Co-ordinates: 77o 04’ 38”, 16 o 00’ 10”
Temperature: –1.1oC , 31oF
Wind: between 24km/h
Pressure: 1020HPa, humidity 86%
Weather: Raining and cold
Our first full day and we were allowed a relaxing morning. The day began with the Expedition Leader Robin West giving the mandatory briefing on the use of our favourite boats, the Zodiacs, as well as the AECO briefing on the rules and regulations of travelling in the Arctic. Our briefing on today’s activities in Burgerbukta followed, which allowed us just enough time to go to The Restaurant for another splendid buffet lunch.
This being expedition cruising, our best-laid plans were scuppered by the arrival of a pod of Beluga Whales. Our Ornithologist, Chris, had been looking out for birds when he spotted the white whales close to the shoreline. The call went over the intercom and The Restaurant emptied as guests quickly made their way to their suites for their cameras and parkas, hoping that the whales would stay around for a while longer. And indeed, they did. We watched them for probably an hour or more. A grey young whale playing with his mother was a great highlight.
Eventually we had to leave the whales and our Captain skilfully manoeuvred the ship into Burgerbukta, where three huge glaciers come down. The weather outside was cold and raining and yet our guests, being the adventurous sort, all ventured out on their first Zodiac cruise of the trip. Despite the inclement weather, we had a great Zodiac cruise, with beautiful huge blue icebergs in one corner, a curious young Ringed Seal coming within a couple of metres of another Zodiac, and getting as close as was safe to the massive glacier fronts. Being in the small Zodiac made us feel completely insignificant whilst up against the glacier face. After an hour and a half, when the cold was slowly seeping through our many layers, we returned to the ship to be greeted with a cup of some hot tea.
After warming up, while the second group went on their Zodiac cruise, we had the chance to attend a lecture by David Munroe on the Prince Albert I, the sailor prince who was Prince Albert II’s great-great grandfather. David is a guest lecturer on board who is also a member of the scientific and technical committee of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. His talk focussed on the first Prince Albert who organised a series of private scientific expeditions in his own research vessels between 1885 and 1915, many of which were in the Svalbard area. This talk also gave guests a bit of background on the Prince Albert II Foundation and the work it is doing in conserving biodiversity, providing clean water and combating climate change.
Another fabulous day was about to come to an end, but not before the Captain’s welcoming cocktail party and welcome dinner, where the Master of the ship, Captain Alexander Golubev, introduced the heads of departments and welcomed all guests on board. This was followed by a delectable welcoming dinner as only can be expected onboard the Prince Albert II.