Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Sept. 25, 2018

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A cruise ship illegally sending boatloads of passengers to get a close-up look at a polar bear is caught on camera, the Radisson will be closed for more than three months for a massive upgrade and the parents of a girl killed in avalanche are scheduled to discuss settlements with the people they are suing for negligence.

Expedition cruise leader: More polar bears may cause more tourism problems
Jon-Børge Karlsen, a leader of expedition cruises in Isfjorden for the past 11 years, says he saw more polar bears this year than ever – but that’s not entirely a good thing since the bears are increasingly less afraid of people and people are putting themselves in danger with bad behavior. Among the latter incidents this summer are cruise ships that deployed a large cluster of zodiac boats so they can get close up views of a polar bear on a beach. “We have seen examples where they put out many zodiac boats when they discover polar bears,” he said. “Then they go into a ring just outside where the polar bear is,” he said. “We had an episode this summer when they lay 30 meters from the glacier where the polar bear lay.” The Svalbard Environmental Protection Act prohibits behavior that disrupts polar bears.

Radisson to get 80M kr. upgrade, including restaurant and pub with new themes

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An illustration shows the lobby of the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel after an 80-million-kroner upgrade to the hotel scheduled for completion in February. Illustration courtesy of Hurtigruten Svalbard.

An 80-million-kroner upgrade of the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel scheduled to begin Nov. 1 will include upgrades to most of the public space and a new wing with 33 additional hotel rooms. and an Asian restaurant. Among the planned upgrades are a larger pub with a revamped gastropub menu and big-screen TVs, a larger conference space, and changing the theme of the restaurant to Arctic/Asian fusion. It is the first major upgrade since the 95-room hotel opened in 1995. The hotel will be closed until the work is completed, which is scheduled for February.

Parents of avalanche victim to discuss settlement
The parents of a two-year-old girl killed in an avalanche Dec. 19, 2015, are scheduled to meet in October for settlement talks with the city of Longyearbyen, The Governor of Svalbard and Store Norske, who are being sued for more than four million kroner due to alleged negligence. Pia Sivertsen and Kim Rune Røkenes assert their daughter, Nikoline, died because government entities and Store Norske as the property owner knew the family’s home and others nearby were at-risk of being hit by major avalanches and failed to take preventative measures. Longyearbyen Mayor Arild Olsen told NRK the scheduling of negotiations Does not mean the city is willing to accept any legal responsibility for the girl’s death.

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