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OTL11-22, trip log, Around Spitsbergen, In the realm of Polar Bear & Ice

by Oceanwide Expeditions


Day 1: Embarkation: Longyearbyen

Embarkation: Longyearbyen
Date: 09.08.2022
Position: 78°14.1‘N, 015°37.8‘E
Wind: Light
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temperature: +14

Today was the day! Our long-awaited Arctic adventure was about to begin (a few years wait for some of us!) our story begins in Longyearbyen, the largest settlement in the Arctic Archipelago of Svalbard, where it was time to board M/V Ortelius, the ship that would be our home for the next nine days. What would we see on our travels? We could only guess at this stage, but the smiles on the faces of guests as they arrived showed the excitement everyone was feeling. It was a little bit of a cloudy day alongside the pier in Longyearbyen and at 16:00pm guests arrived ready to board for our epic trip. The expedition staff waited on the pier to welcome us aboard and assist with our luggage before guiding us to reception to check in. We had a little time to settle in and get our bearings on board the vessel whilst the bridge team made preparations for the ship to depart from the pier. With everyone aboard, we were called to the lecture room to attend the first of our mandatory briefings; a ship safety briefing from the chief officer and house rules from the assistant hotel manager. The chief officer instructed everyone on what to do in an emergency and how to recognise the various alarms. This included the instructions on what to do in the case of an abandon ship alarm including how to put on our emergency life jackets. On completion of the briefings, we took part in an abandon ship drill and gathered at our assigned muster stations on the sounding of the alarm. Then it was time for the Captain’s welcome and our second briefing of the evening. We all enjoyed raising a glass of our chosen beverage in celebration of starting the voyage whilst Captain Ernesto Barria introduced himself and welcomed everybody. It was then time for dinner so we made our way to the restaurant on deck four for the first time. A delicious dinner buffet awaited us with a variety of dishes prepared by Head Chef Heinz and his galley team, served by our friendly dining room staff. After dinner we had some free time to explore the ship and wander the decks where we spotted our first wildlife. This included a couple of Minke Whales, four Fin Whales lunge-feeding and even our very first Polar Bear!!! What a start!!!! Now it was time to head to our cabins to get a good night of rest before our first full day of the trip tomorrow.

Day 2: Lilliehöökbreen and Fjortende Julibukta (14th of July)

Lilliehöökbreen and Fjortende Julibukta (14th of July)
Date: 10.08.2022
Position: 79°09.6’ N, 011°40.5’ E
Wind: Light
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temperature: +13

