The National Geographic Explorer

As we boarded our ship, the National Geographic Explorer, I looked back at Longyearbyen. For the next seven days I would be living on the ship. Sure, we’d take zodiacs to shore throughout the expedition, but for the most part the ship would be home. What would life be like on the ship? It used to be a ferry which would shuttle cars along the Norwegian coastline. It has since become one truly amazing expedition vessel. It has several zodiacs, sea kayaks, and lifeboats (which look like bright orange submarines), an incredibly solid hull allowing it to navigate through sea ice, and an amazing crew. It also provides a vantage point to see some truly amazing places.

The National Geographic Explorer is built for adventure and getting to places that other ships can't. We hope that this journey will find us encountering many types of wildlife, including the emblematic polar bear!

The National Geographic Explorer is built for adventure and getting to places that other ships can’t. We hope that this journey will find us encountering many types of wildlife, including the emblematic polar bear!

An expedition vessel is, in some ways, like a city or a spaceship, in that it has to be largely self-sustaining as it is away from resources (even internet!) for days at a time.

Guests boarding the ship.

Guests boarding the ship.

We say goodbye to Longyearbyen, a town we won't see for seven days as we say hello to our life aboard the ship. In the foreground you can see one of the bright orange lifeboats.

We say goodbye to Longyearbyen, a town we won’t see for seven days as we say hello to our life aboard the ship. In the foreground you can see one of the bright orange lifeboats.

Fellow teachers Garry and Enrique exploring the Observation Deck.

Fellow teachers Garry and Enrique exploring the Observation Deck.

Because exercise is important even when you're on an expedition.

Because exercise is important even when you’re on an expedition.

The Explorer has an "open bridge" policy meaning the guests were welcome to hang out and ask questions so long as they didn't fiddle with things they shouldn't. They also weren't able to sit in the captain's chair. That was reserved for him... and his mother in law.

The Explorer has an “open bridge” policy meaning the guests were welcome to hang out and ask questions so long as they didn’t fiddle with things they shouldn’t. They also weren’t able to sit in the captain’s chair. That was reserved for him… and his mother in law.

One of the teacher cabins. Small, but comfortable. The portholes were (thankfully) able to block out most of the light when we went to bed (keep in mind... the sun never set the entire time I was in Svalbard). Photograph courtesy of fellow teacher Enrique Acre-Larreta.

One of the teacher cabins. Small, but comfortable. The portholes were (thankfully) able to block out most of the light when we went to bed (keep in mind… the sun never set the entire time I was in Svalbard). Photograph courtesy of fellow teacher Enrique Acre-Larreta.

Goodbye Longyearbyen, hello adventure!

Goodbye Longyearbyen, hello adventure!

The ship's beautiful old bell. Ring only in emergency!

The ship’s beautiful old bell. Ring only in emergency!

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