Arctic Parallel Comes Within Frozen Reach
Taking a trip to the Arctic offers adventure seekers the opportunity to visit one of the most little-seen places on the planet. NY1's Valarie D'Elia filed the following report.
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The expedition cruise line Hurtigruten touts its Arctic itinerary to Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago, as an opportunity to see polar bears. Sightings, however, on our sailing this past summer were elusive.
Chalk it up to global warming, or just bad luck, but despite a few rumors swimming around, we couldn't say we saw the endangered King of the Arctic with our own eyes. We could however, boast of another accomplishment that naturalists might argue comes at the expense of a warming Arctic Ocean.
One of the most memorable moments onboard an Arctic cruise is reaching the 80th parallel.
"Only place in the world where you can reach the 80th parallel by ship in open water anywhere else in the world you would meet land or hard pack ice, or you wouldn't be able to sail through it," said cruise guide Ingrid Karstad.
"It's pretty darn cool, it's the northern most point you get on a boat in open water, not a lot of people can say they've done that," said one cruise goer.
One of the highlights of reaching the 80th parallel is being able to see Moffen Island.
"It's a small sandbank with a lagoon in the middle and is known for a walrus colony. It's hard to say, we have 80 walruses chilling on the beach on Moffen," Karstad said.
Hurtigruten offers six or nine night summer itineraries to Spitsbergen, with Oslo as the airport gateway.
Cruising the Arctic can carry a boatload of expectations, but whether you sail away disappointed, is simply a matter of degree.