As the ship slowed to nudge through vast sheets of frozen sea ice, a crackling noise rose around me. It was the sound of breaking ice as the strengthened hull of Silversea’s Silver Explorer ship eased closer to the edge of the solid polar ice cap. Over 500 miles of solid ice now stood between us and the North Pole. This was as close as a ship like ours could get. We were surrounded by small icebergs and slabs of ice that the occasional Bearded Seal could be seen lolling about on.
Excitement rose as the Expedition Leader quietly announced that a Polar Bear was lying several hundred metres away. The Captain gently turned the ship and tried to navigate closer to him. The ice soon became too thick for even our specially designed ship, so we came to rest and waited. Hoping the bear would grow curious and come towards us. He did.
Every day of my ten-day Silversea Arctic cruise was filled with memorable sights and activities like this. I relished that I was undertaking something unique and different to anything I have ever done. Making this the trip of my lifetime. It is hard to see what will beat this.
The cruise supplied four amazing experiences that made a massive impact on me: Arctic Ice, Arctic Wildlife, Arctic Bird life and Arctic Historical Sites The best way to bring these to life is through twenty photographs I have chosen from all of those I took as, in this case, pictures really will tell more than words ever can.
Burgerbukta Glacier on Svalbard. A gorgeous sight, made special as we saw our first polar bear here. A rather grubby looking chap!
Monacobreen Glacier on Svalbard. Discovered and named by Prince Albert I of Monaco. We watched it calving which was a very special experience.HamiltonBukta Glacier on Svalbard. Thick ice-filled bay that we picked our way through on our zodiacs to explore.14 July Glacier named by the French after Bastille Day. We hiked up and walked on it.
Bearded Seal at Hamiltonbukta Glacier, Svalbard – keeping a careful eye on us! Walrus at Poolepynten, Svalbard. They lay about like a group of grumpy old men.Arctic Reindeer and Arctic Fox at Alkhornet, Svalbard.
Puffins at Bear Island on our way to Svalbard. Guillemots on Bear Island. They look like penguins but are not related.Kittiwake Chicks on Bear Island, Svalbard. Glaucous Gull landing on ice near Monacobreen Glacier, Svalbard.
Arctic Historical Sites:
Gnalodden, where the female hunter (Wanny Woldstad) used this hunter’s hut in the 1930s to hunt polar bears and arctic foxes during winter, challenging the all-male hunting history.Ytre Norskoya on Svalbard, where Dutch whalers looked out for whales, hunted and boiled down the blubber. 138 are buried here. Ny Alesund. Coal mine until 1960s, where Amundsen launched the airship to be first man to go over the North Pole and now a Research Centre with between 30 Winter and 150 Summer residents.
Cruising from Tromso to Bear Island and around Svalbard was a truly amazing adventure. On board the Silver Explorer we were pampered before being led out each day by the 11-person Expedition Team of experts to stroll, climb, cruise or just stare and watch the Arctic magnificence. I have been to many places in the world, but this was definitely the most memorable and thrilling I have done. Add it to your bucket list if it is not already on there.
To see all the photographs from my trip visit Tips For Travellers Silver Explorer Arctic Album
Disclaimer: I travelled as a guest of Silversea Cruises on the 10-night Arctic cruise from Tromso to Longyearbyen.