|Wind:||SE Bft 2|
It is late afternoon on a glorious sunny day in when the first new passengers arrive 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 greet each guest as they climb the gangway for the first time and direct them to the reception to check in. The hotel manager, DJ, and his assistant Alex, quickly have all passengers assigned and shown to their cabins where they will spend 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— practicing how to muster and put on the lifejackets. The ship pulled away from the dock with three strong blasts to the ship’s horn during the muster roll call in the bar—so we knew we were on our way! After following our muster captains up on deck to get familiar with the life boat locations, the drill was finished-- offering an excellent chance to enjoy more moments in the fresh air, appreciating the gorgeous backdrop of craggy mountains 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—remember to slow down and appreciate your surroundings. Then our Hotel Manager DJ gave a presentation about house rules, how the ship works, and all-important meal times. The Expedition Team also had a go, with Katja outlining how the team will operate and explained that everyone is in good hands so just trust the team to keep everyone safe and do as much as we possibly can under Mother Nature’s rules. Then each team member introduced themselves briefly and by 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, DJ’s announcement came calling us into dinner. A wonderful three-course meal was served by DJ 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 bonding 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 in-famous 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 to prepare for the “motion of the ocean”. Properly prepared, we drifted off, cosy in bed, dreaming of the adventures in store.