The call came around 3:30 a.m. Polar bears were spotted! It turned out to be at least four bears, possibly more. They were at a great distance, but conditions were lovely. The sun was shining, and the wind was calm. The bridge and outer decks filled up with excited explorers enjoying the oddly bright night with these amazing sightings.

We could quickly see a mother with two cubs! Another bear was spotted nearby. But that wasn’t all. Along the ice, a small group of belugas cruised by as a couple bearded seals swam around. It was well worth getting out of bed for this show.

Captain Martin and his bridge team took us through the sea ice with the hope of reaching farther north along the east side of Svalbard into Henlopen Strait. Conditions were lovely. We spotted lots of walruses on ice floes and swimming near the ship, and plenty of birds flew around as well.

At last, we came to the point where the ice forced us to turn around to head back towards western Svalbard.

Just before recap, we reached some fast ice, close to where we spotted the mother and cubs before, and they were still in the area. Still at a great distance and with a mild snowstorm, but we were able to watch them for a while before they disappeared in the snow.