The Arctic Uncovered with a True Expert


Arctic Explorers - Interview with Baldur Thorvaldsson

The Arctic is a region of wondrous, natural treasures. Here, we chat with Scenic Eclipse Discovery Team member, Baldur Thorvaldsson, a native of Iceland and an expert Scenic Polar Guide and Marine Mammal Lecturer, as he shares his incredible insights with us. 

Why I love taking guests to the Arctic region

The Arctic is home to more diverse wildlife than the Antarctic, as the latitudes in the north are more hospitable than those in the south. At the same time, Arctic wildlife tends to inhabit a vaster area, spread over a greater distance and hunting and living in smaller groups that can be more challenging to encounter than in the Antarctic. 

I always experience the same incredible thrill when going where there is a chance of witnessing something really special and go to great efforts to try and find those special moments for our Scenic Eclipse guests.  
The sea is so magnetizing. The ice of the polar regions, the history, and the wildlife. I love sharing the diversity of the Arctic region with a particular fondness for Greenland. 

Journeying through this region with our specialist Scenic Eclipse crew and guests, each day having the opportunity to be regularly enthralled by the peaks of Greenland and its immensely deep fjords. Helping to show our guests the amazing and plentiful wildlife in the Arctic region is a true highlight of my role. 

Wildlife in the Arctic

All wildlife enthusiasts are keen to spot polar bears, although finding them at times can be tricky and calls on the skills of experts trained in deeply understanding the habits of wildlife in the polar region. The kind of behavior you may witness varies – from one resting in the distance, not paying us (or the ship) any attention; to those exhibiting active hunting and socializing behaviors, that would be the highlight of any Attenborough documentary series. 
You just never know beforehand what you may see. The chance of seeing a bear is higher in Svalbard than in Greenland, and very enjoyable to observe from the ship when Scenic Eclipse is exploring the areas of pack ice, the primary hunting ground of bears. The bears are often drawn to the ship from the various aromas, but we keep our safe and respectful distance and our expert Discovery Team is fully equipped with bear deterrents; and landing areas are clearly marked by flags to clearly define the limits of where you can go to, assuring your safety. 

People living the Arctic

One of the biggest myths that persists about the Arctic, is that it is untouched by humans – that is simply not true. Indigenous peoples have inhabited and been moving around the Arctic region for thousands of years, as have explorers, whalers, and sealers for hundreds of years. During the modern era, this region sees all kinds of human activity, which one may see as a positive or negative development. 
Antarctica is different in the sense that it was only discovered about 200 years ago, and the highly limited activity that takes place there is subject to strict and standardized regulations and surveillance. There are also no people living in Antarctica, apart from research scientists who visit for temporary periods. 

The fact that the Arctic is not as untouched by humans makes it just as fascinating, in my opinion, as Antarctica is for the opposite reasons. Be it a stroll through Longyearbyen in Svalbard, observing an ancient Inuit grave in a remote Greenland fjord or viewing bones from a harvested whale on a former whaling station somewhere, it all comes together to form a varied and enriched experience for Scenic Eclipse guests. 

Tips on choosing the right voyage

When considering a Scenic Eclipse ultra-luxury Expedition Voyage in the Arctic, if possible, try and select a journey that incorporates an extensive geographic area for comparison. Some Scenic Eclipse voyages incorporate East Greenland, Svalbard and Iceland for instance, such as the 15-day Arctic Islands: Svalbard, Greenland & Iceland itinerary. 
My other advice is to not rule out choosing a voyage simply because the itinerary includes days at sea. These sea days are built into the journey to get us from one fascinating geographic location to another. Further, it’s sea days that allow you to really immerse yourself in the informative and enriching lectures delivered by our expert Discovery Team members in our theater or to simply observe the ever-changing landscapes from the observation deck. In my experience sea days often present the greatest surprises to those that spend time on deck, as there is no way of knowing what wondrous sights we might witness by chance in the open waters. It could include a sighting of the rare blue whale, for instance, which you are very likely to see along the west coast of Svalbard. Also, if you enjoy birdwatching, sea days are a must as many birds spend little time ashore so it’s the days at sea that will present the birdwatching enthusiasts on board with the best chance to view more species. 

Ultra-luxury meets Discovery

Exploring with Scenic on board the truly all-inclusive 6-star, ultra-luxury Scenic Eclipse is a truly unforgettable experience. The comfort and atmosphere experienced during your voyage is second to none. The black-and-white colored exterior of the Discovery Yacht will often see her blending well into the mountainous background, that is characteristic of many polar locations. And what’s more, Scenic Eclipse probably has all of the finest technology and safety equipment available with two helicopters, a submarine^ and a fleet of advanced Zodiacs. The expert Discovery Team is the core of each Expedition Voyage, with up to 20-members.  The team leads the helicopter flightseeing^ and submarine^ dives as well as Zodiac and kayak excursions, nature walks and much more.  

^Helicopters and submarines at additional cost, subject to regulatory approval, availability, weight restrictions, medical approval and weather and ice conditions. 
Helicopter inside passage

About Baldur Thorvaldsson

Baldur Thorvaldsson is one of up to 20 expert Scenic Eclipse Discovery Team members. He is a native of Iceland and a Scenic Polar Guide and Marine Mammal Lecturer. Baldur has long felt called to a life of expedition, realizing early after completing a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, that parkas and fresh air was far more appealing to him than wearing suits and sitting indoors. He decided to turn his enthusiasm for wildlife into a career. After completing studies on a further Ecotourism Degree, Baldur started working in whale-watching tourism in several countries, which eventually led him to Antarctic waters, eventually joining the Discovery Team on board Scenic Eclipse.  Balder uses his deep knowledge and understanding of nature, along with his strong communication skills to help create memorable moments for the guests of Scenic Eclipse.


“The fact that the Arctic is not as untouched by humans makes it just as fascinating, in my opinion, as Antarctica is for the opposite reasons. Be it a stroll through Longyearbyen in Svalbard, observing an ancient Inuit grave in a remote Greenland fjord or viewing bones from a harvested whale on a former whaling station somewhere, it all comes together to form a varied and enriched experience for Scenic guests.”


“I always experience the same incredible thrill when going somewhere that I know there is a chance of witnessing something really special, and I go to great efforts to try and find those moments for our guests.”


“Journeying through this region with our special Scenic Eclipse crew and guests, I love each day having the opportunity to be regularly enthralled by the peaks of Greenland and its immensely deep fjords.”


Arctic Brochure Fan 2