In August 2012, I embarked on my first Arctic adventure – a 15-day voyage from Longyearbyen, on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago, to Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital. The experience was utterly life-changing and I have been enamoured with the Arctic ever since.
Relaxing on the third evening, I watched the ice floes drift past and drank in the spectacular surroundings of icebergs and the Greenland Sea’s thousand shades of blue. Sailing around Spitsbergen, we had witnessed a gigantic glacier dramatically collapsing and observed fin whales – the second largest of all whale species, known as the ‘greyhound of the sea’ – but were longing for the most sought-after wildlife sighting of all: a polar bear. Anticipation was building.
Finally, at 9pm, it was announced that the Arctic’s apex predator had been spotted. My fellow cruisers and I rushed to the ship’s bow and there he was, straight ahead of us, feasting on a seal. He completely ignored us as he polished off his kill, then rolled around on the ice, stretching languorously.