The expedition team consisted of about a dozen people hailing from three different continents. They were basically the people we could approach about anything and everything. We could visit their lectures at ‘Fram University’. Topics reached from photography via the history of whaling to navigation and all kinds of biological and geological topics.
They also had to do a lot of paperwork with passengers booking excursions or flights.
At every landing site, they kept in touch with each other and the ship. It never felt like Big Brother, though, and passengers knew they were safe.
We could always approach the team with whatever silly question there was to be asked. They had answers to the most outlandish query! (How many feathers are there on one square centimeter of penguin body? Up to 46000!)
They also made sure that we were safe from fur seals, and vice versa that the wildlife was safe from us. We had to follow red flags for guidance and keep our distance from animals and birds according to IAATO guidelines. Just sometimes the wildlife didn’t stick to the guidelines, and then it got really exciting!
On excursions, like hikes or kayaking, the team were our guides and had extra rations of chocolate with them. Just in case.
At landing sites, their life was not always sunshine. We had lots of elderly passengers, 80 or more years old, so the team had to prepare paths. Depending on the site, they also had to stand in 1°C cold water to help people entering or leaving the polarcircle boats. Of course they were well equipped for those conditions, but standing knee-deep in icewater for three or four hours is not fun.
But then, there are certain perks that come with the job, the weather and the wildlife.
Thank you, expedition team! You were the icing on the cake.