The morning was covered in fog as National Geographic Explorer made her way north towards the Arctic Circle. We had an entire morning at sea, which did not disappoint. We experienced a wonderful presentation from our naturalist, Tim Martin, about the magic and wonders of ice. As if on cue, right as he finished speaking, whale blows were spotted in the distance! Everyone rushed up to the bridge to see if the whales would stick around, and they sure did. With excellent maneuvering by the bridge team, we were able to get close to have amazing looks at some humpback whales. Some of them were feeding, and we were lucky enough to see tail flukes as they dove down to feed in the depths of the ocean. And then, the most amazing thing happened. Two humpback whales approached the bow and hung out with us for what felt like ages. They swam slowly from port to starboard and back again and seemed to play like a pair of puppies, rolling over on their backs and flipping up their pectoral fins. As the whale enthusiasts we all are, we followed them diligently, running from port to starboard and back again. It was absolutely incredible to witness these glorious creatures in their element, so relaxed and unconcerned about our presence.
After we left the whales, we carried on to our afternoon destination of the island of Grimsey, the northernmost island in Iceland. We ate a hearty lunch and got into Zodiacs to visit the island. The most beautiful blue sky and sunshine welcomed us to the Arctic. Grimsey is a truly spectacular setting. We first walked to the Arctic Circle Monument where we were treated to a moving acoustic musical performance by Svavar Knutur. Afterwards, some of us walked to the eight-ton sphere that marks the true point of the Arctic Circle. Others meandered along the edges of the cliffs for amazing views of hundreds and hundreds of Atlantic puffins, nesting black-legged kittiwakes, and northern fulmars. Most of the puffins had large bill-loads of fish, ready to sneak into their burrows to feed their chicks. We took hundreds, if not thousands, of photographs, and finally the time came to head back to the ship for recap and dinner. After dinner, we had the best auditory dessert! Another performance by Svavar Knutur. His sweet singing and storytelling were the cherries on top of our most amazing day here in the north of Iceland.