chartering in Svalbard through guest's eyes…

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A diary extract from one of our charter guests on a recent Svalbard charter. Read more to find out about their adventures in this magical part of the world.

Welcome canapés and champagne

Welcome canapés and champagne

The mighty Firebird

The mighty Firebird

First amazing meal

First amazing meal

London, Gatwick – Oslo – Longyearbyen, Spitzbergen

With plenty of time to kill at the airport on our overnight stop in one of Oslo’s airport hotels, I made good use of this time by enthusiastically absorbing all the information I could about the wild expanse of white I knew as Svalbard, from a very informative guide book. The name ‘Svalbard’ relates to the islands north of Norway including Bear Island, Jan Mayen and Spitsbergen.

The capital of Spitsbergen (Svalbard) is Longyearbyen, 78 degrees north and a mere 600 miles from the North Pole! The island has a fascinating geological history and is a renowned stop-off for many polar explorers. Spitsbergen is the most northern city with a year-round population of only 2,200 people. The sun stays above the horizon from May until late August which is why it’s commonly referred to as ‘The land of the midnight sun’ – something we can’t wait to experience.

We were met by Peter, the Captain, who helped load us into taxis. Before we knew it there she was in all her glory, Firebird sitting in the glistening waters against the white and rugged backdrop of the Norwegian fjords. The last time I had the pleasure of seeing Firebird was on her previous Ski and Sail season based out of Tromsø, Northern Norway, a couple of years ago. Another wildly exciting and adventurous trip but not a patch on what we were about to embark on. After a very warm welcome onboard from Tim (first mate), Holly (stewardess) Andy (chef extraordinaire) and Massimo our mountain guide, the skis and ice axes were safely stowed and we sat down to beautifully presented canapés and champagne.

Before setting off, Peter gave us a very informative safety briefing which included slipping into the bright orange (of course) survival suits and dancing around the deck to check they fitted. A second safety briefing followed from Massimo on group management, behaviour onshore towards wildlife and bears – not an everyday charter briefing I must say.

We soon pulled up to our first anchorage – Tynarebukta of the Isfjorden which was beautiful. Rugged mountains with a splendid glacier, spilling out on to the sea ice filling the bay. A single Walrus made an appearance sending everyone running for their cameras.

After an excellent supper of mussels and locally caught fish, it was time for an early night. Thank goodness for the blackout blinds – 10pm with glorious sunshine outside.



Ski tour 1 – Sten De Geer Fjellet 558m

We woke to sounds of a ranging gale, however feeling quite smug as we were all curled up in our warm and comfy cabins. Having cracked the blind we were pleased to see that although windy, a stream of dazzling sunlight shone through. Breakfast is a banquet of fresh fruit, yoghurts, cured meats, freshly baked bread, juices, eggs…I could go on. The locally smoked salmon was a highlight for most of us.

A typical morning saw us packing up lunch, grabbing extra layers, skis and boot crampons, ice axes, shovels, probes and of course water. Our warmed boots were waiting for us on deck – a true floating chalet! Our skis, poles and Guide, Massimo, went ashore in the first run, whilst Peter or Tim find the best landing spot and check for bears. Guests head over in groups of four and leave the lifejackets in the Zodiac (tender) which returns to Firebird.

This morning we were dropped on a black sand beach with a small tide of maybe a metre and a half so the snow was just back from the water’s edge. After scrambling to get to the top of the snow ‘beach’, we clipped into our skis and took a moment to take it all in. This white world is so unique and peaceful, it’s quite hard to describe the sheer beauty. The glacier, snow-covered mountains and more birds whizzing around than I ever imagined, including Geese and Guillemots to name just a few. Anyway first thing’s first….we need to get out of the bear zone.

We didn’t get very far until one of the guest’s bindings broke but the crew jumped to immediately and after radioing down, Peter appeared with a replacement pair. Disaster averted, we turn to the mountains again.

We were all in awe as we watched whirls and vortexes created by the wind picking up loose snow around us – quite beautifully dramatic. We walked through a sheltered valley where we stopped for a drink and to reconfirm that we really wanted to get to the top – the answer was a resounding yes. As we climbed, the wind increased with us and ski crampons were needed for the last pitch. With just enough time to dig out a camera buried deep in our jackets, a quick team selfie was taken before starting the descent.

