HDS26-24, trip log, Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctica

by Oceanwide Expeditions


Day 1: Embarkation – Ushuaia, Argentina

Embarkation – Ushuaia, Argentina
Datum: 04.01.2024
Position: 54° 51.8 ’S / 068° 01.9’W
Wind: SW 4
Wetter: Overcast
Lufttemperatur: +7

On this capricious January day, blended weather of sun and rain, people from all over the world and all walks of life gather on the world’s last quay to board our new home, Oceanwide’s MV Hondius, for an expedition of a lifetime.

As we set foot onboard for the first time, we were welcomed by hotel manager Ingrid who gave us our personal key cards and showed us the way to our rooms where our bags were faithfully waiting for us. The rooms are fresh and spacious, where one instantly feels at home. Later we were summoned to the lounge where Sara, the expedition leader welcomed us and ran us through our expedition plan. The “Plan” was that there is no such thing as a plan on an expedition, and that is exactly what we came here for. Then followed Chief officer Sjoerd for a mandatory Safety briefing where we donned our life saving vests and gathered to our assigned muster stations.

During the various briefings we were told that we were to wear the famous Muck Boots, these dark neoprene-covered feet savers would keep us dry on our various landings. They were distributed to us during the evening in a very festive way, the Expedition team organized some music to keep us all awake after what has seemed an endless day. The cheery team of scientists, historians, wildlife experts have all been very welcoming, smiling and eager to make us feel at home.

As we set sail from the edge of the known world, we gathered in the lounge for a celebratory drink with our Captain Artur from Russia who wished us and the crew the best of trips!

Day 2: At Sea, sailing towards the Falkland Islands

At Sea, sailing towards the Falkland Islands
Datum: 05.01.2024
Position: 53°33.8’ S / 063°33.1’ W
Wind: E 2
Wetter: Fog
Lufttemperatur: +9

We awoke to the gentle motion of Hondius and Sara’s friendly ‘Good morning- Good morning”! And it was…the Drake was almost calm and just a breeze of wind…we were luck. Our dramatic imaginings of what it would be like receded into the past as we settled down to the programme. First, understandably , Sara delivered a mandatory IAATO briefing to prepare us for the adventures ahead, followed by Tiphanie our Falklands resident guide with an account of life on the islands.

Several wildlife sightings during the day consisting of Finn whales, Peale’s, Hourglass and Dusky Dolphins, Southern Giant Petrels, Black-browed Albatross, Northern and Southern Royal, Wandering etc. Plus, a whole list of different Prions all confirming on this the first real sea day, that this was indeed a ‘Wildlife’ orientated adventure.

Lunch as we discovered was another splendid meal on this ship…the food we were rapidly discovering was fantastic…above expectations.

At 2.00 the first of the afternoon lectures….Simon our ornithologist guide delivered a talk ‘birds of the Falklands’ to prepare us for the sightings ahead. A species rich landscape lay ahead and the ‘birdies’ amongst us were sharpening their notebook pencils and checking their camera data storage. This was followed by photo expert Sara with a skills presentation / workshop ‘Photography in the Polar Regions’.

Recap before dinner consisted of an outline of the next day exciting plans for two Falklands landings from Sara followed by Scottish guide Bill with a powerful memorable presentation introducing the essence of an Oceanwide Expedition in easily remembered terms we could understand…’Looking- Seeing – Thinking -Doing - Listening – Hearing – Understanding – Doing’!….’Always pause for a micro-second and engage brain’. This was followed, quite appropriately given what we had seen today, by Elizabeth the marine mammal specialist delivering a masterful detailed presentation, answering our many questions, on whales.

The excitement was mounting...this was just the start of the Oceanwide Expedition Voyage and already we were overwhelmed with exciting new experiences! We retired wondering what will tomorrow bring?

Day 3: Carcass Island and West Point Island, Falkland Islands

Carcass Island and West Point Island, Falkland Islands
Datum: 06.01.2024
Position: 55°20.4’ S / 060°25.0’ W
Wind: W 4
Wetter: Overcast
Lufttemperatur: +8

We awoke for our first day of operations to a gentle breeze, bright skies and a massive sense of anticipation, this grew as disembarkation crept closer, with the expedition team heading across to set up the landing site and then, finally it was time to land on Leopard Beach – a beautiful, white sandy beach on Carcass Island. As soon as the Zodiacs nudged onto the shore Tussock birds came out to investigate and Steamer Ducks paddled in the shallows before we all ventured across a low, grassy plain which gave us our first glimpses of some of the wide range of birdlife on this fabulous island.

The endemic Cobb’s Wren popped up in the long grass, Dark-faced Ground Tyrants hovered over our heads and big flocks of Upland Geese grazed the land like flocks of feathered sheep as we navigated carefully between the Magellanic Penguin burrows which were dotted across the landscape. Once on the opposite beach we were treated to fabulous views of both Magellanic and Gentoo Penguins as they frolicked on the white sand only disturbed by the occasional Steamer Duck fight as they scattered the Penguins like bowling pins.

We then gradually filtered away up the hill to begin the gentle 4Km walk along the coast to the island’s settlement where a dazzling display of homemade cakes awaited the weary hikers, this ‘smoko’ brilliantly prepared by the resident family which live in the only settlement and greedily watched over by hordes of Striated Caracaras waiting for a chance to snatch any unguarded morsel. After yet more food aboard while the ship made the short transit to the afternoon’s venue, we once again boarded the Zodiacs underneath tropical skies and made our way to the azure waters surrounding the little jetty at West Point Island. Another gentle stroll (or a Land-rover ride for the lucky few!) up and over the island top brought us into a little valley with some dense Tussock-grass at the end, through a gate and we were in the midst of this tall grass which once covered most of the Falklands. We battled our way through like some jungle explorers until we poked our heads out the other side where our senses were assailed by a cacophony of sound, an olfactory assault on our noses and the bewildering sight of a packed Black-browed Albatross and Southern Rockhopper Penguin breeding colony.

As we made sense of the scenes only a couple of meters in front of us, we took in the fascinating lives of the breeding colony; everyone jostling for position, Penguin chicks, now old enough to form little creches, running around in gangs causing mischief, adult Rockhoppers yelling to the skies, proclaiming their territories, beautiful pure-white and fluffy Albatross chicks sitting in their little mud-tower nests patiently waiting for their parent to return and adult Albatrosses swooping around the valley in big circles looking for somewhere to land and once they did, trying to find their mate or their chick turned almost instantly from graceful masters-of-the-air to clumsy big birds waddling through the crowds that covered the hillside.

Wow! What a first day!

