all Hurtigruten voyages and activities safety is maintained by experienced guides carrying weapons, and giving warning shots if necessary. The authorities on Svalbard, together with the travel industry advise facts and make recommendations to travellers taking part in organized activities in order to protect both visitors and the polar bear population. If you are going outside Longyearbyen on your own, it is recommended that you take a weapon because of the polar bear danger. On organized trips the guide will always be responsible for safety and will carry a weapon and equipment.
WHAT IF THERE'S A MEDICAL EMERGENCY AND I NEED MEDICATION?
There is no doctor on board MS Nordstjernen. In serious emergencies the hospital in Longyearbyen will be contacted. Remember to bring sufficient medication to last through any unforeseen delays. We also recommend that you keep your medication in your hand luggage properly labelled and with clear instructions for its use. Illness on board can lead to quarantine and orders from the ship’s captain have to be followed.
All guests must have travel/health insurance. In case of a medical emergency outside Longyearbyen the only means of evacuation is by helicopter to Longyearbyen Hospital. If any condition cannot be treated here, the patient is sent to the Norwegian mainland. This is very expensive and dependent on favourable weather conditions, therefore, comprehensive travel/health insurance that also covers medical evacuation is essential.
DO I HAVE TO BE IN GOOD HEALTH TO PARTICIPATE ON THESE VOYAGES?
It is important you are in good health as the journey can be long and tiring. Please note that in remote areas there is no immediate access to modern medical facilities. An Explorer voyage is not recommended if you have a life-threatening disease or illness that requires frequent medical care. To be able to participate in landings you must be able to walk on uneven or slippery surfaces and to climb on and off the small boats used for landings.
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SPEND ON LAND?
All landings depend on factors such as the weather, the distance between the landing sites, and the operational conditions. The Expedition Leader and the Captain will arrange the daily route to ensure the best possible experience.
ARE THERE ANY RESTRICTIONS TO ACTIVITIES ON LAND?
As environmental protection is a concern there are regulations for the protection of wildlife, the environment and the cultures we encounter, which must be followed. Your Expedition Leader will provide necessary information on how to behave on land.
WILL THERE BE ROUGH SEAS ON THIS TRIP?
It is not possible to predict exact weather conditions. The Captain will do everything he can to make the voyage as comfortable as possible. If you are prone to seasickness, we suggest you bring your preferred medication.