This beautiful and comfortable tall ship boasts a worldwide safety certificate, steel hull and acres of sails crewed by a multi-national crew including expert wildlife guides.

On board you are encouraged to join watches, take part in sailing, observe the sea and wildlife on her exciting passages.

The Barquentine Antigua takes up to 32 guests in 16 fully air-conditioned two-berth cabins that guarantee a comfortable stay onboard.

Regardless if you are travelling solo or with friends you will socialise and make new friends with like minded explorers from all over the world. Antigua specialises in the Arctic and sails in Svalbard and the Lofoten Isles.

Ship Stats

Length Overall


Length On Deck


Year Built


Vessel Type / Rig

Three Masted Barquentine

Guest Berths


Crew Berths


What this vessel does best

The Experts view: What Antigua does best 

Tall ship Antigua sailing in Svalbard
Tall ship Antigua sailing in Svalbard

Famous for Spitsbergen Based Expeditions

Spitsbergen (known to the Norwegians as West Spitzbergen), is the largest island in the Svalbard Archipelago in northern Norway. Dutch run tall ship Antigua has been running 8-12 day voyages since 2009. Only 1000km from the North Pole, this raw, beautiful island group is enclosed in pack ice for most of the year. During the summer, when the sun shines for 24 hours, the Arctic ice retreats coming to life with wildlife and flowers. By September if the skies are clear you may see the Northern Lights. Depending on voyages dates, Antigua will sail through icey waters to remote anchorages where you will be ferried ashore with expert wildlife guides to guide you through the wonders of the abundant wildlife and fauna.  

Wildlife Guides, Polar Bears & Zodiac Safaris Ashore

There are now over 3000 polar bears living around the Svalbard Archipelago and is now one of the top places worldwide to spot a polar bear in the wild. Sailing the coast and fjords on a ship increases your search area beyond the land. You might spot them swimming or standing on an ice flow. To be given a advantage point in spotting one of these amazing animals you can always climb aloft to see a bit further ahead. May to September is the best time to spot the bears but these hunters roam far and wide and so nothing is guaranteed.  

Sixty percent of the land is glaciated and it is amazing to see colonies of breeding seabirds clinging to the sea cliffs. On land, arctic foxes, reindeer and polar bears roam (guides carry rifles as a precaution). At sea many types of whales, walrus and seals can be sighted. As Antigua has a library on board and holds regular lectures in the lounge you are more than welcome to relax and learn more about this amazing surroundings.

Other rare wildlife sightings from Tall Ship Antigua include a white humpback whale, belugas, and killer whales (orca).

The ships wildlife guides and crew generally use English as the common language but this is a Dutch run ship so you will hear Dutch, German and many other languages in conversation, so you do need a bit of patience when bursting to ask a question.

Hungry Polar Bear. The expert wildlife guides are there to keep you safe
Hungry Polar Bear. The expert wildlife guides are there to keep you safe


Special Landscape Photography Voyages

In the autumn when the sun is getting lower and the days of midnight sun are slipping away, the light conditions are awesome for landscape photography. Mountains, glaciers, interesting weather phenomenon and wildlife all make great images to capture.  The tall ship rigging and sails lends a sense of the 19th Century polar expeditions, and as the temperatures cool you can begin to appreciate the hardships of outdoor life.  Coiled ropes freeze, rigging can ice up with the spray and as lookout you have a vital job looking for small icebergs.  In late September – October when dark nights return, you might see the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis.

Evening light photography on a tall ship
Photo by Debbie Purser

Aurora Borealis –  Winter Sailing in Lofoten Isles

There is a very good reason for sailing in the high Norwegian Arctic during the winter. Firstly it is the best time and place to see the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis and secondly this is a good time of year to spot Orca or killer whales in the Lofoten Isles. These short 2 or 4 day voyages on tall ship Antigua have just been added to Classic Sailing website. We think they would make a rather special New Year’s eve holiday break in 2019-20

Orca whale spotting in lofoten Isles on tall ship Antigua
Orca whale spotting in Lofoten Isles on tall ship Antigua

What to expect

What to Expect on Tall Ship Antigua

Sailing Style

People come on a polar expedition for many reasons. You don’t need to be a sailor to be attracted to the idea of exploring under sail. Classic Sailing specialises in ‘hands on’ voyages where there is a professional crew to teach you how to become a useful crew member and help sail the ship. You really don’t need any experience, and on Antigua it is entirely up to you how much you get involved with the physical sailing.

