Editor’s note: This is part four of a four-part series.
Two more excursions to go. This afternoon, a “must see” bird cliff of “a million birds” (well, maybe slight exaggeration) and, then on our last day, a hike on the 14th of July Glacier.
On Saturday, our last full day, we anchored early that morning in Ny Alesund. A very small outpost community, the town is comprised of mostly foreign scientists. Located at the 79th parallel, it is recognized as “the northernmost town in the world.” After buying souvenirs — from the only store/port on the entire itinerary — we headed for the 14th of July Glacier (Bastile Day Glacier) for an almost 2-mile hike.
Accented with very narrow, rocky passages and steep climbs up to the top of the glacier followed then by a steep descent to the ice, it was challenging. Plus, the temperature that day got up to almost 50 degrees, so we were hot wearing all our gear. Again, the vistas were indescribably beautiful as clear, pristine air enhanced our view of glacier ice touching calm blue waters and all surrounded by mountains that jutted straight up — seemingly for miles — until disappearing into the clouds.
Dinner this evening was bittersweet. It would be great to get back home, but we were leaving behind one of the most beautiful — truly beautiful — parts of the world. Everyone we visited with the last night all seemed to express the same feeling — a feeling of gratitude and appreciation for having had this incredible chance to see and experience and enjoy such a pristine and pure part of this world — a part of our world that not many people would ever have the fortunate chance to see and explore. Dorothy and I were truly grateful for this opportunity.
The next morning, we debarked via zodiac in Longyearbyen for our charter flight back to Oslo. We overnighted in Oslo at the airport Radisson Hotel on July 3. We departed the next morning around noon (Norway time) and arrived back in the United States and Houston/Galveston that evening — on the Fourth of July.
Indeed, each of these intriguing and enticing headlines: “Add Ice to Your Bucket,” “Remote Wonders Revealed,” “Edges of the Earth,” “Polar Precision” and “Taking Comfort to Remote Places It’s Never Been Before” truly and authentically described our Arctic Adventure in this remote archipelago of Svalbard, Norway. To say that this expedition cruise aboard the Silver Explorer was a “trip of a lifetime” is definitely an understatement. Highly recommended.
Footnotes: For more information about Silversea Cruises and the Silver Explorer’s itineraries, contact your travel professional or visit www.silversea.com/destinations/ arctic–cruise. Dorothy and I booked our cruise through Fox Travel/American Express, The Woodlands (Houston), Texas. Our cruise planner was Debbie Parker, a very knowledgeable and professional individual who provided us excellent service.
It’s also very important that you have the proper gear. Everything we took, we wore. Silversea provides an excellent outline of what you need — including special waterproof boots (that are almost knee high and rugged.) You cannot do this itinerary without the boots. One important thing I learned, however, should your luggage be lost — the boutique shop onboard Silver Explorer should have everything you’ll need for cold-weather gear so that you can participate in the daily expeditions.
In addition, most likely, you would be able to “borrow” a pair of boots, as many departing guests choose to leave their heavy boots for future guests, versus lugging them back home. The reason I’m sharing this with you, is that my one checked bag was delayed between Frankfurt and Oslo. And we weren’t sure if it would arrive before we flew the next morning to Tromso. (And since there are no ports of call on this itinerary until the last day, there’s no opportunity for your luggage to catch up to you.) Just know that you should have a chance to replace what you need in the ship’s boutique in the event you have to sail without your luggage.