Day 4: Stanley, Falkland Islands

Stanley, Falkland Islands
Datum: 07.01.2024
Position: 51° 41.2’ S / 057° 51.2’ W
Wind: NW 7
Wetter: Partically cloudy
Lufttemperatur: +12

We started our morning with a navigation through ‘The Narrows’ where some of us eager wildlife watchers were outside on deck scanning the waters and sky for the incredible Falkland Island/Isla Malvinas species. As we approached Stanley Harbour, some Commerson’s dolphins were spotted, as well as numerous dolphin gulls. The jetty where the Hondius usually disembarks guests from was occupied by some female southern sea lions, with a sea lion pup on the neighbouring jetty. To respect the wildlife and to limit any disturbance, we altered our landing to a nearby pontoon. It was incredible to witness the mother sea lion nursing her pup and evoked a real sense of fascination for the incredible wildlife found here on these islands.

By 9:45 we were all off the ship and scattered about in the cute and quaint village of Stanley, the capital of the Falklands/Malvinas. Stanley’s population is approximately 3 300, comprising % of the entire population of the Falklands. The main industries here are tourism, fishing, and farming.

Some of us shopped-till-we-dropped in the souvenir laden gift stores of beautiful handmade merino wool garments, penguin figurines and British influenced tea cosies. Others tested out the local beer and gin at the brewery and distillery, some treated their tastebuds to some local fish and chips, and others moseyed on down to the local museum that showcased an impressive collection of war history, wildlife specimens and Falkland Island culture.

We were warned on expedition the weather can change in an instant, and we sure got to experience that today! Our zodiac shuttle back to the ship was a lot bumpier (and wet!) than our ride over earlier that morning. The wind had increased up to 50 knots, and luckily, we listened to Sara about wearing our waterproofs, however some of us may have needed a warm shower before lunch!

After lunch, we joined Sara and the expedition team in the Observatory Lounge for the mandatory IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) for South Georgia and got briefed on the biosecurity measures that would take place to allow us to make landings. We also got informed about the wildlife distances we need to comply with, and how some species such as Antarctic fur seals may approach us aggressively. We got told but we must hold our ground and to not run away as these animals usually mean no harm, they are just in their highly territorial and hormonal breeding stage.

After some time indoors, we joined the Expedition Team outside for ‘Wildlife Watch’ – a quick 30 mins of fresh air and to look for wildlife, where we spotted some southern giant petrels, Wilson’s storm petrels and even a northern royal albatross! We were then joined by Elizabeth in the Observation Lounge who gave us an incredible talk about the whale and dolphin species found around the Falklands/Malvinas and clever ways we can identify them.

Afternoon tea was served, followed by a briefing for tomorrow’s plan and the daily recap by the Expedition Team. Tonight, we learnt from Falkland Islander local Tiphanie on how to get around in the Falklands, from boat travel across islands, to 4 x 4 off road, to the adrenalin fuelled 12-seater aircraft that notified your flight time via radio. It sure sounded like a very interesting and adventure-laden place to grow up! As we approach rougher seas towards South Georgia and beyond, it was only fitting that we were briefed about sea sickness. Andrés, one of our guides and a doctor, told us all about how sea sickness arises, how to avoid it, and how it is even present in animals that travel by ship! Sometimes at sea we don’t see a whole lot of wildlife - it can be difficult when most of these species are underwater majority of the time! We finished with some interesting insights about species that live in the depths below our ship and beyond – species that Joyce introduced to us as ‘cold and colossal’, think giant squid, giant sea sponges, gigantic sea spiders and alien-esque isopods. Joyce talked about how these animals get so big due to their long lifespans, slow metabolic rate, less predators at depth, and their low surface area to volume to ratio. The ocean is home to some wondrous wildlife, even if we don’t see it when we are out on deck with our cameras and binoculars.

We finished the day with yet another delicious dinner and great conversations, ready for another day at sea where we never know what to expect.

Day 5: At Sea, Sailing towards South Georgia

At Sea, Sailing towards South Georgia
Datum: 08.01.2024
Position: 52°27.8’ S / 050° 54.8’ W
Wind: NW 4
Wetter: Foggy
Lufttemperatur: +7

Day 6: At sea towards South Georgia

At sea towards South Georgia
Datum: 09.01.2024
Position: 53°14.7’ S / 041°49.9’ W
Wind: W 4
Wetter: Foggy
Lufttemperatur: +9

We awoke to another misty morning crossing to South Georgia. It is our last sea day before we see the mysterious lands of South Georgia. We started the day with a hearty breakfast followed at 9:15 with a lecture by expedition guide Tiphanie May called ‘’An Introduction to South Georgia’’. We learned about how the island is governed and the important wildlife research that occurs there among many other things.

After the lecture we were then encouraged to join the expedition staff for wildlife watch on the decks. We quickly put on all our layers and headed out into the mist. Though we couldn’t see very far from the ship we were excited to observe more seals and seabirds as we were getting closer to shore. We saw several fur seals in the water and sometimes even a penguin!

After wildlife watch was over, we settled ourselves into the observation lounge with a nice hot beverage to listen to a lecture on seals by expedition guide Chloe Power. During this time some of us enjoyed a lecture on Shackleton from expedition guide Jerry Zhao in the lecture room.

After the presentations it was time for a delicious lunch before we started to prepare our visit to South Georgia. After lunch it was time to do our biosecurity check. We brought down all our outer layers, bags and tripods ready to clean them before arrival.

Everyone worked hard to scrub everything that had been in contact with the Falklands to ensure we would have a successful inspection in South Georgia.

Once all our gear was cleaned, we filed up to the observation lounge for the final lecture of the day ‘’On Thin Ice’’ by expedition guide Jakub Malecki.

We finished the day with recap with our expedition leader Sara Jenner giving us the plan for tomorrow for our first day of activities in South Georgia. We are so excited! Finally, we headed down to dinner and discussed what we hoped to see tomorrow.

Day 7: Fortuna Bay, Hercules Bay, Husvik

Fortuna Bay, Hercules Bay, Husvik
Datum: 10.01.2024
Position: 54° 06.8’ S / 036° 47.9’ W
Wind: ESE 4
Wetter: Foggy
Lufttemperatur: +3

The morning of January 10th was filled with long awaited excitement and the feeling of success. For some, this Oceanwide trip had been years in the making and the moment has finally arrived. Hondius reached South Georgia in time for a 0410 sunrise over this beautiful island, providing guests onboard with their first breath-taking views. Views of snow-capped mountains, jagged peaks towering over the shorelines, giant seabirds soaring effortlessly on our leeside, and marine life energetically leaping through the waves almost as if to welcome our arrival. Views, which some of us regard as our favourite place on earth.

We started our first South Georgia expedition day at Fortuna Bay. The name originating from one of the first whaling vessels Carl Larsen brought with him to the island to commence the bustling whaling industry. This sorrow past of South Georgia whaling would be discussed often in the days to come with plans to visit Grytviken, Leith, Stromness, and Husvik, all old whaling stations. However, this morning was not about the whales, it was about the penguins. For most, today was their first time ever seeing Southern Elephant seals, Antarctic Fur seals, and perhaps the most important, King penguins!

