Co-ordinates: 69°39’N – 18°58’E
Weather: Overcast & raining; brightened up later
Air temperature: +18°C
Boarding began from 12 noon and guests started to arrive almost immediately, with the majority on board by 4pm. This meant that most guests had time to enjoy a welcome drink, check in, have a snack, settle into suites, do some unpacking and even explore the Prince Albert II a little before being summoned to our muster station in The Theatre by the ship’s emergency signal. Fortunately, this was not a real emergency! Guests were informed in advance over the loudspeaker system that they would be experiencing a Lifeboat and Safety drill at 5pm, and that they should bring their large, orange lifejackets with them. Expedition Leader, Robin West, presented a slide show, which gave guests all the information they needed and a staff member demonstrated how to put on the lifejacket correctly. Then it was the guests’ turn to try them on – hopefully for the last time this voyage. Part 2 of Robin’s presentation consisted of a Zodiac briefing, as guests all needed to know how to use Zodiacs safely for our first Zodiac cruise tomorrow morning and how to wear the dark blue Zodiac life vest. An opportunity to ask questions followed and then guests had free time again for the next hour.
At 6pm we cast off our lines and sailed from Tromso. Many guests put on jackets and headed for the open decks to enjoy the changing view. Drinks were served in the Panorama Lounge to celebrate the beginning of our adventure!
At 6.45pm we all gathered in The Theatre again for a formal welcome on board. Robin introduced some of the Prince Albert II’s Heads of Department to the guests; these were going to be the people responsible for their comfort and wellbeing on board ship – in terms of accommodation, food and drink, even such luxuries as shopping, hairstyling and Spa Management.
Then it was the turn of the Expedition Staff to introduce ourselves. We were a sizeable team, able to lecture on a variety of topics and experts in different fields - wildlife, history, archaeology, geology, photography, Zodiac driving and administrative support. Our three “Bear Guides” were also introduced, since Svalbard cannot be visited safely without trained personnel to keep an eye out for bears in the field.
Our first shipboard meal was served from 7.30pm in The Restaurant and much enjoyed by all. So, after a last stroll out on deck or a nightcap in the Panorama Lounge, we retired for the night, looking forward with much anticipation to our first day of activities tomorrow.