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Day 1 - September 21, 2009 - La Romana, Dominican Republic

By Claire Allum, Archaeologist, Anthropologist

Co-ordinates: 18°25’0”N, 68°58’0”W
Weather: Warm and humid with overcast sky and periods of drizzle

This morning, on board the Prince Albert II, people bustled. Final touches were made to guest rooms, uniforms were donned and the doctor organized himself in The Library. The Panorama Lounge was set up as a guest reception area; tables were swathed in white tablecloths and piled high with tiered silver plates of meats, cheeses and dessert cakes.

Just after one o’clock guests began arriving, some damp from the rain. As I collected passports from all over the world, I heard smatterings of German, English and Spanish. Hans gave them their suite keycards and they had their pictures taken by JJ. With formalities over, many opted to try some of the Chef’s creations and sit down with a cool drink and fellow travellers, while soft piano music played in the background. At four o’clock Captain Alexander Golubev announced over the intercom that we would have a safety drill in half an hour. At four thirty the ship sounded seven short blasts and one long one—the General Emergency Alarm. I grabbed my life jacket and coat and walked quickly to The Theatre muster area. The exercise went very well; everyone showed up, including those in the middle of unpacking. No one forgot to bring their lifejacket and no one got tangled up as they tried to put it on. After that, Safety Officer Rado gave us a short but thorough talk on shipboard safety.

Assistant Expedition Leader, Yarda, said that it only takes a couple of days to get oriented to the Prince Albert II, and this afternoon I met several guests exploring. I’m sure they found the sun deck with its Hot tubs and Outdoor Grill, The Restaurant, The Spa, the Fitness Centre, the Boutique and the Beauty Salon. But how long did it take them to get back to their suites afterwards?

Just before dinner we gathered in The Theatre, and Expedition Leader, Robin West, introduced the Heads of Departments and the Expedition Staff. My fellow Expedition Lecturers are Hans-Peter Reinhalter, botanist; Robin Aiello, marine biologist; JJ Apestegui, ornithologist; and Juan Carlos Restrepo, geologist. Christian Everts is our Expedition Staff Assistant, and Richard Sidey, our Photographer. Unfortunately, I can’t name anyone else, as this is only my second day on board. Robin West also assigned duties. Since the crew will handle just about everything on the voyage, but the guests are to be in charge of weather!

After that, it was dinner and an early night—at least for me. I was told that a few guests retired to the Panorama Lounge after a scrumptious dinner, to enjoy the view and feel of the Prince Albert II cutting through gentle Caribbean waters.

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