Antarctica Day 4: A sea day (i.e., lectures and food)

March 5, 2022 • 1:30 pm

By “Day 4” I’m referring to yesterday, of course, which was spent crossing the ill-tempered Drake Passage, involving heaving seas, heaving bellies of the afflicted, and both rain and snow.

I lectured twice yesterday, giving part I of my Fuegians, Beagle, and Darwin talk in the morning and part II in the afternoon. Podium glitches with the connection cost us 15 minutes at the first talk, and it took about 5 minutes into the lecture before I got over my anxiety.  I need to become a Buddhist. After that, I think both talks went tolerably well, but I have no idea how to find out. The “audience” consisted of one person who fielded questions via a remote app (there was one), the A/V expert, a lecturer in the history of science, and ls a poor, beleaguered German translator, who translates what I say in the moment into German, and is worried that I speak too fast. My thanks and apologies to her.

Here was lunch in the Aune restaurant on the ship. Descriptions from the menu (there was a choice of three starters, three mains, and two desserts).

Tasting plate: Smoked turkey, cranberry and apple chutney, brandade of pollock, pumpernickel bread, Caesar salad, curried rice salad, mozarella & basil:

Slow cooked beef brisket, oven baked vegetables, creamy herb polenta, creamy red wine sauce.

This was an excellent dish.

Raspberry mascarpone mousse.

Also very good, with a crumbly graham-cracker-like layer on the bottom.

Two slides from my afternoon lecture; these are paintings by the Beagle’s artist, Conrad Maartens, who was on the voyage with Darwin. It shows the Fuegians, both alone and, in my final slide, greeting the Beagle. 

Here’s a video of Maarten’s work on the Beagle voyage. He was aboard for two years and got off in Australia, where he spent the rest of his life.

It snowed and rained a bit, but I don’t know how chunks of ice got on my balcony!

Dinner at Fredheim, my favorite restaurant on the boat. First, the cozy little room. Every seat faces the sea. In the larger Aune venue, window seats are at a premium, and people begin breakfast by putting their coat on a window table before heading to the buffet.

I’ve now been officially classified as a passenger rather than crew, though I function as both, at least as a lecturer. But as a passenger I can now drink (crew aren’t allowed to), and I discovered that all restaurants have FREE WINE AND BEER! So, for dinner I had the King Crab Roll, described as “in a rich bun. with butter, kingcrab, dill mayonnaise, and crisp vegetables.” It was excellent, and I ascertained before ordering, of course, that it was real king crab rather than that vile shredded fish that they palm off on the credulous as “krab.” And I had a beer! There were fries, too, which come with every sandwich.

And, Ceiling cat help me, I had a strawberry shake, describe as “vanilla ice cream, frozen strawberries, strawberry coulis, and dried strawberries sprinkled over.”  I have to stop eating this way, but it’s hard. For, say, eight days in Paris I can handle this level of gluttony, but I’m aboard for a bit over a month! (However, as the Roolz specify, do not tut-tut me about my diet.)

When I asked why I’d been reclassified as a passenger, I was told that the medical certificate I submitted (the one they asked me for) was the passenger medical certificate. They did not tell me that crew need a special “seaman’s medical certificate” which is very hard to get in the U.S., as one has to be examined by a Norwegian Approved Seaman Doctor, and I think the closest one was in Florida. Ergo, I cannot dine below decks, which is sad, but now I don’t have to convince every venue upstairs when making reservations that I did indeed have permission to dine in the passenger restaurants.

There’s also a fancy restaurant for suite-holders to get all their meals; it’s called the Lindstrøm.  I’ve never even seen it, but we regular plebes can buy dinner there for €25.

24 thoughts on “Antarctica Day 4: A sea day (i.e., lectures and food)

  1. All your meals so far look delicious. Once you start romping around on land, you’ll be burning up those excess calories. Plus, you’re on vacation, even if it’s for a month, eating rules only count in Chicago. 😉

  2. Out of curiosity I Googled the cost of such a cruise (their UK website anyhow), and discovered that if you were to book on this very cruise scheduled for next Christmas, and if you wanted a Grand Suite on the upper deck, then it would cost you £53,891 a person!! (that’s an even bigger number in dollars).

    [You could slum it for about £12,000 by picking all the cheaper options.]

    1. I looked up some of their cruise options the other day and saw what was called a pole to pole “bucket list” cruise that starts in Alaska, goes through Northwest passage, and hang around greenland and iceland, then down U.S east coast and through panama canal then down west coast of south america ending up somewhere near where jerry is now. It is ninety-some days with three meals a-day included if i recall correctly.

