Far east - Storøya and Kvitøya
We woke up to the sound of the speaker system on board M/S Quest, and heard the Expedition Leader’s voice as she welcomed us to Storøya. She asked us to go up on deck to view the trip’s second and third polar bear. The plan of the day was to explore some of Svalbard's most remote parts, Storøya and Kvitøya.
Many of us were quickly up on the deck with our binoculars to take a glimpse of these magnificent animals before breakfast. Shortly after we embarked on a zodiac excursion along the coastline of Storøya. In our Zodiacs we got to experience plenty of walruses. We observed these powerful, but elegant swimmers from a respectful distance, soaking in both their behavior and sound - the communication between the animals put smiles on everyone’s faces.
During the afternoon we explored the waters of the barren island of Kvitøya. The view and moody light of the ice cap that covers 99 % of the island was absolutely breathtaking. Going back in history 125 years ago, we thought of Andrée, Fränkel and Strindberg, who found their final resting place on the stony beach. Imagining having to spend weeks at this desolate place gave many of us goosebumps and we were very happy knowing that we could return to the comfort of our vessel after our cruise. Some Swedes on the journey were hoping to put their feet on the island but as Kvitøya is so unsheltered from the swells and also two polar bears did not allow for that. Nevertheless, we were close enough to view the monument from the Zodiacs and you could feel the excitement of just being at this place amongst the guests. I believe that many of us that haven’t heard the story of Andrée’s North Pole expedition before and experienced it here at Kvitøya became fascinated about the enthusiasm and faith of these three polar explorers. May their journey ever remain one of the greatest mysteries in polar exploration.
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 50 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.