|Position:||78°13’N - 015°36’E|
It was a wonderful sunny day in Longyearbyen when we made our way to the port. The little blue ship Plancius was already waiting for us at the pier. We watched how the luggage was craned on board, then it was time for us to walk up the gangway for the very first time. Hotel manager Zsuzsanna welcomed us and the friendly Philippine crew showed us to our cabins.
We had some time to explore the ship before we all gathered in the Lounge for an introduction to the ship and a safety briefing by first officer Miia. Then the lines were cast off and we were under way, our adventure had begun. The colourful houses of Longyearbyen grew smaller and we sailed out into the Isfjord.
The next program point was the practical part of the lifeboat drill. Equipped with warm clothes and our bright oranges life jackets we first mustered in the lounge and then went out on deck to inspect the lifeboats. Let’s hope that we will never have to see them from the inside again.
After the drill we were in for a treat: The Captain’s Cocktail. We met our Russian captain Andrei Zybin and toasted with him and the expedition team to a successful and safe voyage.
Shortly afterwards expedition leader Ali announced through the PA system, that a polar bear was spotted on land. Everybody rushed outside. Less than 2 hours into our trip and we watched our first polar bear. It was a male bear who had visited Longyearbyen during the night and was chased off by helicopter. When we saw him, he was walking up a snowy slope under steep cliffs. Unfortunately, he soon disappeared through a saddle, but Plancius sailed around into the next bay and after a while we could observe him from the other side. Still walking with purpose, we could appreciate how fast and easy he moved over the steep and snowy terrain.
Dinner was delayed due to the polar bear, but nobody minded, in contrast we were impressed by the flexibility of the kitchen. When we finally sat down for dinner, we thoroughly enjoyed the three-course meal served by head chef Khabir.
After dinner one more thing had to be ticket off, we were issued with rubber boots which would accompany us on our adventures and keep us dry and warm. Late in the evening the Midnight sun temped many on the outside decks. The sun wouldn’t set for the next 7 days. With beautiful light and stunning mountains, it was hard to find the way into bed.