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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

The Arctic Ocean

When we hear the stories of the great explorers, those who ventured out into the unknown, far from certainty and ever closer to peril, the tales often finish in glory. This glory might be a story of survival after an encounter with a brutal and newly discovered land, or even some heroism where a man gave his life for another. What is too frequently left out are the details of the days, moments where the entire crew sits in silence with the sea as the moisture hanging in the fog painted their faces. In a similar mood, after a night travelling north from Svalbard, a place already well above the Arctic Circle, National Geographic Orion breached into new territory in search of the white bear. Expectations were high, as they are for all who come to these lands to see what is arguably the most touted carnivore on our planet, but as with the explorers of old, we encountered a wall of fog. Read More>

Jul 20, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Arctic

Mushamna and Moffen Island

Barely 48 hours have passed since we touched down on the tarmac in Longyearbyen and already we are feeling immersed in the Arctic and the diverse environments of Svalbard. Having spent yesterday bound by high fjords and impressive glacial ice faces, today we wandered across broad tundra and sailed north across open sea.  Our morning was spent exploring the wide expanses of Mushamna in Woodfjord. Read More>

Jul 19, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Arctic

Magdalenefjord & Bjornfjord

Surrounded by majestic mountains, tall glaciers, and magnificent nature we found ourselves in Trinity Harbour for our first landing of the voyage. Trinity Harbour is an old English whaling station from the 1600’s. Basking in the Svalbard sunshine and enjoying the tranquility of Magdalenefjord, it was hard to imagine what must have been rather more destitute scenes when Trinity Harbour was still a working whaling station all those hundreds of years ago. Today our walk along the beach was our chance to step back into history as we strolled past the four remaining blubber ovens as well as the largest burial site on Svalbard, which contains 130 graves from the whaling era. Read More>

Jul 18, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Arctic

Poolepynten, Svalbard

As we pulled into our anchorage this morning, a blue whale surfaced just ahead of the ship. But we will come back to that later. Our destination for the morning was Poolepynten. Read More>

Jul 16, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Arctic

Woodfjord and “The North-West Corner”, Svalbard

After our almost surreal day in the ice yesterday, we are once again heading towards land, and for the first time this voyage, we are traveling south! The morning destination is the large fjord system, Woodfjorden, in the northern part of the island of Spitsbergen. The weather is fairly warm and pleasant, with low-hanging clouds, and it all gets that much more interesting when the PA system brings Doug’s voice out to every corner of the ship: “POLAR BEAR! A mother with a cub!” Once again we rush out to watch these magical creatures, as they just stroll down the beach, clearly on a mission somewhere unknown to us. After some more breakfast and sorting through more pictures of furry creatures, the expedition staff has finally cleared us a landing site and are welcoming everyone ashore for a bit of leg stretch or even a short hike. The landing site is called Mushamna, Mice-Harbour, and here we find one of the best preserved trapping stations still standing in Svalbard, and as we get there, it turns out that there are “locals” there to greet us! And what a meeting. It is in fact the former trapper himself that is at the cabin. He built the station himself and spent a number of years here, and now he is in the cabin to spend the summer with a good friend and his nephew. They all tell stories about the history of the place and show us the station as only the architect himself could do. The landing also offers good sightings of birdlife and plants as there are red-throated divers on nest, arctic terns, and some beautiful moss campion. As we make our way back in the Zodiacs there is something going on, as the marina deck is full of equipment and boats! Everything makes sense when the PA announces that the daredevils among guests, staff, and crew are invited to do “the polar plunge.” In total 16 from among us took a dive into the blue at 79 ̊North! While lunch is served, our bridge team takes the National Geographic Orion out of Woodfjorden, and  next on the schedule is Smeerenburgfjorden on the north-west corner of Spitsbergen island. Read More>

Jul 15, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Arctic

Along the Ice Edge, Svalbard VIDEO

The sun was shining, the water was calm and flat, the sky was bright blue - what a gorgeous morning! As we savored our breakfasts we heard the announcement “a bear has been spotted!” And there he was - just in front of the ship. Read More>

Jul 14, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Arctic

Bråsvellbreen & Austfonna, Norway

After yesterday’s - not most favorable weather - we woke up this morning with beautiful sun shining over the impressive 80-feet ice cliffs of Bråsvellbreen. Right after breakfast we headed out for zodiac cruises, trying to wrap our heads around the fact that we were actually standing in front of Austfonna: the world’s third largest ice cap, featuring a glacier front over 120 miles long. The weather was literally perfect and a team of 8 zodiacs left the marina deck to explore stunning waterfalls shooting out of the ice front and impressive blue icebergs lying everywhere around the National Geographic Orion. Read More>

Jul 13, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Arctic

Russebukta, Edgeoya Island, Svalbard

After a hard earned night, National Geographic Orion continued to head north into the cold embrace of the Barents Sea. In truth, there were two parts to our trip. The first being a joyful and fair weathered exploration of the Norwegian Coast. The second, and the goal—the Svalbard archipelago. Through the mist of the morning, land came in site. As land ho was called, some still debated whether or not it was the clouds playing tricks, but soon it was undeniable that we had arrived. This was not simply another Arctic jaunt, this was National Geographic Orion’s first time in Arctic waters, spurning the curiosity of all onboard. Russebukta was our first destination. Read More>

Jul 12, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Arctic

Bjørnøya

Where warmer seawater meets colder seawater you will find warmer air meeting colder air. This is exactly what happens at polar fronts. Pinpointing a polar front, however, is a challenging task: They are constantly moving. Their location depends on an array of variables. Temperature, winds, ocean currents, large scale oceanic processes and so on and so forth. There are a few key giveaways though—fog, mist, and rain are three of them. So what did we find today as we sailed further and further north from Trømso in northern Norway to Svalbard, the high Arctic Archipelago that will be the basis for the next week of our expedition? Fog? Mist? Rain? Yes, yes, and yes. Read More>

Jul 11, 2016 National Geographic Orion in Arctic

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