While not everyone does the kind of extreme Arctic trip that Cecilie Skog and Rune Gjeldnes do, everyone who undertakes the trip is unique in his or her own way. The passengers bring a wide breadth of experience to the journey.

For instance, Zeynep and Marcus Koller, a German couple who live in Atlanta, have worked in more than 30 countries. They are management consultants advising chief financial officers on strategic market positioning.

They will go to the Pole on Expedition Cruises’ August departure. They decided to take this trip, Zeynep wrote in an e-mail, because “we travel for work every week and have very intense work commitments. Once a year we make sure to follow our polar affinity and passion. We have traveled throughout Scandinavia beyond the Arctic Circle, Iceland, Greenland, Alaska and the High Canadian Arctic as well as the Antarctic Peninsula.”

She said they had planned for years to travel to the geographical North Pole. They abandoned other travel plans at the last minute because “we had to admit that we felt a lot more exciting about another trip to the Arctic.”

She and her husband are very interested in nature and wildlife. “We particularly enjoy mammals, i.e. bears, seals, walruses, musk ox, whales as well as shore birds,” she said. “Whereas we believe the wildlife [at the Pole] will be similar (even though we would be thrilled to see a Narwhal), the landscape is most likely incomparable.

“Even though we both enjoy short weekend travel to various cities which is partly enabled through our jobs, our favorite type of vacation always includes dogs or wildlife. We love dog mushing which we have done in Alaska, Canada and Greenland in the winter.”

They say they have seen “all of Europe, 43 U.S. states, most of Caribbean, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, India, UAE. We will always make sure to go on one expedition per year. We have seen very little of South East Asia or Polynesia. We would love to explore that side of the world. We are also interested in traveling the Amazon River.”

Their plans are to “travel at least once a year and keep exploring.” That’s the spirit.

* * *

So now, I bid adieu. As I write this, I’m just about 12 hours from leaving for JFK, where I’ll hop aboard Finnair to Helsinki. From there, it’s overnight at the Radisson Blu Plaza hotel, then a flight Sunday morning to Murmansk, where I’ll catch the 50 Years of Victory nuclear icebreaker. Seems like only yesterday I got the call that said I was going. It’s been several months of waiting, planning, the miscellaneous mishaps that occur when you’re under the gun. What was it John Lennon said – Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Well, I’m usually the type to start packing shortly before it’s time to leave for the airport. This time is no exception, but in other ways, 12 hours out, I’m a little more prepared than usual. Not much, but a little. OK, up at the Pole, there’s no phone, no Internet, no e-mail, none of that stuff. Suits me fine. I think I can wait till I get back to write some more. I hope you can too.

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