July 12, 2003
Clear skies and calm seas
As I turned the corner to get my first glimpse of the Johan Hjort, the ship that would be my home for the next three weeks, my jaw dropped. It was huge! It was looking like this was going to be more like a trip aboard a Royal Norwegian Cruise Lines vessel than a research vessel. It is 64.4 meters long by 13 meters wide. It has 6 levels that include such luxuries as an exercise room with sauna and a computer room with 24-hour satellite access. Everyone has their own cabin with a bed, couch, table, chair, closet, porthole, and a bathroom with a shower and heated floors. Dinner tonight was steak with béarnaise sauce, French fries, sautéed vegetables, salad and for dessert, local strawberries that are particularly sweet due to the extended hours of daylight here. I doubt they are eating any better than this on Royal Norwegian. Meals are at the same hour every day: breakfast at 7:30, lunch at 11:30, and dinner at 5:30. There is an understood rule that there is no lingering at the table after a meal. The cook wants you to take your dinner conversation elsewhere so that he/she can get the meal cleaned up. Norwegians use a 24-hour clock, which I will be using from this point on. So breakfast is at 7:30, lunch at 11:30 and dinner is at 17:30.
The Johan Hjort is named for the Norwegian oceanographer Johan Hjort (1869-1948). He was one of the founders of ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea). He was a biologist and at one time the director of Marine Research and Fisheries in Norway.
After dinner we had an emergency procedures drill. We had to put on life suits that are one size fits all, but they are really one size fits huge people. Then we had to get ourselves into the lifeboat, which is a self-sufficient boat that can be completely sealed off from the elements. On board it has all sorts of emergency supplies including sealed bags of drinking water that looked like freeze pops.