Day 1 |
Jul 14, 2009

Longyearbyen, Svalbard

By Juan Carlos Restrepo, Geologist

Co-ordinates: N 78º 13.226’, E 015º 38.791’

Weather: Clear skies

Air Temperature: 5ºC

Pressure: 1018 hPa

Embarkation started just after 3 pm. The Prince Albert II, having been at anchor all morning, had to wait for the berth to become available and this occurred a bit later than anticipated. Consequently, embarkation started 30 minutes after initially planned. 

Guests were greeted at the gangway on deck 5 by some of our Expedition Team members and hotel staff, and then led downstairs to the Restaurant for check-in. The procedure was simple - hand in a passport, receive a suite key and have a photo taken.

Once finished with the embarkation formalities, our guests were shown to the Panorama Lounge where they enjoyed drinks and canapés. After a relaxing afternoon tea, everybody headed to their suites to unpack and settle in.

The late afternoon was one filled with various briefings and drills. At 5:30, the Staff Captain and Safety Officer carried out the mandatory muster drill in The Theatre. 

We left the port of Longyearbyen at 6 pm and at 6:30 our Expedition Leader Robin West introduced some of the Heads of Department on board, as well as the Expedition Team members. These staff introductions were followed by an environmental briefing outlining the requirements and rules set out by AAECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators). Our Expedition Leader Robin went through a range of topics including how to behave around wildlife (e.g. polar bears, walrus) and how to walk through tundra so as to minimize our impacts.

Following this briefing, Robin went on to give us the Zodiac Briefing, which talked about the proper procedures for getting into and out of Zodiacs and finished with a destination briefing about what activities would be offered the next day in Bellsund.

After these talks, I headed to the first dinner of this voyage – the food really is amazing! At 9:30 pm, Captain Aleksander Golubev brought the ship alongside in Barentsburg, a Russian coal mining town situated near the entrance to Isfjorden.

Once ashore, guests had a chance to go out for a walk and visit the church, the museum and the souvenir shop. After a short stroll around this interesting settlement, everybody came back on board and we sailed away towards tomorrow’s destination.