You can tell Scandinavians built this boat

2nd March 2017, RRS James Cook

Falling asleep on-board a multi-million pound scientific research vessel bobbing amongst the balmy waters of the Atlantic Ocean is as soporific as it sounds. A gentle ripple of sea water against the hull creates a calming sensation that’s hard to beat. It’s like being inside a womb, albeit a rather large steel one.

My cabin, with its port-hole partially submerged, is the perfect sanctuary. I have a bed, obviously, a desk and small lamp, a bedside table, armchair, en-suite bathroom and cupboard for my clothes. Taking passage by ship, and I mean any ship, is my most favorite mode of transport.

Life on-board follows a wonderfully dependable regularity. Breakfast is at 7, lunch at 11:30 (a tad early, I know) with supper being at 5. A small shop selling shampoo, sweets and sun-cream opens for an hour, three times a week. The ship’s gym operates 24-hours a day and there’s even a sauna. You can tell Scandinavians built this boat.

What’s particularly comforting about being on-board is that there’s always someone wide awake. It’s wonderfully reassuring to know that whatever the time of day, there will always be someone on the bridge, dressed in a smart Naval uniform, keeping watch.

What’s particularly comforting about being on-board is that there’s always someone wide awake. It’s wonderfully reassuring to know that whatever the time of day, there will always be someone on the bridge, dressed in a smart Naval uniform, keeping watch.

Having spent over two years sailing expedition yachts in the Southern Ocean, it’s still a joy NOT to rudely awoken at 3am. Night watches drag on so very painfully, with every minute feeling like an hour. Slapping yourself around the face to wake up is never a good look.

An early riser, I wake at 5 and get to the gym for a work-out before breakfast. There’s something ironic about being on a rowing machine inside a ship, whilst looking out to sea.

Breakfast can be as artery clogging or as healthy as you’d prefer. My first few days were spent putting away some pretty embarrassing amounts of fried breakfast. Remembering I’ll soon need to don a bikini, I begrudgingly return to the fruit.

– Laura

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