Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cruise Journal Part Five--Longyearbyen, Magdalene Bay, and the Polar Ice Barrier

After a lovely day at sea, we docked on August 3 at Longyearbyen, on the western coast of Spitzburgen, the largest of the islands in the Svalvard archipelago. It is one of the world’s most northerly towns.  Not until the end of WWII did Svalvard become a part of Norway.

We took the ship’s shuttle bus into the City Center. We browsed in a few shops, bought some souvenirs for the grandchildren, and then spent much time in an excellent museum. This museum detailed the history of the region. Interestingly, it was named European Museum of the Year in 2008.
Leaving Longyearben

We were amused by this company's name.  No, we're really not at
the North Pole...yet!
Bob and a stuffed polar bear,
in front of one of the
The next day was another day of breath-taking sights! We cruised Magdalene Bay or Magdalenafjord, Spitsburgen’s most beautiful fjord. During the 1600s whaleboats plied these waters, but now it is an attraction for nature-lovers, with thousands of rare species and good whale watching.  We saw numerous glaciers, far more than we'd seen on our Alaskan cruise in 2001.  I have numerous lovely pictures of the glaciers, but will restrain myself and put in just a few!

glaciers in Magdalene Bay

A close-up view of a

Glaciers in Magdalene Fjord

Auguest 4th contained, in a way, the raison d'etre for the entire trip! This was the day that we sailed to the Polar Ice Barrier, the farthest northern point on our cruise. The sights were interesting but not spectacularly beautiful. The day was overcast, misty, and cold (in the 40s). Joe and Ray Cannon actually got much better pictures than I did. At one point, a few of the ship's crew took one of the small boats (not a life boat but one used for repairs) out to the barrier to gather some ice for us tourists to see up close and touch--ice actually from the Polar Ice Cap! Not the North Pole, of course, but as close as the vast majority of travelers in this land will ever get! Click on this link to see much better pictures than I was able to get! Scroll to the bottom of this page from our cruiseline and you'll see the crew cruising out in the little boat to collect some ice.


  1. Alice, you have done a masterful job with both the telling about and the SHOWING of magnificent pictures. Your blogs are a beautiful representation of an especially wonderful cruise. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I think your pictures are every bit as good as the ones on the link. I can't get over how placid the water seems. The whole world seems cold and still. Very cooling on a hot summer's day.

  3. Wow, totally breathtaking. I will revisit and revisit these photos.