Heading to the Pack Ice
We boarded our little ship – MS Freya, moored in the bay - using zodiacs as there was a large cruise ship occupying the quayside at Longyearbyen. We all agreed we would not want to be aboard the massive cruise liner which seemed to carry at least 200 passengers. We sailed out of Isfjorden to the west then north through Forlandsundet, heading for the pack ice where we hoped we would find polar bear.
Well above 80 degrees north, considered the high Arctic, we found the pack ice and spent time on the bridge scouring the ice floes for the creamy white shape of our target – the polar bear. We listened in awe as MS Freya moved through the leads in the ice; sometimes the bow scrunched noisily past an ice floe.
Occasionally we saw a bearded seal basking on the pack ice and approached quietly so as not to disturb the resting creature. I’d have said it was more of a ‘moustachioed’ seal than a bearded one but who am I to argue? After a zodiac ride and landing we saw a harem of walrus – or should that be a blubber of walrus - who collectively decided to retreat into the sea. Even when there were no animals visible the scenery was vast and breath-taking.