''Explorer's Africa'' Voyage 7107 Day 1


Day 1 - March 25, 2011 - Cape Town

By Robin Aiello, Marine Biologist

Co-ordinates: 33˚54.2’S 018˚25.4’E
Weather: Sunny and no wind
Air Temperature: 20ºC

After much anticipation and over two years of planning we are finally off on the start of what I know will be an amazing adventure up the west coast of Africa – from Cape Town, South Africa to Dakar, Senegal. I cannot adequately express my excitement!

Guests started arriving early in the afternoon, and I was so pleased to see so many familiar faces – a majority of them are returning guests whom I have sailed with before, either in the Arctic or the Antarctic.

By 4:30pm everyone was on board and settled into their suites. Robin West, our Expedition Leader, came on the loud speaker to tell us that there was a surprise for us on the back deck. So we headed outside and were greeted by some fun local music.

It was an amazing send-off – the weather was perfect, the guests were excited and happy, and what better way to start our journey than with the famous local musical group called the Cape Town Minstrels singing and dancing on the aft deck of the ship! This group of about eight men, dressed in bright pink suits, danced and sang for about an hour just before sail away. Their upbeat music had us all dancing and clapping as we drank our champagne out in the sun. They continued to play on the dock as the Prince Albert II pulled away and headed off.

It was a beautiful sail away with bright blue skies, puffy white clouds and the magnificent Table Mountain as the backdrop. Soon afterwards, we had to attend the usual Safety Drill – gathering in The Theatre, the Muster station, with our bright orange lifejackets. This drill was quickly completed, and we had about 15 minutes before gathering once again for Staff Introductions and a destination briefing.

The Heads of Departments were introduced first, followed by the Expedition Team. We have a fantastic team onboard with years of experience. The Team consists of:

Robin West – Expedition Leader
Jarda Versloot – Assistant Expedition Leader
Daniil Elterman – Staff Assistant
Hans-Peter Reinthaler – Botanist
Olga Stavrakis – Anthropologist
Juan Carlos Restrepo – Geologist
Will Wagstaff – Ornithologist
Richard Sidey – Photographer
And me, Robin Aiello – Marine Biologist

Robin West then went on to describe the various tour options for the next couple landings, at Luderitz and Walvis Bay, Namibia.

As everyone headed down to dinner there was a great deal of conversation and laughter as people started to get to know one another. I must admit, I am very excited and can hardly wait to start exploring the west coast of Africa!!!