The ski down was brilliant fun, and the view looked like it had been ripped out of a fairy tale book. I don’t think I could ever get used to this raw and rugged natural landscape.

Once safely back onboard, tea, cakes and other treats were greatly received by the hungry adventurers!

Heading up the mountains

Heading up the mountains

Breathtaking skiing

Breathtaking skiing

Greeted by tea and cake after a long day on the slopes

Greeted by tea and cake after a long day on the slopes

Ice watch…

Ice watch…

Firebird waiting for her guests to return

Firebird waiting for her guests to return


Ski Tour 3 – Olsson Fjellet 921m

0100 – 0300 – Ice Watch

What a great job – we sat in bright sunshine rather than the usual dark and cold of a 1-3am watch. All totally still, and the water was like a mill pond. Aside from the odd bird chirping and glacier cracking we were stunned by the silence.

At 8am the crew brought Firebird in closer to the glacier to drop us off – there was so much ice around, it was like taking the Zodiac through a Slush Puppy. We headed up the valley that was hiding the full view of the glacier not far to the right of us and we made good progress up the slope that lead us up towards the summit. Every step we took, the views and great expanse of Arctic Norway opened up a little bit more. It was indeed one of the most spectacular sites I have ever seen with glaciers meandering inland and streaking with moraines against the stark contrast of the mountains. Way below us, Firebird looked like a toy boat bobbing calmly on the water. After reaching the summit with boot crampons and carrying our skis, the ski from the top was incredible. It was a wide pitch with lots of wind lips to jump, leading into a couloir where the snow was a little heavy but nonetheless, such fun.

With some downtime before dinner to read or take advantage of the yacht’s extensive collection of movies available from the TVs in each cabin subtly hidden behind canvas artworks. After the exquisite fresh fish, we were all pretty tired after another seven hour day of skiing (I know, hard life) so we gave the cards a miss tonight and turned in early.


SigneHamna, LillihookFjorden

Ski Tour 4 – Kronpris Olavs Fjellet North 1039m

So today looked pretty easy on the map but ended up being one of the most technical and testing days both on our fitness and mental strength. The face was steep with hard slippery snow meaning the skis had to be swapped for boot crampons and ice axes and we continued at a steady pace accompanied by light-hearted chat. After a steep gully that lined with two ridges of rocks, we reached the top and traversed to the right to get on to a face where we could put our skis on again. The wind had found us so we had to be quite careful as to the path we chose – safety first! The ski down was just as steep as the walk up – if you are into black runs in the Alps, you’d have been right at home!

Time for more food thank goodness. We had delicious reindeer rump, spicy reindeer sausage, mash, vegetables and the most delicious gravy! Pudding was poached pear in a cinnamon, clove and chocolate sauce. It looks beautiful and tastes good too – one I will try and recreate at home.

We set off on a scenic cruise on the western part of the glacier wall in Lilliehookbreen. We sat on deck feeling as small as ants and insignificant beneath this huge imposing wall of ancient ice. It’s not often I’m left speechless, but this was one of those occasions.

There had recently been a huge piece of ice that had fallen and broken into a million piece in the waters below, so Firebird slowly pathed her way through the picturesque waters. There was something almost hypnotic about the wall of ice which we all stared at in total fascination.

Land of the midnight sun

Land of the midnight sun

Icy waters

Icy waters

Black shores of Svalbard

Black shores of Svalbard

Huddle of walruses

Huddle of walruses


Grimaldibukta, Forlandsundet

Ski Tour 7 – Ryggen 673m, Poolepynten

The clouds are moving fast today making the conditions extremely varied – one minute it’s bright sunshine, the next we were fully clouded in. On reaching the summit today, those with phones picked up the first signal we’d had in six days. Whist our phones buzzed like crazy we all chose to ignore them and switch to aeroplane mode to stay ‘off grid’ – a feeling of true escapism and a shame it can’t be done more often.

Back on the boat we were greeted with the delights of pasties and a choice at that! Beef, veg and salmon – oh and how could I forget the lemon drizzle cake. Gosh I am going to miss this food.

