I am so tired!
Before we turned in for the night, there was a hint that perhaps, just perhaps there was a chance that we would be able to see the Northern Lights. Excited I made a conscious decision to try and stay awake as long as I could in hopes that I would witness this wonderful light experience.
In order for these lights to be visible, the sky has to be clear at night and all other magnetosphere conditions met. Unfortunately, all the ingredients for the Northern Lights to make an appearance failed to come together leaving me disappointed and very tired.
Fortunately, our tour for the day does not leave until 12:30 pm so I could spend a little extra time in bed and enjoy a late breakfast before heading to the pier to meet our tour group.
The Eyjafjörður is over 70 km (229 feet) in length from the mouth to the bottom of the fjord and is the longest fjord in Iceland. There are high mountains on both sides. Over 20 species of whales make their way into the fjord looking for krill, sand eels, cod and other small fishes to feed on.
It was only 60° with a heavy cloud cover when we prepared to meet our tour group. We dressed warmly and made our way down to the pier. We boarded a medium-sized boat with seating above deck and below, a cafeteria and bar.
Randy wanted to go below but, really? I wanted to feel the wind in my face as we sailed through the water and not have any barriers between me and a clear sight of the whales.
I went upstairs and found a seat in front just above the bow of the boat. There were several other passengers there too. As the boat started to make its way through the water, the air became colder and colder.
Several people including Randy put on one-piece jumpsuits to stave off the cold chill coming off the water.
I found the chill in the air exhilarating! As we started our ‘safari’, I looked around. On one side of the fjord was the city skyline of Akureyri on the other beautiful, sloping mountains with clusters of homes and farms near the shoreline. “It is going to be a wonderful day,” I thought to myself.
When we boarded one of the crew members introduced herself as the ‘spotter’ on this tour. She explained that she would be watching the water for telltale signs that a whale was in the vicinity using the face of a clock for direction. When she did she would say something line, “Whale at 12:00 we knew to look straight ahead and so forth.
There was not a sound to be heard as we all stared at the waterline hoping to see a sign. All of a sudden we heard, “Whale at 3 o’clock”. Everyone looked to the right. And sure enough we saw a spray of water rising high above the waterline.
A bit later we could see a shiny, black humpback whale curving its back as it started its move to go under.
We held our breath as the humpback whale lifted its tail and started its descent into the depths of the fjord exposing its fluke. Beautiful!
As we circle the fjord several other ships appeared on the horizon. It was interesting to watch as all the boats kept a respectful distance from one another. Time passed and we had another sighting.
At one point we found ourselves sailing close to an old canning factory and we had yet another sighting. We circled and circled for over three hours watching, waiting and getting excited at every sighting.
I was standing next to the railing and all of a sudden a whale appeared right next to the boat. I was so startled. I was not sure if I caught this amazing creature with my camera but I snapped away hoping I did. I did!
The water was so clear we could see the whale’s flippers.
It was time to go back. Randy took off his coveralls and we sat hand-in-hand just enjoying the boat ride and the spectacular views all around us. We looked at each other and said in unison, “What an exciting day!”
We returned to the ship and dressed for evening cocktails with Jim and JoAnne. We had a wonderful time sharing our days’ excitement with our friends. Before we knew it, it was time to go to dinner.
During dinner the captain announced that there was a good chance we might see the Northern Lights this evening. He promised that he would alert us if this was to happen. Tired, I put Randy in charge of keeping an eye open during the dark of the night. The captain also promised to blow the ship’s horn if we passed the Arctic Circle.
At about 11:00 pm, the captain made an announcement that the Northern Lights could be seen off the port side of the ship.
We woke up, dressed and made our way down to the deck 5 and stepped out into the cold night air and all we could hear were words like, “Beautiful, awesome, wonderful” from all the passengers lined up along the railing.
A very nice gentleman stepped aside as I approached the railing saying, “Here, take this spot I have all the pictures I need”.
I stood there for the longest time snapping away hoping that whatever my camera was capturing it would convey what I was seeing with my own eyes.
We eventually went back to the cabin and went out onto the balcony. There were wispy signs of the lights on this side of the ship but they were quickly fading away.
Happy, we returned to bed and hoped we would be able to fall asleep after such excitement. But just an hour later the captain blew the ship’s horn signaling that we had passed the Arctic Circle.
What a day!
The next day we were presented with certificates acknowledging that we had successfully sailed through the Arctic Circle. Wonderful!
We were surprised on the last night of this leg of our cruise to find a beautiful photograph taken by one of the ship’s photographers of the Norther Lights on our bed. What a surprise! What memories! This was truly a wonderful, magical day!