Ny Alesund and at sea 09/08/14
Breakfast in the buffet restaurant, lots of smoked salmon on offer so smoked salmon, plain yogurt and fresh fruit will be how I start my days on this trip; can’t imagine anything better. As long as there is smoked salmon on offer I will never starve and in fact I will be able to get it at all three meals so intend to put the theory to the test.
Ship docked this morning in Ny Alesund, the most northerly settlement on Spitsbergen at 78,50 N latitude. One small, unpaved road leading from the dock which forms the main street of the town and which, much like Longyearbyen, is mainly composed of research scientists and fisher people. Mode of transport in summer seems to be bikes and like Longyearbyen there are signs warning about bears just at the town limits, which in the case here are about 150 metres from the waterfront. We are in treeless tundra and it’s fascinating to see someone climb on his bike, strap a rifle over his shoulder and ride off. Walking is restricted to the rough gravel roads and tracks in town as the tundra surrounding the town is the site of many scientific experiments, which we can apparently contaminate by walking. The town is also the site of the most northerly post office in the world so we all stopped and bought post cards and mailed them with their special post mark.
Our first zodiac run this afternoon after a lifeboat drill and getting our parkas and boots sorted. Temperature about 7C so very pleasant and a bright sun overhead. Clothed ourselves in layers and in parties of 10 climbed aboard our zodiacs for a walk on the beach of an enclosed bay, Fjortende Julibreen or 14’th of July Bay, where the ship is anchored, surrounded by mountains and a very large glacier which empties into the bay. On shore warm enough to shed outer layers and walk to the face of the glacier on the beach around the bay. Took some glacier shots but not very interesting, large wall of ice rising up from the water’s edge but no sense of scale, tried to capture some of the people who had climbed the glacier and who were walking along the top but they were as small as ants and could hardly be seen. Simply huge.
A&K Expedition crew are numerous, very knowledgeable and very helpful. We are encouraged to invite any whose area of expertise is one in which we are interested to join our table for dinner and the 4 of us have decided to invite the ship’s marine biologist to join us when he is available.
The ship’s captain is also very pleasant, charming and very, very French and who is accompanied on this trip by his wife and his two young teenage kids. Has a reputation as someone who loves to see whales and who will throw all prior plans overboard and pursue any whales that are spotted so that everyone can see them. He also has an open bridge policy so guests are given access to the bridge at any time to watch the ship’s nerve centre at work.
Breakfast and lunch in the buffet restaurant and dinner in the formal dining room. Meals very good and menus very interesting.