Published: August 10th 2012August 4th 2012
Days and agendas are up in the air as is the nature of expedition cruising. We started earlier than usual today (6am rather than 7am), to make room for a bit of longer-distance travel between sights today.
First stop was a zodiac cruise in a fjord called Sallyhamna. Nothing to see at the start except for a few seals and the ubiquitous birds, until the zodiacs rounded the corner and there is the most almighty cliff face of ice, part of the Sallyhamna glacier.. Willing a huge piece to fall off was unsuccessful.
Two hours steaming towards an area called Fuglesongen (bird song). We zodiaced to a rocky beach (very slippery and awkward). then walked up a fairly sheer cliff and sat on a cold rock, whilst thousands of birds pretended not to notice we were there! One of the odder things I have ever done.
Getting on and off the boat is a major effort on the staff’s part, which they handle really efficiently.
Before an excursion, staff head out on zodiacs and scout the area. They are looking for bears; if there are bears in the area then we don’t go out as polar bears will happily nibble on humans. If we are going ashore, the staff spread out and form a secure(ish) perimeter and stand guard until the excursion is over. They are armed, with flares and a rifle, but staff with this company have never had to shoot a bear. Shoorting a bear will automatically involve an investigation by the sysselmannen (Norway's governor on Svalbard).
Guests are called by deck, group or side (port, starboard; don't ask me which is which) and go to the mudroom where they swap shoes for gumboots and don life jackets. Then the guests are “signed out” using their ship’s card, and wait at the steps outside a hole in the boat. The zodiacs pull up, tether and guests are on board the zodiac within 3 or 4 minutes.