Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Adventure Begins.

Barentsburg pier (Photo © Joe Decker)

I am sure that when you first arrived on MS Fram that it seemed like a lot was going on.  And truthfully, there was (and always is) a lot going on.  Perhaps you took one look at the check-in queue and thought, “oh no, not another line up.”  But the good news is that that was probably the last time you will have to stand in line until you check-in at the airport on your way home.
I hope you noticed how quickly the check-in process went.  200 people were registered and issued photo I.D. cards and then escorted to their cabin quickly and efficiently.  And there, at your cabin door was your luggage already waiting for you.  Approximately 300 bags were individually checked to make sure the cabin assignment was correct and then delivered, after which the only thing remaining for you to do was to pick up your blue jacket on Deck 4 and if you wished, establish a cruise account at reception.

Russian dancers in the theatre in Barentsburg.  (Photo © Joe Decker)
The first of many superb meals prepared by Chef Johan Ludwig and the MS Fram Galley All-Stars was ready in the dining room precisely at 18:00.  Let this be a warning: those dinner plates are really big and undoubtedly you will manage to fill them.  The dessert table is about three metres long and undoubtedly you will visit every square centimetre.  Consider burning off a few thousand calories by accompanying us on some of the spectacular hikes we will be offering.  If you do happen to gain weight, don’t worry too much. I am sure you will find something to fit in our well stocked gift shop.  (I’m not too sure about our supply of trousers though).
Just as the dining room opened we set sail from Longyearbyen and made way for Barentsburg.
We arrived in Barentsburg at 20:00.  It took a few minutes to prepare the gangway on deck three but soon everyone was headed up the 252 stairs on their way to the theatre. It was a cold and drizzly night, but never mind, the theatre was very cozy inside.  The show was terrific.  There was lots of high energy dancing and we were also entertained with many beautiful Russian folk songs.
After the show we were led on a short tour of Barentsburg with a local Russian guide.  It was really interesting to learn about this unique coal mining community high in the Arctic.  One could only wonder what life might be like here in the middle of the winter with 24 hours of darkness and extreme cold weather for days on end. 
By 22:45 everyone was back on board and shortly after we were under way once again.