Travelers may be surprised to find that Svalbard is warmer than its extreme northern latitude might suggest. The North Atlantic Current runs along the western and northern coasts, moderating the Arctic climate and keeping the waters open and navigable for a Svalbard cruise for most of the year. The summers are cool and the winters cold, with the average temperature in the summer months staying around 43°F and the winter average hovering around 3°F, though winter temperatures have been known to plummet to 20° below zero. Svalbard averages about eight inches of precipitation per year, making the area an Arctic desert climate. The west coast has a stormy but relatively mild climate, while the eastern side is both quieter and chillier.
Its northern latitude does mean that Svalbard experiences long light days in the summer and long dark nights in the winter. The midnight sun shines on the archipelago from April 20 to August 23, while the polar night lasts from October 26 to February 15. Visitors to the area will enjoy the novelty of long summer days when the sun never dips below the horizon.