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Cape York, West Greenland

Just before breakfast, National Geographic Explorer  passed Kap York (Danish). This landmark is located at the southern end of Melville Bay. We sailed along a seemingly endless row of icebergs. These colossal slabs of  ice have calved off from the Green­land icecap. Of all the frozen fresh water on the planet, Greenland holds an estimated 9 percent  (cf. Antarctica  90% and the rest only one percent). Thus our morning exploration aimed for more close encounters with ice. Virtually all our guests joined Zodiac cruises to see glacial ice up close. We zig-zagged through–as one excited guest described it – ”a massive forest of icebergs,” right up to an impressive glacier front, in places over 100 feet high. The bright sunshine created harsh light conditions for photography. Nevertheless there were still great opportunities to capture a multitude of forms, colors, and also the tiny Zodiacs like miniature toys against the white backdrop of immense walls of ice. During the afternoon we enjoyed two different, but neatly interconnected presentations by naturalists Karen Copeland and Ian Bullock. Read More>

Aug 29, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Espanola Island

This morning we dropped anchor at Gardner Bay, Espanola Island, the oldest island in the Galapagos archipelago. It was overcast and a little bit gray, however the first group of kayakers left early before breakfast and enjoyed a great adventure. After breakfast, a briefing about snorkeling was held and right afterwards our guests were suited up with everything they needed: masks, snorkels, fins, wetsuits, flotation devices and a snorkel bag. Two options were offered, deep water snorkeling at Gardner Islet and snorkeling off the beach. I was in charge of the beach snorkeling this morning and it was really nice. We headed to the turquoise waters and snorkeled along the rocky coastal area and got to see a lot. We saw white salemas, razor surgeonfish, king angelfish, wrasses, damselfish, and a marble ray! A good start indeed for the first snorkeling in shallow waters and the guests at Gardner Islet had a great time with young and playful sea lions! At the end everyone enjoyed the white sandy beach, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Not even pictures can capture the beauty and uniqueness of this wonderful place! There was time to observe the Galapagos sea lions and take many pictures and the Espanola mocking bird species was posing in front of the cameras, competing with yellow warblers for the attention of our guests. Read More>

Aug 29, 2016 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Kuressaare, Saaremaa Island, Estonia

Our first day after embarking the ship in Tallinn offered a visit to the Estonian Island of Saaremaa and an opportunity to interject ourselves into the simpler, more terrestrially-connected way of life many of the islanders here continue to embrace. We enjoyed traditional, locally-prepared cuisine; reveled in regional dance and song; and put our bodies to use with hands-on soap and bread-making demonstrations.  By days end, we slipped away into the Baltic Sea with bodies at least somewhat tired from an “honest days’ work” and the beautiful music and songs of Estonia replaying in our minds; fitting for a country shaped by a singing revolution.. Read More>

Aug 29, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Europe aboard NG Orion

Ideal Cove & Petersburg

Silvery raindrops did not hold us back from heading up the trail from Ideal Cove along the eastern margin of Mitkof Island. This beautiful example of temperate rain forest was carpeted with a vibrant understory of devil’s club, bunchberry dogwoods, blueberries, and ferns. Cushions of moss and delicate strands of lichens adorned the branches of Sitka spruce and western hemlock trees that surrounded us and a creek below the trail. Many hikers reached a bridge near a portion of the stream widened by beavers. Some continued past this spot, and fast-paced hikers maintained a good clip to follow a loop trail. Leisure-paced and photo groups spent time investigating the area near our landing in detail and experimented with camera gear and macrophotography before all returned to the ship so that it could be repositioned for the afternoon. Petersburg is not a shopping town on the cruise ship circuit, but rather a working community dedicated to commercial fishing. Read More>

Aug 29, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Hvalsund, Thule & Bowdoin Fjord, Greenland

Time is a strange thing–we left Iceland only 13 days ago but with such a treasure trove of wonders behind us, we all feel as if we have been on board since July. Time has also yanked us forward, for we lost an hour last night and another just after lunch today. They will probably turn up eventually, but who cares, when we pack whole lifetimes into each day? This morning was a classic Arctic dawn, calm sea, blue sky embroidered with lacy cirrus, a fleet of small icebergs drifting by and our faithful fulmars. Turning into Bowdoin fjord, the usual plain Greenland landscape suddenly became into a geological art gallery. Read More>

Aug 28, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Canna to Armadale on Skye, Cuillin, Eilean Donan & Plockton

Another beautiful day dawns and we are off to the Isle of Skye. At Armadale we visited the Clan Donald Centre. The Museum of the Isles has a fantastic exhibition on the history of this area. All the information from the last week on subjects like the Lord of the Isles, the Jacobites and the Clearances to name just a few, slotted into place. The museum is surrounded by gardens where Konia Tack took us on a garden tour pointing out plants from all over the world. Read More>

Aug 28, 2016 Lord of the Glens in Scotland

Tracy Arm & The Brothers

This morning, we awoke to precipitous cliffs lining the glacial fiord of Tracy Arm. As we cruised by dramatic mountains, the aftermath of Pleistocene glaciation surrounded us with U-shaped valleys, sheer waterfalls, and narrow gorges leading up to South Sawyer Glacier. The fjord was packed with gargantuan, captivating icebergs and soon we piled into the expedition landing craft for a closer look! Cameras snapped shots left and right of the icy asunder until some mountain goats, with adorable kids nipping at their heels, stole the spotlight. Read More>

Aug 28, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

80 Degrees North

The name of this expedition is Epic 80! The longest expedition of the Arctic season that would encompass two landmasses and many islands, view wildlife, and learn about the modern and ancient cultures that live and lived here. It has been epic in many ways. Incredible views of iconic Arctic species and great weather to create opportunities for finding the wildlife. Today though was not so much about wildlife but making our goal of 80 degrees north latitude. The Captain and expedition leader kept a wary eye on both the wind and ice charts to see when a window would open up and give the ship her opportunity. Today was the day. With little to no wind the ice movement would be predictable so we started north with Ellesmere Island on our port side and Greenland to our starboard. By breakfast we were north of 79 and making good distance. There was ice present but it was smaller floes easily navigated through. By lunch we were getting closer. After lunch an announcement came from the bridge that we were just a few nautical miles from our goal. The ice was getting thicker and the floes larger, but when you attempt to get just 600 nautical miles from the North Pole, ice will be encountered. Then the captain found a lead and pushed the ship towards it. Cameras were clicking on the bridge to commemorate the crossing as it was shown on the many GPS units present on the bridge. The master blew the ships horn and all celebrated. The best way to celebrate was with a polar plunge! The ship was stopped and a platform was put down so those that wanted could jump into the frigid 30 degree water at 80 degrees north. Read More>

Aug 27, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Waved albatross in flight

As we near the end of our expedition in the Galapagos Islands, the National Geographic Islander has repositioned overnight to the eastern end of the archipelago after our day on the central island of Santa Cruz. Today we would spend our last day in this magical place exploring San Cristobal Island. Read More>

Aug 27, 2016 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Turku, Finland

We sailed overnight across the mouth of the Gulf of Bothnia and through the islands of southwest Finland in to the city of Turku. Turku is a city of great historic significance following its establishment in the 13th century and numerous invasions subsequently. For a long time it effectively served as the capital of Finland, and officially became the capital under Russian rule. Today it is of less official significance, but its history lives on within the modern, vibrant city. This morning we began with a number of tours of the old city. Read More>

Aug 27, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Europe aboard NG Orion

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Please note: All Daily Expedition Reports (DER's) are posted Monday-Friday, during normal business hours.

 

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