Sailing the Arctic with Tall Ship Antigua

Sailing the Arctic with Tall Ship Antigua

The best way to explore the rugged Spitsbergen shores is no doubt by sailing a tall ship like the Antigua. Equipped with a pair of Zodiacs, it has the ability to shuttle passengers to and from the remote beaches of the Arctic. With a crew of 8 to 10 men and women, it accommodates 32 passengers in relative luxury.

History of Tall Ship Antigua

Antigua has a long history in European waters. It was built as a fishing boat in 1957 by the Richard Dunston Shipyard in Thorne (Yorkshire, Great Britain). After the ship was decommissioned in the 90s, it was converted to a characteristic three-master with attention to details. Antigua was configured as a barkentine, which means that the foremast is square-rigged while the main and the mizzen masts are rigged fore-and-aft. This configuration allows the ship to be operated with both efficiency and speed.

During winter 2015/2016, the ship underwent another spectacular renovation; it was cut in half and an 8-meter section was welded in between. The lengthening did cause some initial stability issues in 2016, but they were fixed soon, resulting in improved handling with less draft and a higher speed.

During the winter of 2021/2022, Antigua was fitted with a cozy deck house. This increased the space of the living quarters drastically.

The ship has 16 Cabins with private bathrooms, accommodating a total of 32 passengers. Every summer the Antigua sets sail towards the Lofoten and Spitsbergen.

Barkentine Antigua 1957
IMO 5019800
Flag The Netherlands
Length 49m
Width 7.0m
Draft 3.0m
Tonnage 210 metric tons
Sail area 750 Sq m.
Main mast 31m


Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators

Antigua is just one of the ships owned by the Dutch family business Tallship Company, which home town is Franeker, The Netherlands. Tallship Company is a member of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), an organization that ensures that cruise tourism in the Arctic is carried out with the utmost consideration of the natural environment and local cultures. This means that all travelers on board of the Antigua must live by those rules. Some examples:

  • The use of drones is forbidden.
  • It’s is not allowed to break fjord ice with a ship once the fjord is frozen.
  • Leave no trails, leave historic sites untouched.
  • Cairns may be signposts – do not alter them and don’t make new ones.
Antigua from the crow’s nest

Antigua from the crow’s nest

Where’s the Antigua right now?

Modern satellite- and web-technology allows us to track ships in real-time. Actual position information on the Antigua can be found on, which is a pretty cool platform you can use for free. The following map shows the current location of the Antigua, and a trace of the last 24 hrs: