Silver Explorer: Svalbard: Raudfjorden, Virgohamna, and Amsterdamoya

Day 2 – June 23, 2015

Polar bear guard Silver Explorer
Polar bear guard Silver Explorer

Days 2-8 will be spent in search of wildlife encounters. We have a flexible itinerary and a lot of what we are able to discover is contingent upon ice conditions. We head north to where there is fast ice, which is where polar bears hangout eating seals (if they are lucky). Also, ice around glaciers is good because when calving occurs on the glaciers, nutrients get stirred up and animals are able to feast.


Since leaving Oslo our expedition group of 98 passengers has had many opportunities to observe the wild Arctic frontier. Our itinerary calls for five-days of expedition cruising, which means that we have ample opportunity to experience all the area has to offer: ice floes, glaciers, and wildlife taking top billing.


Our flexible itinerary and excellent navigation have made for ideal conditions. It has been cold (no warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit) but nothing our Silversea insulated expedition parka (included in the cruise fare) can’t handle.


We have been lucky because since our first day of exploration we have already seen a polar bear, walruses, seals, reindeer, and a variety of birds.


Wildlife encounter with a walrus

Silver Explorer in the Arctic
Silver Explorer in the Arctic

Our first day on the Zodiac was great. Once anchored, small groups of ten passengers boarded the boats and headed ashore. We did a wet landing, which means that you immerse your entire foot into the water to disembark the Zodiac. In case you are wondering, the ship does provide guests with mid-calf-length boots to use for the duration of the voyage, but Silversea does not guarantee the availability of all sizes. I opted to bring my own boots like the ones on the ship (Bogs-a type of gumboot), which I do not regret.


Flexible itinerary – the nature of the beast

Exploration cruising tools on bridge
Exploration cruising tools on bridge

Expedition cruising means that the itinerary and schedule are completely adaptive. Passengers are encouraged to embrace the flexible itinerary because in some cases when one activity is cancelled another activity is offered. For example, we had to cancel one of the landings off Virgohamna, Danskoya to visit the site where Swedish engineer Salomon August Andree and his hydrogen-filled balloon set off for the North Pole (it did not go well) because of snow on the beach.


The substitute activity was a Zodiac exploration of a surrounding bay. The end result was our first polar bear sighting.


Each day our expedition leader Juan Carlos Restrepo and Captain Tililyuk determine our best course. Our activities depend on weather, ice conditions and the wildlife we encounter along the way.


Safety is the most important element for consideration of where Silver Explorer cruises.


We have a couple polar bear guards onboard who carry rifles and stand watch (sometimes for hours on end) while small groups of guests and expedition staff are busy exploring. Besides personal safety, we are also required to follow strict restrictions as defined by special permits issued by the governing agency AECO. The restrictions are in place to keep the wildlife and natural habitats from suffering the effects of tourism.


Voyage: At-A-Glance

7 days of expedition cruising around Svalbard and Bear Island enroute to Tromso, Norway.

  • Day 1- Arrival from Oslo via chartered flight to Svalbard
  • Day 2 – 8 Expedition cruising and exploration of Svalbard
  • Day 9 Cruise & Explore Bear Island, Norway
  • Day 10 Tromso, Norway


Arctic Expedition on Silversea Cruises

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