On August 1, 2018, I started my journey to one of the most remote places on Earth to visit the Arctic Circle and photograph the vast landscapes and wildlife found only in the Arctic regions.
I took 4 flights over 30 hours to reach Longyearbyen, Norway, a small city named after American John Munro Longyear. John Munro was one of the first pioneers in mining industries and expedition cruises in Spitsbergen. He founded a coal mining settlement in 1906 in Adventfjord called Longyear City.
We boarded the Ortelius for our 10-day journey and once onboard met our expedition team led by Captain Mikka Appel and Ali our expedition leader. I quickly realized this was not one of my normal cruises when we attended mandatory safety training, which included topics on Polar Bear safety. It was clear the goal was to not meet up with a polar bear on land. All of the expedition leaders carry weapons in case of emergency but there are heavy fines for killing any wildlife in Norway. Their goal is to protect the environment with responsible tourism.
The crew on the Ortelius provided a regimented schedule each day with excursions by zodiac boat and hikes on foot throughout our 10-day journey. This schedule helped me cope with the fact that there is no nighttime because the sun does not set this time of year in the Arctic. We had fantastic service and meals on board with an amazing staff and I cannot say enough positive things about Oceanwide Expeditions. If you are planning a trip to any of the Polar Regions, I highly recommend this company for a safe once in a lifetime experience.