On our 8-week European tour (Dubai - Paris - Norway - Spitsbergen - Arctic cruises - Iceland - River Seine cruise - Dubai)
 in July-August 2015, we undertook 2 Arctic cruises from Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago, half way between Norway and the North Pole.

We wanted to see polar bears in the wild,  and over the 21 days of the 2 cruises we saw 14 polar bears.

We also saw our first ever puffins - a real bonus!!

Puffins are any of three small species of alcids (auks) in the bird genus Fratercula with a brightly coloured beak during the breeding season.
These are seabirds that feed primarily by diving in the water.
They breed in large colonies on coastal cliffs or offshore islands, nesting in crevices among rocks or in burrows in the soil.
Two species, the tufted puffin and horned puffin, are found in the North Pacific Ocean, while the Atlantic puffin is found in the North Atlantic Ocean.

All puffin species have predominantly black or black and white plumage, a stocky build, and large beaks.
They shed the colourful outer parts of their bills after the breeding season, leaving a smaller and duller beak.
Their short wings are adapted for swimming with a flying technique under water.
 In the air, they beat their wings rapidly (up to 400 times per minute) in swift flight, often flying low over the ocean's surface.

Later on we saw a lonely puffin at Dyrhólaey on our Iceland tour.

We loved the puffins!!

See more of our Arctic cruise photos ...