|78°31.0’N / 012°50.6’E
|Temperatura del Aire:
First day of activities!
After departing Longyearbyen, we sailed overnight in a very calm sea towards the fjord where we would undertake our first activities: St. Jons Fjord. We dropped anchor very late in the night. Our ship was surrounded by a very atmospheric landscape, the sky was partially overcast and all the landscape around us could be described using only two colours: white and black. The peaks around us disappeared into the mist and the silence was impressive.
It was amongst this landscape where we spent the night. The day broke, covered in mist and fog. At some point we had fog and snow to the east and clear skies to the west. This morning Ali briefed our passengers about how to board zodiacs, polar bear safety and general behaviour ashore. While these briefings happened, the staff got ready to prepare the landing site in the northeast mouth of St. Johns Fjord, next to an old hunting cabin.
Staff organised a meticulous reconnaissance of the area, checking for the presence of polar bears. Once this was complete, we started with the landing operation. For this morning, we offered four options. A long walk lead by Elizabeth and Mattias, a medium walk led by Annelou and Fiona, a medium leisure walk led by Eduardo and Emily and a leisurely walk led by Ali and Carina.
The aim of the first three options was to give passengers a closer look to the front of the glacier located in the North part of the fjord, the Gaffelbreen glacier (from the Norwegian Gaffel, fork and breen glacier). The name is due to the convergence of two subsidiary glaciers at the front.
The first two walks went along the high moraine that allows akin of an aerial view of the glacier front and the fast ice that accumulates near its front.
The third walk went around the moraine keeping a low level. They reached the fast ice and from there they had a superb view of the glacier front.
The last walk enjoyed a view of the shore, near the landing site, walking around the area exploring for flowers, rocks, and views of the surrounding area. We all had the chance to see numerous birds such as ptarmigans, geese, common eiders, snow buntings and a couple of guillemots.
The landing party had the chance to have a quick view of the hut in this location. It was built in the late 60's and was used by the late trappers that came to Spitsbergen. The hut offers perspective to the visitors about how hard the life of these trappers was.
During the late morning, the weather improved and the overcast sky turned into a blue sky.
While lunch was being served, our bridge team repositioned the ship towards our next destination, Poolepynten.
For Poolepynten, we planned to do a landing aiming to have a closer look at walruses.
We arrived at the landing site shortly after 14:30 and very soon started our activities. Both groups had the chance to land successfully and to spend a good quality time with the colony. The whole landing occurred under very favourable circumstances and offered both, great views of the animals to our guests and fantastic views of the jagged landscape of the islands of Spitsbergen and Prins Karls Forland.
We returned to the ship shortly after 18:00, just in time for our daily recap, and a very well deserved meal in the evening. We hove anchor and headed south south-east first, aiming to turn around Prins Karls Forland Island.
At around 21:30, our skippers and watchman spotted blows in the horizon and as we came closer we had a phenomenal close encounter with three blue whales and a few humpback whales. Our officers and captain, maneuvered our ship in such a way so we could come closer but remain a safe distance from the whales where we could see them better. The encounter was memorable since many of our passengers managed to see the tiny dorsal fin of the blue whales on numerous occasions and a few even managed to see the enormous fluke of this giant of the seas.
After enjoying the whales for about 45 minutes, we headed further north to our next destination: Kongsfjord.