Honeymooning in the Arctic

Charlie Melvoin & Paolo Fresia

02 Nov 2017

Svalbard Polar Bear Explorer

Recognizing that our wildlife encounters in the Arctic, as with any natural environment, would be subject to chance, we tried to manage expectations going in, telling ourselves that we’d be happy no matter what.

Luckily, those expectations were exceeded beyond imagination.

We saw polar bears in multiple different settings: feeding on a whale carcass, sleeping on land, strolling along the shore, hopping from iceberg to iceberg, swimming across a stretch of sea, leading a cub, and – most exhilarating of all – sniffing out our vessel from just a few meters away. The “Polar Bear Explorer” certainly lived up to its name. What’s more, we had similarly incredible sightings of walruses, whales, foxes, reindeer, puffins, and several types of birds.

It wasn’t just luck, however. While that of course is part of the equation, an equally important part is the expedition team, and ours couldn’t have been better. Our guides exuded an enthusiasm the entire trip as if it was their first time in these locations as well. Their energy each day brought their knowledge of the region to life and made the briefings both educational and engaging. As two young guys, we were hoping to have a relatively active adventure, and they managed to deliver on that while also catering to others in the group who preferred a slower pace.

The rest of the staff shared that same wonderful spirit, including the captain, who made a point to mingle with us and genuinely welcome visitors into the bridge. It goes without saying that the scenery in the Arctic is stunning, but credit belongs to the guides and crew for plotting such a fantastic itinerary that had us in the right places at the right times. 

We know that the spectacular landscapes – colourful skies, shimmering ice, hidden waterfalls – were the result of behind-the-scenes planning to optimize every moment.

This trip was our honeymoon, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. We’ll always remember such highlights as a fox running through a crowd of reindeer with prey in its mouth, a fellow traveller playing her cello on an iceberg we anchored to, the polar plunge (!), playful puffins circling our zodiac, and the BBQ we enjoyed the final night on the stern of the boat with an enormous ice shelf in the background.


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