On our way to Trygamna back in Isfjorden we stopped at Poolepynten further down the coast of the island to visit a huddle (yes a huddle) of walrus. Dressed to impress in our Firebird beanies we headed to the beach. It was awash with driftwood from old whalers huts that had long been abandoned. We managed to get quite close up these dozing giants and their enormous tusks. Strange but impressive animals – they make moving look such hard work as they waddle over to see their friends. The youngsters appear a little more active as they play and splash in the shallows. They can hold their breath for up to 40 minutes to some quite impressive depths as they use their tusks to prise off clams and other seafood from the sea floor…lots of food needed to maintain their blubbery bodies in these sub-zero temperatures.


Billefjorden, Pyramiden

The crew had lifted the anchor and got us moving before we were up. We sailed round to Pyramiden, an old Russian coal-mining settlement that was abandoned in an afternoon. It was in operation from 1910 to 1998. The buildings are still intact and apparently, if you go in, it still looks lived in with toys on the floor, food on the shelves and tables still laid – bizarre.

We were due to have a guided tour right before the radio went to tell us a polar bear had been spotted in the next fjord. After a frenzy of everyone grabbing jackets and shoes and getting on deck as fast as possible, there he was, a young male, striding across the shoreline. Bigger than I ever imagined, huge paws and his thick coat swinging as he jogged along the beach. He was beautiful and everything I had hoped for. Once everyone had calmed down and got as many pictures as possible it was time to start packing and head back to Longyearbyen. I can’t believe this marvellous experience is nearly at an end, it’s been truly magical. I feel very lucky to have been part of this expedition and to have seen this beautiful place.

We got to Longyearbyen around 7.30pm. Just enough time to get to our dinner reservation at a fantastic restaurant in the town. The beer from the most northern brewery in the world went down a treat with good food but of course nowhere near as good as Andy’s (Firebird’s chef). The crew are amazing and have gone above and beyond in making sure we had the most amazing experience possible – we certainly have.

Back at the boat we had a cup of tea before turning in for the last time on the mighty Firebird. A true once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget…..where to next!?



Male polar bear striding along the beach

Male polar bear striding along the beach

Firebird is available to charter from mid-December in the Caribbean – enquire now!

Firebird Extends Her Stay in Norway This Summer

Following a successful Ski & Sail season, Firebird will be extending her stay in Norway this summer creating more unforgettable adventures in the Arctic Circle.

Designed by Rob Humphreys, the Oyster 885 luxury cruising yacht is ideal for summer charters and is fully customised for ambitious round-the-world voyages, boasting a high-performance deck and rig offering, which also allows for superyacht regattas.

Guests are welcomed onboard to an exceptional panoramic view of their spectacular surroundings, thanks to the yacht’s raised saloon, and a custom interior fit for up to seven guests to stay in complete luxury.  

From the moment you step onboard Firebird, you and your family will become fully immersed in a world of tranquil luxury. With a dedicated crew on hand to cater to your needs, delivering exceptional levels of service, the Firebird team will provide the highest standards to ensure you have the best possible charter experience. 

Firebird’s new crew boasts fresh, unique talent with a Captain holding over 14 years’ experience working on offshore sailing yachts, in some of the most remote places on earth, and a world-class Chef who is also an experienced free diver and yoga enthusiast. Striving to provide guests with the freshest cuisine, Firebird’s Chef will even catch your seafood and prepare it into a delicious meal for you and your companions to enjoy – now that’s impressive! Dining in Norway just doesn’t get any fresher than this.

Where will Firebird visit?

Lofoten Islands

The Lofoten archipelago is located 95 miles north of the Arctic Circle and is known for its unparalleled beauty of dramatic mountains and peaks, arctic fjords and untouched lands. Renowned for painted fishing villages which line the waterfront of the Norwegian group of islands, this is one of the most picturesque places on earth. With the opportunity to spot Orcas and Puffins, this is definitely a spot to practice your photography skills!

From early May, you can experience 24 hours of sunlight, where the sun sits so low in the sky forming a magical yellow glow across the coastline, allowing you to witness the natural phenomenon of the ‘midnight sun’. Such an impressive sight, even the locals mark the occasion in their calendars.  

With crystal clear waters as blue as the Mediterranean in the summer months, visitors explore their enchanting surroundings by kayaking, snorkelling, fishing and surfing. The breathtaking sandy beaches are also a hot spot for visitors – there really is something for everyone.


