Returning to the High Arctic
Having been on a similar trip 6 years ago, we were really looking forward to returning to the high Arctic, and especially to the Stockholm, a wonderful ship built in 1953, with a homely atmosphere, a great captain, fantastic crew, and very delicious food (and plenty of it!). We were also very lucky with the weather throughout the 10 day trip although the first day was overcast and choppy, the sun then broke through and we enjoyed a week of glorious sunshine before the clouds and fog returned for the last couple of days.
The general routine on board was breakfast at 08.00, lunch at 13,00 and dinner at 19.00 and most days you will have a Zodiac ride in the morning and also in the afternoon - unless you are in the midst of the pack ice looking for polar bears. But there was no set itinerary, it all depended on what wildlife we came across and how co-operative it was. Every day brought a new and different encounter. And with the glory of the midnight sun, wildlife can approach at any time - we were once woken at 1.30 am for a 2 hour zodiac ride in search of a mum with two tiny cubs.
Nothing prepares you for that first visit to the ship by a polar bear - they amble up as if they haven't got a care in the world, attracted by the tasty smells from the galley.
A huge male bear even stood up to sniff the ship - he poked his nose through the grills on the deck and we were advised to stand back! We were fortunate to have a number of really great encounters with these awesome maritime mammals - large males, smaller females and younger adults, and two males who made their acquaintance right in front of the ship!