Fortuna Bay is home to one of the largest King penguin colonies and it is a spectacle everyone must see. Upon deciding a landing was not possible given the current situation, the Bosun and his able seamen dropped 14 zodiacs in the water, and we set off to enjoy Fortuna Bay from the water.

Starting in Whistle Cove, we hugged the shoreline and explored as much of the six-kilometre fjord as possible. Above us towered the peaks of Breakwind Ridge, in front of us a plethora of species went about their daily lives, and below us kelp strongly hung onto the seabed floor while it swayed side to side with the constantly moving current. The King penguin colony is situated at the back of the wide glacial out washed plain, which houses beautifully braided streams lacing from the sea to Konig Glacier.

Although King penguins were the main attraction, other species we had the pleasure of seeing during the zodiac cruise included: Gentoo penguins, Light-mantled sooty albatross, Snowy sheathbill, Brown skua, Elephant seals and Fur seals.

The next destination for our afternoon activity was not too far away, as we headed around the corner to a protected and shelted place called Hercules Bay. The bay was named in the early 1900s after Herkules, a whaling vessel that sought shelter in this inlet due to foul weather. The main reason to visit this bay is for the colony of Macaroni penguins. A new species for this trip, it was integral to offer guests a chance to see yet another species of penguin!

The geological features are also noteworthy, with beautifully folded rocks which is compressed Cumberland Bay Formation. Coronda Peak is situated at the back of the bay with a waterfall cascading down the slopes. Needless to say it was a fantastic first activity day in South Georgia! The day ended with a delicious dinner and a screening of the Shakelton film to prepare for our visit to Grytviken the following day. And yes, of course, there was popcorn!

Day 8: Grytviken and Stromness

Grytviken and Stromness
Datum: 11.01.2024
Position: 54° 16.9’ S / 036° 30.1’ W
Wind: N 2
Wetter: Rain
Lufttemperatur: +1

The morning started with a 06.45 wake up call to invite everyone to breakfast. As we could do no landings the day before, everyone was eager to finally set foot ashore for the first time in South Georgia! As we approached our first landing site of Grytviken, we were surrounded by many fur seals in the water who welcomed us ashore.

Once there, there were many more fur seals, elephant seals, pups, Gentoos, and even Kings! We also saw many Skuas and some South Georgia Pintails. Grytviken is truly a magical site; an old whaling station completely deserted where nature has taken over again. It has lots of history attached to it, with the final whales being caught in 1965, after which the station was closed. Now, Grytviken welcomes us to explore their gallery, church, post office and museum, where many of you did not only learn about the site and its history, but also sheltered from the rain!

Even though rain was upon us all morning, we were eager to explore the site to its fullest; we joined the given tours at 10:00 and 11:00 o’clock to see the place from more up close and to gain more insight information. After we explored the town, we went on to the final resting place of the great Antarctic explorer, Ernest Shackleton. Here, both passengers and staff raised a glass of Scotch whiskey in his honor, as this was his favorite!

Then, it was time to head back to Hondius for a nice (and warm!) lunch. After we were warmed up and enjoyed the tasty burger and fries, we were ready to set foot ashore once again. Because of rough conditions, it took us a bit longer to reach the next destination, which gave us a bit more time to relax and warm up. We arrived around 15:00 o’clock at the next landing site; Stromness! Another place with an interesting whaling history. Here, the whaling activities ended in 1931, after which it was converted into a ships repair yard, which was eventually abandoned in 1961. Now, nature and wildlife have taken over again, as you could see yourself!

First, the long hikers set foot ashore to start their long walk up to the waterfall, through the valley. It was an amazing site to see with wildlife all around us. After they had set off, the next group of passengers came in who took a longer and closer look to all wildlife around us. The first penguin colony that we passed, were the King penguins. Once we got closer, we could see that they were young King penguins, who were moulting their young brown feathers, and changing it for the adult insulating feathers. We could tell they were quite fat; they had to eat a lot upfront to go all 3 to 4 weeks without getting into the sea for their lovely dish; fish! Then, we set off into the valley to the next colony; Gentoos!

There were many fur seals, and many more pups of just 1 and 2 months old! We saw the fur seals coming on land, and you could see they were listening to the cries of their pup, to find them and feed them. Furthermore, we saw elephant seals and wieners who were trying to stay warm by huddling with other elephant seals.

Day 9: Leith Harbour, Husvik and St Andrews Bay

Leith Harbour, Husvik and St Andrews Bay
Datum: 12.01.2024
Position: 54°05.5’ S / 036°36.2’ W
Wind: W 3
Wetter: Clear
Lufttemperatur: +12

South Georgia chose to exchange wrath for mercy. As if deciding that the rain wall it had erected against us the morning before was enough, it resolved to treat us to genuinely fine weather. The sun played with glints on the smooth surface of the sea, the tussock grass covering the shores and numerous tiny islets around us, still damp from the rain, vibrantly green. South Georgian pipits darted to and fro with exuberant chirping, overwhelmed with joy. Fifteen minutes before breakfast, the familiar call of "Good morning, good morning, good morning" echoed from the speakers embedded in the ceiling. Approaching the window and drawing the curtains was enough to confirm that the morning was indeed splendid!

Hondius dropped anchor in Leith Harbour, opposite the eponymous old abandoned whaling station. A century ago, it was the largest whaling station in South Georgia. Even now, long after the station was abandoned, fallen into complete disrepair, and gradually crumbling into pieces, letting nature reclaim its territories, it still looks quite impressive. Many of us had already dressed before breakfast and stepped onto the open decks to capture in photographs the panorama of Leith station with its rusty pipes, chimneys huge whale oil reservoirs, and tilting barracks and shacks, where brave whalers once sought refuge. Leith Station doesn't have much time left standing in its place. Antarctic winds and incessant rains, like scavengers, tear its carcass apart, gradually turning this once oasis and outpost of civilization in the distant Antarctic latitudes into nothingness.

A landing was scheduled for the morning. The night before, we had agreed to split into two groups: those who wanted to stretch their legs and embark on a three-hour hike through the valley, and those who simply wanted to leisurely stroll along the shore and observe the local wildlife. The long hikers were to arrive at the zodiac boarding area first, and it must be said that there were quite a few of them. Our guides, skilfully navigating through kelp thickets, first ferried them all ashore on Zodiacs, and then it was the turn of those who aimed not for movement but contemplation.

The landing site was quite a distance from the whaling station, and it was not without reason. During the construction of the facilities, a material called asbestos was actively used. Only many years later did it become apparent that asbestos is toxic. Therefore, even though all the asbestos had long been carefully collected and removed, a 200-meter exclusion zone is still in place around the station. Moreover, a gust of wind could at any moment dislodge some loosened sheet of iron, sending it crashing down on the heads of those unfortunate enough to be nearby. .

