Ny-Ålesund - history and future
On a visit to New Ålesund, you get a bit of everything that Svalbard is and has been. So, it was a natural first stop on our 10-day cruise around Svalbard on board M/S Quest.
A train that was used to transport coal from the mines down to the harbor was the first thing that met us on the walk through the village.
As early as 1610, the British whaler Jonas Poole found coal in Kungsfjorden. But it was not until 1911 that exploitation began on a small scale, for a few summer weeks each year. When the operation was taken over in 1916 by Peter Brandal, from Ålesund, mining increased and the village got its current name, Ny Ålesund.
During a period in the 1920s, it was from Ny Ålesund, the village closest to the North Pole, that several expeditions to the North Pole in various aircrafts began. Roald Amundsen attempted to fly to the North Pole in 1925 with two aircrafts, N24 and N25. But the two planes crash-landed on the ice and the expedition could have come to a tragic end. But after converting two planes into one and preparing a runway on the ice, they managed to fly back to New Ålesund.
But Amundsen did not give up. In 1926 he was back together with the Italian Nobile and the American Ellsworth for another attempt. Now with the help of an airship, Norway. On May 11, 1926 they took off from Ny Ålesund. On May 12 they passed the North Pole and on May 13 they landed happily in Teller, Alaska.
The mast that was used to anchor the airship Norge still stands a little outside the village. These stories and a lot of other interesting things can be learned during a visit to the Ny Ålesund Museum.
Across from the museum is the Kongsfjordsbutikken, where an ice cream after the museum visit was enjoyed, the clothing collection got some additions and postcards and stamps were purchased, so greetings from the world's northernmost community could be sent.
Today, Ny Ålesund is an international research village with over 20 different institutions from all over the world. The latest to join are India and China whose stations we passed on a walk through the village.
The Chinese station has two stone lions outside the door and according to hearsay they were shipped up in boxes labeled "Extremely Sensitive Research Equipment". The staff in Ny Ålesund naturally took it extremely carefully during the entire transport and at the same time wondered what it could be because it was incredibly heavy. They weren't too amused when it turned out to be "only" two stone lions.
There is so much you didn't know and can learn on a trip like this.
M/S Quest 50 passengers12 days 10 nights on ship USD 8 390LanguagesDeparture: July 2024Special lecturer on board
Since 1999, we have taken travellers on once-in-a-lifetime trips to Svalbard. From May to September our three small expedition ships, carrying only 12 and 50 passengers, explore this magnificent Arctic archipelago. Unpredictability and flexibility are the main keywords when you travel with PolarQuest as the exact route depends on weather, ice conditions and wildlife encounters. Sometimes you might be woken up in the middle of the night if a polar bear has been spotted on the ice.