Beyond the pier of Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen’s snug commercial centre, jagged mountains rise up from a mirror sea through crisp limpid air. From this former mining town of 1600 people you first glimpse the wilderness that awaits; the frozen tundra and icy peaks of the Svalbard Archipelago. And the great ship that will take you there. Such is the land and seascape surrounding this holder of many ‘northernmost’ records (church, university campus, ATM, hospital, library, night club, pub, school, supermarket, cinema) you may think it an elaborate dream or mirage, like the serrated mountains of the fata morgana, that famed arctic sailor’s bane and trick of ice and light. But it is real and, on embarking from Longyearbyen, you’ll be keenly aware you’re about to enter a strange new world.