73.28° North, 45.34° East – Sunny, 5.9 °C, wind speed: 7.1 m/s

Life onboard the Akademik Tryoshnikov during the Arctic Century Expedition

Time is a very scarce and valuable resource on the Arctic Century Expedition and the Akademik Tryoshnikov literally never sleeps.

The vessel’s daily schedule is based on the time zone of Moscow (UTC +3). This is also the time zone structuring the marine scientists’ shifts, as they are sampling and measuring around the clock during oceanographic transects along the cruise track. This contrasts with teams investigating terrestrial ecosystems, glaciers and permafrost who must be ready to take advantage of every weather window which allows the helicopter to fly. Their work, however, is based on local time, which differed more and more from Moscow Time as the ship moved eastwards. At some point, the time difference between the ship’s internal clock and local time was up to five hours, so they had their very own schedule. Atmospheric scientists  measure continuously and have to look after their instruments on a regular basis. In parallel, they must also be ready in case some special weather event unfolds. During the expedition, they were looking for rain, but with only two short showers during the cruise, they were often waiting in vain. Overall, the different teams all have their own rhythms!

Work of course takes up a lot of the time of the onboard scientists. Yet, many of the duties you typically have to deal with on land are taken away from you. The ship, cabins included, is kept clean by the crew on a regular basis. All in all, the expeditioners live like they are in a hotel, looked after by a caring crew taking care of most of the every days duties and providing services around the clock (thank you so much for the great hospitality!) The only remaining chore expedition participants have to take care of on their own is laundry.

Of course, there is also life beyond work. Days are largely structured around four meals, served by a very committed kitchen team cooking a great variety of dishes in order to accommodate all types of diets. Sundays are special, as the kitchen crew prepares bacon and eggs for breakfast. This serves as a reminder that another week has passed in this timeless environment. 

The Akademik Tryoshnikov also offers opportunities to relax. For instance, you can go to the gym or enjoy a session at the onboard sauna. Table tennis is another very popular activity the vessel caters for. A ping pong tournament (the Arctic Century Open) is currently unfolding, with crew members and scientists alike competing for victory. An onboard library and books brought by expeditioners, daily news and guides on the wildlife encountered during the cruise prepared by an onboard scientist, provide plenty of reading material. These little things may sound trivial, but they make a big difference to life on board, providing an important break from the daily routine.

Expedition member washing his clothes in the onboard laundry room. © 2021 Swiss Polar Institute, CC BY 4.0

Header photograph: Table tennis is a popular activity onboard.
Rights: © 2021 Swiss Polar Institute, CC BY 4.0