Disney plans to sail kid-friendly luxury cruises to climate-hit Svalbard

The 2023 cruises come as Disneynature readies a documentary about climate change in the Arctic archipelago.

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - November 9, 2021
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Billefjorden with the Nordenskiöld glacier, Svalbard. (Thomas Nilsen / The Independent Barents Observer)

Following Disneynature’s upcoming film documenting the dramatic climate change at Svalbard, families with children are now offered a high-end voyage to the Norwegian Arctic archipelago.

Adventures by Disney has signed a deal with French cruise ship operator Ponant for two dedicated voyages sailing out from Longyearbyen in 2023.

The luxury cruise can be joined by children as young as age 8, although ages 10 and up are recommended. Kids must travel together with adults. Onboard activities offer fun and informative entertainment for all ages, including for junior adventures, the company writes in the itinerary.

“Whether you’re on land or onboard the ship, you’ll be surrounded by a breathtaking landscape ranging from icebergs to ice floes to Arctic tundra,” the promotion text reads. The voyage was first reported by Forbes.

Disneynature is currently in the process of making a film on the dramatic impact of climate changes on Svalbard, the Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic where sea ice vanishes, glaciers shrink, and permafrost thaws.

As previously reported by the Barents Observer, Svalbard has since 1971 experienced a winter warming of 7 degrees Celsius. And worse could it be. In Longyearbyen, the main Norwegian settlement on the archipelago, people see their houses sagging as the ground underneath is thawing.

Precipitation for the years to come is more rain instead of snow. This will lead to increased combined snowmelt-, glacier melt- and rain-floods. Isfjorden (The Ice fjord) next to Longyearbyen no longer freezes in winter, something that would have been unthinkable only a few decades ago.

The ship to sail the cruises for Disney is Le Boreal, a luxury expedition vessel with a guest capacity of 264. The ice-classed ship has two restaurants, a swimming pool, a fitness studio, a hair salon, and a spa. If kids get tired of viewing the stunning landscape of Svalbard, with ice floes, glaciers, and snow-capped mountains, there is also a kids club with games like PlayStation.

The 10-day tour (including seven days at sea) will visit some of the most stunning fjords along the west coast of Spitsbergen, even sailing all north beyond 80 degrees. Smaller zodiac boats will be used for landings and excursions, like in Hornsund at Sør-Spitsbergen National Park, a fjord where the glacier calves off directly to the sea.

Prices start at $12,000 per person with a $1,200 discount for children under 12.