Most Memorable Polar Moments

Memorable Polar Moments

We hope all of you are staying safe & healthy during this unprecedented time of COVID-19.

As we all practice social distancing and learn to navigate our new way of life, we hope you have not stopped dreaming of traveling. Maybe you have spent time looking through photographs of past adventures or if you are like all of us you are exploring new and exciting places you can travel to when it’s safe to venture out again. 

The Polar Cruises team has put together a few stories & photographs to share some of our our most memorable Polar moments, hope you enjoy them!

Catching the golden light in South Georgia

by Lynn Cross

Penguin Surfing

After more than 30 years in the Polar travel business I have more than a few memorable moments, here is one that comes to mind.

It's early morning in South Georgia. The sound of the King penguins onshore and the golden light are calling. Especially for photographers this is the best time of the day when the light is perfect and there are lots of subjects to capture.

But, you don't have to be a photographer to enjoy this spectacular wildlife destination and the sights & sounds of what is commonly called "The Alps of the Southern Ocean".

Humpback Whale encounter

By Sharon Keating


Years ago, I taught 4th grade in California and my students were required to do animal reports. Many of them chose whales as the animal that most inspired them.

After joining Polar Cruises, I have been lucky to be inspired myself by these amazing animals. I have seen on several occasions bubble-net feeding where humpbacks work together to herd krill into a net of bubbles as a feeding strategy my student reported on. 

One particular encounter in Antarctica's Weddell Sea with both a pod of Orca and a mother and calf humpback stand out to me. While the Orca swam in a pod a bit off the ship. The mother humpback herded her calf along our bow. She was trying to keep the calf between her body and the ship as a safety strategy but the calf being the playful child resisted her efforts. They stayed with us for more than an hour. So close that their bodies did not fit in our photo frames. 

Antarctica has a pristine beauty and at the same time you are reminded what a wild environment encompassed within it.


Below the water

By Shari Hatcher


Snorkeling in Antarctica, who would imagine. You may have snorkeled in the warm waters of the tropics, but polar snorkeling is like no other snorkeling experience!

Under the water you will experience another dimension Antarctica has to offer. The icebergs are amazing how deep they are and the bright blue color. If you are lucky you will see penguins swimming so fast you can’t believe your eyes.  You may also see jellyfish, starfish and seals!

Close up encounter with a Walrus

By Lynn Cross

Walrus up close

One of my fondest Arctic memories is kneeling at the waters edge taking pictures of a large walrus swimming. As I looked through the lens of my camera I realized that only part of the walrus head was in the frame and when I lowered my camera I saw that I was looking eye to eye with this amazing creature. I backed away slowly as he continued to swim by. What an amazing moment!

Polar Bear Encounter

By Janys Olsen


When I talk about my trips to family and friends my husband always says he thinks Spitsbergen is my favorite place - which surprises me because I feel like it would & should be Antarctica. But I have to say my first Spitsbergen trip was amazing. 

My family is from Norway & I lived in Southeast Norway for almost a year, so I also felt like I was coming ‘home’. Spitsbergen is the wildlife capital of the Arctic & if you know me you will know I love animals/wildlife. As a farm girl- animals are always a favorite of mine & hold a special place in my heart. I think that may be why I love Spitsbergen so much & my first trip there so much- we saw all it had to offer: Polar Bears, reindeer, arctic fox, whales, seals, walrus, and guillemots. 

One day in particular was a favorite of mine. It was our first day in the sea ice heading up north & it was an overcast/dreary day. Expedition staff & guests were all looking for any possible sightings of polar bears. We were lucky enough to see one on the sea ice & the expedition leader let us out in zodiacs. We were able to follow the polar bear as it explored the ice, most likely looking for its next meal. It was a younger male who was just minding his own business. It would jump from iceberg to iceberg, push on the ice with his front paws to test its thickness out & even swam a little bit. It was the first time for me seeing a Polar Bear in its natural habitat up close & personal. The size of its massive paws, black eyes, nose constantly sniffing,  the graceful way it moved & swam was amazing to me. It was such a quiet animal & seemed peaceful at the time, but to know its strength & what it could do to its prey was something I was mindful of. I was in awe & it’s a moment I will never forget.

Arctic Sunrise

By Brandon Hagg

Arctic Sunrise

One thing that is consistent on all of my previous polar voyages is that I get very little sleep. I’m a light sleeper, even in the comfort of my own (stationary & quiet) home. Put me on a ship navigating high swells or pack ice, forget about it. I’ll never understand my fellow passengers when they talk about how the rocking of the ship put them right to sleep. I’ve come to accept my ship insomnia and, as a photographer, in many cases it has come to be an advantage. After all, how many times do we really have the chance to visit these remote locations and we can sleep when we get home, right?

On an early September voyage in East Greenland I woke up to the sound of the pack ice brushing up against to hull. It must have been before 6am when I pulled the blinds back from the window to have a look. What I saw I will never forget. I immediately jumped out of bed, put on my layers & grabbed my camera to head out on deck. It was still twilight and the sky was filled with bright orange clouds. The ship was navigating a narrow fjord full of pack ice & large icebergs. There was no wind and the water was like glass giving off the most perfect reflections of surrounding peaks & icebergs. I stood on the aft deck with just one other passenger at first as we watch the sky turn from orange to pink and finally to grey as the sun rose. It was one of the most spectacular sunrise I have ever seen and having the chance to experience the colors, views & calmness of that moment really made me appreciate my inability to sleep!