This article is part of the series “2022-02: Winter cruise KPH”.
Day 1 and 2 · 19 – 20 February 2022
Oh, well – where to start? I’m still completely overwhelmed from the polar winter expedition Arven etter Nansen (The Nansen Legacy) with the icebreaking polar research vessel Kronprins Haakon that just ended three days ago.
Ok, perhaps it’s best to start with the beginning.
It’s Saturday, 19 February 2022 early in the morning. I look at my baggage in my one-room flat. A huge suitcase, an even huger bag, my photo backpack and my bulky Canada Goose down parka plus winter boots.
Do I really have everything? Warm clothes? The helseerklæring – a medical certificate that proves me “seaworthy”? All camera equipment? All gloves and mittens? LAN-cable with adapter for Mac? My reading glasses? Passport? Woollen underpants? Balaclava?
I made a complete packing list, I packed twice(!) but still I’m a bit nervous. When I’m on the ship, it’s probably too late to organise left-behind things.
The taxi arrives at 8:15. It drives north to the harbour, opens the gate to the restricted area and continues directly to pier 25. I’m not alone. Other people that came by taxi or brought by private car and a lot of luggage are there, too. And there it is: Kronprins Haakon, my home for the next three weeks.
I ascent the gangway – I have to go twice with all my luggage – and there is a reception. I tell my name and get my key card. I’m in cabin 385. I get a short description of where to find it. It is quite low on deck 3 and right in the front. These cabins are told to be the loudest when the ship starts breaking ice.
The cabin has a huge window. Wow! Behind the window: two bull eyes. As closed and locked as possible. So I won’t see anything from my cabin, but that’s ok. It’s pretty roomy with a desk, a small table, a small sofa and space to store your stuff. And a bathroom. I’ll share this cabin with P., a scientist.
Next event: passport control through the police. Then: the first meeting. Here we learn, that departure is delayed, because a crane has to be fixed. Estimated time of departure: tomorrow after bunkering fuel.
While I can take it easy the scientists are busy. They don’t wear lab coats, they wear safety boots and helmets and use pallet jacks to put their equipment to the right places. And there is a lot equipment! Several containers full of it!
11:30 – lunch. Wow, the food is rich in variety and it tastes wonderful. I heard that many people gain weight on these cruises. Now I understand.
12:30 – group photo. That’s my job because I have all my camera equipment with me. Click. Click. Click.
13:00 – safety briefing. How to put on the survival suit in case of evacuation. I’m the guinea pig. And I hear a thing that photographers dream of: Almost every place on the ship is freely accessible. The quarterdeck at the ship’s stern, the helicopter deck at the ship’s bow, the bridge on level 8, the observation deck on level 9. Great! I use the spare time to stroll around a bit.
15:00 – safety training. We „muster“ which means we gather all in the mess – the same room where we eat – split into two groups and enter the life boats. These boats are equipped with everything you need to survive for some days but when you go to the toilet everyone can see it. Made for survival, not for comfort or privacy.
17:00 – dinner. 18:30 – a second meeting. 20:00 – the equipment of the polar institute is accessible: I fetch two pairs of boots and a floating overall size XL. A helmet I already have.
22:45 – bed time. First night on the ship. My bunk bed looks small but is comfortable and very cozy. Good night!
Day 2 – More waiting
I wake up. Do we move? I’m not sure. The internet reveals: we have moved and are now south of Tromsøya. Let’s go out onto the heli deck. Oh, what a beautiful morning!
The ships moves to the bunker station. There it will lie for many hours. Bunkering fuel takes time.
A lot of time. I help a bit here and there, but I cannot do so much. The scientists are extremely organised and mostly it’s faster for them when I do not try to help. At least I can carry some stuff around.
The departure is estimated for 16:00 but when we have dinner at 17:30 we still lay at the same place. I overhear that this delay is larger than usual. When will we start? Will this affect the planning? As most things on board I just don’t know. I’m the newbie.
The journey begins
17:54 – while I am eating my chilli con carne I feel a change in the ship. I look out of the window and almost shout out: „We are moving!“. Finally we are on our way!
After dinner I stand on the heli deck for a long time. I’m on the phone with Annika – maybe the last time for some weeks. I watch the ship going under the bridge Sandnessundbrua that connects Tromsøya and Kvaløya. I watch the Northern Lights. And I’m very happy. The journey begins!