We woke up on our first full day of expedition to our expedition leader, Claudio’s wake up call, reminding us to get up and seize the day! We started the day with a hearty breakfast to get us going, then we wrapped up warm and headed out onto the decks. Overnight the ship had taken us to a huge glacier by the name of Lilliehöökbreen whose front spanned the entire edge of the bay. We spent about two hours watching the glacier, we saw some small calvings and lots of Arctic Terns flying around. Then it was time to get to the serious business of safety briefings. We started first in the lecture room with the zodiac and polar bear briefings. We were taught how to enter and exit the zodiacs safely and how to put on our zodiac life jackets. We then relocated to the bar for an AECO video on the rules of behaviour when we are ashore in the Arctic. Finally with all our safety briefings completed it was time for lunch and we were ready to start our expedition activities. Whilst we were at lunch the ship was repositioned at a new location called Julibukta (14th July). Here we were supposed to have our first landing but our second Polar Bear was spotted nearby so we went for a zodiac cruise to have a look at him/her instead! We all loaded into the zodiacs for the first time, our guides masterfully navigating us away from the ship. First, we stopped by some wonderful bird cliffs and got our first sighting of Atlantic puffins. Several of these beautiful birds were roosting in the cliff face and we floated around for sometime watching them go about their day. Then we worked our way down towards the glacier front, the brash ice thickening as we got closer. We weaved in and out of the bigger pieces of ice until we came up to the looming ice cliff, marbled blue and white in unimaginable shapes. As we pushed through the brash ice, many birds could be spotted flying overhead or resting on the ice. Kittiwakes and Black Guillemots were spotted in reasonable number. In the next moment a sound like a gun shot goes off, and we turn to see a large piece of ice falling from the glacier. The glacier was calving!! The piece of ice hit the water and made a big splash, sending up water and small pieces of ice up into the air. Moments later a small wave came from the site of the calving and we gently bobbed over the top. We were lucky enough to see and hear several calvings while at this site and soon it was time to head back to Ortelius. Just as we started pushing our way back to the ship, George called up on the radio to say he had found a bear wandering the shore line on the other side of the cliff. So we settled down in our zodiacs for a short ride around the corner to see if we could spot the bear. We were lucky! We rounded the corner and saw the bear taking a stroll along the beach. The zodiacs made a snake so as not to disturb the bear and we gently cruised passed. The bear was very busy, walking around the cliffs, rolling in the dirt and looking out to sea. When he/she was finally done with their wanderings the bear laid down and went to sleep on top of the cliff face. What a great way to finish a zodiac cruise! It was time to head back to the ship. We turned around and motored back to the ship in beautiful sun light. We all disembarked our zodiacs then there was a little time to change before we had to head up to the bar for the daily recap. Claudio gave us the plan for tomorrow and then we had a wonderful introduction to whales talk from Hazel. Finally it was time for dinner, where we spent the evening regaling our new friends with our tales of the day before turning in for a well earned rest.

Day 3: Monaco Breen, Texas Bar & Moffen Island

Monaco Breen, Texas Bar & Moffen Island
Date: 11.08.2022
Position: 79°31.9’ N, 012°24.9’ E
Wind: NE5
Weather: Fog
Air Temperature: +8

Our day started with a wonderful breakfast in the restaurant to prepare ourselves for the adventures of the day. We arrived at Monacobreen, named after Albert 1st duke of Monaco, who was responsible for formulating and financing expeditions to create navigational charts for this glacier and the surrounding area for the first time in 1906. We experienced lovely calm sea conditions for our zodiac cruise along this spectacular glacier front and enjoyed being driven through the brash ice. The overcast skies gave perfect conditions for photographing the ice with the grey clouds emphasizing the blue hues of the icebergs. The glacier was very active, and we witnessed numerous calving events (from a safe distance) with huge segments of ice crashing down into the water. We heard the rumbling of ice deep within the glacier, an atmospheric and awe-inspiring sound described as ‘white thunder’. We marveled at the power and beauty of this gigantic frozen river of ice making its way to the sea from 14km away up in the mountains, where it began as snowflakes hundreds of years ago, falling one on top of the other. For the wildlife lovers, this morning gave good birding including Arctic Terns, Black-Legged Kittiwakes, Northern Fulmar, Glaucous Gull, Black Guillemot and Little Auk. The star of the morning for our feathered friends though were numerous Ivory Gulls, a much sought-after species for many guests who visit this region. These beautiful birds have pure white plumage with a blue tinged beak with a yellow tip. In terms of mammals, some Bearded Seals were observed swimming. After two hours it was time to go back to the ship for some lunch. Our guides battled the brash ice and larger pieces of ice to get us back safely to Ortelius just in time to warm up with a hearty meal. During mealtime Ortelius relocated to Texas Bar. On arrival, once the expedition team had established there were no polar bears around, guests were taken ashore with zodiacs. On land, people took part in a longer hike, medium walk or simply enjoyed the shoreline and Texas Bar cabin. We admired the vegetation and plant life, especially the Moss Campion, Mountain Avens and beautiful Polar Campion. We avoided a territorial pair of Arctic Skua as best we could; they evidently had chicks in the area and were understandably defending their brood from us as a perceived threat. Alongside the flora and fauna, we enjoyed a lovely waterfall and spectacular views across the bay looking back towards Monacobreen. All hikers finished their respective hikes at the landing site ready to head back to Ortelius for recap and then dinner. Jacob gave a wonderful recap about his work in glaciology and the future of our dear glaciers. To finish off the day we sailed above 80° North! We celebrated with a happy hour in the bar and were excited to pass nearby to the island of Moffen. This island is a protected Walrus haul out and whilst maintain the mandatory distance we were thrilled to observe at least forty of these gigantic beasts doing what they do best; laying around together in a big pile of blubber and tusks! They are surely one of the most iconic, entertaining, and captivating animals of the Arctic and we hoped we would see them again in the coming days.

