Spirit of Adventure blog
Excitement built on board as we headed up to 78oN – that’s just 12o latitude short of the North Pole, located of course at 90oN.
For around 9 months of the year Svalbard and its landscape - as well as much of its surrounding seascape - are covered in snow and ice. As we approached, there were just hints of snow in patches on mountainsides, as well as of course large glaciers.
We berthed alongside the only town here – Longyearbyen – at 08:00 in a chilly breeze.
Founded by an American chap (Mr Longyear) back in the early 20th century, this remote and predominantly freezing location was originally a mining town. It now houses a population of around 2,000 people, many of whom are involved in Polar research and studies or tourism.
Options for guests today include a visit to the world’s northernmost brewery, husky dog wagon rides, fossil hunts, hikes around the mountains, visits to the old mines and even kayaking on the fjords.
I was fortunate enough to have a friend working in the area as a scientist, and we took off in the afternoon for a grand hike up towards a glacier inland, before being treated to a locally sourced supper.
Having set foot on terra firma on our first day in Svalbard, the second day would be spent onboard the comfort of our ship cruising around Isfjord and its associated branches, searching for glaciers, polar bears and Beluga whales, putting meticulous training, assessment planning and preparation into practice.
Pleasingly, we found all of the above, and photographic evidence courtesy of myself and one of our lecturers, Tony Babb BEM, is provided as part of this blog for purposes of both evidence as well as gloating. A mother and two cub bears wandered around on nearby rocks for at least half an hour, for our viewing pleasure.
I was particularly delighted to manoeuvre the ship, as planned, safely close to the glacier so that it towered aside us, and one could very easily hear it crackling away as the entire structure moves around. Occasionally pieces would calve (crack off), and fall into the sea and become little icebergs known as growlers, providing a spectacular sight.
Well after this once-in-a-lifetime experience for most, it was time to head back out to sea and southward towards mainland Norway once again.
Captain Kim Tanner
The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.
The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.