Day 1 |
Jun 26, 2013

 Tromso, Norway 

By Christian “Rapa” Walter, Historian


Co-ordinates: 69° 28’ 47” N, 18° 57’ 39” E
Weather: overcast with slight drizzles
Air Temperature: 11.7° C
Pressure:1027 hPa
Wind: 11kmh

Having awoken at 5 a.m. – some of our guest had already left half an hour ago - I just had a very light breakfast and arranged my things to be transferred to my new suite. We then stayed on the Pier to say good-bye to our guests leaving until 10 a.m.

At 12:00pm, the first guests had already checked in, and for the next 2 hours we were busy in the Panorama Lounge collecting passports, handing out key-cards, and taking pictures of our fellow expeditioneers.

At 5 p.m. the General Alarm sounded and all 108 guests looked for their life-jackets and headed for the Theater, our Muster Station. Crewmembers and staff were located in different parts of the M/v Silver Explorer, helping with directions, making sure everyone was accounted for and within just a few minutes everybody was assembled.

Since we have a large group of German-speakers among the guests the introduction of the different heads of department and other noteworthy crewmembers was given in English and German. It was quite an international mix: Anna, our Maitre d’, comes from South Africa; Rama, the Sommelier, from Mauritius; Christian, the Chef, from Germany; Rahul, the Head Butler, from India; Lou, our piano-player, from the Philippines; Cordruta, the shop manageress, from Romania; Karolina, the massage-therapist, from Poland, and Kaia, the Spa-manageress, from Australia.

About as mixed was the expedition-team: Kara, our Expedition Leader (usually abbreviated to “EL”), is from Alaska; Tim, the Assistant EL, is from South Africa; Kate, the Staff Assistant and Cruise Consultant, is from Australia; Robin Aiello (usually called Aiello), our marine biologist, comes originally from Boston, but has been living in Australia for more than 20 years; Hans Peter, our botanist, comes from Austria –he is one of the two lecturers looking after the German-speakers- and did all the translations during the presentation; Chris Srigley, one of the two bear-guards, comes from Canada; Karolina (Kika), the second bear-guard, comes originally from Poland, but has been living in Longyearbyen for the last 10 years; Luke, our fish-expert, comes from Ireland; Peter Damisch, our historian for the English-speakers, comes from Florida; Rich Pagen, our biologist, comes from Minnesota; Richard Sidey, our videographer and photographer, comes from New Zealand; and I, Christian (usually called “Rapa”), the historian for the German- and French-speakers on board, originally come from Germany, but have made my home on Easter Island(Rapa Nui) in the mid-70’s.

All in all, we’re a very international team, looking forward to an interesting and, hopefully, rewarding expedition-cruise to Svalbard via Bear Island.

While we were being introduced or were introducing ourselves, the M/v Silver Explorer had left Tromso’s center and gone north to dock at the bunker pier. We would stay here for a couple of hours to take on fuel, since we would have to have enough for three weeks of cruising in Svalbard –where there was no possibility to take on fuel up north.

Anna, our Maitre d’, and Christian, our Chef, were waiting to please the guests with the first of many memorable dinners, while the sun was still shining. To most guests, it was an unusual sight, but we did not see the sun set for a few more weeks staying above the Polar Circle.

Before I had dinner. I enjoyed delightful conversation in the Panorama Lounge and one of the guests mentioned how unbelievable the wine selection was onboard M/v Silver Explorer. Top wines were even cheaper onboard than ashore, and the connoisseur wines were certainly top quality. Some of the wines were obtained at the estates in France during the European cruises, making sure only the best was selected.

Since the sun did not set, and there was no rush to go to sleep, the Panorama Lounge looked like a good place to have an After-Dinner drink. Lively discussions regarding the things to be seen and excursions to be done during the next ten days were accompanied by Lou and his piano talents. New acquaintances made during dinner turned to newfound friends for the upcoming cruise.

Eventually I retired to write the log, and prepare for tomorrow’s lecture and briefings.