Can you imagine 100+ people practicing an “abandon ship” drill just moments before departing to an iceberg-littered sea at the end of the earth? You would not be faulted for thinking it would scare the daylights out of everyone, but you would be wrong.
Safety first, fun later
The first thing you do after arriving on the M/S Expedition for a trip to the Arctic or Antarctica is have a group safety drill. You learn how to put on your life vest, where to meet in case of an “abandon ship” announcement, and what it feels like to sit in a lifeboat. You also learn how to put on an immersion suit to prevent hypothermia.
Being prepared for a disaster doesn’t mean it will happen. On the contrary, it means if it does happen you will likely have a better outcome than being unprepared. It is why the majority of us wear seat belts in our cars, helmets with our bikes and motorcycles, and know that our airplane seat cushions can be used as flotation devices in the event of a water landing.
The same is true on a polar cruise ship.
The Safety Officer
Safety Officer Yuriy Katunin is responsible for training the crew of the M/S Expedition to handle fires, first aid, and emergency evacuations. We love getting to know Yuriy, and he patiently indulges our many questions during his first watch on the bridge in the mornings.
“Yuriy, are you sure the world is round? It looks really flat from here, and we are getting awfully close to the edge…”
I tell you, the man has patience.
Yuriy also introduced us to the idea of “landsickness.” You see, Yuriy loves the sea and grew up in the Ukraine in a seafaring family. When he attempted to live in the scenic mountains of Colombia for a year, he became almost physically ill from being so far from the water.
They don’t make a patch for that.
So Yuriy went back to the sea and has worked as a safety officer on large cruise ships and now on the smaller M/S Expedition. Like everyone else we interviewed onboard, he prefers the smaller ship to have easier access to both passengers and crew.
Besides taking two 4-hour shifts on the bridge, Yuriy spends his day training the crew and testing the safety equipment. (He can also be found “busting five knots” in music videos.)
The M/S Expedition has very modern safety equipment, from the enclosed life boats to the high-tech immersion suits for every person on board to the time-saving mechanism that lowers the boats into the water. Add to that a crew experienced in emergency evacuation, and you can feel pretty safe cruising through the icebergs on this ship.