I’ve been back a few days now and am slowly getting over jet lag. Starting to feel human again. Trying to adjust back to regular life. Reflecting on all I saw and did.
There were lots of things I liked about my Arctic Cruise and there were some I didn’t. I realized I am not really a cruise person. I kind of knew that already but thought a small ship would be more of an adventure and less of a “cruise”. I was right about that. It was an expedition. You never knew what was going to happen next. You never knew what the schedule would be, would we land, would we go someplace else, would the sun ever come out… The sea was rough and unforgiving. I spent a couple of days confined to my cabin.
Once I started on my seasickness pills I stayed on them. It saved me. As we went farther north, things calmed down a bit. Even though we had 24 hrs of sun once we passed the Arctic Circle, it was cloudy and kind of gloomy.
We kept going farther north in order to find more ice. We were looking for polar bears and they usually hunt for seal on the ice. Once we crossed 80 degrees north we had to head south again. We did find some cool ice, though. A lot of it was blue.
Svalbard was not what I expected. I thought it would be more flat. It was almost all mountains and fjords. It was difficult to hike around on land because not only was it steep, it was covered in about two feet of snow. This was the closest I got to a wild animal.
We were the only people we ever saw. It was empty and cold and kind of eerie. But beautiful and magical. The vistas were definitely awe inspiring. And when the sun finally did come out, it was beyond belief.
So, what didn’t I like? I didn’t care for the Zodiacs. Those rubber motor boats with 8-10 people on them zipping around the icy waters. They were tricky to get in and out of and they went so fast, I had to hold on for dear life. I was sure I was going to fall out of the thing. I thought I was the only one, but once I mentioned it, people acknowledged they would not ride with certain drivers, or they felt uncomfortable as well. However, most people, it seemed to me, were loving every minute. They had been on these tours before and planned to go on the another as soon as possible. Many had been to the Antarctic.
It probably didn’t help that I had just been through the third snowiest winter of Minnesota history. I was kind of sick of cold and snow. So maybe not the best idea to go when I did but this particular organization only does this trip once a year and I wanted to see the Shetlands and the Faroes as well. It was my only option.
So I didn’t like the Zodiacs, much. I didn’t really like being in a confined space looking at water all the time. It was two weeks. The first week was fabulous but it got kind of the same after that. We spent five days wandering around the fjords of Svalbard. Two would have done it for me. Now that I have been to the Arctic, I don’t really see a need to go again. Although I may have to go to Canada to see a polar bear.
But I’m glad I went. I loved the Faroe Islands. I loved the gorgeous views of the snowy shores and mountains and glaciers of Svalbard. I loved being in the middle of nowhere out of touch with civilization. No news, no idea even what day it was. The food was good. The company was generally good. I read two books. I learned a lot about birds, and sea mammals, and ice. And now I have been to the southernmost city in the world and the northernmost city in the world.
Here is a parting shot of Svalbard.