Wednesday, day 11
At 4pm we boarded our ship, the MS Expedition, in Ushuaia, which is going to be our home in Antarctica for the next few weeks. It is an expedition type ship. The ship take on just over 100 passengers. The cabin was quite comfortable and big, with a large rectangular window, 2 beds and a large bathroom with shower. This ship is not to be confused with it’s predecessor that sank in 2007.
The meals on board the ship were all outstanding! The average age of the passengers was also much younger than on the normal cruise ships.
Thursday, day 12
We spent the whole day crossing the Drake channel with cross winds and a swell of up to 8 m. The crew stated that on a scale of 10 these conditions were 2. I would hate to see what 8-10 look like. The scopaderm plasters behind our ears did wonders. Louis was convinced that he would not need the plasters, but alas, was proven wrong. The crew keeps you quite busy on board. There are constant talks with slide and film shows on Antarctica which were quite interesting. By the time we disembarked, we had quite an expert knowledge of Antarctica.
Friday, day 13
Another day on the Drake channel. Today the sea is much calmer and we can now venture outside in the decks.
Saturday, day 14
Finally we ar now through the passage and into real ice berg country. The scenery is stunning! We arrived early in the morning at Cuverville Island in the Errera Channel. A group of us went on an early morning kayaking trip. I sat in front and Louis had the backseat. They had 8 double kayaks. The serene beauty and quietness, rowing like this between the ice bergs is indescribable. My video camera gets wet and that is the end of any video filming of the trip for me. From now on my smart phone has to do it all.
The rest of the group went on land with zodiacs to see the penguin colonies. After the excursion the ship departs for Port Lockroy.
Here we cruised around amongst huge glaciers and ice bergs. Port Lockroy is an old English base station that is now used as a museum and shop. There are thousands of penguins all over the place and every couple seems to have 2 chicks.
They are very cute. They walk around just like little miniature humans. The ones on this island are Gentoo penguins.
We also saw a few Leopard seals. They are very large and their faces look like giant snake faces. We also saw 2 large Sailing yachts in the bay near the base station.
Sunday, day 15
In the Lemaire channel near Pleneau island is the “iceberg graveyard” Here we glided with the kayaks between hundreds of pure blue icebergs floating around in pristine silence.
I could never have imagined that there can be so many shades of absolute clear, clean shades of crystal like blues in the ice-bergs. We are extremely lucky with the weather, which has been perfect with blue skies so far. Tonight we are having a barbecue outside on the upper deck.
Petermann Island is where we saw all the Adelie and Gentoo penguins in the afternoon. They are very cute. They walk upright like humans and when they get tired they lie down and slide the rest of the way on their bellies. We also saw a few Humphacks and Orcas. There were also many Leopard seals lying on various blocks of ice. They look like huge slugs.
Monday day 16
Today we went rowing again between the ice-bergs.
The Temperature is 1 degree C and is quite pleasant when the wind is not blowing.
Today we went to a Chilean base in Paradise Bay. Here again were many Humpbacks and Orcas.
Visiting the bridge while the Captain is in action between the icebergs in the narrow channels, is very interesting. The Captain becomes quite stressed at times, maneuvering between the icebergs using the ships side thrusters and watching the sonar and radar screens constantly.
Without side thrusters, it would not be possible to navigate in this area.
Tuesday, day 17
This morning, at 5am, we sailed in to the bay of Deception Island and were the first group to set foot on the island the day.
I took the polar plunge in the icy water of this island, for which I was given a certificate. When you exit the water, the air actually feels warm. This afternoon we went to Aitcho island, one of the South Shetland Islands. It was very interesting and we saw many of the usual Gentoo penguins as well as many Chinstrap penguins. They all had chicks that are getting big now. We also saw a few Elephant seals.
Tonight we will be taking on the Drake channel again, for our 2 day trip back to Ushuaia.
Wednesday, day 18
Have a look at the following link.
Today we spent the whole day at sea. Not very interesting. Petro & Louis went to bed early. There weren’t many people in the dining-room. Everything is rolling around too much.
All tables and chairs are chained to the floor, to prevent mishaps during the rough seas.
Thursday, day 19
We didn’t sleep much. we were rolling around too much in the rough seas.
Breakfast was brought to our rooms to prevent passengers from falling around on the ship in the rough seas.
Shortly after 9 am we rounded Cape Horn. The famous tip of South America, with hundreds of ship wrecks around. We were within a few hundred meters of the coast. Once past this point the sea was much calmer and flatter. There is still a lot of wind, but the ride is now much smoother.
We should arrive in Ushuaia at about 9 pm tonight.
We had a very good sleep on board with the ship tied onto its moorings in Ushuaia.