Svalbard did not live up to its expectations and welcomed us with a rather unusual sight. We have all heard about this isolated Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean with few inhabitants, yet we were greeted by a 2300 passenger cruise ship from Germany instead. Down town Longyearbyen showed similar characteristics to Mallorca during today’s afternoon. It was surprisingly hard to find a cap, not mentioning a place in one of the few restaurants around. This experience enhanced our excitement regarding the embarkation of the Hondius aiming to set sail to more wild and pristine places around Svalbard.
We were picked up from the airport and received a warm welcome in this cold place. The midnight sun was shining, so were the faces of the expedition team when they met us for the first time. Our luggage was transported to the ship separately, which is why most of us enjoyed strolling around town in the never-ending daylight.
We met our fellow passengers along with the expedition stuff at a small jetty aside the large cruise ship.
After life vests were given out, we were prepared for our expedition adventure. The first zodiac ride to the ship left us with a taste of what to expect during the following days.
Once onboard we met our expedition leader Jan Belgers in the lounge for an introduction to the safety procedures onboard, followed by a mandatory safety drill practicing abandoning ship procedures.
Finally, it was time to join our first delicious dinner onboard, while talking to fellow guests and making new friends.
After dinner, we met the whole expedition team in the lounge and were introduced to the plans for the voyage and soon learned that there are almost no real plans whatsoever. Regarding the plans for the next days, we heard that there are no plans except for ice, ‘white fluffy things’ and ice and ice and ice. We were told that we have to be spontaneous as new plans arrive due to variations in wildlife and weather.
The evening ended in the bar and around the most important machine onboard- the coffee machine ;). New friendships started to evolve as well as first arguments, which were partially solved and dimmed by the overall excitement among most of us.
The first night under the light midnight sun onboard was about to begin.
Off to new destinations and into the wild!