Located halfway between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard is one of Norway’s most magical group of islands. With more polar bears than people, Svalbard is an untouched arctic wilderness rich in wildlife and with barely any sign of human intervention. From May to September, Svalbard affords visitors to 24 hours of sunlight with its mild polar summer. During this period, the ice melts enough for Firebird to navigate through the still icy waters and explore the spectacular fjords and wildlife. 

Following the long winter months, the archipelago is inundated by birds as they migrate in large numbers to nest. When visiting Svalbard, sightseers are treated to the incredible diversity of species the islands offer, including walruses, seals and white whales along with year-round mammals such as polar bears, polar foxes and Svalbard reindeer. 

Certified a Sustainable Destination, Svalbard consists of several nature reserves, national parks and bird sanctuaries – offering something for everyone. Whether an epic expedition is on the cards, or to simply explore the wilderness, Svalbard is one of the most spectacular and well-preserved natural areas to visit.

To book your stay onboard Firebird, contact

Dining onboard Firebird

Dining onboard Firebird

Fresh cuisine served onboard Firebird

Fresh cuisine served onboard Firebird

Lofoten islands, Norway

Lofoten islands, Norway

Lofoten islands, Norway

Lofoten islands, Norway

Svalbard, Norway

Svalbard, Norway

The Tale of Firebird


The Firebird is a frequent feature of Russian fairy tales, the mysterious and majestic creature can take on many meanings but is often used as a symbol of a difficult quest. Below is the translation of The Firebird from Russian Folklore for you to enjoy. 

The Story of the Firebird

Long ago, in a distant Kingdom, lived Tsar Vyslav Andronovich. He had three sons; the first Tsarevich Dimitri, the second Tsarevich Vassili and the third Tsarevich Ivan.

The Tsar’s garden was the most magnificent in all the land and in it was an apple tree that bore beautiful golden apples. One day the Tsar noticed the apples were being taken, he asked the guards and they informed him it was a “Firebird”. 

Furious that his apples were being taken, the Tsar then tasked his two eldest sons with catching the Firebird but both fell asleep and missed him coming. The youngest son begged his father to try and catch the Firebird himself, his Father was dubious, but agreed. 

The youngest son sat and waited all night and finally saw the Firebird come into the garden and steal a golden apple. He crept over to the bird and caught it by the tail. The bird managed to get away and the youngest son was left only with a beautiful glowing orange feather. The Firebird never returned. 

On seeing the feather, the Tsar wanted the magnificent creature for himself and tasked his three sons again with finding the Firebird. In return they would receive half of his kingdom whilst he was alive and half when he died and off they all went on horseback. After travelling a while they came to a fork in the road with three signs. 

The first read that if you went left you would be cold and hungry, the second straight on that you would survive but your horse would die and the third to the right was that you would die and your horse survive. On reading the signs the two eldest sons gave up and headed back to the kingdom and to the safety of their father. 

The third son decided to take on the challenge....

The Firebird.jpg

The youngest son decided to take the middle path, the one where his horse would be slain, and he would be spared.  Sure enough a wolf came along and killed his horse to eat it.  

Days passed and the young man carried on walking but became exhausted and unable to carry on. The wolf that ate his horse found him and asked where he could take him seeing as he had such a lovely feast from his horse.  The young man told his story and they soon left in search again for the Firebird.  

A short time later they reached Tsar Dolmat’s kingdom and found the bird in the Tsars garden hanging in a wonderfully ornate cage.  The wolf told the Tsars youngest son to take the bird but to leave the cage as that would get them found out by the king. 

The Tsars youngest son made his way into the garden and got the bird, on his way back to the wolf however he couldn’t bring himself to leave the beautiful cage and so he crept back in and grabbed it. 

By stealing the cage, he set off an alarm and they were soon caught by Tsar Dolmat. Tsar Dolmat flew into a rage, he was so angry and wanted to know what kingdom he was from and who his father was. The youngest son calmly explained that the Firebird had been coming into his fathers garden and stealing his favourite golden apples and for that reason his father wanted the bird for himself.

On hearing this the Tsar Dolmat proclaimed that had he only asked for the bird he would have allowed it but now he wanted something in return, a horse with a golden mane. The wolf and the youngest son soon set off in search for it, they travelled day and night and finally came to a white walled stable. The wolf told Tsarevich Ivan, the youngest son to climb the wall, take the horse with the golden mane but do not take his bridle as this will get you found out. 

