August 12th - Oslo to Longyearbyen

After an early buffet breakfast in the Grand Cafe, we took the hotel coach to the airport for a flight to Tromso and then on to Longyearbyen.

Leaving the Grand Hotel and looking along the street to the Royal Palace.

Our flight left Oslo at about 9.30am for the hour and a half flight to Tromso. We remained on the plane at Tromso airport while some passengers disembarked and others boarded. Tromso looked very pleasant with brightly coloured houses scattered over the green hills. There was snow on the higher mountains and we caught our first glimpse of Tromso's famous Arctic Cathedral.

The flight then took off for Longyearbyen after about twenty minutes. We reached Svalbard in heavy cloud and we could see Prince Albert II docked near the airport below us as we came into land.

We collected bags and saw our first polar bear!!

We boarded a coach which took us to the ship. As we approached it Wendy took this photo through the rain-spattered window of the coach.

We boarded the ship and were welcomed with a glass of champagne. We went through the registration process of having our photos taken and being issued with a swipe card for the cabin and for leaving and returning to the ship.

Once we had registered we went down to check our cabin, 309. We had a light lunch in the restaurant with Mike and Gail Auton and at 4pm we went to the theatre/muster station for a mandatory safety briefing from the expedition leader, Robin West.

He was on board with Jarda, Robin Aiello, Juan and Chris Srigley. There were quite a few staff we did not know and the captain was Ukrainian, Alexander Golubev.

We went on deck and took photos and met several of the passengers. As we were waiting to leave, another expedition ship moored alongside us, the Polar Quest, left the quay.

We left shortly after and headed away from Longyearbyen. It was impressive scenery, with heavy clouds hanging over the mountains. We were served hot chocolate and canapes and we felt quite cold in the wind.


We went down for a briefing meeting and were introduced to the captain and the expedition crew. The sea became rougher and I felt slightly queasy and we both missed dinner. We were heading north up the western side of Spitsbergen to tomorrow's first stop at the 14th of July glacier.

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