The shore teemed with life! Everywhere, there were vast numbers of Fur seal pups, joyfully and still somewhat clumsily moving about on their flippers. Despite being born just a month or so ago, the pups already possessed a typical stern demeanour — they frequently growled at us and bared their tiny teeth, as if saying, "Don't come closer, stranger, or it'll be worse for you!" Mothers were also scattered everywhere, whether on the beach, hillside, or tussock grass, emitting long, howl-like cries, trying to attract their offspring: "Come here faster! It's time for lunch! My mammary glands are full of nourishment!" Once the pups found their mothers, they immediately began to suckle, squinting with pleasure.

Near a large pool with flowing water, an extension of a small stream, just a few dozen meters from the shoreline, King penguins stood still and concentrated. They stood there for a reason — it was moulting time. During this period, the unfortunate birds must simply stand in place and wait for their old feathers to fall out and new ones to grow. Until this happens, penguins cannot come into contact with seawater and, consequently, cannot hunt and procure food for themselves. We kept our distance from them, trying not to disturb.

A bit further, among the tussock grass bushes, lay young elephant seals. Some of them peacefully slept, while others stared at us with surprise, lifting their heads and peering at us with their enormous, entirely black eyes. Their parents had long since headed to the sea to feed, catching squid and fish, leaving their offspring on the shore. Some elephant seal pups, like the penguins, were moulting, shedding their old fur and waiting for the new one to grow. They looked quite amusing in the process.

The sun shone brightly. Despite our habit of dressing warmly, we had to shed a few unnecessary layers of clothing and tuck them into our backpacks. In conditions where there was a strict prohibition against placing or folding anything on the ground, doing so was quite challenging. We had to rely on each other and ask for help to hold either a backpack, a jacket, or a camera.

After overcoming the first two hundred meters from the shore into the interior of the island, we found ourselves on a vast meadow covered with low dark-green grass. We had to step over small streams that playfully descended from the mountain slopes. Somewhere in the middle of this vast meadow, a pair of skuas had constructed a nest. Their only chick was already large enough to take walks around the nest, but the parents still vigilantly guarded it, maintaining a watch and not allowing anyone to approach. Just in case, the watch was reinforced with Simon, our ornithologist guide.

The soil in the meadow was peat, and it bounced beneath our steps, making our stroll slightly energy-consuming. However, at the end of the path, a decent observation point awaited us, offering a view of the abandoned whaling station of Leith. Countless enormous tanks for storing blubber. Giant rusty cylinders with cone-shaped roofs resembling Vietnamese hats. It's terrifying to even think about how many unfortunate animals had to perish to fill these gruesome storages. But such is the price that humanity had to pay for its scientific and technological progress. Now, awakened to the reality, we rushed to protect whales and guard them in every possible way. It remains only to hope that this awareness came to us when it was not too late. The recovery of the whale population is a slow process, and stations like Leith, along with other whaling stations in South Georgia, may crumble into dust before the whale numbers in the Southern Ocean reach their former levels.

A bit aside from the whaling station, crosses and obelisks marked a small cemetery. Here rested those who once, driven by necessity, came here, leaving their homes and beloved families, hoping to earn money and somehow improve their financial situation. They arrived — and, miscalculating their strength, fell victim to the harsh nature of these places, dangerous work, diseases, and unfortunate accidents. Wives never saw the return of their husbands, and children never saw their fathers. A terse telegram written in bureaucratic language, along with a small financial compensation from the company's management, that's all. Sleep, friends, perhaps those who carry the memory of you in their hearts are still alive.

Not far from the cemetery, a group of moulting King penguins stood motionless, as if commemorating the departed.

In one way or another, around noon, it was time to return to the ship. The long hikers returned from their route. The Zodiacs, buzzing softly, ferried all of us back to the Hondius within a few minutes, and we happily headed to the restaurant for lunch.

While we were dining, Hondius raised anchor and set a course for the neighbouring harbour, where another abandoned whaling station called Husvik stood on the shore. We reached it fairly quickly. There were no planned landings on the shore. Instead, the expedition team organized a Zodiac cruise for us. After dressing up, we boarded the Zodiacs in groups of ten and, with our cameras ready, set out to explore this corner of South Georgia.

Husvik Bay was shallow, overgrown with a kelp forest. Our guides, maneuvering the Zodiacs, had to lift the engines and clear the propellers from the tangled kelp quite often. Nevertheless, life was bustling in the coastal zone. The same Fur seal pups under the guardianship of adult females, young elephant seals, South Georgian Pin-tailed ducks, pipits, Kelp Gulls, and Giant petrels — no one escaped the lenses of our cameras.

The whaling station itself was much smaller in size than Leith, but here too, we could see old rusty tanks for blubber, barracks for employees, and a grass-covered semi-ruined jetty. One of the buildings, standing apart from the station, looked entirely new—it was the so-called Governor's Cottage, restored by the Government of South Georgia and now used for its purposes.

Slightly aside from the settlement on the shore, a small ship repair yard was situated, where once repairs and technical maintenance of the so-called catchers took place — small, high-speed vessels that harpooned whales. One of the boats remained standing on the slipway. Gloomy and sad, it looked in the ambiance of the semi-ruined and abandoned shipyard. The enormous propeller had four blades. The wooden cabin on the deck had long decayed and tilted; nonetheless, the boat's sides, although rusty, still looked quite fresh. It seemed as if the boat stood in bewilderment and anticipation. Where had everyone gone? And what about her? Perhaps, it thought that people would return to the shipyard soon, walk along its sides with sandpaper, cover them with fresh paint, fill the fuel tank, lubricate its joints and connections, and it would again rush into the distance, cutting through the giant waves of the Southern Ocean with enthusiasm… No. No one will come. Never. It will stand alone on the slipway until the wind and atmospheric precipitation finally destroy it completely.

An hour after the start of the Zodiac cruise, unfortunately, the weather began to reveal its unpleasant and capricious nature. The wind picked up, and angry, aggressive waves ran across the harbour’s surface, striking the Zodiacs on the sides, attempting to spray us with salty seawater. By that time, we had already seen everything that Husvik's whaling station harbour had to offer, so our guides directed the boats towards the ship, and we safely returned to the Hondius.

The day was not yet over. Before bidding a final farewell to South Georgia, we set a goal to visit St. Andrew's Bay — arguably the most legendary place on the entire island — known for being home to an enormous colony of nearly 600,000 King Penguins. Besides them, it hosts elephant seals, fur seals, Giant Petrels, and many others. Unfortunately, this year misfortune reached South Georgia — an outbreak of avian influenza, affecting not only birds but also marine mammals. The Government of South Georgia took several measures to prevent the spread of the epidemic to other parts of the island, including a ban on landings and Zodiac cruises along the shore of St. Andrew's Bay. After several hours of navigation and manoeuvring among enormous icebergs brought by the current from Antarctica, we could only approach the shore at a distance of two nautical miles. Nevertheless, it was enough to observe through binoculars the gigantic crowd of penguins.

