As the Clipper Odyssey steamed north towards the Arctic Circle, the seas calmed so dramatically that the surface took on a mirror-like quality. Even the ubiquitous fog began to burn off, with some sun creeping down to warm our skin, and bits of blue sky visible overhead. We gathered on the back deck for a group photo and, while we squeezed together along the railing for the picture, anticipation grew for what was to follow: an Arctic swim.
Following the photo shoot, we gathered around the pool, which actually looked quite inviting as the sun illuminated its turquoise (ok, greenish really) water. The reality was that the deck department had just filled the pool with water straight out of the Bering Strait, with absolutely no heating involved whatsoever. The Captain was taking the ship to the point where the International Date Line crosses the Arctic Circle, and some of us were planning to be in that pool for the crossing. With just seconds to go, the ship sounded its horn and the swimmers took to the water, effectively “swimming” across the Arctic Circle. Cameras clicked as more and more hearty souls shed layers and took the Polar Plunge.
Several minutes later, the frenzy of splashing had calmed, now replaced with laughs at the pool bar over shots of Alaskan vodka, which was on hand to warm the swimmers and non-swimmers alike. Many of those who had taken the polar dip were overheard commenting that they really didn’t think the water would be THAT cold; but, then again, we are in the Arctic!