Dinner on board

March 1, 2022 • 5:22 pm

The passengers are learning their way about the ship, and I needed some relearning as well, for the food-dispensation system has changed. My situation is doubly complicated because I’m a hybrid between crew and passenger, and the crew eats in the crew mess, usually gobbling down food to get back to work. It’s not a place to linger, but it’s where you have to go to meet the terrific group of young staff and the working crew who serve everyone else.

I secured permission to eat in both places, as I want to eat with both passengers who listen to my talks and like to learn about evolution at dinner or lunch. I swear: cruise-ship passengers are a gazillion times more enthusiastic than many undergraduate students, and love to discuss stuff and ask questions.

But the first five days, as a “bubble”, I couldn’t swap around, so I’ll eat with the PAX (ship and plane slang for “passengers”) for five days and then swap as the laws of physics dictate between the crew mess and the dining rooms.

Tonight, though, hungry and sleepless, I opted to do the simplest thing: order takeout from the informal “Fredheim”, which is bascially a very high-class burger joint that serves burgers and other simple things for dinner, but for takeout only burgers. They let me order one of their milkshakes, though, which are justifiably famous (you’re not supposed to take out the shakes). I just ate in my cabin what is below: a rare “Fredheim classic” burger with fries, garlic aoli, pickle chunks, and a piece of raisin spice cake. It was terrific. I’ll wait till tomorrow before I eat “normal” passenger food, but I do tend to avoid the fancy dinners served in courses. And there’s a side of hand sanitizer if you want a drink.

Did I say the shakes were terrific? This being a Norwegian ship, sometimes that have lingonberry or cloudberry shakes, and those are to die for. I don’t think I’ve had a milkshake in over five years, and have forgotten how well their sweetness complements a good burger.

More to come as I slowly absorb the rhythms of the cruise and my tasks. I haven’t even looked at the news from Ukraine today!

p.s. The name Fredheim comes from a famous trapper’s cabin in Svalbard (Spitzbergen):

The goal for the tour is Fredheim, the hunting base of the legendary trapper, Hilmar Nøis, who spent 38 winters on Svalbard. Nøis was known as the ‘King of Sassen’, but actually planned to be a fisherman. He was so troubled by sea sickness however, that he decided to become a hunter on Svalbard instead. Many of the trappers cabins on Svalbard are of the simplest sort, but Villa Fredheim is an exception. With its flag pole, potted plants and curtains, this two storey villa was a palace in comparison to the other. Despite the ‘luxurious’ standard, it is hard not to feel enormous respect for Nøis and his family who lived in the wilderness winter after winter.


29 thoughts on “Dinner on board

  1. Maybe it’s because I used to love TV dinners as a lad, but I’ve always been fond of food served in individual compartments. Bento boxes are the epitome of this type of compartmentalized eating. It just tastes better! 😉

    That shake looks amazing. A shake in the Antarctic? I’m sure your cabin is toasty warm though.

        1. Aioli? Is that garlic and oil? In Catalan: All i oli. It is what inspired the French in Menorca. They took it to France and called it Mayonnaise, from Maó or Mahó, the Menorcan capital.

  2. “And there’s a side of hand sanitizer if you want a drink.” Clever, JC. Those passengers are very lucky to have you. I just realized how extraordinary a teacher you must be.

  3. And there’s a side of hand sanitizer if you want a drink.

    Careful with that stuff, man; I hear it packs a helluva punch.

    1. I’m with you (and Jerry, of course)! I’d love that meal, especially if someone else was making it. As long as it’s good food, food always tastes better when someone else makes it. Anyone used to having to cook for themselves most of the time will surely agree.

  4. I probably missed it, but what cruise and ship is it?

    I was under the impression this was a research vessel (my mistake), but now I’m thinking it’s something I might be interested in. Thanks.

    1. You haven’t followed here for long, but that’s okay. It’s a Hurtigruten (Norwegian line) trip, two two-week back to back lecture trips for me going to the Antarctic peninsula and the Falklands. Definitely a tourist ship, but a serious, science-oriented one. No entertainment but lectures and the occasional movie about Shackleton. The real entertainment is going ashore every day and seeing new places–and PENGUINS. This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen: in the top four

    2. You can go to the website for the ship at https://www.hurtigruten.com/our-ships/ms-roald-amundsen/ And there is a live link to a panorama webcam that i believe runs 24/7 showing 360 degrees around the ship. Jerry sends great pictures (both stills and short movie clips if I recall correctly from two years ago) and this ship’s camera gives some context of the full surroundings…islands, mountains, icebergs, and the like.

  5. I would love to try one of those fancy shakes. And of course if the fries are still hot, one must at least dip some into the shake. Vanilla shakes seem best for this, but you never know …

  6. Cruise-ship passengers are a gazillion times more enthusiastic than many undergraduate students because they allow themselves to be. We’re certain that your undergraduate students are quite as enthusiastic (all of us would kill to be learning directly from Jerry Coyne) but don’t feel that they should express it.

