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Lastest Expedition Reports

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

Inian Islands & George Island

The Inian Islands are part of the northern end of the inside passage that meets the might of the Gulf of Alaska. Luckily the power of the Pacific held back today and we were graced with calm conditions, punctuated by gentle rolling un-breaking waves. These rocky islands still have the vibrant green foliage and flora found on the mainland, but are ringed with something we have not yet seen this voyage, bull kelp. Read More>

Jul 20, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

Nafplion, Mycenae & Epidaurus, Greece

After yesterday’s peaceful day of sailing, today’s diverse schedule provided the opportunity to explore thousands of years of regional history. We headed inland in the morning, passing citrus groves and an occasional roadside stand heaped with figs, melons, and jars of honey. Our first destination was the great Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae, characterized by Homer as “rich in gold.” Home of the legendary King Agamemnon, a key figure in the Trojan War narrative, Mycenae was one of many small, independent kingdoms present in southern Greece after about 1600 BC. Our visit included a glimpse inside the stunning Treasury of Atreus, actually a tholos tomb, which remains nearly intact despite being more than 3,200 years old. Moving forward nearly a millennium, we traveled on to Epidaurus, testing the acoustics of one of the best preserved theaters of the ancient Greek world. While some took advantage of a nearby beach for an early afternoon swim, many preferred to escape the midday heat with a relaxing break aboard Sea Cloud. Read More>

Jul 20, 2016 Sea Cloud in Mediterranean

Petersburg Exploration of Muskeg, Town and LeConte Glacier

Fog lay gently across Petersburg Bay as the National Geographic Sea Lion slowly cruised into port shortly after breakfast. With expedition landing crafts afloat, we shuttled across the bay to the Petersburg muskeg on Kupriakof Island. A kid’s hike began the day with the seven children learning to eat blueberries like bears while identifying other edible, as well as poisonous berries. We then began to find several banana slugs “cruising” along the forest floor. Meanwhile parents and other adults headed out through an old-age forest discovering the diversity of flora while hiking along a Tongass National Forest constructed trail. In addition diverse flora, some hikers observed bald eagles, grouse and Swainson’s thrush.  While in the Muskeg, the Sundew insectivorous plants and plant adaptations to an anaerobic acid bog dominated the conversation. During the afternoon, a small group even got to see a brown bear wonder along the muskeg – forest vegetation transition zone. Throughout the day numerous different folks took the opportunity to flight-see across the LeConte glacier and icefield. Read More>

Jul 19, 2016 National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska

Puerto Ayora and Highlands, Santa Cruz Island

The National Geographic Endeavour is ready to anchor at Academy Bay, the village appears in the distance as we come up on deck just right before breakfast to have our first glimpse of civilization. Our expedition leader Vanessa makes an announcement: “We are ready to disembark!” so the day begins, first with a very informative visit to the Charles Darwin Research Center to learn about the several conservation programs, including the signature Breeding Center for Giant Tortoises. Read More>

Jul 19, 2016 National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

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

Sailing the Aegean

After a lovely evening sitting in Sea Cloud’s aft Blue Lagoon and spanker deck under the illuminated Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, we woke this morning to a strong northerly breeze of 22 knots and whitecaps all around us. Sea Cloud is a very stable ship, designed by the great 20th-century marine architect William Francis Gibbs and stationed in the rough waters of the North Atlantic during her WWII service because of her stability, so we didn’t feel the motion of the seas around us as Captain Komakin put us in position to set the sails for the first sailing of the voyage. Expedition leader Tom O’Brien gave a “play-by-play” of the setting of the sails, which takes about 45 minutes to an hour on a hand-sailed square-rigger like Sea Cloud. Read More>

Jul 19, 2016 Sea Cloud in Mediterranean

Surtsey & Heimaey, The Westman Islands

It was hard to decide which was more fascinating–the killer whales or the gannets. Mid-morning, our Captain spotted a group of whales in the distance; he was tipped off by the birds diving all around them. It had been a few days since we’d seen some whales, so everyone was excited to head to the bow and watch the action as we approached. We discovered there were three groups of whales, including males, females, and calves, and they were darting around, clearly feeding on something. Every now and then, one would lob its tail, lunge, or jump right out of the water. Killer whales are always a fantastic sighting, but these ones were almost shown up by the action of the seabirds all around them. A mob of gannets filled the air with movement. Gannets are large seabirds with long necks, a yellowish head and slender, pointed wings. Their feathers are so smooth, they seem to be molded from plastic. One of their special skills is a dramatic dive that begins high in the air. They fly straight down and pull their wings back at the last minute, entering the water with minimal splash and a short plume of bubbles. They look like needles making stitches across the surface of the sea. Between the whales, birds, and fish, the photographers could hardly keep up. After lunch we stopped at Heimaey, a volcanic island with a fascinating story written on the landscape. Read More>

Jul 19, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Floreana Island

Floreana is an Island with beauty, wildlife and interesting human history. Before breakfast we headed onto the beach for a short hike through a greenish-brown sand with some olivine crystals and a brackish water lagoon with waders, usually pintail ducks and black-necked stilts and others. Read More>

Jul 19, 2016 National Geographic Islander in Galápagos

Red Bluff & Lake Eva

Our third full day exploring the Alexander Archipelago of Southeast Alaska started in a very Alaskan way, with a fog that covered everything around us and created a magical atmosphere; here and there groups of Sitka spruce and western hemlock showed their tall tops above the fog looking a bit out of this world. Eventually National Geographic Sea Bird sailed out of that grayish scene into a clear and sunny day in the middle of Red Bluff and suddenly we could see every detail of the steep forested mountains around us and a beautiful waterfall. Our Captain expertly maneuvered the ship so that we could see–and feel—the cascade just a few dozen feet away from the bow. After visiting Red Bluff we entered the large Chatham Strait and pretty soon discovered a couple of humpback whales that were active at the surface and regaled us with a short show of pectoral fin-slapping and even three full body breaches! A couple of Dall’s porpoises followed us for several minutes and seemed to have a great time bow-riding the pressure wave created by the moving ship. Read More>

Jul 19, 2016 National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska

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