Jun 23, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer
Aloha from Arctic Svalbard. We woke up to the fog slowly dissipating off the Van Mijenfjorden. A view of Kapp Amsterdam and the loading ports of Svea Mine opened up. At its most productive, this Norwegian-owned coal-mining operation was exporting 4 million tons a year. This extraction enterprise was the only one to make a profit in Svalbard. The nearly 400 workers were on shift for one to two weeks at a time and then would return home by snowmobile, boat, or small plane to Longyearbyen for the same amount of time.
In the afternoon, we left the ship via Zodiac to hike at Fagerstaneset, a point located directly across the fjord of Bellsund from the mining port. Onshore, we were followed on our nature trek by curious caribou. We forded glacial runoff and spotted both polar bear and Arctic fox tracks.
The day ended with the recap in the lounge followed by a dinner of reindeer casserole. The evening was quite festive, and the highlight was a performance by The Spice Boys, a pop music cover band made up of crew members.
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