He climbed the wall, got the horse and on leaving the stable the bridle caught his eye. Again he could not bring himself to leave such a beauty and so he took it.  On picking it up it he made a huge clatter which awoke the stable boy who presented him to Tsar Afron, the owner of the horse. 

Tsar Afron began to question him, he too wanted to know what kingdom he came from and who his father was. He explained he needed the horse with the golden mane so he could in turn get the Firebird.  

Tsar Afron told him, if only you had asked first I would gladly have given you the horse, but now if you do not do me a favour I’ll tell the whole kingdom you are a dishonourable knight.  I want you to go out and find me Tsarevna Elena the fair, I love her and want you to bring her back to be my bride.

Feeling guilty he and the wolf soon took off in search for the fair lady. It didn’t take them long before they got to the kingdom. The wolf told Tsarevich Ivan to wait outside the gates whilst he went in and seized Tsarevna Elena. 

Once he had her they fled, the wolf ran so fast that her guards couldn’t catch up and soon they were back in the kingdom of Tsar Afron. All would have been fine but Tsarevich Ivan and Tsarevna Elena had quickly fallen in love and they couldn’t bare to part. 

Stuck in their predicament the wolf offered to turn himself into the girl so they could get the horse with the golden mane.  

The exchange went smoothly, Tsarevich Ivan and Tsarevna Elena started making way back to the kingdom of Tsar Dolmat with the horse with the golden mane and the wolf caught them up two days later after escaping in the night.

The firebird story for turndowns 6.jpg

Once back in the kingdom of Tsar Dolmat the youngest son had also decided he couldn’t bare to part with the horse with the golden mane either and requested that the wolf turn himself into the horse so they could trick Tsar Dolmat. Unbelievably they got the Firebird back after trading her for the horse and began on their way once more to the youngest sons kingdom.

A few days later the wolf managed to get free from Tsar Dolmat and made his way to Tsarevich Ivan and Tsarevna Elena, where he bid them farewell and they made their way back to their own kingdom. Soon the couple became weary and decided to rest under a tree close to the kingdom of his father.  They fell asleep straight away, with their horse and Firebird close by.

The young Tsarevich Ivan’s two older brothers came to find them lying there. They were sorely jealous of their brother and all his prizes and decided to kill him there on the spot and take the horse, the Firebird and the fair lady for themselves. When she awoke to find her love had been killed she was heartbroken.

The brothers threatened to kill Elena if she told their father what they’d done. Reluctantly she agreed. After winning the toss of a coin Tsarevich Vassili won the right to marry her, whilst Tsarevich Dimitri got the horse with the golden mane. The Firebird was taken to their father whom was most pleased to finally have the amazing bird in his possession.

After laying dead on the ground for thirty days his friend the grey wolf discovered the youngest son. He also saw two baby ravens and their mother feeding from his body. The wolf seized one of her babies and told her to go to the ends of the earth and get the water of life and the water of death, if she didn’t he would eat her young.

Three days passed and the raven returned with two vials. First the wolf poured the water of death over Tsarevich Ivan and his body grew back together. When he poured the water of life after, he awoke. The wolf rejoiced but told him to hurry as his brother was set to marry Tsarevna Elena that very day.  They rushed to the palace where his brother and Elena had just sat down to their wedding banquet. Upon seeing Tsarevich Ivan, Elena the fair flew out of her seat and threw herself at him. 

They told Tsar Vyslav Andronovich the real truth about what his brothers had done, and they were soon thrown into the dungeons. Tsarevich Ivan and Tsarevna Elena the fair married not long after and lived happily ever after.


Summer Sun - Interview with The Captain

Firebird’s Captain Ollie, speaks about the delivery from Palma to Montenegro, the set up for summer chartering and going green onboard.

Firebird has arrived in Montenegro! How does it feel to be back in the warm?

Getting back to the Adriatic and Ionian is like coming home. Norway is exhilarating whilst the Med season feels just as busy but with a healthy dose of Vitamin C. We suddenly get back into the hub of the yachting industry and are regularly bumping into crews we know and other boats that we’ve sailed alongside for years through various regattas. There’s a particular community in the Mediterranean circuit and as crew, we love that. 

Changing from winter to summer mode must be no mean feat – what’s involved?