    1. That’s kind of you, but I don’t think that’s the correct reason for their quietude. They had to take evolution while more than 60% of them were pre-meds and some of them resented having to “waste their time.”

      1. Trade-school mentality. As an offset to that, one of the slides in our pitch deck to attract funding for further development of our patents, we note that our probes – bacteriophage – have been in product development for 3.5B yrs. Altho I am of course happy to see that in there, and none of us objects, it is the MD member of our quartet that pointedly insists that that stay there.

      2. Sadly the mindset of many students these days is utilitarian – they learn just enough to get their degree and regard anything else as a waste of time. i imagine most of the cruise ship passengers are retirees, so they can “indulge” in learning for the sake of learning.

        Antarctica is the only continent I’ve never been to. I’d love to go.

      3. That is sad. They aren’t interested in the most important theory in biology.

        In engineering, I ran into that, “I don’t want to waste my time” from other students, especially about liberal arts courses (the tiny number that were required!). I loved my LA classes. And they were easy As too!

  7. I see there is a brochure partly off-camera that starts, “CODE OF . . .”
    Dem’s da Roolz, I presume?

    1. Yes, our code of ethics, which refer mostly to ecology, but there’s also how to treat PAX and not to sexually harass them, which I don’t do. This is a very serious ship that takes ecology seriously (it’s the first hybrid Antarctic ship).

      1. As an advocate and enthusiastic owner of electric cars (both hybrid PHEVs, and now a real pure electric so-called EV), I have been interested, but have not taken the time to pursue it, just how a hybrid ship works. I think even before there was plenty of use of engines to generate electricity to run turbines which drive a ship. But calling it a hybrid must somehow involve more than that. Maybe someone here can describe that. Perhaps it is mainly the addition of a very large modern battery to get at least some electricity from onshore when at a port.

        1. When Jerry went on his first cruise on this same ship a couple of years ago I looked into this. Your guess is pretty accurate. As far as performance the hybrid drive system on the MS RA is much like a hybrid car, like a Prius. It’s capable of operating on batteries alone for 20 – 30 minutes and this capability is intended to be used primarily in and around ports, but when cruising in open seas the diesel engines run mostly full time. The battery system can also be used to supplement the diesel driven generators during peak situations, similar to how a hybrid car can use both electric motors and the ICE drivetrain together for hard acceleration.

          All of the thrusters are electric. The engines drive generators only, which in turn charge the batteries. The engines are top of class efficient and the exhaust is run through catalytic converters to scrub NOx. Overall the hybrid propulsion system is supposed to be something like 20% more efficient.

          The overall design of the ship is pretty cool. From stem to stern the design is focused on maximizing efficiency and minimizing ecological impact. Even the little auxiliary craft are specifically designed towards those goals. Also, the idea behind the ship and what the cruise line is offering is that it’s more like a luxury exploration vessel for tourists than a regular cruise ship.

  8. I also enjoy a burger with a chocolate milkshake but very seldom find restaurants with both good burgers and good shakes. The last time I had it was at a small place in the shockoe bottom area of Richmond, Va just down the street from the Poe Museum. It was in 2007 and I was eating out every night during a year travel assignment in that city. I can still taste the burger and shake in my mind.

  9. This trip seems ideal (I mean not counting the hours and hours of flying and waiting, etc.), and I love it that we are getting updates and reports. I love seeing photos of what the food is like when people travel, and that looks delicious, especially the shake. I am also so happy (but not surprised) to hear that the passengers are enthusiastic about your lectures. I think it makes any teaching so much more interesting and rewarding to have students who are into it, even if it’s something you’ve taught over and over again-excited students can make it feel fresh and new.

  10. Fredheim, as a name for public places etc. in Norway, seems to have become very popular, presumably after the original on Svalbard. For example you find it on the map inside the first real town on the E6 south of the ancient Norwegian capital Trondheim (IIRC said more like ‘trone-yem’ than ‘trond-hime’).

    I doubt Fred’s family had many milkshakes for supper, but polar bear burgers might nave been interesting before the threat to those bears’ very existence, even up there. First thing we saw on TV news after that trip, down near Oslo, was one of them exiting through a window in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, perhaps after raiding the owners’ fridge for milkshakes. Nansen and Johannsen (sp?) during their fraught more-than-a-year retreat from being nearest yet to the North Pole, about 130 years ago, ate something more than 10 polar bears, though needed to rid themselves of attacks rather than actively hunting. They were both heavier at the end than the start—and probably more threatened by walruses (walri!??) than by bears over that time.

    Interesting fact, thanks Jerry, to someone who’s been to Svalbard (on Hurtigruten), but was unaware of that fact.

    Very luxurious cabin, much nicer than ours, which itself was very comfortable on their older ‘Spitzbergen’ ship

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