If you are keen to pull ropes, climb the rigging or steer the ship then the crew will be happy for you to work alongside them and share their passion for sailing.  Working with blocks and tackles has the added benefit of keeping you warm and on deck for longer, so you can often see more wildlife and get to know the multi national crew better.  You will be popular if you stick around to help pull the ships boats back on board at the end of the day…..but there is also a ships bar beckoning.

If you would rather take photos, save your energies for walks ashore with the wildlife guides, or perhaps steer the ship occasionally then that is fine too. 

Antigua has comfortable accommodation for adult adventure holidays and is not run as a sail training ship so no need to be involved in domestic chores or ships maintenance, unless you have an urge to help

Imagine climbing up to the platform to take photos on Antigua
Imagine climbing up the rigging to the platform

Life on Board

Svalbard is a long way North, the land stretching between the 74th and 81st parallels of latitude. Typical air temperatures are 3-7 degrees Centigrade (37-45 degrees Farenheit) in July, so similar to Antarctic Peninsula temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere summer.  Like a ski holiday, it is great to feel active and enjoy being outside. However, if you wish to take a more watchful stance rather than action there is always somewhere warm and comfortable to retreat too. If there is a sighting of a whale, polar bear or something wonderful to see, the crew will come and find you. 

Below decks Antigua can sleep up to 32 guests in 2 person cabins. Each cabin has its own toilet and shower with heating (and air conditioning if she goes to warmer climes). Half the cabins have twin beds so no climbing up into the top bunk, and the rest are 2 person cabins with bunks so do let us know what you prefer – subject to availability on booking.  There is a large stylish saloon with a bar and tables for meals.

Antigua sailing the coast of Spitsbergen
Antigua sailing the coast of Spitsbergen


Elegant saloon on tall ship Antigua
Elegant saloon on tall ship Antigua

On Antigua there are two decks below so living accommodation on the first deck is spacious and there is plenty of room for everyone. Perhaps not everyone around the bar at one time!

Antigua can sleep up to 32 guests in 2 person cabins. Each cabin has its own toilet and shower with heating (and air conditioning if she goes to warmer climes).

Half the cabins have twin beds.

The other half have bunks.

At the time of booking and availability do let us know which cabin you would prefer.  

Antigua Accommodation
Antigua Accommodation

Antigua has two cabin types, a Comfort Twin Cabin and the Standard Bunk Bed Cabin, each have ensuite shower and toilet. 

Antigua's Twin Cabin
Antigua’s Twin Cabin
Bunk Bed Cabin
Bunk Bed Cabin

Ship specification

Tall Ship Antigua - View aloft
Tall Ship Antigua – View aloft

Vital statistics include a sail area of 720 sq. m

The Antigua was built in 1957 as a fishing vessel in Thorne, Yorkshire (U.K.) and served in this capacity for  many years.

Her hull was built to be tough, seaworthy and the extraordinary beauty of her lines was appreciated by keen eyed sailors. At the begining of 1990’s it was decided to convert her to a tall ship and really take advantage of her wonderful shape.

She was refitted with all the comforts of a modern tall ship, involving an extensive and loving conversion. The metamorphosis from fishing vessel to elegant three-masted barquentine took place gently, in style and with a real sense of tradition. Being a barquentine means that there are three mast. The front mast is square-rigged and the remaining masts rigged fore and aft. 

Tall Ship Antigua Barquentine Sail plan
Tall Ship Antigua Barquentine Sail plan

Skippers and crew

Captain, crew and wildlife guides on tall ship Antigua
Captain, crew and wildlife guides on tall ship Antigua

Quiz the Captain and Arctic guides about wildlife