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Travel Diary: Land of The Ice Bears

Members joined Lindblad Expeditions® on an Arctic voyage, exploring the Svalbard archipelago — the best place on the planet to view polar bears in their native habitat.

Greetings from Norway! On The Club's Once-in-a-Lifetime Arctic Journey: Land of the Ice Bears, Members have embarked on an unforgettable adventure through the pristine wilderness of the Arctic, exploring breathtaking landscapes and encountering incredible wildlife while enjoying luxurious accommodations aboard the National Geographic Resolution.

Day 1

The 2024 Once-in-a-Lifetime Artic: Land of the Ice Bears Journey has kicked off in Oslo, Norway! 140 Members arrived in Oslo over the past few days, greeted warmly in the capital city of Norway. In the hotel lobbies, Members joyfully reunited, exchanging big hugs and reminiscing about previous adventures to destinations like the Australia & New Zealand Adventure, Bali & Komodo Luxury Cruise, and New Year's Antarctica Cruise.

With blue skies on our side, Members enjoyed a city orientation, visiting the Fram Museum and the Sculpture Park. The evening began with welcome drinks and a toast by Club CEO, James Henderson, followed by a briefing from our Ship’s Expedition Team before a plated dinner. James celebrated Members who have completed over 10 Once-in-a-Lifetime Journeys, and the room buzzed with excitement and anticipation for the week ahead. Let the expedition begin!

Members soaked in Oslo's culture and warm weather before the journey north
Exploring Oslo’s Sculpture Park

Day 2

The second day of the expedition required some effort to reach a destination as remote as Svalbard. However, despite the long travel day from Oslo to Longyearbyen Airport, Members remained in high spirits and eager for the adventure ahead. Upon arrival in Svalbard, Members had the opportunity to visit the Svalbard Museum to learn about Arctic exploration and visit a dog sled camp to meet some friendly and hard-working huskies.

Up close with the Arctic Huskies
Members meeting the stars of the sled camp

Later that afternoon, Members boarded their home for the next seven nights. Since embarkation, Members have been raving about the ship. Each Member was greeted in their cabin with a special-edition parka to keep, waterproof boots, and expedition-branded hats. The Club has several special enhancements for Members onboard, including yoga classes, massage therapists, and National Geographic Photographer Ralph Lee Hopkins.

Day 3

Members woke up to a gorgeous, sunny, and warm day — a rare treat in this Arctic location! They embarked on their first shore excursion, getting up close to a glacier while spotting seals, reindeer, and various birds identified by expert naturalists onboard. The day's activities included historian lectures on the Arctic and photography techniques taught by a photography specialist, covering everything from iPhones to high-end cameras. The afternoon outing via zodiac boat took Members to a bird colony. We were greeted by walruses, reindeer, humpback whales, Arctic foxes, and the rare beluga whale.

Day 4

This expedition is truly a journey through some of the world’s most northern reaches. Today we reached 80 degrees north — well beyond the Arctic Circle which resides at 66 degrees north. The "Land of the Midnight Sun" has welcomed Members with glorious blue skies, bright sun, brisk temperatures, and calm seas. The 24-hour daylight has even inspired some Members to brave sleeping in igloos on the top deck!

Day 5

The group was greeted by beautiful skies as the ship made its way through the ice. The ship is so quiet that the passengers are often unaware of its movement. Many Members have commented that it’s the smoothest sailing vessel they've ever been on. An afternoon zodiac tour of the drift ice included a sighting of a walrus sunbathing. Encountering wildlife while sailing through ice reinforces the sense of being in a truly remote environment. Members enjoyed a BBQ lunch on the top deck under the shining sun, followed by a group photo taken by a drone. The afternoon continued with various onboard lectures by the team of naturalists on topics ranging from photography and birds to ice and geology. After dinner, we hosted a fun Trivia Night, with a huge turnout and three families being crowned champions.

Day 6

Today was the day! The morning started with an announcement in all cabins of the group's first polar bear sighting! A mama bear and her two cubs wandered near the ship, mesmerizing Members who rushed to the decks with cameras and binoculars. It is rare to see such young cubs, and it was a delight watching them play, roll in the snow, and swim on their mother's back.

With the day starting on such a high note, we had a late brunch followed by lectures from the National Geographic staff on walruses, polar bears, sea birds, and ice. The day concluded with a fun Polar Party. Members dressed in white, fur, and polar bear-themed outfits. The highlight was one Member in an inflatable polar bear costume. The dinner featured a special menu and an elaborate glacier dessert. The evening ended with a Zodiac tour of Verleggenhuken cliffs, where 60,000 birds nest create a cacophony of sight and sound.

Day 7

The group spent the day exploring the Arctic waters from the fjords and glaciers to the ice flows around Svalbard. The ship sailed down Wildefjorden to a massive fjord in the North of Svalbard. Our fearless Captain, who has been with Lindblad for over 15 years, had never even explored the area himself. Members had an opportunity to disembark and hike along a beach and up the dramatic Moraine Valley. They discovered an overwinter cabin still used by hardy Norwegians and enjoyed photographing a small haul-out of giant walrus on the rocky beach.

Next, we sailed to a beautiful glacier, and the weather was perfect for kayaking. Members explored the icy waters, staying a safe distance from the 100-foot ice walls. Kayaking among the floating ice chunks was a highlight for many.

The afternoon featured a thrilling Polar Plunge. Jumping into Arctic waters is a truly “once in a lifetime” experience, and the nervous excitement was palpable through the ship with ACDC tunes rocking outside. Members lined up to jump into the 31-degree Arctic waters — some even plunged twice! The group set a ship record for the number of plungers. The day concluded with a second polar bear sighting of three bears. Members observed the bears for over 90 minutes as they wandered along the shoreline, making for an exciting end to an amazing day.

Day 8

Today was the last day on the ship, and it was packed! For the morning expedition, some Members tackled a challenging hike above a glacier while others took zodiac rides to its beautiful base. In the afternoon, the expedition team took us beachside to see a walrus colony up close. During the evening recap, the Captain and Expedition Leader highlighted the week's activities around Svalbard. Before dinner, there was an auction of a journey map adorned with animal drawings by a crew member. The final dinner onboard was celebratory. While presenting a slide show of expedition photos, we were delightfully interrupted by whale sightings. The slide show was a hit, and Members gave a standing ovation to the photographers.

Day 9 & 10

The last day was spent traveling back to Oslo. Everyone looked to get rest before early flights back to the States the next day. It was truly an expedition. One Member summarized the experience saying, “We couldn’t have had more fun if we tried.” And that's, the Exclusive Resorts way.