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Day 12 - July 11, 2008 - Tromso, Norway

By Claudia Holgate, Environmental Lecturer

Co-ordinates: 69o38’57’’, 18 o 57’ 46’’ E
Weather: – Beautiful blue sky, cool and crisp with a light wind and a few clouds
Temperature: 52.2 o F/11.3 o C
Wind: 20km/h SW direction

After a rather rough ride south past Bear Island yesterday, we continued our voyage back to the lovely city of Tromso, Norway. As this was a day at sea, we were allowed a sleep-in, as our first activity was a lecture on Plate Tectonics by our Geologist, Stefan, at 10:00am. Plate Tectonics is a relatively new theory on how the Earth’s crust is formed. Various plates are constantly moving, sometimes causing areas of growth, and sometimes areas of subduction, where plates move under one another. Stefan explained how this causes earthquakes and volcanoes, which is very relevant to the area we are currently in, especially Iceland, which is an island of volcanoes. His talk ended by showing us what the Earth has looked like over the past 500 million years and how all the different plates have moved into the current locations.

Without too much of a break, we had a photographic overview of our voyage by Camille, our onboard photographer. What an extraordinary trip though the eyes of such a talented photographer. Camille managed to capture the essence of the voyage, not just the places we have been, but the spirit of the guests and staff. With amazing photos of glaciers, polar bears, and walrus as well as the ship and all its operations, all the guests had a great time reminiscing about the past 12 days. Most of the photos will be on the CDs given to guests before leaving the ship, so everybody was very excited.

After Camille’s presentation, everybody headed off to the dining room for another exquisite lunch, our last, aboard the Prince Albert II.

It is always with a feeling of sadness when one has to complete the last activities to wrap up such a successful trip, so handing back the rubber boots that have been our wet landing friends for all the exciting Zodiac landings, was just another reminder of what we have all experienced over the past fortnight.

With a good wind and currents behind the ship, we made extra time and reached the wonderful green fjords of Norway while most of us were eating our lunch, giving us magnificent views from the large observation windows in the dining room.

We arrived at Tromso at about 2:00pm, with the Captain announcing that we could see the Arctic cathedral on our Port side and the ship Queen Victoria on our Starboard side. We arrived three hours earlier than our expected arrival at 5:00pm, thus allowing us the chance to get out and see the town as soon as we had cleared customs. Most of us split up into small groups, some with our newly made friends to explore this lovely town of wooden houses and quaint shops. Many people walked over the extraordinary bridge close to the ship, where they could go on a cable car ride to the top of the mountain for fantastic vistas over Tromso. Other guests wandered into town where they visited the Polar museum or stopped at one of the many sidewalk cafes where they enjoyed a cup of coffee and the clear, crisp weather.

Back to the ship at 7:30pm for our final dinner, where everyone could talk about the amazing experience that we have all had together and to say our goodbyes to new friends and staff members, who have all played a role in making the voyage as special as it has been. Those of us who still had the stamina went up to the Panorama Lounge where we enjoyed the relaxing music of our talented musician, Daryl, for the last few hours before retiring for the night.

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