|Positie:||78°14.0’ N / 015°35.8’ E|
Some of us had just arrived at the Longyearbyen airport as scheduled. For the ones who were supposed to come last night, the plane was not able to land due to fog, but the new flight landed by midday at 78 degrees North. We had a few hours to explore Spitsbergen’s small capital city, visiting the museum and the church. At 16.00 we were able to board M/V Plancius. Sandra, our Assistant Expedition Leader, greeted us on the pier and we took the first steps up the gangway into the ship.
Once on board, Hotel Manager Dejan welcomed us. And with the help of the hotel crew we settled into our cabins; our luggage was already there! We had a few minutes to wander around and get familiar with the interior of the ship, as this would be our home for the two following weeks.
By 17:00, all passengers were on board and Plancius cast off the pier and started sailing into Adventfjorden. We were soon gathered in the observation lounge to be briefed about safety on board. The briefing was held by First Officer Artur who was talking about ship safety and how to prepare for the worst. A general alarm-drill (seven short blasts followed by one long) was made, and we all took the SOLAS orange life jackets and mustered in the lounge guided by crew and staff. After a roll call to assure everyone was present, we went out to the lifeboats hoping to never actually have to use them again.
After a short break to enjoy this scenic navigation, Christian, our Expedition Leader, invited us for another briefing about life on board given by Dejan. We were a very multicultural/international group. All orientation material was given both in German and English. Dejan introduced us to the ship, hotel operations and dining room meals while Christian introduced the expedition team. Captain Evgeny joined us in the lounge for a welcoming toast of sparkling wine or juice before we headed down to the dining room for our first scrumptious dinner prepared by Head Chef Ralf and his staff.
Some of us were eager to get out on deck to enjoy the arctic light and views of Northern Fulmars and Kittiwakes. An exciting first day came to an end, but that was the start of many more adventures to come in the following two weeks.