Day 4: Alkefjellet and Kinnvika

Alkefjellet and Kinnvika
Date: 12.08.2022
Position: 79°32.9’ N, 017°41.0’ E
Wind: Light air
Weather: Foggy/overcast
Air Temperature: +4

After our usual wake-up call from Claudio, followed of course by fuelling ourselves for the day at the breakfast buffet, we were in for a truly incredible experience. Although we couldn’t see it from the ship due to thick fog, Ortelius had arrived near Alkefjellet; towering cliffs where 60,000 pairs of Brünnich’s Guillemot (aka Thick-billed Murre) come to breed every spring/summer. Flat calm waters made for a pleasant zodiac journey over to the cliffs and as we edged closer through the mist they loomed into view. A real ‘wow’ moment! Meltwater cascaded down in numerous waterfalls of different sizes, running down the tabular blocks of rock. The ledges here, alongside creating beautiful waterfeatures, provide the perfect nesting area for seabirds. The most common nesters here, the aforementioned Brünnich’s Guillemots, reunite with their partner, whom they have been separate from during the non-breeding period of autumn and winter, spending that time far out at sea feeding. After arriving back at the cliffs they mate and, a few days later, the female lays a single egg. The pair incubate the egg over a period of 26-39 days and once it hatches take turns to feed the chick until it fledges. Seeing around 120,000 birds perched on the ledges of rock, flying to and from their nests, with yet more resting/feeding out on the water, was truly unbelievable! Alongside with the sight of the guillemots, there were also smiles all round as we listened to their cackling calls which sounded like laughter. Kittiwakes, Glaucous Gulls and Black Guillemots were also seen as we journeyed the length of the cliffs. Some guests were lucky enough to have a brief sighting of an Arctic Fox as it ran along high up the mountainside. These animals are hard to spot, but seabird colonies are a good place to look for them as there is so much prey available in this area at this time of year. The fog had now cleared and it was time to head back to Ortelius for lunch before our afternoon activity. The morning’s excitement wasn’t over yet though: as we began travelling away from Alkefjellet a Polar Bear was spotted resting on the mountainside! Now our bear count for the trip was up to three! After lunch the Expedition Team scouted at Kinnvika to make sure it was safe for us to go ashore. This site is the location of huts used in a joint Swedish/Finnish venture which took place as part of the Arc de Meridian expedition to measure the curvature of the earth (and thus proved that it is not perfectly spherical, but flattened at both poles). Since then, the huts have also been used for other research in this remote polar region and are well maintained to this day. Guests split into three groups for a gentle hike around the huts and surrounding shore area with a fourth option to remain at the beach landing site. This Arctic tundra landscape had flowering plants such as Svalbard Poppy, Tufted Saxifrage and Drooping Saxifrage. In terms of fauna, Arctic Terns flew elegantly along the water’s edge, occasionally stooping into a dive to catch small marine invertebrates to eat. Expedition Leader Claudio, who has both considerable expertise and interest in the tiny creatures of the sea delighted in showing guests a cup containing Copepods (oar-footed invertebrates) which are a food source for the largest creatures on earth: the great whales. The fog started to close in so the landing was ended a little prematurely, but everyone had happily enjoyed some time exploring ashore and were content to return on board. All agreed it was a wonderful day and after recap, dinner and a couple of drinks in the bar it was time to get some rest ready for tomorrow’s adventures.

Day 5: Pack-ice!

