Theodore W Scull takes a voyage north – WAY north – with the unique National Geographic Explorer of Lindblad Expeditions

It’s a truly vast region. The High Arctic stretches from Canada above the Arctic Circle eastward via Greenland to newly-opened regions of northern Russia.

Somewhere in between lies the Norwegian island of Svalbard, or perhaps what we once knew as Spitsbergen, a name now applied to the territory’s largest island. To be more precise about its location, think of Norway’s North Cape and then go another 600 miles north. If you then went roughly the same distance again, you would have arrived at the North Pole.

However, Svalbard is anything but beastly cold, dreary and lifeless – at least during the short summer season. The temperatures hover above freezing and the sun remains above the horizon without a hint of dawn or dusk.