We’ve settled into a great balance of routine for Firebird’s program, half the year spent pushing the boundaries and exploring in the cold, with the other spent in blue water cruising comfort but it does mean that we have a lot of kit! We have a container in Palma and we shed Firebird’s winter coat - boot warmers, ski racks, outdoor heaters and the like are swapped for watersports kit, our summer biminni, and certain sails that lend themselves to summer sailing. The kit is just the tip of the iceberg – with the rest of the summer boat maintenance getting into full swing again. The teak deck, stainless and winches all need TLC after the ice and snow. Summer charter itineraries need finalising, along with menus and wine lists for each charter!

You’ve clocked up quite a lot of mileage on Firebird since its launch in April 2016, how was the sail from Palma to Montenegro after the winter change over?

This year we were treated to brilliant conditions for this leg of the delivery. Palma to Montenegro is the final 1000 nautical miles from the Arctic and sailing in shorts and t-shirt with bare feet never feels more rewarding, after months of sailing in thermals, oilies and boots! For 2 days we had an average of 12 to 18 knots of true wind speed from the north west giving us a wind angle of around 110 degrees. So we took full advantage and had a fun 30 hours sailing under the code zero, averaging 240NM a day.

You’ve already sailed this route before – does it ever feel mundane?

Not at all, because the weather changes, the sea state changes, and the sails change making every delivery feels different. One thing that was noticeable this year was the amount of plastic and rubbish on route. Whilst it’s being addressed, with people in urban areas becoming more aware of the effect of plastic in the ocean, as yacht crew we physically see it and this year it was much more concerning.

What’s Firebird doing to address plastic use-age?

This year we’re doing our utmost to go as green as possible. We’ve installed filtering systems so crew and guests can cut back on single use plastic bottles. In one season we will use 500 Nespresso capsules which we are storing to return to the Nespresso store in Palma for recycling. We also aim to recycle all paper, glass and cans where possible. Hopefully the greener the marina’s get the easier it will be for us to find recycling options! We’re impressed with Porto Montenegro for their options and this year Port de Mallorca in Palma have also upped their game.

What was the highlight of the delivery?

Just a few hours away from the bay of Kotor we were joined by a pod of dolphins playing on the bow. Seeing wildlife free in their own environment is a natural high and we should all take notice, enjoy and respect it. Along the north coast of Sicily we also witnessed some dramatic electrical storms which always adds a bit of spice to a night watch!

Firebird at anchor in the Bay of Kotor

Firebird at anchor in the Bay of Kotor

Sunset on route to Montenegro

Sunset on route to Montenegro

The Captain, Ollie. 

The Captain, Ollie. 

Firebird is going eco in attempt to reduce plastic waste.

Firebird is going eco in attempt to reduce plastic waste.




Photographer's Paradise

Chartering Firebird in Arctic Norway isn’t just about the snow trekking and skiing down endless powder fields. With such an abundance of stunning landscapes and unique wildlife, it is also a photographer’s paradise. 

We speak to Mike Jones, experienced photographer and Director of Waterline Media, about why he loves this location and found out more about shooting in these conditions. 


What excites you about shooting in the Tromso area and what makes it so unique?

The wilderness and proximity to nature combined with the exceptional clarity of the light in the higher latitudes make it a photographer’s dream. I love shooting the dramatic and rugged landscape that appears straight out of the sea. Being knee deep in snow at sea level is entirely novel and challenging, yet extremely rewarding in the shots you can get. It is a very raw place to take photographs, and you feel very connected to nature. This experience is heightened when you stay onboard your floating photo studio which enables you to reach the most remote and incredible vistas that are not accessible via land.


What specific kit do you have to take for these conditions?

Equipment wise, having the right backpack is essential, especially when attempting any ski touring, climbing or tracking photography. I use the Lowepro Whistler BP 450 AW backpack, which is designed explicitly for alpine environments. Another essential is the Gitzo Explorer, light-weight carbon tripod, with ball head, that is fantastic for landscape photography in challenging conditions. Especially as this environment requires the equipment to be fast and easy to use over the steep terrain. As the area is a wildlife photographers dream, long telephoto lenses are a must, as is an ultra-wide angle combined with a tripod for capturing the northern lights.


What advice would you give to other photographers travelling to this area?

Don’t underestimate a sunrise, the light that you get on top of the mountains on the peeks can be quite dramatic and doing a reccy the day before always pays dividends. Some of my favourite moments in the Lyngden alps have been at dawn. 

