But it is wonderful. I sailed around in a small boat with 11 others and a crew of 6. Small cabins, decent food – no luxury here. I can’t compare to the larger ships – 60 – 150 clients. My bias is to go small if possible; go with a friend.
The other “but” is that if you go, don’t play the “I’m a photographer” card. That is only a part of the experience. You may never see great light and may never even see a polar bear (that would be, and has been for some, a disaster). But what a caper! We landed on Danes Island, where SA Andree launched his hydrogen balloon in 1897, thinking he could reach the north pole in a couple of days (he and his two colleagues were found – dead of course – in the eastern most island of Svalbard – White Island – in 1930 – 33 years after his launch). We sailed to White island. The great explorer Roald Amundsen set sail in a blimp like airship from Ny-Ålasund in 1926 and is given credit for the first to reach the north pole (he was also the first to the south pole more than 2 decades earlier). We spent 2 hours in Ny-Ålasund, honoring this great explorer. We saw the great glacier wall of Austfonna. Bird cliffs, seals and walruses, reindeer but no foxes.
Will I go back? I’ve been to Iceland, the Faroe Islands, the Inner Hebrides and Svalbard in the past year, and Antarctica the year before that. Time to go warm? But if you read about it and watch YouTube videos and want something really great – go. And go soon. Here is a great tip. E-mail Morten Jorgensen, one of the very best trip leaders and a world expert on polar bears (http://nozomojo.com) and schedule through him if possible. Actually, I might be on the same boat.
My polar bear pictures were posted on the previous blog. These pictures are a combination of travel snapshots and birds and landscapes.