|Position:||78°13.7’N / 015°36.1’E|
Some of us had just arrived from the airport this sleepy Sunday in Longyearbyen others had had a few hours exploring Spitsbergen’s small capital city, visiting the museum and such. At 16.00h we were able to finally board m/v Plancius. Andrew our expedition leader greeted us on the pier and we took the first steps up the gangway to the ship.
Once on-board, we were welcomed by hotel manager André and with the help of the hotel crew we settled into our cabins; our luggage was already there! We had a few minutes to wander around and get acquainted with the layout of the ship, as it will be our home for the next 10 days.
We were soon gathered in the observation lounge to be briefed about safety, and life on-board the ship. We as passengers are a very multicultural/international group. All orientation material is given bi-lingual in both German and English. Headsets were provided for the German speakers and our expedition guide Katja daftly simultaneously translated. André introduced us to the layout of the ship, hotel operations and dining room edict. We were also briefed by First Officer Jaanus on ship safety and how to prepare for the worst.
A drill of the general alarm (seven long blast followed by one long blast) was made, and we all donned the SOLAS orange life jackets and mustered in the lounge guided by crew and staff. After a roll call to assure everyone was present we went out to the lifeboats hoping to never actually have to use them.
We returned to our cabins briefly before regrouping with Captain Alexey 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 Ralf and his staff. The clouds had continued to soften the skies, the waters were calm and only a slight swell was felt as we make our way to Ny-Ålesund Most of us were eager to get out on deck to enjoy the arctic light, and enjoy views of northern fulmars, kittiwake gulls and whales in the distance.
An exciting first day, the start of many more adventures to come in the following week.