Life aboard: breakfast and scenery

March 2, 2022 • 10:00 am

Today is an easy day as we head towards and through the Drake Passage between the tip of South America and the Antarctic Peninsula (formally it ends at the South Shetland Islands). Famous for its bad seas and weather, we are hoping for a “Drake Lake”: one of the calm days. But no matter; I’ve never suffered from seasickness.

As reader Jim Batterson posted in a comment, you can see a live webcam from the ship at this site, so you can see exactly what we’re seeing.

Last night we had the mandatory lifeboat drill and demonstration, especially necessary when we’ll be so far from rescue. There are more than enough lifeboats aboard should we pull a Titanic, and our ship, the MS Roald Amundsen (the first polar hybrid ship), has tons of watertight doors and other safety gear. It is a very green ship, with no dumping, all garbage compacted, and all trash separated and everything recycled that can be (when we get back to port, of course).

Lifeboat drills involve going to your “muster station” when you hear the alarm (7 short beeps and a long one), and followed a demonstration of our gear. Since we’ll be in the Antarctic, we must don a “polar suit” which insulates us from cold water by covering virtually every inch of your skin except your face. We then strap on a life vest, a fanny pack with food and other necessities, and get in the boats. Here’s one of my fellow staff members after the demonstration (he’s not wearing the fanny pack).

As usual, click on the pictures to enlarge them.

I slept like a log last night, having been sleep deprived for several days. Up at 5:30, showered, checked the news, and had breakfast at 7:30 (the restaurant opens at 7 a.m. when we’re not at sea.

Things have changed a lot: though it’s still buffet style, they will often prefer to hand you things rather than you handling, say, the bread tongs. Here’s what’s on offer:

Eggs: scrambled, boiled, and a side of latke, sausage and bacon. If you’re hungry, they’ll make you an omelet with whatever you want in it and deliver it to your table.

The pancake and oatmeal station at the other end of the egg bar. They prefer to dole out dishes of stuff like oatmeal than have passengers handle ladles and tongs. Sanitation is taken VERY seriously here; you have to wear your mask at all times (I’ve never lectured with a mask) and take your temperature and wash your hands before they’ll let you into any restaurant.

The fish and “breakfast stuff for Scandinavians” bar featuring fish. It looks like lox,  but there are no bagels and cream cheese; othewise I’d be scarfing it down:

The cheese bar (again for Europeans. I can’t imagine eating a hunk of Roquefort for breakfast!

The fruit bar. They also have bowls of apples, bananas, pears and the like, and you can take a piece of fruit back to your room.

The yogurt bar, with all kinds of toppings you can mix in (not shown). There is also granola:

The bread/croissant/pastry bar. Needless to say, the food is “all you can eat”. I try to eat a light breakfast, as I never have breakfast in Chicago. Note the tables by the window. It’s a real treat to eat meals as the scenery goes by. Soon we’ll have petrels and other seabirds flying alongside as we eat.

To me most important machine on the ship. Being a European ship, the coffee is excellent, and you can get whatever you want (espresso, latte, cappuccino, cafe crème, americano etc.) by pressing a button. My regular drink is a shot of espresso first and then a cappuccino mixed with it. “Regular” American-style coffee is poured à volonté at the table, but I’ve never tried it on this ship. Note the two types of beans that are freshly ground for your beverage. (Europeans don’t mess around with coffee, and this is a Norwegian ship.)

My reflection is in the machine:

Back to the cabin to work on my lectures as the complex topography of Patagonia goes by:

A panoramic view from my balcony. I don’t like taking panoramic photos as they rarely look good:

26 thoughts on “Life aboard: breakfast and scenery

  1. I remember eating that type of breakfast in Denmark while doing NATO exercises way back in 1970. It was not as fancy and we were eating in a tent. Also sleeping in tents.

  2. Breathtaking views

    Interesting and good to know about the safety precautions.

    And my philosophical-whimsical comment :

    When we look into the machine, the machine also looks into us.

    1. When we look into the machine, the machine also looks into us.

      Sounds like Friedrich Nietzsche meets Philip K. Dick. 🙂

      1. OK, clearly, at this point we need the exact quote (with my notation in brackets ) :

        From Wikiquote :

        Wer mit Ungeheuern kämpft, mag zusehn, dass er nicht dabei zum Ungeheuer wird. Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein.


        He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.

        Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 146

        [ back to me]:

        … and I think I’ll leave it at that! Heavy stuff…

  3. Thanks, Jerry, for your travel pictures and dialogue. Looking forward to everything you send! This is fun stuff!

  4. That’s quite a breakfast array! Pastries and coffee for me, please. Breakfast of champions!
    Sadly, I would be among the seasick and probably not able to enjoy the meals.

    It would be interesting to be kept informed of your long-lat and your outside temperatures when convenient. Oops…I had not seen your “Where are we now?” post. Thank you for the map. Outside temps, please. 🙂

    1. 54 F, 12 C. It’s cool but not cold. I’m not sure where I can get the outside temperatures on the ship; that temperature is is nearby Puerto Williams. But it will get colder; I’m told there is more ice this year than last at this time of year.

  5. Wonderful.

    But I would be scarfing the lox anyway! One of my favorite foods! I eat a bagel with a schmeer every morning for breakfast. On the few, lucky days when i get lox as well, I eat the lox in splendid isolation: I want nothing between the lox and my tongue! (Sacrilege, I know!)

  6. If the fish is for the Scandinavians, and the cheese is for the Europeans, is that massive donut/toast/bread tray for the Americans?

