Polar history & our first polar bear
The day began with polar history. The wind from the north was a bit chilly but blue skies and magnificent views met us at Spetsbergen's northwest corner this morning.
It has been a morning full of historical impressions. There was a bit of a chilly wind coming from the north, but beautiful clear blue skies and breathtaking surroundings here in the North-west corner of Spitsbergen. We started with sort of two landings in one as we walked among the remains from the Andrée-expedition at Virgohamna, and then the old blubber ovens in Smeerenburg, the Dutch whaling station. We also had a close encounter with the local Harbor Seals, some of them were very playful in the shallow waters and some of them relaxing on the rocks.
As we sailed south towards Smeerenburg glacier it really calmed down to almost no wind at all. Also, as we came close to the glacier we saw our first Polar bear on one of the islands! We were lucky to spend around three hours with that bear. At first on a distance as it was swimming around the ice floes hunting for seals, and then we got the opportunity to look at it closer as it walked up on land and showed itself in all its beauty. It was a healthy looking male. The day finished off with a very tasty dinner and no less than two birthdays that were celebrated with cake and candles.
As the evening turned into night we saw the first ice floes passing by outside our port holes. A proof of us getting further and further north. We even crossed the 80th parallel during the night and plan to spend the whole day of tomorrow in the pack ice.
Since 1999, we have taken travellers on once-in-a-lifetime trips to Svalbard. From May to September our three small expedition ships, carrying only 12 and 53 passengers, explore this magnificent Arctic archipelago. Unpredictability and flexibility are the main keywords when you travel with PolarQuest as the exact route depends on weather, ice conditions and wildlife encounters. Sometimes you might be woken up in the middle of the night if a polar bear has been spotted on the ice.