Date: 13.08.2022
Position: 82°18.4’ N, 015°35.4’ E
Wind: NW
Weather: Open
Air Temperature: +2

When we awoke this morning, it felt like we had arrived in another world. In the early morning Ortelius had reached the edge of the sea ice and we would spend the day journeying through it! Huge, flat pieces of ice split, creaked and shifted as we passed through them; we marvelled at the beautiful shapes, colours and patterns of this frozen seascape. When we were enjoying our lovely breakfast, we heard the voice of our expedition leader Claudio that there was a Polar Bear on the ice, close to the ship! Most people went to the outside decks to enjoy watching this impressive animal walking on the ice. First, the bear walked towards the ship, but after half an hour, it decided to leave us, so we could finish our breakfast. Half an hour later we spotted another Polar Bear, this time a female followed by her cub! But they were very far away and only people with good binoculars were able to see them. They were walking very fast, away from the ship, so it was not possible to have a closer look. But there was more luck for us. There were Northern Fulmars, Black-legged Kittiwakes (also the young ones) and Guillemots (Black and Brünnich’s) flying around the ship. The avian star of the day though was the white Ivory Gull. It was a quiet day for the seals, but luckily there was a present from the restaurant team. To warm up, we got hot chocolate with rum at the bow of the ship. Just before we set sail to the south again, we spotted another polar bear walking on the ice. It was far away, but it was our fourth polar bear of the day. Alongside enjoying the incredible views and wildlife outside, the Expedition Team offered a varied programme of lectures. Hazel gave the first talk of the day about polar bears and later in the afternoon, Jakub gave a lecture about sea ice. The two lectures were very well picked, because we saw polar bears on the sea ice! While the bridge team skilfully navigated Ortelius south again, the expedition team talked about the plans for tomorrow. Besides that, they gave information about whales, seals and dolphins and they told the story about the special journey Andree took with its balloon. It was a beautiful day, full of ice and wildlife, but today we also reached our northern most point of the voyage: 82°19.5’ N, 015°52.2’ E. We wondered what excitement and new experiences would await us tomorrow! At the end of the afternoon the fog became thicker and the bridge team skilfully navigated Ortelius back into open water, heading Southwards. We wondered what excitement and new experiences would await us tomorrow!

Day 6: Hingstsletta, Wahlburgøya and Brasvelbreen

Hingstsletta, Wahlburgøya and Brasvelbreen
Date: 14.08.2022
Position: 79°32.6’ N, 012°30.3’ E
Wind: WSW
Weather: Fog
Air Temperature: +8

