We awoke to an overcast sky and drizzly, mountainous scenery as we sailed into the fjord system of Krossfjord. After our first breakfast onboard National Geographic Endurance, we gathered in the Ice Lounge for a session of several meetings. Our expedition leader, Stefano Pozzi, told us about his plans to circumnavigate Svalbard and explained that today, we were seeking shelter from the strong southerly winds and rain that raged over the whole archipelago. We then listened to a mandatory Zodiac briefing, a polar bear safety talk from our weapons master, Carl Erik Kilander, and an introduction to the guidelines of AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators). This was followed by a biosecurity session, where we headed down to basecamp and cleaned our gear to avoid bringing invasive plant species to this special part of the world. Then, finally, we got out to the outer decks again and marveled at the beauty of the mighty glacier Lilliehöökbreen. This impressive glacier tongue has an uninterrupted front of six miles (ten km) in length! The overcast day accentuated the amazing hues of blues and greens in the old glacier ice, which made for some fascinating photos! Certified photo instructor Michael Nolan introduced us to smartphone photography during a very interactive session. Many of us played around with our phone cameras and discovered new features.
After another delicious meal, we headed for our first off ship activity! Our bridge team brought us into a small bay called Signehamna, which is so sheltered that we could put our inflatable, yellow kayaks into the water! Whilst some guests paddled underneath a pyramid shaped mountain with its kittiwake colony, others explored the place on land. Many climbed a small hill and enjoyed a great overview over the magnificent landscape with its peaked mountains, small and large glaciers, and the frost-patterned ground covered with some occasional higher plants and lots and lots of lichens. In the distance, a few Svalbard reindeer ruminated, whilst snow buntings and barnacle geese flew by. Some guests even managed to see an arctic fox!
Back onboard, Captain Aaron Wood invited us into the Ice Lounge. He gave a short welcome speech and introduced us to some members of his huge team. Another fantastic dinner rounded off the day as we sailed silently along the northwestern shore of Spitsbergen.