After much anticipation, we finally found ourselves in the Arctic ice. For the past two days, everyone aboard National Geographic Explorer has seen the occasional glimpse of drifting icebergs but hadn’t seen a proper congregation until just past lunch. We all heard that wildlife is dependent upon the ice in most cases, and that idea was proven to be true quite quickly.
Within 20 minutes of reaching the ice, a bridge officer spotted a polar bear in the distance. As we headed closer, we realized there was a mother and a cub as well as a male off in a different direction. Due to ice conditions, we gambled and moved in closer to the male. We were greatly rewarded by its curious nature. Our bear experts estimated that this male was nearly five years old and hadn’t yet developed the caution typical among older individuals, hence its decision to approach within 30 yards of our ship. We were ecstatic and so grateful for this encounter. Our amazing photos were made even better in the incredible light—the sky and reflections were lovely. It was a special day and there were an exceptional number of smiles carrying throughout the ship.