Day 9 |
Jul 13, 2012

Raudfjorden, Svalbard 

By Juan Carlos Restrepo, Geologist

Co-ordinates: N 79º44'21", E 012º14'59"
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: 6ºC
Pressure: 961 hPa
Wind: 5 knots

After an absolutely incredible night last night and a pleasant night’s sleep dreaming of polar bears, I awoke this morning with a grin on my face to a leisurely and yet busy morning at sea.

First we held a Recap & Briefing in The Theatre, which was followed by a crew drill and a cooking demonstration hosted by our Executive Chef, Christian Armster and Pastry Chef Anacleto del Prado.

We had lunch and at 13:30 my colleagues and I were ready to go ashore in Alicehamna, on the east coast of Raudfjorden. This 12 mile long fjord is located in Northwest Spitsbergen National Park and this particular bay was named Alicehamna after the Princesse Alice, the ship Prince Albert I of Monaco used during his oceanographic expeditions to Svalbard from 1898 to 1907.

It was here, in the far north-west, that Willem Barentsz and his crew discovered new land on 17 June 1596. They described the land as being “rugged for the most part, and steep, mostly mountains and jagged peaks, from which we gave it the name of Spitsbergen”. In the centuries that followed, the large number of bowhead whales found here attracted whalers from the Netherlands and various other countries, and the area became a place of high activity, both on the shore and in the surrounding sea.

The landscape has been shaped by the glaciers, which erode the rock so that the mountains end up with sharp crests. The bedrock belongs to the old basement and consists of crystalline rocks such as granite, gneiss and migmatite. Younger, reddish Devonian sandstones and conglomerates occur on the south and east side of Raudfjorden. It is this “Old Red Sandstone” that gives this fjord its name and it is over those rocks that we walked today.

Once ashore, we took our guests on guided interpretive walks up to a hill behind the landing site and down to a frozen lake on the other side, enjoying the beautiful scenery, geological formations like block fields, troll bread, frost heaving and stone rings, plus the ever present birdlife.

We then came back on board and at 7 pm our guests came up to The Theatre to the Captain’s Farewell Party. This voyage is sadly coming to an end, but we are very satisfied with what we have done and seen and all our guests seem to be very happy. It has been a trip to remember.