Out of the Northwest Passage
Life aboard the Ocean Endeavour: Part One
Brief History of the Ship
The Ocean Endeavour was built in Poland and completed its maiden voyage in April, 1982. She operated in the Baltic Sea as the Konstantin Simonov until 1996. From 1996 to 2001, she sailed the Mediterranean as Francesca and continued to do so as The Iris from 2001 to 2010. In 2010, she was sold to Kristina Cruises and renamed Kristina Katarina. In 2014, she was sold again and renamed Ocean Endeavour.
The crew was multi-national with members from Croatia, Panama, Peru, the Phillippines, India, France, Germany, Colombia and more. Apparently, the staff can vary from season to season. From what I understand, the crew are members of a union or association that places them where they are needed. The captain and other supervisory staff can request specific crew.
Adventure Canada and the Passengers
Adventure Canada leases the ship for the Arctic cruises while Quark uses it for the Antarctic. Adventure Canada had thirty-two staff aboard the ship and they took care of all the activities and landings with assistance from the ship’s crew. The Adventure Canada site contains the names and bios of all their expedition staff and you can refer to that list to learn more about individuals I will refer to.
There were 156 passengers and the vast majority were from Canada. The small number meant it was an intimate cruise. After a couple of days, we were like one big family.
I had more than one choice for cabin as a solo, and I went with the interior. I knew from my previous cruise in the Aegean that I wouldn’t spend a lot of time in the cabin. It was on the fifth floor directly under the Polaris Restaurant. I found the cabin to be clean, quiet and very comfortable.
The cabin had four bunks with the upper two latched to the wall.
There was a two drawer dresser between the bunks, but after a couple days, I found it was easier to just lay out my clothes on the second bunk. My cabin attendant, Raquel, would even fold anything I had laid there in a hurry. She did a wonderful job that included turning down the bunk every night and leaving a mint chocolate on the pillow. Others got towel animals.
The cabin had a bathroom with shower that included a shampoo and shower gel dispenser.
There was a closet with hangers, a safe, robe and hairdryer. The ship offered a laundry service but I didn’t use it. We couldn’t drink from the tap but drinking water was available from several dispensers throughout the ship. We were given a container that we could refill as necessary.
One channel showed an external view from one of the bridge cameras, so even in the interior cabin, I could get a glimpse of the external conditions. It also had a feed into the Nautilus Lounge where the majority of presentations took place. The other channels showed a variety of movies and specials like Planet Earth. The movies included Braveheart, Into the Wild, The Revenant, The Big Year, The Theory of Everything and more. They were repeated at various times.
The Polaris Restaurant
The Polaris Restaurant was located on deck 6 and the food was excellent thanks to an exceptional culinary staff.
We were told that there was a baker in the kitchen and that all the desserts were made from scratch. They are to be commended for the best apple strudel on the planet. It may not look appetizing but it was heavenly.
One night we had a Chocolate Symphony where the buffet aisle was filled with desserts.
Breakfast was usually served from 7:30 to 9, lunch (dinner) from noon to 1:30 and supper followed the recap at seven.
The Lounges, Pool, Spa and Mudroom
There were four main lounges. A favorite among the passengers seemed to be the Compass Club which sat off a hallway on the starboard side of the ship.
The spa offered services like massage and had a small exercise room. The photos I saw online showed elliptical machines. but when I got there, they had been swapped out for stationary bikes which I didn’t find that comfortable.
The mudroom was located on deck 4 and contained open lockers and seating to change for the landings. We could leave our wet outerwear there to dry off as well as the rubber boots issued by the ship. The auto-inflatable personal flotation devices (PFD) worn on the zodiacs were available there.
The scenery was a big attraction on this cruise and the Ocean Endeavour had ample deck space for viewing. The best spot was on the top deck, above the bridge. The deck had a plexi-glass shield attached to the forward railing (right side in photo) that protected us from the wind.
Continue on to Part Two to read about the zodiacs, the bear monitors, the daily routine and packing information.
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