Exploring Elephant Island

Our first sight of land since leaving Ushuaia: Elephant Island, South Shetlands. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Our first sight of land since leaving Ushuaia: Elephant Island, South Shetlands. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Sunday, January 18, 2015

I can tell you about my morning aboard Hurtigruten’s FRAM as she sailed through the Drake Passage en-route to Antarctica. It was a very pleasant morning, and guests onboard are settling into a nice shipboard routine.

What I will remember, though, is this afternoon.

Guests on deck aboard Hurtigruten's FRAM look on as we encounter both land and ice for the first time on our journey. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Guests on deck aboard Hurtigruten’s FRAM look on as we encounter both land and ice for the first time on our journey. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Throughout the morning, we began to see small bergy bits of ice around us. A few larger bergs loomed on the horizon off our starboard side, and guests were out on the deck of the FRAM to do some bird and whale spotting.

The FRAM is a hugely comfortable ship to be sailing these waters on, and her interior décor has a lot to do with that. Not only do her interiors pay homage to some of Norway’s most important explorers (portraits of Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen grace the two onboard elevators manufactured by OTIS), Fram’s interiors drew their inspiration from the market she was always intended to sail: Greenland.

Open deck space aboard FRAM is abundant and plentiful. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Open deck space aboard FRAM is abundant and plentiful. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Designers have even added a raised platform on Deck 8 to allow guests to overlook the ship's bow. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Designers have even added a raised platform on Deck 8 to allow guests to overlook the ship’s bow. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Designed by Arkitekt Arne Johansen AS of Norway, the names of Fram’s interior public areas all come from the native Inuit language of Greenland. The Nunami Lobby on Deck 4, for instance, translates roughly to “on shore”; while the Imaq Restaurant all the way aft derives its moniker from the Greenlandic Inuit word for “ocean.”

All of Fram’s public areas were situated on decks 4 and 7, with Deck 4 acting as the primary entertainment deck. Here, as with all other Hurtigruten ships, the 174-seat Imaq Restaurant is located all the way aft and surrounded by three banks of windows to ensure the polar scenery is never far from sight. Providing breakfast, lunch and dinner, the room’s décor is some of the most traditional aboard Fram, with plenty of dark woods and brass accents complemented by rich red carpeting and soft furnishings.

FRAM also features an open-bow that's perfect for scenic cruising, and which was well-utilised today. Unlike other ships, bow access is always open. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

FRAM also features an open-bow that’s perfect for scenic cruising, and which was well-utilised today. Unlike other ships, bow access is always open. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Deck 7 is home to the ship’s gymnasium and open aft deck with its two Jacuzzi tubs. Forward, the Observation Lounge offers sweeping 180-degree views of the scenery ahead – which, this morning was limited mainly to ocean.

You can also access the Fram’s Wi-Fi internet connection from here, along with the Reception Lobby on Deck 4. Six hours of internet time will cost you 200NOK, or 12 hours for 400NOK. It’s worth noting that, for whatever reason, guest internet access is limited to the hours of 14:00 until 08:00am; after that time, it becomes inoperative. Even still, at numerous points in the day internet access is completely out of reach; perhaps unsurprising when sailing in this part of the world. But, given the relatively high cost, you’ll want to ask yourself what it is worth it to you to check your emails.

Lanfall! Elephant Island. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Lanfall! Elephant Island. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

­Around 14:00 hours, we arrived off Elephant Island. FRAM’s anchor clattered and shook the bow as it let go, and the expedition team set out on the scout boat to see if they could find a good place for us to perhaps go ashore.

While this was going on, guests made use of the ship’s ample open deck space, including a bow that is built expressly for guests to stand on as an observation platform. Even high above the Observation Lounge on Deck 7 is an open deck, complete with a raised step that encircles the forward part of the deck to allow people to see over the protective wind screen installed there.

Guests begin to wander outside as we approach land. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Guests begin to wander outside as we approach land. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

A little while later, the expedition scout boat came back with the news: the pack ice near shore is too thick to be a suitable landing site. But, because we’re an expedition ship (and the Hurtigruten team doesn’t give up), we pulled up our anchor and set out to completely circumnavigate it and arrive at Cape Lookout, on the southern side of the South Shetland, to try our chances there.

Around 17:45, the FRAM slowed to a crawl, and once again dropped her anchor. We’d arrived. Even just from the decks of the ship, superlatives fail to describe the majesty of this place we’ve reached. To simply call it “grandiose” seems, at least here, to be far to­ much of an understatement.

Click here to continue reading!

Our Live Voyage Report aboard Hurtigruten’s FRAM continues tomorrow from the heart of the Antarctic peninsula! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

Comments are closed.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:


Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!