By the end of our Svalbard circumnavigation (yes, we made it!), there was no denying that the weather gods smiled upon us. We relished six full days of clear skies, sunshine, gentle breezes, and superb visibility over the pack ice at 80 degrees north of latitude—a truly rare treat.

Upon departing Hornsund and journeying south, however, we encountered the predicted strong winds and rough seas, which added an extra dash of excitement to our journey. This was the scenario at our arrival at Bjørnøya (Bear Island), the southernmost island of the Svalbard Archipelago and renowned for hosting one of the largest bird cliffs in the Northern Hemisphere.

Despite the conditions, the bridge team skillfully brought us close enough to shore to enjoy a scenic ship cruise along its dramatic coastline. Throughout, naturalists and guests gathered on the bridge or other observation areas, endeavoring to identify all the bird species we had learned about during the previous week. Some enthusiasts even dared to brave the wind and spray, striving to capture the perfect photos or simply to experience the raw power of nature in the Barents Sea. A well-deserved warm lunch was waiting for them afterward.