Our day started with a wake-up call from Expedition Leader Claudio at 7:15am, but he wasn’t just wishing us a good morning he had news to share: SIX Polar Bears had been seen on shore at Hingstsletta! Plan A for this morning, a hike at nearby Faksevagen, had to be abandoned in favour of zodiac cruising to observe these magnificent animals. Besides wanting to enjoy the fantastic view of the bears, for safety, we certainly couldn’t go ashore with them around! The bears were eating, or resting in the vicinity of, a carcass. This appeared to be a dead walrus. Given that the bears were eating and not in any hurry to leave the area, we also had time to eat breakfast whilst the Expedition Team readied the zodiacs. Just before 8:30am we were dressed ready in our waterproofs and warm layers, excitedly boarding the boats, preparing our cameras or looking through binoculars at the bears as we headed closer, snaking in a line with the zodiacs. What followed was an incredible experience! A female bear with two cubs were tearing into the meat of the carcass. Based on their size these were first year cubs, meaning they would have emerged from their maternal den in spring 2021. Both youngsters looked to be in very good condition, their mother was a little on the thin side but also appeared healthy and had clearly been doing a great job looking after her twins. Nearby another female was sleeping with her single cub which was much larger than the other two; this one is certainly a second-year cub, meaning it was born in winter 2020. They remained inactive during our zodiac cruise, as many bears are at this time of year, conserving precious energy reserves whilst prey availability is lower (compared to the winter). Another lone bear, which appeared to be a sub-adult female, was sometimes resting but also made numerous attempts to feed on the carcass, slowly and cautiously approaching the female with the two cubs. The lone bear was chased off a few times (clearly the mother did not feel like sharing!) After two hours cruising observing the bears, with them completely unbothered by our presence, we headed back to the ship to warm up with a hot drink and excitedly discuss our experience with fellow guests. Truly a once in a lifetime sighting! During lunch the bridge team repositioned Ortelius to our afternoon destination of Whalbergøya, an island with a sloping, sandy beach which is the location of a Walrus haul out. We were in luck: at least forty of these huge, tusked beasts were resting on the shore! Seeing these magnificent creatures was not the only appeal of the site though, we also enjoyed hiking with guests split into four groups (a long, fast hiking group, two medium groups and a group that stayed at the beach). Features of interest included various bones of different animals and plant life alongside the beautiful scenery. The long hikers came across a beach which was blighted by a shocking amount of rubbish, including a large amount of fishing netting and rope. This spurred everyone into action for an impromptu beach clean. In the short time available, an incredible 100kg of rubbish was removed from the shoreline and taken back to Ortelius. This will be placed into specific bins at the pier in Longyearbyen as part of the ongoing efforts of the Clean Up Svalbard campaign by AECO (Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators). A huge well done and thank you to everyone who gave their time and energy to leave this wonderful site in a better condition than we found it! Back on board we gathered in the bar for a brief recap from Claudio explaining our plans for tomorrow, followed by another delicious dinner. As if we hadn’t had enough excitement for one day, there was one final sight to enjoy; in the evening we ship cruised the magnificent Bråsvellbreen glacier which is a part of Austfonna, the second largest icecap of the northern hemisphere. Glassy, calm seas with a sky of soft pastel pink, purple and blue and a gigantic wall of ice complete with cascading waterfalls. We couldn’t believe our eyes! Everybody, from all the guests to the Captain and Officers to the Expedition Team filled the decks, taking photos and videos of this spectacle, which showed just how special this moment was which we all shared. If there was one word to sum this experience up it would be unforgettable.

Day 7: Kapp Wahlberg and Kapp Lee

Kapp Wahlberg and Kapp Lee
Date: 15.08.2022
Position: 78°11.6‘N, 021°18.9‘E
Wind: NW1
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temperature: +8

