Coordinates: 51° 30'N, 00° 05’W
Weather: Blue skies and sunshine
The Prince Albert II was ready for boarding from 12 noon, and the first guests soon began to arrive at Tower Pier, on the north bank of the River Thames. From here, guests took a short ferry ride across the river to where our floating hotel was moored next to HMS Belfast.
The route to the gangway took us through a section of the Belfast with some interesting boat and gun displays and then up the Prince Albert II gangway and on to the ship. Guests were checked in and offered refreshments before taking the opportunity to explore their new “home”. Shortly before 5pm, all were on board, had been shown to their suites and were now unpacking and getting to know the ship.
At 5pm Robin West gathered us together in the Panorama Lounge and formally welcomed everyone on board. He then introduced some of the Heads of Departments responsible for our comfort and wellbeing on board and gave us a little information about our expedition over the next few days.
All of the lecturing staff introduced themselves – a team of 10 or more experts on wildlife, history, geology, photography, Zodiac driving and administrative support. It was a lot of names for our guests to remember, but the fact that four Expedition Team members are named Chris helps a lot!
After the introductions, the evening was free for us to do whatever we wanted. For some of us this meant relaxing on board and enjoying our first meal on the Prince Albert II. Others chose to catch the 24-hour ferry shuttle back to Tower Pier and experience the City of London on a Saturday night. Our mooring place gave us spectacular views of the London skyline as dusk came on.
Whether we retired to bed early, or spent the evening at a show or in a nightclub, all of us went to sleep in great anticipation, looking forward to our first day of activities tomorrow.