Antarctica Cruise: A perfect voyage

We’re back on dry land in El Calafate and we’re taking a few days to catch up on our email and our blog, and most importantly, our laundry.   In the next three blog entries, I’ll share the highlights of our Antarctica experience with as many photos as I can manage to load.  Don’t worry, we’ll cull through the 2,000+ photos Chris took so that you only see the best of the best.

If any of you, besides my mom, have been anxiously awaiting our return, desperate to know how we are doing and how our trip went, I can sum it up in one word:  Fantastic.  For the rest of you, here’s a quick wrap-up of the past 18 days.

We travelled to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctica where we marvelled at astounding landscapes, witnessed a plethora of wildlife, and walked in the footsteps of courageous explorers of the past.   After spending hours upon hours watching hundreds of thousands of seven different species of penguins (Magellanic, Gentoo, Macaroni, King, Adelie, Chin Strap, Rock Hopper), I think I’ve finally reached my saturation point.  Just for the record, there was one sighting of a young Emperor penguin (March of the Penguins) looking rather forlorn in the middle of a Gentoo colony but I did not personally see it.

 

Weather will make or break your Antarctica experience.  When the winds are fierce and the seas are high, not only will you be unable to step foot on land, but you will be feeling so poorly you will wish you were dead.  Luckily, we enjoyed perfect weather for the entire duration of our 18 day cruise: the seas were calm, the wind was light, precipitation was minimal, and sunshine was plentiful.  Such idyllic conditions allowed us to participate in a total of 18 land / zodiac excursions and for a lucky few, nine kayaking excursions.   Our expedition leader reported this was an all-time record during his 17 years of expedition experience!

Our ship was luxurious by any standards, but especially for an Antarctica cruise.  The food was good, plentiful and familiar, and the service impeccable.  There were about 100 passengers on board supported by a crew of about 75.  The expedition team comprised of twelve guides from a variety of backgrounds, each offering a unique area of specialty. During the four sea days, our guides offered interesting and informative lectures covering a range of relevant subject areas all designed to educate us about the ornithology, marine biology, geology, history and zoology of the places we would visit.

The majority of passengers were from the UK, United States and Australia in almost equal measure, followed by Canadians (11), New Zealanders (4), and the remaining dozen came from various other countries.  After four months struggling with Spanish, it was such a delight to converse with our ship mates in English.  It became quickly apparent that this was a well-travelled crowd and we took complete advantage of the situation to hear about the exotic and wonderful places discovered and recommended by others.  It was impossible to absorb all the information and I’m hoping that I can further exploit our new friendships via email in the months to come to collect travel tips and recommendations from around the world.  The majority of passengers were older than us but don’t be fooled into thinking this was a sedentary crowd.  I was impressed by the high level of participation in all activities, even the most strenuous hikes that I found challenging.  It was a little disappointing, however, that only 29 courageous (some might say foolish) souls jumped into the frigid Antarctic waters for a polar plunge (ourselves included).

Well, I think that gives you the gist of our trip.  It was nothing short of spectacular in every possible way.   Stay tuned for the details over the next few days.  In the meantime, click here if you’d like to read the fascinating history of the discovery of Antarctica.

The Polar Plunge in Antarctica.  Water temp: -0.5C

Category: Antarctica
Please leave a comment below. We'd love to hear from you! Both comments and pings are currently closed.
7 Responses
  1. John says:

    I’ve been contemplating a trip to Antarctica. Thanks for your information.

  2. Marc says:

    Glad to hear from you again! Can’t wait to read about your expedition, I’ve grown so accustomed to reading your chronicles that I was begining to seriously miss them!

    Wow! What a plunge! That water looked so cold I could almost “feel” it all they way over here!! ;-)

    Marc

    • christina says:

      HI Marc
      It’s great to be back on line – 18 days was a long time to be disconnected. We had limited internet access on the ship and it was expensive so we just took a break from technology. The polar plunge was way colder than I expected and it didn’t help that I jumped rather deeply – what was I thinking??. As I frantically swam up to the surface I kept thinking my arms were going to stop moving at any moment. It was brutally cold. And then when I popped my head up, I still had several swim strokes back to the ladder. Contrary to what some of the spectators thought they saw, I did not shove Chris out of the way as I beelined it to the ladder – I just happened to get there first. Mind you, I didn’t stop to see if he was ok – my survival instinct kicked in big time. I just had to get out of the water. Surprisingly, we weren’t all that cold afterwards. After drying off, we put on our bathrobes and watched the remaining passengers do their plunge. Then we indulged in the hot tub on the top deck. It was quite exhilarating – when it was over!
      Thanks for being such a loyal reader, I sure do appreciate it! Christina

  3. Angus says:

    Glad to have you guys back and blogging. Can’t wait for the rest of the story. I don’t think I’d have taken the plunge so good for both of you!

  4. Connie and Yves says:

    Hi guys!! I’m so glad that your back from the cruise. I missed reading up on your blog and I checked everyday just in case you added somthing. Dad even called a couple of times to see if we had any updates. So I guess I wasn’t the only one that was anxious. Can’t wait to see more of your fantastic cruise and more videos. And that plunge in the icy cold water!!! Wow!!! I guess thats what to expect from a couple of crazy canucks. I probably would have done the same! Renee and Ryan are doing well. They are really growing up and getting taller, especially Renee. I’m going to have to stop watering her, haha. Ryan was really cute today when I told him that you were coming back from the south pole anyday now, and he said that he couldn’t wait for you guys to get back from the north pole too!! When I asked him why, he said that he wanted his aunt and uncle to bring him back presents for him from Santa! Kids say the funniest things. Anyways, were just enjoying our winter here in Ottawa. It’s been a strange mix of weather here but the good old groundhog didn’t see his shadow today so hopefully we’ll have an early spring. Well take care of yourselves and I’ll keep looking for more on the Antarctica cruise over the next few days. Welcome back!!!

    • chris says:

      Hi Connie, Yves, Renee and Ryan!

      Cruising to Antarctica was a fantastic experience… we can understand why so many people go back multiple times! We’d love to go back, and we’d also love to do an Arctic cruise to the North Pole! Did you know that reindeer also live near the south pole? If we do make it up to the North Pole, we’ll be sure to put in a good word or two for Ryan!

      I’m sure the kids are growing like bad weeds… they’ll be all grow’d up by the time we get back! :-(

      Stay tuned for more Antarctic postings… we’re working hard to get them ready before we start our 8 day hiking/camping trip to Torres del Paine.

      Lots of love,

      Chris & Christina

  5. Catherine Appleby says:

    Hey you guys! Seriously courageous to take that ‘plunge’!!! Good on you both!
    Glad to see that you guys are having the time of your lives!!!
    love you lots!
    Catherine
    p.s. just spent the weekend with Paloma & Andrew. We had a fab time!!#