    1. When I was in Norway, there were usually two cheeses for breakfast – gjetost (a goat milk whey cheese, and it’s the brown cheese on the left in Jerry’s photo, sweet and like dulche de leche) and Jarlsberg (rather like Edam). The other peculiarities were rehydrated prunes and dried apricots served on unsweetened puffed rice cereal, and of course boiled eggs and pickled herring. Making myself hungry thinking about it…

  7. I was wondering if there was a point where one could mingle with passengers and crew w/o masks. You have all been tested a number of times, and the ship population is isolated from outside contact at least for a time.

    Lecturing in a mask is a chore! But the one I like best is BOTN brand (KF94). They come in different sizes (so it can fit under the chin!), and you can cinch it up tight in back for a good snug fit. And yet one can speak thru it and not sound terribly muffled.

    1. A ship like this is a bit of a ‘worse case scenario’. Not only for the obvious reason of having people from lots of different places mingling, but also because the company is probably trying to cooperate with the masking requirements from all the possible countries of origin of it’s passengers too.

      1. Early in the present pandemic there were several cases of cruise ships having COVID run through the passengers (and crew) like a knife through hot butter.
        Before the pandemic shut down the cruise industry, we’d get several cases a year of cruise ships using Orkney or Shetland as a stop over having to deposit multiple patients into local hospitals and airports (for medivac home) due to an outbreak of norovirus or some gastrointestinal bug. Knife through hot butter time again.
        Ships are bad places when a communicable virulent pathogen gets loose. Our policy when working in West Africa during the 2015 Ebola virus outbreaks was to accept no-one who had passed through any of the countries involved. That included a touch-and-go not even disembarking at the country’s airport while en route. We didn’t think we were overreacting at all. When that idiot of a Nigerian doctor fled Sierra Leone for home, it cost us several million dollars in delays trying to get the operation back into drilling mode.

    1. I wouldn’t fancy trying to get inside a polar suit in a hurry…!

      This is why you’re shown how to do it long before (hopefully) you’re going to need it, and should at least somewhere be recommended to practice donning it back in your cabin.
      We use such immersion suits (plus a few air-venting valves at wrists and ankles) routinely and you don them for every flight. With a little practice, the heliports allow 10 minutes “suiting up” time in their schedules. When doing boat drill, particularly in “Iceberg Alley” or off the Norwegian coast, it wasn’t uncommon to see someone getting out of the weather at “boat stations” by donning their immersion suit. (Yes, you are expected to carry them to muster stations and boat stations ; there should be enough stowed at boat stations to accommodate the forgetful, those coming directly from their workstations, etc, but most passengers and non-marine crew would expected to get their immersion suit from their accommodation in a real event.) Obviously this leads to wear and tear on the suits, so they’ll have an “inspect and repair” strand in their planned maintenance schedule.
      You don’t see so many people practising with their suits at boat stations in the tropics. You still need the suits (they keep the pee in, so the sharks are less likely to smell you before you die of thirst) to prevent hypothermia and to be more visible in the water.

      [Jerry] going to your “muster station” when you hear the alarm (7 short beeps and a long one

      That’s an “E-call” system. Unsurprising. Each task (Master, Cook, Ballast-Control, Bottle-washer …) has a code of dots and dashes assigned to it, and wherever they are (cabin, office, engine room, switchgear room) when they hear their code they find the nearest phone, call a number and are connected to the phone which issued the call.
      Very useful systems. Once you learn your code, the appropriate dah-dah-dah-dit will “rip you untimely from the arms of Morpheus” and haul you to a phone while your braincell is still trying to get your slippers on. Pure muscle memory. But someone else’s code … you zed like the dead.
      Some people hate the system, some people love it. I’m not surprised to see it used on a passenger vessel. An incomprehensible series of dah-s and dit-s on the PA system generates less worry in the passengers that a succession of “Electrician call the bridge”, “Mechanic call the bridge”, “Chief Engineer call the ridge”, “Master call the bridge, NOW!”
      Find a phone on the border between passenger country and machinery spaces, and you’ll probably find a listing of the tasks and their call codes beside the phone. You tend to learn your own code, and those for tasks you’re working with regularly, but not other people’s codes. But if you want to learn the entire list, you’ll be able to listen in to a different strand of boat operations.
      Whoever programmed the phone exchange could choose the codes and numbers/ Typically the most urgent jobs get given the short codes, and the less urgent jobs the longer codes. So the Master and BCO would get (maybe) “dot” and “dash”, but “geologist” and “biology lecturer” would get a 4 or 5 bit code. Seven short and one long is clearly “get attention”, then a “confirm”.

      1. Most of my shipboard work has been in the tropics, but we still require regular survival suit drills, which includes everyone putting them on at least once every three months. It is our practice and policy that everyone bring their suit to boat drills, and wear it when getting into the boats, when possible.
        Whether the water is warm or cold, everyone should wear the suit, when abandoning ship. It increases one’s potential survival time in the water, even at the equator.

        I do admit that wearing one for even a short while when it is hot outside is a pretty unpleasant experience.

  8. One of the many reasons I love this blog: JC focuses on the stuff we’re really curious about: What’s the food like? And he knows we want to see photos of the spread. Excellent. But it makes me hungry.

  9. That’s the kind of breakfast buffet you see at better hotels in the Middle East where lots of Euros congregate. Always lots of ham for the Germans. hehe
    Japanese eat fish in the morning as well. You get used to it. Keep up the reporting. Thx,

    stuck in NYC*
    *Less exciting than the bottom of the world, but OK anyway. 😉

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