There was of course another reason for not being on deck a far more frightening reason. The ice around the ship is constanly moving and as it moves pressure ridges rise around the hull of the ship. They make handy steps for an inquisitive polar bear who can smell the human rations onboard. So for fifty four hours we hunkered down and passed the time with out fellow passengers listening to talks about the possible effects of the depletion of the oozone layer, (devastating to polar bears), baby gliders, (more on that later), and the arctic fox. Whilst most of us had our hearts set on an encounter with a polar bear her Ladyship was desperate to see the arctic fox.
It was mid afternoon when the fog finally vanished it took only a matter of minutes as a wind from the north swept down and rolled it southward. Eager to get some fresh air most people returned to their cabins to kit up. As his Lordship and I were heading for the deck a hushed message came over the intercom, "There's a polar bear on the ice directly ahead of us, everyone silent please as we are going to attempt to get closer to it."
So as we crept up onto the deck our heartbeats were pounding so loudly it was all I could do to stop myself from sshing everyone I passed. Peering over the side my breath caught in my throat, right there just a matter of a few hundred feet away lay the most amazing creature I have ever encountered. It was sleeping, just curled up on the ice... sleeping. The engines had been cut and with everyone on board holding their breath the silence was intense. All eyes taking in the huge bear, sleeping, totally unphased by the bulk of the ship or the voyeurs it carried. This was his kingdom and he knew it. An icy thread laced my cheek and I realised that I was crying.
He lay there for a while, just sniffing the air and taking it all in his stride, then he simply looked around at his paparazzi and got up and sauntered away.
My breath still catches when I see him.