Day 7 |
Jul 06, 2008

Cruise & Explore

By Chris Srigley, General Naturalist

This morning’s wake up call onboard the Prince Albert II came earlier than expected for those of us whose suites are located on the Explorer Deck. Rather than the normal tones of the speaker system, it was the sound of the ice scraping down the sides of the ship. We filled the dining room for breakfast and hurriedly gathered our belongings from our suites to head out on deck in search of the mighty Polar Bear. Within minutes, tiny dots were picked up along the shoreline, some a mile and a half away. Just not close enough to make this the viewing we had hoped for.

As our morning progressed, time was spent on the decks scanning for birds, seals and, of course, the Polar Bear. With the air still and the sun shinning, smiles were on everyone’s faces as they joined Captain Uli Demil and his crew onboard the Prince Albert II’s bridge for its morning opening.

Through the morning, we all filled The Theatre for Dr. Claudia Holgate’s lecture entitled “Weather and Climate in the Arctic”, which explained weather patterns in the Arctic region and why some areas remain ice-free. Guests enjoyed this informative presentation, leaving them with a discussion topic for the back deck as we head out for bullion and to debate in the warmth of the sun.

Pushing through the ice, the Prince Albert II made way for a large lead where we were offered a tour in the Zodiacs through the ice. We were taken out in two groups to enjoy Harp Seals, Little Auks, Kittiwakes, Arctic Skuas, and Brunich’s Guillemots. Several pieces of driftwood, likely from Siberian logging, were also spotted within the ice. During the ice cruise, our Expedition Leader, Hotel Director and an assistant headed out in their own Zodiac with chocolate covered strawberries and champagne for us. One by one, each Zodiac would pull alongside under some story, which foiled us, so we were pleasantly surprised for our toast to the Arctic!

Back onboard, our briefing and recap began in The Theatre, discussing our plans for tomorrow and our hopes for encountering Polar Bear. Once recap was over, we headed for the open decks, keeping our binoculars trained on the horizon. Nobody wants to miss the chance to see Polar Bears. With that, Jan, Geir, Brent and Chris have decided that each will take a two-hour shift between 10 p.m. this evening and 6 a.m. tomorrow morning as to be sure we don’t miss out on anything.

With our stomachs grumbling and ready for dinner, there was one last event to be taken care of – the Venetian Society cocktail party! Our Venetian Society guests joined us in the Observation Lounge for cocktails and a toast in celebration of their time with us on Silversea vessels. Congratulations to all!

Tomorrow promises to be another exciting day in Svalbard.