|Wind:||W Bft 4/5|
It was a late afternoon on a glorious sunny day when the first new passengers arrived to board the Ortelius. Our new family, from the young to the young at heart, walked down the pier with clear excitement and anticipation. The expedition staff greeted each guest as they climbed the gangway for the first time and directed them to the Reception to check in. Hotel Manager Sigi and his assistant Melanie quickly had all passengers assigned and shown to their cabins , their homes for the next 11 days.
A few folks lingered in the Dining Room sorting out their rental gear but then came an announcement to meet in the Lecture Room for the mandatory safety briefing followed by an abandon ship drill— practising how to muster and put on the lifejackets. The ship pulled away from the dock with three strong blasts of the ship’s horn during the muster roll-call in the bar so we knew we were on our way! After following our mus-ter captains up on deck to get familiar with the lifeboat locations, the drill was finished offering an excel-lent chance to enjoy more moments in the fresh air, appreciating the gorgeous backdrop of craggy moun-tains surrounding Ushuaia. Next up came Captain’s Cocktails, a chance to meet the ship’s master Ernesto Barria and hear his greeting and thoughts on how to get the most out of this trip, encouraging people to slow down and appreciate your surroundings. Then our Hotel Manager gave a presentation about house rules, how the ship works, and all-important meal times. The Expedition Team then came forward, with Tobias outlining how the team will operate and explaining that everyone was in good hands – all we had to do was just trust the team to keep everyone safe and do as much as we possibly can under Mother Nature’s rules! Each team member introduced themselves briefly, and then everyone was ready to get out of the bar which had become almost like a sauna due to the unusually warm and sunny day!
The outer decks provided a welcome respite, a chance to soak up yet more impressive scenery along the Beagle Channel, with snow-capped mountains and craggy slopes covered in beech trees offering us a fare-well on our journey further south. Too soon for some, and not soon enough for others, Sigi’s announcement came calling us into dinner. A wonderful three-course meal was served by Sigi and his team, much to the delight of all those new aboard and setting the standard for the rest of the cruise. After dinner, with no more briefings or meetings to be had, folks focused on getting comfortable in their cabins, walked the out-er decks, or gathered in the bar chatting about all the exciting things to come during the voyage and bond-ing over a few drinks while Rolando provided wonderful service and witty banter. The doctor also dropped by to discuss with those concerned how to manage sea-sickness over the next few days on the infamous Drake Passage. The staff informed the passengers that during the night we would be leaving the shelter of the Beagle Channel and enter open water so we were advised to prepare for the “motion of the ocean”. Properly set up, we drifted off, cosy in bed, dreaming of the adventures in store.