||79°18.7’N / 011°39.0’O
We wake up in a magical place, with the large Lilliehöökbreen dominating the Krossfjorden. Deep blue pieces recently calved off the glacier litter the bay, some of these populated by kittiwakes and arctic terns. On the distant shore Svalbard reindeer graze, dwarfed by the looming mountains surrounding the bay.
Cameras are being taken from their bags to capture the place, and it is difficult to stop shooting because at each new angle the landscape seems even better than before. We must move on though, and during lunch we sail to the 14th of July Bay, where we will have our first Zodiac landing of the trip. This bay got its rather peculiar name from Prince Albert I of Monaco, who did quite a bit of Arctic exploration early in the 20th century, and decided to honour the French National Day, also known as Bastille Day.
Afternoon – 14th of July Bay
17h30 GPS Position: 79°12.1’N / 010°04.5’O
Wind: NE 3 Sea: flat Weather: light overcast Temperature: 7°C
With a calm sea we have an easy landing and soon the first group of guests go on a walk with the guides towards the ‘hanging gardens’, a large patch of blooming purple Saxifraga at an overhang. High above the area thousands of kittiwake’s nests in the cliffs, neighboured by Brunnich’s guillemots. Lower on the slopes a dozen or so reindeer graze, permitting us the first close-up views of these animals. Their legs are clearly shorter than that of their conspecifics living on the mainland, an adaptation to living in the cold. After the hike, we cruise in the Zodiacs past the birds nesting nearer to sea level. Here puffins too breed, showing their beautifully coloured bills. We are back at the Plancius precisely in the time for the daily recap, followed by a lovely diner.