It was raining. It seemed as if nature was mourning the tragically and untimely lost beings. Twilight prevailed as the rays of the low pre-sunset sun struggled to penetrate through the thick veil of clouds. On this slightly somber note, our stay on this enchanting island came to an end. The captain turned the ship around, and as Hondius, heading for Antarctica, roared its engines, it began to gain speed. The coast of South Georgia remained astern, gradually receding and dissolving in the haze of mist and raindrops.

Farewell, South Georgia, who knows, perhaps we will meet again. Animals, recover soon!

Day 10: At Sea, sailing towards South Orkney Islands

At Sea, sailing towards South Orkney Islands
Datum: 13.01.2024
Position: 56°37.1’ S / 038°06.6’ W
Wind: S 8
Wetter: Cloudy
Lufttemperatur: 0

Buenos Dias, Buenos Dias, Buenos Dias!

Last night we left the beautiful South Georgia. Now we are setting sail to the real end of the world… Antarctica! It’s our first sea day in that route, the movement of the ship in the open waters is a lullaby for some of us, while others meat paper bag as their new little friend.

But that didn’t stop most of the passengers enjoying our lovely open breakfast at the buffet, sharing our pictures and thoughts about South Georgia, with its rich wildlife (the most I have seen congregated in one place) and rich History.

About History we were yet about to keep learning. After breakfast Andres, our beloved expedition guide, gave us a lecture about Ernest Shackleton voyages and great leadership and courage, leading all of his 28 men to safety after the shipwreck of his ship, Endurance, in the Weddell Sea.

Around 11am, the first whales started to blow on the port side of the ship. They will come and go for the rest of the day, majestic and peaceful marine mammals, escorting us on our way to adventure.

As we go out to admire them, we realized that dozens of Antarctic prions were just dancing with the wind beside the ship using it as a way to save energy on their way through the ocean. Later in the morning, Sasha, our Geography expert gave us a lecture about the soil in Antarctica and its changes after the continental drift.

Lunch was served and we had the privilege to eat and talk with a background of giant icebergs on the horizon. The weather changed just when our dear Expedition Leader Sara make the announcement for a group photo on the aft deck. Then and there we all rushed to have one of those forever memory photos, and it started to snow! With the icebergs before and the snow falling like a fairy tale, we all realized we were heading in the right direction. The group photo was taken within laugh for us trying to keep our balance. You could feel the cold and the joy in the air.

Speaking of joy, Joyce, our youngest but experienced guide gave us a lecture about the amazing world in the depths of the Antarctic Sea. A motley crew of species adapted to the extreme conditions just living in a harmonic ecosystem.

Evening time, we went to the library area to sit down in those comfy sofas and listen to recaps from Jakub the “ice man” and William, our historian. Later on, Sara told us her plans for tomorrow. I can’t believe that we have already been through so much and there is yet so much to do!

At dinner we had 3 options as always on every dish. In the main one I choose the duck. Rare. With a sweet sauce, broccoli and grilled potatoes. A feast in the Southern Ocean.

It was time for the second part of MOVIE NIGH! The Shackleton odyssey was continuing, with a couple of early spoilers from Andres in his lecture. Bur wait! The movie stopped, and Sara make the announcement. Almost 2 dozen whales were in the port side, blowing everywhere the eye can meet. We stood there gazing the spectacle, until they were gone, then the film continued. Relaxed, in the couch, with my own popcorn bag to enjoy history and movie in a communion. A perfect ending to our day.

Day 11: Shingle Cove, South Orkney Island

Shingle Cove, South Orkney Island
Datum: 14.01.2024
Position: 54° 35’ S / 35° 46’ W
Wind: SW 4
Wetter: Cloudy
Lufttemperatur: +2

First thing we noticed when we woke up was little movement! A glance out the window and we realised we were in luck again…a relatively calm sea studded with icebergs of every shape and size.

Mostly tabular icebergs dotting the horizon in every direction. We passed close to a monster tabular berg measuring 12 x 8 nautical miles . Hondius motored on throughout the morning and we were entertained / educated by William with another historical lecture this time on the life of the polar hero Tom Crean. This was followed by our regular 30 minute “wildlife Watch’ on deck, forcing the’ lounge lizards’ amongst us to emerge from the comfort of sofas and experience the Antarctic firsthand. Some just stood at the sides of the ship with binoculars actively scanning the ocean for wildlife whilst others exercised vigorously marching round and round the funnel on deck 8 or repeatedly walking up and down the outside stairs. Humpback whales were seen, plus a lucky sighting of one blue whale. Throughout the morning, some near the ship others faint spouts on the horizon. Simon was delighted at the profusion of birds spotted wheeling about the ship. There was something for everyone…the Oceanwide Expedition Product was being delivered.

After lunch we arrived at Coronation Island off Shingle Cove and Zodiacs were deployed to shuttle the first group ashore. The afternoon as arranged slightly differently from before as two groups were formed one Chinese and the other English speaking. One group landed while the other received an ice lecture…Jerry lecturing in the Chinese language and Andreas the ice expert in English. This was the ideal moment to have the many questions answered.

The landing site was superb…a small beach surrounded by massive boulders and jagged outcrops framed by a backdrop of menacing cliffs and snow-covered slopes. The Orkney Islands landscape was very photogenic and intensely dramatic. On the rocks on the left an Adelie penguin colony was a major focus and on the right after a lengthy cautious clamber over the slippery rocks we reached another seal haul-out on a small beach. Zodiacs ran a shuttle between the ship and this beach all afternoon.

During recap Tiphanie delivered a historical account of the Orkney Islands, Felicity described the ‘Happy Whale’ citizen science project and Sara and the guide team created an astonishing illustration of the size of whales using extended string stretching from the screens in the lounge through to the Lecture room. Finally at the end of recap everyone sang and wished the newly aged Andreas a happy birthday.

How could this day get any better? Well, it did during dinner… Bill induced passengers to give constant loud cheering interruptions as an amazing number of whales were spotted on the port and starboard sides throughout dinner.

This was the Oceanwide magic experience…what a day…roll on tomorrow for more of the same!

Day 12: At Sea, sailing to Elephant Island, South Shetland Islands

At Sea, sailing to Elephant Island, South Shetland Islands
Datum: 15.01.2024
Position: 61°19.5 ’ S / 052°24.8 ’ W
Wind: SSE 7
Wetter: Overcast
Lufttemperatur: -2

Good morning, good morning, good morning!" echoed through the air at 4:30 am.

