At the end of the world (fin del mundo in Spanish), in colourful Ushuaia, we boarded Ortelius around 4pm. Soon we were checked in by Hotel Manager DJ and his assistant Sava, and the friendly hotel team showed us our cabins. In the free time afterwards, we unpacked and settled in. Lovely to know that we don’t have to change ‘hotel’ again until we’re back in Ushuaia!
We then began exploring our new home; perhaps the most important place to find was the Bar on Deck 6, where coffee/tea can be accessed 24/7 and where Barman Rolando can often be found if we fancy something stronger. We also learned how to quickly and efficiently make our way to the outside decks – it’s good to know how to get out there in case whales and other wildlife are around.
At 5 pm we were summoned by Expedition Leader Cheryl to a mandatory briefing in the Lecture Room on Deck 3. She welcomed us on board and introduced Third Officer Warren who gave an all-important Safety Briefing and Lifeboat Drill. Now we were aware of what we should do if we see a fire or man overboard, and knew precisely what to grab and where to go in the event of the ship’s general alarm going off. Soon after, we put our newly acquired knowledge to the test: Seven short and one long blast called us (warmly dressed) to the Bar, the muster station. Once we were all there, the ‘abandon ship’ signal was sounded. Filing outside in orderly fashion and gathering next to the lifeboats completed the drill; we were then free to continue our explorations of the ship, or come out on deck to watch Ortelius’ departure from Ushuaia. We waved our goodbyes and headed down the Beagle Channel towards the open ocean.
Before dinner we again gathered in the Lounge/Bar on Deck 6 in order to meet key crew/staff and learn about ship routine during our voyage. Hotel Manager DJ imparted useful information about mealtimes, Internet/Webmail access and treating the toilets nicely. He was followed by Expedition Leader Cheryl, who introduced Captain Mika – the person who would get us there and back again safely – and then handed over to her team of staff for self-introductions. We raised a glass of bubbly (or orange juice) to the success of our voyage and then it was time for our first dinner aboard.
After dinner Dr. Tom was available in the ship’s hospital to hand out seasickness medication and valuable advice. A stroll on deck, a cup of tea or something stronger, and then most of us fell into bed after a busy and exciting day – hoping to be fast asleep before the rocking and rolling would begin.