        1. Well, zero, just like Jerry’s voyage, because the boat is going there anyway. Now, if you were doing like Leonardo DiCaprio and using your own personal super-yacht to make a special trip just for you and your entourage, then it would be huge.

          But if you stopped off for a few days wherever COP27 is going to be it would not only be forgiven, it wouldn’t even be noticed.

          1. Glad you reiterated the hybrid nature of the ship’s propulsion. You mentioned earlier that some other killjoy had quoted a story that research and tourism to Antarctica was causing decreased albedo on the snow and ice due to black carbon (soot) from marine diesel engines, making it melt faster in the sun. The actual story came across my feed last week. The effect is highly local (as common sense would suggest), concentrated near the few sites that ships visit. Your ship’s ability to use its batteries while near land reduces even that local impact immensely.

            Finally, I always enjoy pointing out that, unlike with gasoline engines, sulphates in marine diesel exhaust reduce the sunlight reaching the earth’s surface and substantially counteract the warming effect of their CO2 emissions.

            Enjoy your trip.

  3. No tut-tutting about your diet onboard…just a bit of envy. It seems like a fair trade to lose access to crew dining and gain access to wine and beer and just in time to have a beer with your crab roll. Maybe next year you can go again, get the proper paperwork sorted out and dine with some crew. Meanwhile, perhaps you could get a snap or two of the crew’s mess and the fancy dining room.

  4. I need to become a biologist pronto. No, not to teach or to write books but to go on voyages when there’s food like this available. Jerry, I’ll get my dissertation to you for your input as soon as I can. Thanks.

  5. I wonder what the difference is between a Norwegian seaman’s medical and an American seaman’s medical. I recall with flying you have to get a physical, in fact your student license is filled out and given by your doctor. He is the same doctor you would use for any physical. When I got a physical for a student license ( long time ago) my small town doctor said to me — there isn’t any thing wrong with you is there? I said no and that was about all there was to it.

    1. NASA required an FAA class 3 (class 3 was lowest level with class 1 being the highest) equivalent certificate to fly as crew which means doing anything on board a NASA airplane such as recording data or helping the research pilot understand the test maneuvers listed on the flight card. As i recall from many years ago, the only additional stuff to my regular annual physical had to do with vision – peripheral and, color blindness that i recall, but there may have been something else simple. While my doctor happened to be a retired flight surgeon, i do not think that that was a requirement.

      1. Yes, that small town doctor many years ago was probably an exception. About a year and a half later I had a more complete physical to get into the service. They wanted to check you over pretty good, however after you were in they never wanted to see you again. I’m guessing my small town doc was not too concerned since he was also the doctor of my grandfather and dad. Both were commercial licensed pilots – my grandfather started flying in 1927 and my dad in the 40s.

    2. It is not that the physical is all that different. It is just that few docs in the US have sought out certification by the Norwegian Maritime Authority. The ones that have that certification seem to mostly be located in cities with large international ports.
      For my first such physical (not Norway, but Denmark), I had to make a special trip to Houston. Probably the same guy that does Norwegian physicals there.

      Just out of curiosity, I looked at the Helseundersøkelse form, and it looks pretty much like my Danish one. Very specific testing of vision and hearing, but otherwise they don’t want you to have any conditions where you are likely to drop dead during your watch.

  6. Have you been able to make any friends among tne passengers? Are they a friendly lot? Are the passengers primarily Americans or Europeans also?

    1. Mainly Europeans but they’re friendly. The problem is that without an audience for your lectures, they don’t become as close (plus we wear masks when not lecturing and it’s not easy to recognize people!) But I have made friends among the passengers and particularly on the Expedition Team, even though I don’t eat with them.

  7. I love the sketches you posted from Maartens. I’m going to immediately look up some more of his work. I love how he does facial expressions. I am so envious of the people who get to go on this cruise and hear your lectures. And I am also coveting all of your food. That strawberry shake looks and sounds delicious. I think you should enjoy it all and eat whatever you please. (And not just because I’m enjoying the food photos so much.)

  8. I would love that crab sandwich with french fries right now with the strawberry milkshake. The whole trip looks incredible.
    The sketches by Maartens are so wonderful to see. A real treasure to look at.

  9. I do hope you will feel the urge to dine once in the first-class restaurant. 25 Euros sounds like a steal.

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