We started our day with a wake-up call from Claudio greeting us and giving us the weather for the day followed by a great breakfast in the dining room. Whilst we dined the expedition team scouted the site where we were to land. A beautiful bird cliff called Kapp Wahlberg. However, the team very quickly spotted a Polar Bear resting under the cliff so a change of plan was called for! Instead, we would zodiac cruise the coastline, admiring the bear and the other wildlife present. So, we loaded up into our zodiacs and started our journey towards the shore. First, we came to the kittiwake colony, which had taken up residence in a crack in the mountain side overlooking a small stream. Their calls could be heard clearly by us floating by the shoreline and just beneath them lay the bear. We watched him for a little while then started meandering our way along the coast. We then came across a solitary Reindeer with big antlers grazing on the hillside. We stopped to watch it as it wandered around looking for food. We then continued on our journey and an excited call went over the radio. One of the guests in the other zodiacs had spotted an Arctic Fox! The animal was curled up in a ball fast asleep on the hillside. We spent a little time watching it to see if it would wake up but then moved on with our cruise. By this time the Polar Bear had woken up and was climbing the bird cliff trying to get to the Kittiwake nests! We watched as the powerful creature made several attempts to reach them but appeared to be unsuccessful. Just then something amazing happened! The fox had woken up and had come down to the shoreline close to the boats. He/she was a beautiful shade of grey and white, unusual for this time of year. We watched in awe as it caught sight of a Glaucous Gull with a freshly killed Kittiwake chick. To our amazement the fox decided to take on the big bird and surprisingly was able to run up to and rob the gull of its meal. We watched as the fox made quick work of its prize under the disdaining eye of the Glaucous Gull. The fox was then on the move again running down to the beach to scurry along the beachline in search of more food morsels. Even as we tried to move away with our zodiacs the fox appeared to enjoy our company and followed us along the shore. We also saw both Arctic Skua and Long-tailed Skua. Eventually it was time for us to leave and we left the fox to its day, returning to the ship just in time for a delicious lunch. While we dined the ship repositioned to our next location, a scenic little spot called Kapp Lee. This time the expedition team were happy to report no bears sighted (though we love seeing them we wanted to go safely ashore!) So once again we loaded up into our zodiacs and headed ashore for a landing. Upon arriving on the shore we were immediately greeted to the sight of five reindeer sitting just above the landing site chewing on the vegetation. 300 metres to the right we were delighted to find the biggest walrus haul out we’ve seen so far. We joined our walking groups and headed out to see them. The day was sunny and the Walrus were enjoying snuggling up together in a big pile. They were comical to see as they often annoyed each other with their wriggling and writhing to get comfortable. This led to them pushing each other with their fins and prodding with their tusks. Sometime this would lead to the odd disagreement and the Walrus for haul themselves onto their fins to make a point but would quickly settle back down preferring sleep over quarrelling. We took thousands of photos and watched them for as long as we could before it was time to continue with our walk. We walked over the hills, spotting may of the plants we had been learning about over the last few days. It was a glorious day for a hike. Eventually it was time to go back to the ship. We loaded up into the zodiacs once more and headed back to the ship in time for recap followed by a wonderful dinner.

Day 8: Samarinbukta and Samarinbreen

Samarinbukta and Samarinbreen
Date: 16.08.2022
Position: 76°56.0‘N, 016°16.5‘E
Wind: E-8
Weather: Rain
Air Temperature: +2

Overnight we cruised from eastern to southern Svalbard, specifically to the Hornsund fjord in south Spitsbergen. From the early morning the weather was non-optimal, with relatively low clouds covering the highest mountain tops and, more importantly, fairly strong eastern wind. During breakfast around 8:00am we entered the fjord, but our Captain and Expedition Team decided to abandon the landing at Gåshamna due to dangerous waves. The ship sailed further east, passing by wonderful glaciers and turned south towards Samarin Bay, well protected from winds. The plan B worked out great! We cruised in Zodiacs along the Samarin Glacier at the end of the bay and landed just next to Egg Glacier, a small but spectacular ice mass resembling high mountain glaciers, rather than polar ones. In the meantime, the weather started to deteriorate. Although waves and raindrops splashing on our faces failed to cool our adventurous attitude, we were happy to back on the ship again. During lunch Ortelius cruised around the eastern end of the fjord. The wind was getting stronger over time so our afternoon visit to Burgerbukta had to be cancelled. No one was upset by this, though, since the weather was truly demanding: horizontal rain and rough sea are not necessarily the best weather for outdoor activity. Instead, our Assistant Expedition Leader George gave a great lecture about Arctic geopolitics. After 18:00pm we gathered again in the bar for a recap introducing the plans for tomorrow by Claudio and short presentations by our guides Miriam, Julia and Jakub. Subsequently we went to the dining room for an Arctic barbeque! In the evening Ortelius left the Hornsund fjord and took the course to the north. Sea got really rough, with large waves splashing white foam to the air, and wind speed exceeding 70 knots, or nearly 130 km/h! We felt that both in our cabins and in the bar – tilting of the ship was considerable at times, but our old lady can withstand much more than this, particularly under the command of our captain Ernesto! We hope that tomorrow, on the last day of our grand arctic voyage, skies will be more merciful.