"Please, look out the window!" Despite our bleary eyes, we complied, witnessing a thin white line stretching across the horizon from right to left.

Our early morning informant revealed that before us lay the largest iceberg in the world—A23a. Enormous, spanning 40 miles by 32, covering an area three times the size of New York, totalling 1500 square miles.

Calved from the Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf in 1986, it had remained grounded in the Weddell Sea until it began floating in the early 2000s.

Now, its slow drift northwards hinted at a journey towards South Georgia and possibly even Africa! The sight was nothing short of astonishing.

Moving forward after breakfast we sailed against the wind at 13 knots and encountered large waves, a spectacle that delighted those on the bridge.

Amidst the waves, a big humpback whale surfaced beside the bow, and the southern fulmar made a captivating appearance on this eventful sea day.

Later that morning expedition Guide Bill provided a lecture on whaling in the Arctic, a haunting tale of death, destruction, and mankind's impact.

Once again, our culinary maestro, Head Chef Bawa, along with his dedicated galley team, orchestrated a magnificent lunch. The elegant spread was a feast for the senses, a symphony of colours and aromas that beckoned us to indulge. The buffet, a masterpiece of culinary craftsmanship, featured a delightful array of dishes that catered to every palate on board.

Later, Expedition Guide William delved into the geopolitics of Antarctica, captivating our international guests. Elisabeth shared an intriguing lecture on 'What it means to be Endangered, an Introduction to Wildlife Conservation,' while cape petrels followed the ship. Most guests took advantage of the seaday, relaxing with books and conversations in the lounge.

In the afternoon, Hondius set course for Point Wild on Elephant Island, facing cold, windy conditions. The harsh environment made us marvel at the resilience of the men who survived there.

Passing Clarence Island, we reflected on Shackleton's crew's ordeal, standing in awe at the inhospitable landfall. We quickly retreated from the cold, heading to the bar for drinks and the daily recap.

Sara anticipated a beautiful day ahead as we sailed towards Gourdin Island our next destination and Meike passionately shared the mysteries and amazing features of Antarctic Terns the elegant birds that amazed us flying around Shingle Cove.

The evening's highlight was the South Georgia Heritage Trust auction, hosted by Bill and William. Bill started with his traditional plastic bottle top sale for £200. Passengers enthusiastically bid for various items, raising a substantial £9445 for The South Georgia Heritage Trust to preserve the island's natural and historical heritage for future generation. With items like the whale purse selling for 30 pounds up to 1000 pounds for a special photo taken with the expedition team and same price for drawings made by Bill. We ended the evening with a sense of accomplishment, opening our hearts to protect the unique environment we were fortunate to visit.

Day 13: Gourdin Island, Antarctica

Gourdin Island, Antarctica
Datum: 16.01.2024
Position: 63°11.7 ’ S / 057°16.4 ’ W
Wind: E 2
Wetter: Calm
Lufttemperatur: +3

After a sea day from the South Shetlands and Elephant Island we arrived in the northern Antarctic Peninsula and entrance to the Weddell Sea. This zodiac cruise would be our first introduction to Antarctica and a precursor to the wonderful days ahead of us. We set off in the morning for a few hours to explore the shoreline of Gourdin Island. This trip was extremely lucky in terms of weather and today’s weather followed suit. The sea was mirror calm, wind was negligible, and the sun was shining down on us. With such perfect conditions, a circumnavigation of the island was possible! The shoreline was covered with chinstrap penguin colonies, a few scattered gentoo penguins and a few groups of Adelies.

It is not every day it is possible to take a photo with three species of penguins in one shot! The zodiacs zigged and zagged around the rocky shoreline in search for more and more wildlife. On this zodiac cruise guests were also given their first encounter with Antarctic pinnipeds species! We found over 15 Weddell seals hauled out on a rocky outcropping, basking in the sun. Excitingly we also found a leopard seal mingled in with the Weddell seals; the first of the trip! This cruise also provided another first of the trip: whales from the zodiac. A few humpback whales (Megaptera novaengliae) were feeding just off the shoreline, utilizing the icebergs which create an upwelling of food for them. As we continued our circumnavigation of the island another zodiac appeared with our lovely hotel staff, Ingrid, Albert, and Carolina. They brought out hot chocolate for us to enjoy on our cruise, including some cups of hot chocolate with a little rum surprise .

After a beautiful morning on the water, it was time to continue transiting Southwest along the West Antarctic Peninsula. As we headed along the coast towards our next destination, Chris started our afternoon lectures with a presentation about his time in Antarctica. He has previously worked at Scott Base, the New Zealand Antarctic station, and presented information about life in one of the most remote places in the world. Sara presented the next lecture about the role women have played in Antarctica. She gave historic recounts from the wives of polar explorers, like Eva Nansen and Kathleen Scott. She also talked about the more recent record-breaking expeditions women have embarked on and the increase of female employees at research bases in Antarctica. It was very interesting to learn about the important people in Antarctica that are often overshadowed.

The day was not over yet! During a delicious meal for dinner, Sara made an announcement that caused everyone to put down their knife and fork and swiftly run for their binoculars and cameras…. “Orcas ahead!”. We had the most fantastic orca encounter with a group of around 13 individuals coming right up to the ship. The pod investigated the bow of the ship, and it was spectacle leaving all onboard in pure awe. What a beautiful ending to another brilliant day in Antarctica!

Day 14: Danco Island and Cuverville Island, Antarctica

Danco Island and Cuverville Island, Antarctica
Datum: 17.01.2024
Position: 64° 43.6’ S / 062° 36.9’ W
Wind: SSW 2
Wetter: Overcast
Lufttemperatur: +2

We awoke to brisker weather today. Perhaps our good luck with sunshine was over.

Nonetheless, we suited up in our cold weather gear and headed out in the zodiacs to Cuverville Island – home to one of the largest gentoo colonies on the Antarctic Peninsula. For those of us who went ashore first, we had three different colonies to choose from. Two down below, and one high up on the ridge. We often wondered why on earth would these penguins climb so high to build their nests. Well, they are much cleverer than we give them credit for. At the start of the spring/summer season, these islands the penguins choose to breed on are still heavily covered in snow and ice from the winter. However, there are areas that become ‘ice-free’ earlier than others. These areas are prime real estate for the penguins, as they require ice-free ground to build their nests.

They collect small rocks to assemble their nests on these sometimes very high ridges and rocky outcrops. When summer peaks, there is a lot more ice-free ground around, but if they were to wait for these lower ice-free areas until then, it would be too late to lay their eggs as the window for breeding season is very tight. It takes just over a month for the gentoo eggs to be incubated, and then a further ~70 days for the chicks to fledge the colony.

