Ortelius on My Mind

by Gemma Venhuizen Customer story

Imagine having an alarm clock that didn’t wake you with the usual BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! but instead purred gently into your ear, “Good morning. This is your wake-up call. The weather is beautiful, the traffic light, and your breakfast is ready whenever you are.”
Antarctic Peninsula

Ship: m/v Ortelius

Ortelius on my mind

Imagine having an alarm clock that didn’t wake you with the usual BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! but instead purred gently into your ear, “Good morning. This is your wake-up call. The weather is beautiful, the traffic light, and your breakfast is ready whenever you are.”

Wouldn’t that be just the perfect way to start the day?

Up with the Day – on the Ortelius

Well, mornings aboard the Ortelius aren’t too dissimilar. Not only does that friendly, soothing voice speak of clear blue skies and a punctual breakfast, it also promises amazing vistas and exotic wildlife – colossal icebergs, calving glaciers, polar bears and penguins and blankets of bright white snow unrolling into the horizon.

Oceanwide and I Go Way Back

I’ve travelled with Oceanwide Expeditions five times so far: twice around Svalbard, twice in West Greenland, and now – on my “jubilee” trip – I’m headed around the Antarctic Peninsula and Weddell Sea.

I have to admit, my previous Oceanwide trips spoiled me a little: reindeer, bowhead whales, and polar bear sightings for breakfast. (Though one time I slept through the wake-up call and stumbled out into a completely deserted dining room, nothing but chocolate cake left for breakfast, while my fellow passengers had a close encounter with a polar bear cub.)

Boredom? No Such Thing

But on this cruise, I find I am still regularly impressed. Almost every morning comes with a new surprise: a wandering albatross, a pod of whales, lounging leopard seals, diving chinstrap penguins. And to think a friend actually asked me before I left, “Aren’t you afraid you’ll get bored?”

Thankfully I had a lot of experiences to offer as proof of how impossible boredom is on these cruises. I told her about the outings we would make by helicopter and Zodiac, about the vessel’s well-stocked library and bar, about all the interesting stories fellow passengers shared – not to mention the friends I’d made on previous expeditions, friends from Argentina, Australia, Germany, Taiwan, and the United States.

Never a Dull Moment

In all honesty, though, I hardly have time to read or play a card game aboard these cruises, and this one is no exception. There’s just too much to experience outside. Staring over the floating icebergs is so relaxing it may as well be meditation, and watching birds with a pair of good binoculars is fascinating.

Even if you can’t tell an albatross from a penguin, the guides and fellow passengers are happy to explain the difference. And always there’s the sound of the waves, the pungent smell of the salty sea air speaking of adventure in the ancient, wild places of the Earth.

Polar Regions with a Side of Soup

And did I mention the food? Between excursions and the time spent on deck, another main attraction is the dining room: fresh fruit and bread rolls, magnificent breakfasts and lunch buffets and three-course dinners, and a spot-on serving staff – imagine walking hot soup across a rocking boat!

But I’m particularly impressed with Charlotte, the bartender. How she manages to keep her smile up while serving drinks on a Drake Passage crossing I’ll never know.

Bridge for Adventure, Cabins for Comfort

When the weather is too rough to stay on the front deck, my favorite place is the bridge. This is where the magic happens. The captain and his officers stand watch here 24/7, and the great thing is, visitors are welcome – except under severe conditions, of course.

Since the ship’s rocking is worse on the bridge than in the cabins, people prone to sea sickness might want to avoid it. Still, keeping your eyes on the horizon can help with the sickness, not to mention afford you some breath-taking views.

A Taste of the Explorer’s Life

When the waves are high, you get that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling better than in a rollercoaster. You start to understand the wanderlust of the great explorers, the passion that drove them to brave the dangers of the sea, and all of a sudden the memory of your couch back home seems to belong to another life and another time.

In the Event of Sensory Overload

One other nice place on board is the lecture room. If your senses grow a bit overwhelmed, this can be a calm location in which to sit back and listen to an interesting talk about wildlife or geology by one of the guides. During the polar summers, it’s also a good area to seek some real darkness away from the midnight sun.

Seeing the Antarctic the Zodiac Way

During a previous expedition, I wrote about the helicopter trips. But the Zodiac cruises are great fun as well, both the scenic outings as well as the landings. Setting foot on shore in a remote strand of the polar terrain truly defies description. It’s like a new world has opened up right in front of you, no matter how many times you’ve seen it before.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Coming back from a Zodiac trip, we all often have a healthy appetite. But before we hurry off to the dining room, it’s time for a daily “recap” in the bar. There the staff gives us an overview of the day’s highlights, coupled with a short overview of the next day’s plans. Once done, dinner’s on. Time to exchange tales of high adventures with the other passengers, all while enjoying a delicious starter, main course, and dessert.

Afterward, if you’re anything like me, chances are you’ll be so tired you’ll go straight to your cabin and fall face down onto the bed, drifting into pleasant dreams of that pristine, ice-bedazzled world – until you wake to see it again the next day.

Love this article? Share your appreciation:

Related cruises

Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctic Peninsula
Up to 3600 USD discount

Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctic Peninsula

Meet at least six penguin species

PLA23-17. This Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctic Peninsula cruise is an animal-lover’s dream come true. The expedition explores one of the last untamed areas on Earth – a land of ruggedly beautiful landscapes and amazingly varied wildlife.

Cruise date:

29 Nov - 18 Dec, 2017

Price:

15750 USD 12150 USD 3600 USD discount

Antarctic Peninsula with South Shetland Islands
Up to 1600 USD discount

Antarctic Peninsula with South Shetland Islands

Classic Antarctica including Deception Island

OTL24-17. This 11-day Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands cruise delivers you into a landscape of dark rugged rock, pure white snow, and a fantastic variety of wildlife. Come say hello to whales, seals, and thousands of penguins.

Cruise date:

6 Dec - 16 Dec, 2017

Price:

on request

Atlantic Odyssey, Ascension to Praia
Up to 290 USD discount

Atlantic Odyssey, Ascension to Praia

Witness the northbound spring migration

PLA36-18. The Atlantic Odyssey cruise visits some of the remotest islands in the world, crossing the migratory paths of Arctic Terns, Long-tailed Skuas, other birds, and a variety of whales as they make their annual expeditions north for the breeding season.

Cruise date:

24 Apr - 30 Apr, 2018

Price:

1450 USD 1160 USD 290 USD discount

Antarctic Peninsula - Basecamp Ortelius

The best activity voyage in Antarctica

OTL23A-17. The 12-day Antarctic Peninsula Basecamp Ortelius cruise offers you a myriad of ways to explore and enjoy the Antarctic Region. This expedition allows you to hike, snowshoe, kayak, go mountaineering, and even camp out under the Southern Polar skies.

Cruise date:

25 Nov - 6 Dec, 2017

Price:

7950 USD

North Norway-Whale Safari, Aurora Borealis

Follow the herring and the whales North of the Polar Circle

NOO33-17. The North Norway cruise follows the path of more than one kind of whale as it travels amongst the fjords of Troms. The long Norway nights offer travellers on this expedition an excellent chance to take in the beauty and wonder of the Northern Lights.

Cruise date:

26 Nov - 3 Dec, 2017

Price:

on request