Expedition in Antarctica, the Falklands, and South Georgia
I was on the recent Antarctic trip on Ortelius, 16 Feb - 7 March. This has been my third expedition with Oceanwide, and I continue to be very impressed by the experiences.
The expedition staff, once again, were terrific: The food was amazing, the cabin upkeep was excellent, and the expedition staff were hard working, gave excellent talks, and were endlessly helpful.
Indeed, I would not have my travel bag on the trip were it not for the attention given before we left Ushuaia by Pippa Low, one of the expedition guides.
Because of an airline error, I arrived at the ship with no luggage – a major issue when traveling to such an inhospitable part of the world, and a point not taken seriously by the airline transport staff.
After many false promises during my day in Ushuaia, I was told that the bag should arrive on a flight around the time the ship was due to depart, much too late for me to go to the airport for it. But Pippa took it in hand, arranging for an agent to meet the flight on arrival and bring the bag to the ship.
I am extremely grateful for her attention to this, as all the guides were very busy preparing for the ship’s departure. This type of attention to detail continued among all the expedition staff for the duration of the trip.
Troels Jacobson, the expedition leader, briefed us thoroughly each evening on the weather forecast and the plans for the following days’ sailing and activities.
Our trip was packed with unique experiences, from native Falklands birdlife...
...To other birdlife, namely penguins: king, gentoo, Magellanic, Adélie, chinstrap, and rockhopper.
...We saw sleeping whales...
...Cute baby seals...
...Grytviken in South Georgia, and the real purpose of my trip: Shackleton’s grave.
Ireland has had a huge part in the fantastic history of polar exploration in the early 1900s: Ernest Shackleton, Tom Crean, and the men from my own county Cork, such as the McCarthy Brothers and Patrick Keohane, all traveled south.
And let’s not forget Edward Bransfield, for whom the Bransfield Strait is named as well as Bransfield House, the Port Lockroy post office.
We also saw the surreal volcanic landscape in the caldera of Deception Island...
...And all of this on board my old friend, Ortelius.
There were informative lectures from the ship’s expedition staff, usually twice a day, about the wildlife, the landscape, and the glaciology of the area.
The guides also organized an entertaining quiz that my team won (we were Herman and the Pipits!), along with a fun auction and photo competition, which I also should have won with this photo!
This was an unforgettable experience, as have been my previous trips south and also north to Svalbard. I am grateful to Oceanwide Expeditions for their part in this.