Krossfjord is on the west coast of the island of Svalbard, near the area where the last remains of the Gulf Stream give their final warming effects to the local waters. This makes it a productive and slightly less icy body of water. However, the stunning tidewater glaciers that have carved the fjord still supply the area with massive blocks of blue and cerulean icebergs. We began our day at Lilliehook Glacier, at the far northern end of Krossfjord. Stretching 11 km (five miles) wide at the calving face, it was a massively impressive sight to enjoy as we ate breakfast. Afterwards, we navigated south to the Fourteenth of July Glacier, named by the Duke of Monaco after Bastille Day, the national day of France. We explored the bay by Zodiac. Encountering walruses on ice and waterline views of icebergs were definitely highlights. In the afternoon, we turned north and sailed towards the polar pack ice, located to the north of the Svalbard archipelago.
National Geographic Resolution
Tak tak tak tak…yes, the weather forecast was right, and the magic atmosphere of last night’s sunshine has left in its place a grey and overcast sky. Pulled by gravity, the tiny raindrops reach the decks of National Geographic Resolution as she sails through the waters of Hornsund, the southernmost fjord in the island of Spitsbergen. Tak tak tak tak… Nevertheless, the mood onboard is one of intrepid polar explorers, and we enjoy views of ice on the mountain slopes. The 30 knot winds do not make it easy to stay out on deck, but for those brave enough to expose themselves to the Arctic conditions, this is a great opportunity. Tak tak tak tak… The first part of the morning passes with important briefings from expedition leader Stefano Pozzi about AECO guidelines for traveling in polar bear habitats. This is followed by the biosecurity process: we want to make sure we are not importing any seeds to the Svalbard environment. As we sail by the head of the fjord near a glacier known as Brepollen, our bridge team spots a majestic polar bear walking on fast ice. We are all excited by this amazing sight so early in our trip, and we enjoy watching this incredible animal in his natural habitat. Thanks to today’s weather, we can appreciate the tough conditions endured by the species who live here. Tak tak tak tak… After a lovely lunch, it’s time to prepare ourselves for the first landing of this voyage. We go for some beautiful hikes in a place known as Gnålodden. This is a cliff, home to thousands of nesting kittywakes. Gnålodden also has historical importance since we can visit a very well preserved trappers’ hut. Our sense of wonder is awakened by a few Arctic foxes that feel perfectly at ease in our presence as they hunt for eggs below the cliff. Watching them running and moving around is a real treat that few people are lucky enough to experience. We are so thrilled with the experience that we don’t even notice the rain has stopped: its sound is now replaced by the wind and the voices of thousands of birds: kittiwake, kittiwake, kittiwake… Upon returning to the ship, we enjoy a beautiful speech by Captain Martin followed by a welcome cocktail and a lovely dinner. As we sail out of the fjord, a few rays of sun start shining upon us and the wind drops down a bit. Maybe this is only our impression, but never mind. We are in Svalbard. The night won’t come.