Ny-Ålesund Travel Guide

  • Prinsendam anchored in the bay
    Prinsendam anchored in the bay
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  • Town with water conduit
    Town with water conduit
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  • Magdalena Bay
    Magdalena Bay
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Ny-Ålesund Things to Do

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    by fred98115 Updated May 30, 2011

    To get to Ny Alesund you will cross the Arctic Circle and be eligible to be inducted into the Society of the Blue Nose. We sailed across on the Holland America ship, Prinsendam, and were inducted as we crossed the Circle. The ceremony is simple: everyone jumps into the pool. See pictures. Crossing also makes it possible in the summer months to see the Midnight Sun. The sun does not dip below the horizon. This is a really fascinating thing to see. If you go to Ny Alesund, stay up late at night and enjoy the Midnight Sun on the waters of the Arctic Ocean.

    Midnight Sun over the Arctic Ocean Setting sun on the Arctic Ocean Waiting to cross the Circle and jump into pool Hooray, we've crossed the Circle Heading North to Ny Alesund
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    by fred98115 Written May 30, 2011

    While there is a small gift shop and museum in town, the most interesting thing to do is to just walk around. For example, Roald Amundsen's house is here along with his bust. Amundsen tried to fly to the North Pole from here in 1925 in a Dornier zeppelin. There is the tundra. There are numerous buildings, water conduits above ground, and a remnant of the coal mining days. Mostly this is a chance to see a town that survives in a tough environment.

    Water pipe and tundra Road from the dock into town Amundsen bust with houses in background Hut and Krone Glacier at end of Konsfjorden Tundra and building
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Ny-Ålesund Restaurants

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    by Epix Written Jul 31, 2003

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    Since Ny-Ålesund is a very small "scientists only" community, there is no public restaurant in this town. All the local population gets their food in the cantine, but this is not available for tourists.

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Ny-Ålesund Nightlife

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    by Epix Written Jul 31, 2003

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    Mellageret ("Flour Storage") is a bar which is run by the local population of Ny-Ålesund on Saturdays. It is not available for tourists which come on a tour operated by a professional tour operator (i.e. cruise ship tourists). Opening times usually from 10pm to 2-3am. It is a custom that people do start the drinking earlier on that evening at a so-called "Vorspiel" and go to a "Nachspiel" after the bar has closed.
    In Mellageret, there is also a small dance flour, which usually is quite crowded after 1am.

    Dress Code: As you like. But no shoes! That's no joke, it's the custom on Svalbard not to wear shoes inside of buildings. This also applies to this. Of cause, you can bring your indoor shoes, but be aware that nearly no one else does!

    People on the way to the Bar (it's around 10pm!)
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Ny-Ålesund Warnings and Dangers

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    by fred98115 Updated May 30, 2011

    The morning before we arrived a polar bear meandered through town. Spitsbergen Island has as many polar bears as people. There are signs at the edge of town warning you to carry a weapon and that you need to know how to use it. Signs should be taken seriously. These are big animals and the areas where the ice reaches land are reduced in the summer. Bears need the ice to get to their preferred food: seals. No ice and no food makes for a hungry, onery bear.

    Bear warning sign Scientist in Ny Alesund Tux on road to airstrip Water chutes above the tundra Ship dockside Primary transportation in the area
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Ny-Ålesund Off The Beaten Path

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    by fred98115 Updated May 30, 2011

    This is so cool, literally. Air and water temperature were zero Celcius when our Holland America ship, Prinsendam, coupled Ny Alesund with a visit to the polar ice cap. The multi-year ice sheet is about nine or twelve feet thick, and it looks solid from a distance. The edge is frayed, as you can see in the pictures. Closeup it looks like a collection of thirty-foot white pancakes grinding among themselves. If you are considering a cruise above Iceland to Spitsbergen then think also about signing up for one that includes this Spitsbergen side trip. And bring your winter gear. It's cold on deck.

    Nosing up to the Polar Ice Sheet Approaching the sheet Grinders 571 NMi to the pole Crew celebrates reaching the sheet
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    by fred98115 Updated May 30, 2011

    North of Ny Alesund is Northwest Spitsbergen National Park with the spectacular Lilliehook glacier. It is accessible for viewing from the water and is at the end of a fjord, Magdalena Bay. This is unique because you can see the extensive ablating which has occured in the last century. In some places the snout no longer reaches the water. We saw it via a cruise ship and had an Arctic geologist with us. He explained that Arctic warming is a reality, and most scientists in his field think it is a combination of effects: natural climate perturbation from the Earth's wobble coupled with effects of man. Regardless of the warming debate, this is a spectacular bay and glacier. Get there if you can.

    Lilliehook Glacier snout does not reach water Lilliehook Glacier - light area is recent ablation Lilliehook Glacier from Prinsendam Turning to sail out of Magdalena Bay Sailing out of Magdalena Bay
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