We noticed there were a lot of gentoos still on eggs, which made us worry about the chicks’ fate with the cold frozen winter soon approaching. We were also lucky enough to witness extremely small gentoo chicks, warmed up in their parent’s brood pouch, giving us little glimpses of their tiny beaks whenever their parent stood up. It was a game of patience but well worth the wait seeing these adorably cute faces! Some of the guides suggested that these chicks were perhaps only a mere 1-2 days old, as they were extremely small and even their sibling’s egg was still intact.

The skuas were in full force, patrolling the colonies patiently waiting for an opportunity to steal a penguin egg or even a chick. Luckily (for the penguin’s sake) we didn’t observe either (for now). It was a busy morning, lots of foot traffic between us and the penguins, the snow dotted with numerous ‘penguin highways’. ‘Right of way’ was of course given to these adorable flightless birds and boy did they entertain us with it.

For those of us who were out on the zodiac cruise, we saw not one but two leopard seals! One ended up moving off the ice floe into the water, and even gave one of the zodiacs a bit of a fright as it stealthily moved around the zodiac, and a little bit too close for comfort. Some of us in the zodiacs also heard some loud cracking and crushing noises from afar, and some of us ashore saw the source- icebergs calving off and creating a reasonably sized wave that the shore team had to keep an eye on in case it flooded the landing site! Its times like this you truly have to pinch yourself and are reminded what a dynamic environment you are in.

After lunch, we headed out for our afternoon landing and zodiac cruise at Danco Island. We got to observe more gentoo penguins, and luckily more chicks! Some had even decided to nest right on the beach at the landing site, which made us think perhaps these guys were late breeders and didn’t head up to those ice-free areas higher up earlier in the season.

We hope that these lower terrain breeders will rear their chicks in time! For those on the zodiac cruises, we were lucky enough to spot another leopard seal! This one was huge too! Our guides told us female leopard seals are a bit larger than their male counterparts, reaching lengths of up to 4 m long!

We also spotted our first crabeater seal sharing the ice floe with the leopard seal, which was intriguing as leopard seals can prey on crabeaters. Perhaps they were both simply tired and didn’t have much energy for a fight. We also got to see a few Weddell seals, and even a juvenile elephant seal! Four different seal species in one day! There were also a few humpback whales hanging around the ship too. We can’t believe how lucky we have been with the wildlife so far. It’s been whale after whale after whale this trip!

For the brave (and crazy!) amongst us, it was time for the much anticipated ‘polar plunge’. 41 of us stripped down to our bathing suits and donned our brave faces and ran into the icy waters of around 0-1 degrees Celsius. The beach was filled with shrieks, laughter and downright screams as our bodies touched the water and our limbs became numb. We even spotted some crazy folk lap swimming along the beach and touching small bergy bits of ice!

We warmed up with a hot chocolate or tea back on the Hondius and settled into recap and briefing for our next day. After dinner, we were treated with a showing of ‘Happy Feet’ with a side of popcorn and cheers to another splendid day in Antarctica.

Day 15: Orne Harbour, Foyn Harbour , Antarctica

Orne Harbour, Foyn Harbour , Antarctica
Datum: 18.01.2024
Position: 64° 35.8’ S / 062° 32.8’ W
Wind: E 4
Wetter: Overcast
Lufttemperatur: +1

A true, magical looking Antarctica morning awaited us at our first stop of the day – Orne Harbour with light snow flurries drifting across the landscape whilst the visibility also drifted in and out giving us our first glimpses of Humpbacks in the mist (a real theme of the day!). Our focus though, as the first Zodiacs sped across the bay was a different but no less iconic Antarctic inhabitant and as we started the dramatic, zig-zag course up the side of the mountain their ecstatic, braying calls echoed down to us.

A fabulous Chinstrap Penguin colony greeted us at the windswept top of the Saddle (a flat area of land halfway up to the impressive looking Spigot Peak) and they put on a brilliant performance as they doggedly marched up and down the steep sided cliffs to feed their medium sized, cute grey fluffy chicks, squabble amongst themselves and shout enthusiastically to the heavens.

After a couple of hours transit north an equally snowy and atmospheric Foyn Harbour welcomed us and even before all the Zodiacs were dropped the shouts over the radios announced that we were surrounded by Humpback Whales. As soon as guests were loaded onto the boats we headed out and were soon treated to a fantastic display of tail slapping, fin waving and general cetacean exuberance as we bobbed along taking in the wonderful snowy, wintery seascape.

After we’d had our fill of the Humpbacks the cruising took us towards the small islands where some more whaling history was to be found in the form of the rusting wreck of the Governoren – a Norwegian factory ship, the pride of its day who met her untimely end as a result of the boisterous party held to celebrate the end of a successful season; ships full of whale oil and a careless flame definitely do not mix!

The day was not over though as the crew had carefully planned out a celebratory BBQ but the weather seemed like it wasn’t going to play ball however, just we were resigned to an inside feast, the snow eased and the conditions brightened up almost as if it was designed! The following evening was almost unreal for as we fed on some choice BBQ and then undertook some [sometimes questionable] dancing out on deck we were literally surrounded by feeding Humpback Whales just metres from the ship. Not even the guides had ever seen anything like this, multiple groups of Whales bubble-net feeding for hours on end right next to the ship allowing us to look down into their gaping mouths as the surfaced, filling their huge bodies with the building blocks of Antarctica – Krill! An evening that truly has no words to describe!

Day 16: Palaver, Spert Island Antarctica

Palaver, Spert Island Antarctica
Datum: 19.01.2024
Position: 64°09.8’ S / 061°48.1 ’ W
Wind: N 3
Wetter: Overcast
Lufttemperatur: +2

Our last full day in Antarctica is jam packed! In the morning we arrive at Palaver Point on Two Hummock Island for our first landing and a great opportunity for a leg stretch. The landing site is located at the bottom of a Chinstrap penguin colony providing excellent views from numerous perspectives.

A hiking route was planned out, traversing up the side of the mountain with two viewpoints overlooking the Chinstrap colonies and beautiful glaciers entering the sea. The star of the show are the fluffy penguin chicks, emerging every so often from underneath their parents.

Despite a bit foggy weather with a mild snowfall, most of us decide to hike all the way uphill. The route terminates at a fantastic viewpoint overlooking a bay filled with icebergs and a wall of ice. From this height, Hondius looks like a little spec on the vast ocean.

Today’s schedule also includes two lectures. Elizabeth gives a morning talk about orca, an iconic species in Antarctica. She explains the ten different types of orcas found in the world and shows examples the whale research projects she has been involved with. After lunch Jakub gives a lecture about the current state of ice in Antarctica, providing an insight into the most recent and troubling research outcomes. The presented data leave us with a better understanding of another of Antarctica’s problems – its ice is in danger.

After a three-hour long transfer, we arrive at the final Antarctic destination of our great voyage – Spert Island, just off the west coast of the larger Trinity Island.

