Welcome to Winter Whales of Norway 2023 on board the Explorer.
We’re about to start the season of Winter Whales of Norway 2023. The preparations have been done and we are on our way to the fjord looking for Orcas and Whales. Along the way we see a number of blows just below the horizon. We continue sailing and explore the fjords far away from the surrounding villages.
Every now and then an Orca emerges. “Look, there’s a blow!” The first Humpback whale shows its tail as it goes for a deep dive. We slow down the ship and wait for the Humpback whale to surface again. Guests run to their cabins for their cameras. The guests are waiting outside on the deck with great anticipation. After a few minutes the humpback whale surfaces right next to the ship. We point to the guests and see their first humpback whale with a beautiful sunset in the background. We take our time and continue our journey to avoid disturbing the Humpback whale.
We are approaching one of the smaller islands just outside the fjords. We think we see some black fins. We get closer and see nothing yet, but then suddenly a pod of 15 Orcas surfaces in front of the ship. We use the PA system to inform everyone. We see the guests rushing outside again with cameras under their arms. The ship is now stationary. And the guests follow the pod with Orcas that surface all around the ship. Go down briefly and come up again. A true show under a warm orange and purple sky.
The sun is setting and we look for a place for a quiet night in one of the fjords. The Northern lights are dancing in the sky, which means everyone goes to bed late.
“Get ready for your first snorkelling trip of the season. We would like to see you outside on the deck in your dry suit.”
The next morning immediately after breakfast we sail out of the fjord and continue the search for Whales and Orcas. We find a large pod of Orcas in an area that is new to us, and nobody around, we also see blows of humpback whales in the distance. We’re making an announcement over the PA system. Everyone outside on the deck and on the bridge while we watch the behaviour of the animals. Conditions are good, and the animals seem to hang around in the area. We will make another announcement. “Get ready for your first snorkelling trip of the season. We would like to see you outside on the deck in your dry suit.” The crew has both zodiacs next to the ship in a few minutes. The first guests slowly come out. We check their dry suits. Everyone has been checked, then we are ready to go. On the water we have to sail for a few minutes to get close to the orcas. We repeat what we mentioned earlier in our briefings, and tell them they can go into the water when we say “GO”. And the first snorkelling moment is getting closer. The nerves can be read from the eyes that are covered by their diving goggles. “Go!” There they go, two groups of snorkelers floating in the fjord surrounded by Orcas. After a few minutes we take them out of the water to bring them closer to the Orcas again. We repeat this several times, and then suddenly out of nowhere! Two humpback whales within the pod of Orcas. We see scales and a single herring next to our guests floating in the water and watch the spectacle below them. The feeding ends and the Orcas and Whales disappear into the deep dark fjords. The guests return aboard the Zodiac. They cannot sit still with enthusiasm. They all talk at once about what they have just experienced. As soon as they calm down, they also find out how long we have actually been on the water. It is now almost three o’clock and we still have to go for lunch. We decide to go back to the ship. Everyone needs a hot shower and something to eat. This was the start of our 2023 season on the Explorer.
Johnny van Vliet – Expedition Leader