Gloves with removable fingers are handy for staying warm in the arctic temperatures while being able to access all the settings of your equipment. Also, when attempting to capture the northern lights, always try and shoot away from any artificial lighting for best results and don’t be afraid to use long exposures. 


What is your favourite photo you have taken out there?

We had only just arrived in Djupvik, and I wasn’t at all prepared but ran through the deep snow, with my tripod and camera to set up on the shoreline, and I got there just in time to capture the vivid colours of the northern lights. 





Early morning sunrise on the mountains

A view from behind the lens

Mike snowboarding to the location of his next shoot

Mike's favourite photograph

Pristine snow

Pristine snow

New Destination for Firebird

New to the itinerary for Firebird in 2019, is the addition of Svalbard for May and June. Often referred to as the final frontier before the north pole; this vast wilderness, with more Polar Bears than people, offers something for everyone. 

As there are only 40km of roads on Svalbard the best way to explore the wilderness is by skidoo, dog sledding or skiing. Svalbard is one of the most spectacular and well preserved natural areas to visit. In the mountains around the main town, Longyearbyen, you can hike up glaciers, explore ice caves or book onto local wildlife expeditions. 

One of the greatest advantages of experiencing this location by boat means you can truly immerse yourself in remote areas that are not accessible via skidoo. You will have a better opportunity to see the sea life and other wildlife up close. In addition to the whales, seals and walruses to be found venturing in the fjords, you can get closer to the protected seabirds nesting in the cliffs. Exploring by boat also gives you a higher chance of spotting Arctic Foxes and Polar Bears that often hunt on the secluded coastline.  

This new destination, comes of course with it’s challenges. Whilst you might expect the cold to be a challenge, by the time Firebird sails up to Svalbard in May/June, the fjords will have thawed as the summer season starts and the temperatures will be between a more comfortable -7 to 3ºC. These kinds of temperatures are comparable to winter in Tromso, providing optimal skiing conditions.

Provisioning in particular will be an interesting challenge as there is only one supermarket in the main settlement of Longyearbyen, so we expect to see an exciting new menu developed by on board chef Mel for this location. 

Mel is looking forward to the adventure and commented that:

“Svalbard is one of the few locations left in the world that is largely untouched. This is truly one of the most raw wilderness experiences, with the benefit of a floating luxury chalet to come back to after a day spent exploring. Svalbard envelopes you in nature and the rare commodity of true peace and quiet.”

Navigating through this breathtaking archipelago will be interesting for the crew, as while the frozen fjords will have thawed the Captain will have to assess the conditions for ice carefully and will be dependent on the weather reports and local knowledge. The testing conditions for the crew doesn’t stop there. As explained by Ollie, the Captain: 

“To operate in this area, myself and Mountain Guide require a gun license for protection of the boat and guests from polar bears - slightly outside the box for your average yacht charter!”

Of course, the boat will have a mountain guide on board, with years of knowledge guiding in the area, to ensure your time in the wilderness is as enriching and safe as possible.

So whether it’s to enhance your landscape photography skills, ski untouched slopes, or have the chance to see the elusive Polar bear in its natural habitat, find your blend of bespoke adventure on Firebird. 





Svalbard has more Polar Bears than people

Svalbard snowmobile.jpg

Snowmobile is the best way to get around Svalbard


Barentsburg, cole mine settlement on Svalbard

Exposé - The Guest

Firebird and Team are well into their Arctic Adventure season in Northern Norway.

Having completed our penultimate trip, we speak to one of our guests, Jonas, about his highlights whilst on board.

What attracted you to Sail & Ski in the Arctic?

Being a keen skier and growing up by the ocean means the combination of Sail & Ski is the perfect adventure for me. What attracted me to go on a ski trip in the Arctic is the majestic scenery and amazing skiing Lyngen has to offer. I had not visited the Lyngen area until my trip with Firebird, but I had heard great things and the trip definitely exceeded my expectations. The scenery is mind blowing and the skiing offers a wide variety of terrain from steep couloirs to wide open bowls for all levels of skiers.

Why is ski touring in Northern Norway so special?

It almost looks like the peaks of the alps were planted in the ocean, making Northern Norway very unique. I also believe that having access to a boat while in Lyngen really enhances the experience. It is much quicker and more comfortable to get around on Firebird and you can access places you are unable to get to if you travel by car.