This site is known for its spectacular geology and landscapes. Large wet snowflakes and considerable swell are not enough to keep us onboard, so we embark zodiacs for our last cruise. As we drive closer and closer to the shore, we are starting to realize that the fame of Spert Island is well deserved.

Everything around us looks like out of this world - dozens of meters high rock columns, spikes and arcs surrounded by mist, and a cemetery of huge icebergs of the most amazing and bizarre shapes. At the end of the cruise, Sara and the hotel team invite us for a cup of hot Indian chai with a tiny bit of whiskey which helps us remain warm despite the snowy weather. With heavy hearts but filled with memorable impressions nature has been giving us over the past weeks, we make our way back to the ship. We finish the day with another daily recap and a delicious dinner. Meanwhile, Hondius sets sail towards Ushuaia and begins the very last leg of our journey…

Day 17: At sea, sailing towards Ushuaia

At sea, sailing towards Ushuaia
Datum: 20.01.2024
Position: 60°50.7’ S / 064°08.5’ W
Wind: NW 6
Wetter: Cloudy
Lufttemperatur: +1

Our day started with our usual wake-up call from our expedition leader Sara Jenner. This was our first day on the infamous Drake Passage and so far all was going well. The waves outside at just over three metres high rocked the Hondius gently as we steamed north. We made our way to breakfast and watched the sea as we enjoyed a wonderful spread. At 9:15 we were invited to the lecture room to hear our expedition leader’s lecture about marine threats where we learned so much about the threats to the wonderful wildlife, we have seen over the last three weeks.

After the lecture, it was time to get some fresh air and we were called to the decks to enjoy 30 minutes of wildlife watch. Wildlife watch was not as well attended as previous, and it became clear the Drake was already claiming some victims. Before our next activity it was time to do some admin and we returned all our rental gear, bags and muck boots to the expedition staff highlighting that our journey was coming to an end.

The waves were starting to increase as the day went on and at 11:30 it was time to join expedition guide Bill Smith for his much-anticipated lecture “Paintings of the Sea”. A psychological discussion of what the sea means to us all.

After the lecture we were called to lunch before having some free time to relax in the lounge or in our cabins. At 14:00 we joined expedition guide Sasha for his lecture “How to get to Antarctica: His true story” where we learned about Sasha’s personal journey to Antarctica.

For our final lecture of the day we were invited to our assistant expedition leaders Chris Long’s presentation about making islands predator free. After the lecture we enjoyed some more free time with some of us challenging others to games in the lounge. At 18:15 it was time for recap which started with some important disembarkation information followed by some interesting short presentations from the expedition team. Then it was time for dinner and by this time the seas had picked up and we enjoyed watching the 3+ metres waves slam the side of the ship as we enjoyed our plated dinner.

Moving around the ship proved quite challenging and tested our newly developed sea legs to the limit. The outer decks were closed for safety as the water crashed over them. After dinner it was time for our last activity of the day which was a pub quiz! We settled ourselves into the teams of 6 for the challenge. The questions involved general trivia of our trips with sounds and pictures to identify as well as baby pictures of the expedition team. It was a fun night for all as expedition guide Will guided us through the questions and announced the winners as team “Quizzy McQuizzFace”. The prize was a bottle of bubbly and with the competition over we settled into the lounge to enjoy one our final evenings together. Tomorrow we would make the final push for Ushuaia which would bring us to the end of our time together.

Day 18: At sea, Sailing towards Ushuaia

At sea, Sailing towards Ushuaia
Datum: 21.01.2024
Position: 56°05.9 ’S / 065°35.0 ’W
Wind: NNW 9
Wetter: Cloudy
Lufttemperatur: +5

Our final day at sea has arrived and it is with a heavy heart we enjoy our last moments together. Sara once again woke us up to her soothing voice and we made our way for breakfast, what will we do without these three fantastic meals a day, we all must go back to slaving in the kitchen on a daily basis. This has been truly luxurious.

After Breakfast Iceman Jakub treated us to yet another fascinating lecture about the Future of ice. Generously sharing his knowledge and insight in the bleak future of our planet if things continue how they do.

Due to harsh outdoor conditions the decks were closed so our last wildlife watch was unfortunately canceled, we instead stayed in the save birth of Hondius and prepared for another morning lecture.

This one would be a lecture where several expedition team members joined forces to talk about plastic pollution in the lounge. This made us reflect on the impacts that human activities are having on the environment and what we can do to protect and restore it.

After lunch we eagerly gathered in the lecture room to watch Elizabeths incredible documentary “Right whales: The whales left behind”. A work of true passion, looking for the smallest population of whales in a gigantic area. This Documentary remind us of the work still to be done to protect the endangered animal species.

At 4 our expedition leader Sara presented to us Oceanwide voyages around the world, from crossing the Atlantic to circumnavigating Svalbard, the options are original and limitless.

At six, at the ship rocked and rolled the captain honored us with his presence, he spoke words of the trip, sharing with us the intricacies of his profession and his joy of a job well done. He raised his glass and wished us farewell.

The last supper, a plethora of delicious foods were catered to us on an unmatched level throughout this trip and tonight was no exception. Ingrid our hotel manager presented to us all the different departments for a round of well-deserved applause. Their enthusiasm, professionalism and selflessness has been something to witness. This crew is unmatched, and it is with a tear bubbling in our eyes that we clapped until our palms hurt red.

A quiet evening followed, as we all sit back and reflect on what feels like a dream. The waves gave way to the calm waters of the Beagle straight as we slowly fell asleep for the last time on board Hondius, tomorrow back to reality.

Day 19: Ushuaia

Datum: 22.01.2024
Position: 61° 06’S / 064° 01’W
Wind: NW 3
Wetter: Overcast
Lufttemperatur: -1

Early in the morning we arrived back in the port of Ushuaia. Our bags were packed, and we were ready to disembark the Hondius for the last time. We were feeling a mixture of sadness that our journey to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctica had come to an end, but also a feeling of satisfaction that our travels were over, and we could head home to rest. We waved goodbye to the crew and staff and then dispersed into the city. Over the last three weeks we have seen some incredibly remote and wild places and the creatures that defy the odds and called them home. We have learnt inspiring new things about the polar environment and our precious oceans, and we have memories that will live forever in our minds. Hopefully many of us will think of these special habitats and species for years to come and endeavour to protect wildlife and the spectacular earth that we share with it.

With that in mind, here is a quote from the British naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough - ‘’It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.’’


Tripcode: HDS26-24
Daten: 4 Jan - 22 Jan, 2024
Dauer: 18 Nächte
Schiff: MS Hondius
Einschiffung: Ushuaia
Ausschiffung: Ushuaia

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Die Hondius ist das weltweit erste registrierte Schiff der Polar-Klasse 6 und wurde von Grund auf für Expeditionskreuzfahrten gebaut.

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