August 2, Kapp Lee, N78°5' W20°49'
Again, a planned landing (this time in Sundneset) was canceled due to two polar bears in view, so we continued on to Kapp Lee. Historically, this was one of Svalbard's largest walrus slaughtering sites. The land is scattered with walrus bones, but a short distance away was another walrus haulout. We also got to spot a reindeer!
August 3, Samarinvågen, N76°58' W16°15'
This was our last sailing day, a source of much sadness. The wind had died down and we got to explore this secluded bay, with the glacier Samarinbreen, by Zodiac.
August 4-5, Home, N42°47' W71°28'
Back in Longyearbyen, we boarded another charter plane back to Oslo. Again, Magne came through for me with a bulkhead seat that had decent legroom. This flight, operated by French airline Amelia, had some of the best airline food I've been served outside of business class (and not all of that has been great). We returned to the Thon Opera Hotel in Oslo for the last night, and left in the morning for our Icelandair flight back to Boston, via Keflavik which is always a zoo for transfers.
Given our initial trepidation about this trip, we came out of it with delight and awe - it was a truly magical experience and one of our best ever. I'd definitely recommend it, but we were told that OAT is not running this trip next year due to logistical issues with the charter air transfers. Atlas does run the cruise part, and of course OAT still has a full Iceland trip available.
We have this weird "weather luck" that follows us around on these trips. Any rain we had was when we were already indoors, and while some days were overcast, the skies were usually blue and the temperatures mild (30s, 40s and even 50s at some points.) As I mentioned earlier, we adored the World Traveller so much that we've already booked a trip up the Adriatic coast for 2024, even in the same cabin!
When I was telling people of our plans to do the Arctic, some would ask if we'd see the Northern Lights. No, not in July and August above the Arctic Circle - this is truly the land of the Midnight Sun. With that, I'll leave you with a picture I took exactly at midnight, facing northwest(!)