|Position:||78°13.7’N / 015°36.1’E|
Since Longyearbyen’s foundation as a coal-mining settlement in 1906 by John Munro Longyear, it has been the starting point for many historic and pioneering expeditions. Our adventure began with boarding our comfortable floating home for the next nine days – the Plancius at the pier in Longyearbyen. Once onboard, we made our way to reception where our Hotel Manager André and Chief Steward Thijs de Lint greeted us, and the hotel staff showed us to our cabins.
After we had set sail we were officially welcomed on board by Hotel Manager André van der Haak and the team. André described the layout of the ship, the most important fact being the location of the coffee and hot chocolate machine in the almost equally important panorama lounge. This is where we had met now for an introduction to the voyage by Expedition Leader Christian Engelke. We got to know our guides, met Captain Yevgeny Levakov and raised our glasses to toast a successful expedition; our voyage had begun! Afterwards, Second Mate Annika presented a safety briefing before the lifeboat drill which provided an opportunity for dressing up and getting to know each other as we huddled together like orange-breasted sea birds on the deck.
While Plancius sailed west out of Isfjorden (the Ice Fjord), the ship’s movements increased gradually. Christian had already mentioned this, and a few of us approached the ship’s physician Hans Frima regarding medication – better safe than sorry. But we still enjoyed our very first dinner prepared by Chef Heinz Hacker and his galley team – it was delicious! Afterwards, many of us gathered in the lounge again to watch the play of the waves, search for wildlife, or marvelled at the ever changing colours of the sea. At some stage we simply had to give in because our eyelids just got heavier and heavier, and while Plancius was heading north, we fell asleep in the middle of the ocean.