Day 9: Bamsebu (at Ahlstrandhalvøya) and Fleur de Lyshamna

Bamsebu (at Ahlstrandhalvøya) and  Fleur de Lyshamna
Date: 17.08.2022
Position: 77°33.8‘N, 014°56.4‘E
Wind: E-5
Weather: Cloudy/rain
Air Temperature: +6

This morning we were scheduled to go ashore at Ahlstrandhalvøya with Bamsebu cabin, a site where the remains of industrial scale beluga whaling was carried out as recently as the 1930’s. The shore is littered with the bones of thousands upon thousands of these gentle, white whales serving as a sobering reminder of the large-scale hunting which took place here. After a rough time the night before with high winds (up to over 50 knots) and rough seas conditions remained a little challenging, but Expedition Leader Claudio optimistically announced that the Expedition Team would scout the site and evaluate the situation once they were in zodiacs. Unfortunately, the swell proved to be too much for the planned operation to go ahead safely at Bamsebu so the Expedition Team returned to Ortelius to hatch plan B. A short time later it was announced that conditions round the corner in Fleur de Lyshamna were much better and favourable enough to enable us to go ashore and provide the opportunity to polar plunge too! Hooray! With the site safely scouted guests were taken to shore via zodiacs. It was raining and there was a bit of swell so we got a bit wet but with waterproofs on and a cheerful disposition everyone was just happy to be going ashore. We took interest in the history of the site with huts and remains of boats used for whale hunting, as at nearby Bamsebu. Whilst most guests returned to the zodiacs to head back to Ortelius some other brave (mad?!) folks started to remove their clothing down to their swimming costumes ready to plunge. After a quick dip in the freezing cold sea, with obligatory selfies as proof, it was time to redress and warm up back on board. After lunch we had hoped to take part in another shore-based activity but conditions had worsened meaning we couldn’t launch the zodiacs. The Expedition Team collaborated to provide a series of short lectures combined over the course of an hour, with topics ranging from Expedition Guide Julia speaking about whaling to Assistant Expedition Leader George talking about Arctic shipping. Just before this extended recap started at 16:00pm numerous whales started to be seen, mainly Fin Whales (the second longest after the blue whale, reaching 27 metres), but a Humpback Whale and Minke Whales were also seen. The large, straight, bushy blows of these huge marine mammals could be seen all around us as they surfaced to breathe! So, appropriately, Expedition Guide Hazel spoke about Fin Whales to complete the mini-lecture series for the afternoon. Later in the evening Claudio gave the last recap of our expedition, describing where we had been and the wonderful experiences we had shared over the past nine days. We raised a glass of bubbly in celebration as our Captain Ernesto Barria joined us and the Expedition Team in the bar to say farewell and mark the end of the voyage. A fantastic memento of our trip was provided courtesy of Expedition Guide Photographer Werner in the form of a photo/video slideshow. This was followed by our final delicious dinner on board, during which we had chance to thank and applaud all of the Crew who work so hard behind the scenes, from the Galley to Hotel to Housekeeping before one last drink in the bar and finishing packing our bags.

Day 10: Disembarkation: Longyearbyen

Disembarkation: Longyearbyen
Date: 18.08.2022
Position: 78°13.7’ N, 015°36.1’ E
Wind: Light
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temperature: +14

Our fantastic expedition trip came to an end today. For some, disembarkation took place in the small hours of the morning as they had a very early flight to catch. Others were able to stay on board to enjoy a final breakfast with us before departing. The expedition team and helpful crew had taken care of luggage, so all that remained was to say our goodbyes: to our newly made friends, fellow travellers and everyone on board Ortelius whom we had come to know over the past nine days. Some of us had time left to enjoy exploring Svalbard after leaving the ship whilst others had to travel home. Regardless, we all left with many great memories, treasured of photographs of our wonderful experiences and perhaps new friends made too, for future travel adventures!


Tripcode: OTL11-22
Dates: 9 Aug - 18 Aug, 2022
Duration: 9 nights
Ship: m/v Ortelius
Embark: Longyearbyen
Disembark: Longyearbyen

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The ice-strengthened Ortelius is thoroughly outfitted for polar exploration and, when necessary, helicopter flights.

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