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Fugløya and Tromsø, Northern Norway

In tranquil mist-muffled seas we had crossed overnight from Bear Island towards mainland Norway, and we awoke to find ourselves approaching the small island of Fugløya (Bird Island). Immediately, the rise in temperature was palpable. The mist still clung to the island, however, tantalisingly revealing only a few feet of the lowest cliffs, everything else obscured from view, as we slowly cruised its eastern shore, hugging it close. This island is an important breeding site for Atlantic puffins, and the waters around our bow teamed with them.   We watched with delight as the puffins paddled back and forth on the lazy surface, or dived beneath, using their wings to swim underwater with speed and great agility. The sharp-eyed also spotted razorbills amongst the throng, and even a White-tailed eagle sitting on a ledge watching the scene. Later in the morning Ralph Lee Hopkins continued our photographic education with a motivating talk on Creative Travel Photography, explaining at last what all those buttons and dials are meant for. Soon civilization was in sight, the shorelines of Tromsø with its docks and boatyards, bridges and hotel blocks, slipped into view. Read More>

Jul 24, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Arctic

Chicagoff Island & Pavlov Harbor

El dia de los osos! Not one or two, but a total of six brown bears were seen today on the shore of Chicagoff Island we began our exploration of  Southeast Alaska. The first two bears were a young pair recently released from their mother’s care. Rather small, thin and apparently very hungry, they explored the upper intertidal for food. Later, but still before our lunchbreak, two large brown bears were seen also in pursuit of food along the intertidal near a small salmon stream. Shortly after lunch, the marine realm revealed its apex predator when a small pod of killer whales were spotted in Chatham Strait. Read More>

Jul 24, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Sifnos, Greece

Our final day in the Cycladic Islands was spent on the picturesque island of Sifnos. Located in the western Cyclades, Sifnos was famed in antiquity for its gold and silver mines. We began with a stroll through the medieval town of Kastro, which served as the capital of the island in antiquity and throughout the Venetian occupation. The labyrinthine alleys of this fortified town, originally a defensive feature, today offer photographers a glimpse at traditional Cycladic life, free of the modern commercialism that is creeping into many of the towns of this region. A twisting path through the back wall of the town opened onto a breathtaking view of the Aegean below. Standing out amongst the sparkling turquoise waters, the tiny, whitewashed Church of the Seven Martyrs beckoned some to an additional hike down to the seaside.  From Kastro, we continued on to the bustling port town of Kamares, where we had the chance to admire the local earthenware pottery that has been a major island export since the period of Venetian rule. Read More>

Jul 24, 2016 Sea Cloud in Mediterranean

Bear Island and Sailing South

As we approached Bear Island before breakfast, light fog enshrouded the higher peaks of the southern tip of the island.  Conditions were perfect for our morning Zodiac cruise: light winds, partly sunny skies, limited swell, and hundreds of thousands of birds. This is one of the greatest Zodiac cruises and in these conditions, we were in for a certain treat. Near our anchorage, a small group of puffins were nesting in a scree slope. Read More>

Jul 23, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Arctic

Santorini

Every day a surprise, every day a unique experience. Sea Cloud spent the night in the caldera at Santorini and we started our day with the amazing picture of the blue Aegean and the caldera in front of our eyes when we woke up, waiting for us to explore them. The local tender boat took us out and we drove up through the island of Santorini. First was Oia, the traditional city of the island, with whitewashed houses and blue domed churches. We shopped, explored, and walked all over before enjoying a drink in the cafes that overlooked the great view of the caldera. Leaving Oia we then went to lunch and tasted the local flavors and the famous products of the island. Our day in Santorini wouldn’t be complete without visiting the museum and prehistoric city, buried under the pumice of the volcano for some 3,000 years. Read More>

Jul 23, 2016 Sea Cloud in Mediterranean

Pavlov Harbor and Lake Eva

We awoke this morning to find typical southeast Alaska weather: clouds, wind, and steady rain. The National Geographic Sea Lion cruised into Pavlov Harbor on the south side of Chichagof Island and dropped anchor. We geared up in layers and boarded expedition landing crafts to check out the shoreline in search of brown bears. Near the waterfall, we sighted a female brown bear with her two cubs that were in search of migrating salmon. After breakfast, we raised anchor and began cruising south along Chatham Strait, looking for things of interest. Read More>

Jul 23, 2016 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Russebukta, Edgeøya

Our updates from the day before are still not complete as Captain Martin and expedition leader Doug surprise us with one more “activity.” Out of Hinlopenstretet, National Geographic Orion takes an unexpected detour to the stunning 170km-long front of Austfonna: the third largest ice cap on earth. And the fog rises just as we approach the 60-foot ice cliff allowing us to speechlessly admire the waterfalls shooting out of the front. But our surprises are not over and it is 3:00 a. Read More>

Jul 22, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Arctic

Pavlov Bay

We awoke this morning to moderate chop and winds in Chatham Strait, but as we rounded the corner into Freshwater Bay, things quieted down to the flatwater and light breezes we've become so accustomed to. We breakfasted on eggs Benedict, lox, and all of the other options that anyone could want, before slipping into our expedition gear for the morning's activities. Our destination this morning was Pavlov Bay, where it is often possible to see brown bears feeding on salmon at a small waterfall and natural pool complex a quarter mile from the landing area on the beach. This is a wonderful protected bay from which to kayak or watch bears, and we had groups of guests opting for both options this morning. How often have we said that nature has a wicked sense of humor? She lets you stack most of the variables in your favor, then yanks the rug out from under you!  This morning two groups of guests sat patiently, and quietly waiting and watching for bears, while Julia, one of our naturalists, fed us thimbleberries she had gathered on the upper beach. Read More>

Jul 22, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Delos & Under Sail, Greece

We were once again swept back in time as we woke this morning at the uninhabited island of Delos, home to one of Greece’s great archaeological sites and the mythical birthplace of twins Apollo and Artemis. Delos has taken on several roles in civilization, beginning as a shrine to Apollo, a sacred sanctuary, and eventually a booming commercial center, which came to its height of power during the Hellenistic period. Now the large archaeological site remains. With a little imagination and interpretation from our local Greek guides, the magnificent city that once stood here came alive in our minds. As we walked through paths that were once streets, we admired pillars and the colossal decorative bases of statues that stood taller than some of the buildings. Read More>

Jul 22, 2016 Sea Cloud in Mediterranean

Hinlopenstretet

Svalbard is known for its wildlife. Many of us choose to come here based on the notion that we will see polar bears and walrus. This morning we saw polar bears, this afternoon we saw over 100 Walrus. Our early morning wake up call was welcomed with flinging arms and a mound of thermals hurriedly piled one on top of the other as we rushed out onto deck to see a polar bear wandering across the rocky shoreline.  Any notion of our rumbling breakfast stomachs was immediately forgotten. We were immersed as this large male bear ambled along the shoreline of Sorgfjord in the northern Hinlopenstretet. Read More>

Jul 21, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Arctic

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

 

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