What is your favourite thing about being on board Firebird?

The crew and the warm welcome you get every time you come back from a long ski tour! Being met by amazingly prepared snacks, cheese boards and cakes in the afternoon makes the experience onboard Firebird luxurious. The atmosphere is very relaxed and the staff really makes you feel part of a big family.

If you could pack one luxury item hiking up the mountain what would it be?

Electric boot warmers! Luckily, Firebird have these onboard so we start the day with toasty toes.

What was your favourite Arctic Activity besides skiing and sailing?

Being a dog owner (a Husky to be precise) I have to say that I am a big fan of the dogsledding. Next time I might bring my dog so he can pull me up the mountains and meet the thousands of friends in the area ;)

Firebird is taking bookings for 2019 so contact to register interest now!

March-May 2019 - Lyngen Alps
May/June 2019 - Svalbard

Jonas with his dog, Flash.

Jonas with his dog, Flash.

Morning onboard, skis at the ready.

Morning onboard, skis at the ready.

Firebird sailing in Lyngsfjord in the afternoon.

Firebird sailing in Lyngsfjord in the afternoon.

Exposé - The Chef.

We speak to Mel about what it's like working as a chef in the Arctic.

What is it like provisioning in the Arctic?

Provisioning up here comes with its challenges! Including the crew as well as the guests, I am feeding up to 12 people, sometimes for as long as 12 days without anywhere to restock fresh produce! As the menu is bespoke to guest's preferences, I thoroughly plan in advance, which is essential when provisioning up here.


What’s your favourite meal to cook?

That’s a tough one! I really enjoy cooking with seasonal produce, so reindeer tenderloin, local sausage with a red wine jus and Lyngenberry sauce is a joy to cook. I took inspiration for this dish from a meal I had at Biffhuset. It was the first Norwegian dish I’d ever tried here after over 3000NM at sea. It tasted amazing and I knew I had to try and replicate it with my own spin. Otherwise, I love making sushi with the beautiful sushi grade salmon available.


 Do you use regular suppliers?

Yes. When we are docked at our home base in Tromsø I go to Dragøy Fishmongers which is a few hundred metres from the boat - can’t get fresher than that! Another favourite of mine is Helmersen Delikatesser which imports beautiful cheese and luxury condiments from around the world. Tatiana and Henrik who work there are full of knowledge about all of the produce (hi guys!) and now I’m on my second season up here it feels like popping in to see friends. It’s a highlight going in before each trip and seeing what they have. I only buy the Norwegian cheeses from them and make a huge cheeseboard for our guests to enjoy with a glass of port after a candlelit supper. The board on the last trip feature Lille Aske (Little Ash) which is a Norwegian cheese that won Super Gold in the most recent World Cheese Awards. Hand made from raw goat’s milk and covered with a layer of ash – it’s light, creamy and just divine!


What is your favourite thing about cruising the Arctic?

I think the peace and quiet is unrivalled to anywhere else. Coming from busy Mediterranean Summers up here is like taking the boat on a retreat. Sometimes we are located in areas where just 4 people live. Being so remote makes it feel very special. Whilst you’ll usually find me in the galley, sometimes I find myself taking a glimpse at something on deck that is only shared between those on board. Last year when the guests were on the mountain, I went on deck to get a spot of fresh air and there was a sea otter rolling about in the snow on the dock. It was much larger than I expected – about 1.5 metres. I was able to take five minutes in the quiet and watch it play. It’s these snippets of time which make the job incredible.  


Now you’ve been to the Arctic – where’s next?

We’ve sailed the boat 70 degrees North twice and it would be amazing to go even further! Ollie and I recently came back from Svalbard having been on a reccy to see what it would be like taking the boat up to the last settlement before the North Pole. Needless to say, it would be another ball game entirely up there, not least requiring a gun for protection from polar bears to collect provisions! It’s meeting the challenge which is rewarding, and for me, that’s what Firebird is all about.

Variety of sushi made on board

Variety of sushi made on board

Reindeer Tenderloin

Reindeer Tenderloin

Norwegian Cheese Board with Freshly Baked Scandinavian Rye

Norwegian Cheese Board with Freshly Baked Scandinavian Rye

Svalbard, snowmobiling in -15°C

Svalbard, snowmobiling in -15°C