Friday, 18 July 2014

Travelling With Friends!

I have been looking forward to this trip. A Chinese charter is always a whole lot of fun! Over the years I have travelled on Fram with the Chinese tour leaders and agency owners on numerous occasions. I have even gone to China to visit some of them. Now we are good friends and it is really great to be all together on Fram once again.
Photo © Morten Hilmer

There is a vibe to a Chinese charter that is different from our other voyages. For starters they have been travelling together from China as a group and have already somewhat bonded. In addition there are fourteen leaders and press people travelling with them, organizing everything and helping with the smallest of details.
Photo © Morten Hilmer

When they arrive on Fram, there is always a buzz, hm… maybe an orderly din would be a better description. Lots of laughter, chatter and general organized mayhem.
Now it is day two and we have a nice relaxing day at sea. Everyone is settling into the routines of ship life and enjoying the convenience of having everything done for you. Delicious meals are made and served or made available as a beautiful buffet. Cabins are cleaned and beds are made. Lectures and films are provided throughout the day. If you forget the schedule, there are always convenient announcements to remind you of all activities.
Northern Gannet
Photo © Morten Hilmer

Today we had the added activity of our boot rental program. It is totally optional to use our boots but on a trip like this one to Spitsbergen, just about everyone takes them.
So far we have had good wildlife sightings. We have seen Humpback Whales close to the ship as well as Killer Whales and dolphins.

White-beaked Dolphin
Photo © Morten Hilmer
During the afternoon there were thousands of Guillemots on the sea as well as many Razorbills, Northern Fulmars, Puffins, Gannets, Skuas, Long-tailed and Pomarine Jaegers. We also saw what seemed like millions of small fish at the surface. We don’t know what species they were but best guess would be Herring. With so many Herring at the surface, I couldn’t help but to wonder, why there weren’t whales feeding on them? Obviously they were hard of Herring.
Northern Fulmar
Photo © Morten Hilmer