|Position:||78°14.0‘ N, 015°37.4‘ E|
On this nice day in Longyearbyen, when we made our way to the pier we found out that indeed we were about to embark on an adventurous voyage. Ortelius was at anchor out in the fjord, and once we had arrived to the small pier we met members of the expedition team who took care of our luggage and handed us lifejackets – our transfer to the ship would be by zodiac. Soon we were crossing the calm waters towards the ship. After we had made our way up the Ortelius gangway, we met the hotel team who showed us to our cabins. As soon as we had settled into our comforta-ble home for the next 8 days, most of us found themselves either on the outside decks to enjoy the views and the sunshine or in the bar for a coffee or tea.
Soon it was time to gather in the lecture room for several welcome briefings. One was by our Ex-pedition Leader Rinie van Meurs, another by our hotel manager Dejan (DJ). We were also briefed by Third Officer John on ship safety and how to prepare for the worst. A drill of the general alarm (seven short blasts followed by one long blast) was made, and we all donned the SOLAS orange life jackets and mustered in the bar guided by crew and staff. After a roll call to assure everyone was present we went out to the lifeboats and some of us actually went inside.
We returned to our cabins briefly before regrouping with Captain Ernesto Barria in the lounge for a welcoming toast of champagne or juice before heading down to the dining room for our first scrumptious dinner prepared by Chef Heinz and his staff. Meanwhile, Ortelius made her way through Isfjorden towards the open sea. After dinner, our Expedition Leader Rinie told us that there was a special treat waiting for us: whales had been sighted just ahead of the ship! And there they were, several blows beautifully backlit against the coastline – two Blue Whales were seen right next to the ship for a while and at a bit of a distance a Humpback Whale was seen. What an exciting first day, and what a start to our voyage!