Our Circumnavigation of Svalbard being a cruise, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to learn that we spent much of our time around water. The two weeks we spent abroad exposed us to a new Ocean (the Arctic) and three new seas (the Norwegian, Barents, and Greenland Seas). Large bodies of water aside, however, it surprised me to see just how much water surrounded me at any given time. Whether it was the glacial ice which was served in our cocktails or the gentle mist that surrounded the ship in the early mornings, the presence of water was a big aspect of our trip.
Our guides were delighted when Svalbard was dusted with the first snow of the season – transforming the islands from summer to early winter in a matter of hours. The large and imposing fronts of glaciers seemed to crop up regardless of which direction I looked, and the rain that seemed to reluctantly fall down as we sailed our way north only heightened our moods as the temperature dropped with it.
At our highest point, the MV Sea Spirit reached 81 degrees north - about 500 nautical miles from the North Pole. We reached this latitude after a day of sailing– leaving behind the jagged peaks of Svalbard in search of the Arctic ice shelf. Due to tricky ice conditions, the ship never reached the shelf but what we did find were its reaching tendrils as they stretched across the sea. We had reached the frozen top of the planet – and I shivered more from excitement than the cold as the earth’s horizon curved more and more.
Even though the pieces of ice surrounding the ship surely pale in comparison to the shelf from which they came, I marveled at the size of them as they went by. At one point, Molly leaned over the railing to get a better view of a particularly large berg and, after much consideration, rose her head with a very serious question on her mind: “how many elephants do you think it would take to sink it?”
Unfortunately, we’ll never know.