237 ing station, as well as the graves of the many sailors, who until the late-18th century were buried here, never to return home. Whalers from British coastal towns would typically sail between Spitsber- gen and Greenland in pursuit of whales. Their tiny boats were often crushed by whales—most often sperm whales—and their ships were often trapped in ice in the whaling hotspots, the Davis Strait and Baffin Bay, when their captains failed to leave before winter set in. Welcome to a land of rich history and tragedy as well as beauty— Virgohamna, or Virgo Bay, north-west of Spitsbergen, was home to another 17th century whaling station. Above all, it is known as the staging area for many tragic attempts to reach the North Pole by balloon. In 1896, Swedish balloonist Salomon August Andrée set up camp here and lifted off a year later with two team members on a trip that cost them their lives. Their remains were found in 1930— it was a sensation that, after 33 years in the ice, their camera films could still be developed, so we have photos of the struggle during their desperate journey over the ice. A few years later, the Ameri- can explorer Wellmann attempted this same adventure, without success. There are different opinions as to Wellman’s legacy: a pio- neer of Polar aviation or one of the greatest fools who has taken part in the race to the Pole. During your visit, you will see the lega- cies of these intrepid men in the debris which still lies around: planks, rusty cans, pipes, earthenware and all kinds of waste on the ground. Visitors are asked to respect these historic remnants, in homage to these heroic attempted conquerors of the Pole. Your captain will sail right up to the limit of the ice, to the edge of the northern ice floe. Weather conditions and ice allowing, you can go out in a Zodiac inflatable for a unique experience in the midst of these floating slabs of ice. On this grandiose journey through the midst of these floes, with their cut and blue-tinged edges sometimes more than two metres thick, it is also often an op- portunity to see the Arctic birds, the seals—and Polar bears. Texas Bar is an unusual place in the High Arctic, a former trapper’s hut used in the past by hunters of Arctic fox and Polar bears. The hut, still in place, shows the trappers’ bunkbeds and kitchen utensils. Lo- cated at the entrance to Liefdefjorden (the ‘fjord of love’), it stands peacefully in a landscape of hills blanketed with moss, lichen and flowers. The cliffs with their changing colours, frequented by birds, complete the beauty of the panorama. Take a hike up the slopes and admire the superb view over the Monaco Glacier farther south. Located to the North-West of the Svalbard archipelago, the Monaco Glacier is one of Spitsbergen’s most beautiful and majes- tic. Also named in honour of Prince Albert, it stands as an impene- trable, blue-tinged, jagged wall, the last glacier before reaching a latitude of 80° North. Imagine the ice cracking as it breaks free and crashes into the transparent water. And to make the landscape even more magical, you might spot bears and whales, which have a special fondness for this area of the Arctic. We shall sail on to discover Ny-Ålesund, formerly an important mining town and fishery station, transformed into a scientific base which is now the focus of an international research community, cur- rently populated by 14 independently operated research stations led by 10 nations (UK, Norway, Japan, Germany, France, South Korea, India, China, The Netherlands and Italy). Founded in 1916, this small town was the departure point for many Arctic expeditions, in- cluding those of the famous Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who was first to reach the South Pole, the first to make a ship voyage through the Northwest Passage, and one of the first to cross the Arc- tic by air. He was one of the greatest figures in Polar exploration. He That unique, thrilling feeling of being truly on top of the world any category of stateroom or suite at special Club rates. The categories start from the Superior Stateroom at 226 sq ft. All cabins have sitting ar- eas with sofas and long vani- ties. Drawer and wardrobe space is generous. The Superi- or Stateroom has a picture window in place of the bal- conies which other state- rooms and suites all have. For comparison, you can choose a Prestige Stateroom (199 sq ft plus a 43 sq ft private bal- cony), or a Deluxe Suite (291 sq ft plus a 65 sq ft balcony), with sofa, two showers, built- in bar and dressing room. Or the 387 sq ft Prestige Suite on Deck Six, a suite with an 86 sq ft private balcony: it’s rather like a Parisian apartment. As befits a French cruise yacht, the cuisine is high-class, with a gastronomic restaurant and grill, 11 lounges and bars. Classically French in style, the focus is on the finest cuisine and of course excellent wines. On-board service is sleek and polished, provided by a bevy of stewards, butlers and chefs. And for beauty and fit- ness, there is a full-service spa and gym with three Jacuzzis. Throughout this awe-inspir- ing cruise you will enjoy the comfort, elegance and the special French ambience of the cruise yacht Le Boréal, one of the finest purpose-built Polar expedition yachts. She is a stun- ning yacht—built to ‘ice class’, she is also stylish, state-of-the- art yet intimate, with elegant, eye-sweet lines. Her diminutive size (her length is only 466ft, draft just over 15ft, with 132 outside staterooms and mainly balconied suites for 264 passengers) makes her an innovative yacht, consid- ered a top-luxury ‘cruise yacht’ for private yacht cruis- ing and intimate experiences. Le Boréal features innova- tive state-of-the-art marine technology. She has a service speed of 16 knots at 4,200kW and is fitted with an 800kW Rolls- Royce bow thruster, is built to ice class 1C and has the highest BV Comfort classifi- cation. The electric propulsion system enables the ship to cruise with little vibra- tion and significantly less en- gine noise than usual, giving a smooth, quiet, comfortable passage—an important bene- fit for passengers in such pris- tine locations as the Arctic. Comfort is further enhanced by a Rolls-Royce Aquarius 100 retractable stabilizer system. The onboard atmosphere is marked by large, airy public spaces and staterooms with elegant décor, silks and Swarovski crystal chandeliers. Facilities are as you expect of a five-star private yacht: state- rooms and suites are elegant, with individually controlled air-conditioning, Wifi, iPod chargers and flatscreen TVs. You can choose to stay in WINE, DINE AND DISCOVER THE ARCTIC IN LUXURY ON THE ‘ICE CLASS’ EXPEDITION YACHT, LE BOREAL