August 17th - Monacobreen - north shore of Svalbard

We moored in Monacobreen, a fjord with lots of ice floating in the water and several glaciers. We were in the second group of Zodiacs to leave the ship and we heard that one of the first Zodiacs had seen a polar bear, albeit in the distance.

Our Zodiac was driven by Christian and our guide was Sue Flood. As we got nearer to the glacier, we saw some calving taking place but it was a long way away.

There were many kittiwakes flying close to the glacier, but we couldn't get close enough to take good photos. As we motored through the ice, we could hear a gentle popping sound (like Rice Krispies) as the ice melted and the air bubbles trapped in the ice were released.

Cruising through the ice with Toni and Steve enjoying the moment.

Christian and the rest of us having fun!

Sue Flood who kept us amused with her tales of her adventures of wildlife filming all over the world.

Getting up close to some beautiful blue ice. Many of the small bergs were like clear glass.

We didn't get very close to the glacier and I was rather disappointed as other Zodiacs approached to within a few hundred metres of the glacier wall. I estimated the wall was at least 100 metres high.

Eugene and Lucille from South Carolina, posing for a happy photo. We then went to 'refuel' from a supply Zodiac which was manned by members of the crew pouring champagne and serving chocolate- covered cherries and strawberries.

We headed back towards the glacier again and did some cruising through the icebergs. We all enjoyed the time we spent in the ice and, after an hour or so, we returned to the ship and had lunch with Joy, Craig and Anne and Erik from Oslo.

As we were eating, the anchor was lifted and we sailed on, in the hope of sighting more polar bears, but none were seen. We continued heading south around the north-western side of Spitsbergen. We could see why the island had been named Spitsbergen with so many mountains having pointed peaks.

It was wonderful dramatic scenery as we sailed late in the evening. We were hoping to see walruses at our first stop in the morning.

There was a lecture by Kristine, the photographer, on how to take photos of wildlife and landscapes. She gave us some good tips. Afterwards, we had the Venetian Club cocktail party in the observation lounge, hosted by Jarda. Following this, we went into dinner with the Archers, but Richard was in a lot of pain from his knee and went to bed early. We had a very pleasant dinner with Jo Archer.

After dinner, we went up on deck and walked ten times round the boat. There were great views of the glaciers and the 'setting' sun.

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