Against all odds, today we had incredibly good weather at Flatey Island. It was warm and sunny, and some of our staff members and guests were able to wander around in just t-shirts. That doesn’t happen every day in Iceland!
The sheer cliffs of Latrabjarg loomed over us as we sailed along the west coast of Iceland. The air was a flurry of life as fulmars, common guillemots, razorbills, puffins, and kittiwakes soared and buzzed around us. The noise of thousands upon thousands of birds returning to the sheer cliffs was a beautiful assault while the fresh sea air battered our faces out on deck. Fulmars wheeled around the monkey deck, showing a lazy interest in the humans onboard. The cliffs themselves were awash with green; the guano deposited by generations of birds acts as fertilizer for the vegetation sprawled across the hillside.
A thin layer of fog shrouded the troll seat mountain tops of Isafjordur as National Geographic Explorer approached this morning. Ready or not, we were launching back into civilization by coming alongside the port and heading out onto a dry dock, followed by a variety of bus tours.
After a couple of days of dense fog, the weather gods looked kindly upon us today. The morning fog quickly burned off, allowing us to get ashore. We explored the stunning Nansen Fjord, seeing polar bear footprints and paddling kayaks among icebergs under blue skies and surrounded by towering mountains.
Shortly after 10:00 yesterday evening, as we traveled south from Nanson Fjord, and just when most of us were preparing for bed, a soft voice called over the speakers: “We have a bear on the ice ahead.” All thoughts of sleep were instantly dismissed, and we quietly made our way to the deck for observations and photos. The bear was quite far in the distance, but National Geographic Explorer slowly, quietly, and steadily inched forward.
Little did we know what was in store for us when we woke up this morning. It was a serene, magical morning in the sweet embrace of the fog. The kind of scene that demanded an appreciative, silent awe. Everyone on the bridge and the bow was speechless as we watched glorious icebergs sail past. The fog blurred the horizon lines and the ice appeared to float in a mystical place somewhere between the heavens and the Earth. We had arrived at the mouth of Nansen Fjord.
Sea days can often be subdued and contemplative. Today, however, was neither of those. Not long after breakfast, we reached our first sea ice, which was covered with harp seals. As we pushed on toward Greenland, we encountered many more seals as well as humpback, blue, and fin whales. The rest of the day was filled with presentations and National Geographic Explorer’s world-famous pancakes—of which I had three!
As of 6:30 a.m. National Geographic Orion cruises northward in bright sunlight over the shining, royal blue Bering Sea. We are accompanied by a host of black-legged kittiwakes and northern fulmars that seem to be acting as our guides. Some of us are having a much deserved lie-in after the revelry of last night’s amazing talent show put on by our crew.