HDS28A23, trip log, Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctica

by Oceanwide Expeditions


Day 1: Ushuaia, Embarkation Day

Ushuaia, Embarkation Day
Datum: 02.02.2023
Position: At port Ushuaia
Wind: SE2
Wetter: Partly cloudy
Lufttemperatur: +17

Today is the day to embark M/V Hondius, the beautiful 107 metre vessel that will take us to explore Antarctica. After visiting Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, we embark the ship at 4pm and are met by the staff and crew who warmly welcome us onboard. After checking in we are directed to our cabins, followed by the lounge for tea, coffee and biscuits. The Chief Officer, Diederik, gives us a mandatory safety brief, we all get involved in the safety drill where we are shown to our lifeboats.

At 6.30pm it is time for Captain’s cocktails to celebrate the beginning of the voyage with a glass of prosecco and delicious canapes. Captain Toni makes a welcome speech and we all toast to a good trip ahead. The Expedition Staff introduce themselves; it is interesting to meet all of them and learn where they are from. As the ship sails through the Beagle Channel, it is time for our first meal on board by way of a fantastic buffet. The excited chat at dinner is all about the journey ahead and the adventures that lay before us.

Day 2: At sea, Drake Passage

At sea, Drake Passage
Datum: 03.02.2023
Position: 57° 05.4 S, 62° 00.9 W
Wind: NW3
Wetter: Variable, occasional sun
Lufttemperatur: +7

With plan C firmly in operation (basically doing the trip in reverse, to avoid bad weather to the east) we steamed merrily south into the Drake Passage towards Antarctica on our first sea-day.

The day was jam-packed with activities, starting with mandatory zodiac and IAATO briefings, then the distribution of the vital-to-operations Muck Boots and followed by excellent lectures on Birds of the Drake Passage by Simon and Whales of the Southern Ocean from Felicity with a rigorous round of bio-security in the middle so with everyone vacuumed and scrubbed to within an inch of their lives the main job of finding your sea-legs could be pursued.

Wildlife watching from the bridge and outer decks was also undertaken throughout the day with a range of bird species gaining the most interest; sightings included the first Wandering Albatrosses of the trip (already a highlight for many!) Southern Royal Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Soft-plumaged Petrel, Black-bellied Storm Petrel and Slender-billed Prion all masterfully predicted by the Birds of the Drake Passage lecture!

What wasn’t predicted though was a lost-looking Chilean Swallow seen flying around the bridge in the morning – a land-bird, presumably from Ushuaia seriously regretting its life choices in following the ship out into the middle of the Drake Passage!

Day 3: At sea, Drake Passage

At sea, Drake Passage
Datum: 04.02.2023
Position: 61°16.5’S / 062°58.5’W
Wind: NW5
Wetter: Overcast
Lufttemperatur: +2

On our second day at sea, we wake up to the call from our Expedition Leader Pippa. It is again a calm day, and we are surprised to see that weather is so kind to us. After our breakfast we meet all in the Lounge where Expedition Guide Pelin is giving a lecture, Introduction to Antarctica. We get a lot of interesting and new Information about the white continent, and we get even more excited to finally set foot on this promising piece of land.

After the lecture some of us join the team on the bridge or go outside with their cameras and binoculars to get some fresh air and take a look out for wildlife. Simon, the bird specialist in the Expedition team is always outside and available to answer our questions or to help spotting seabirds.

After another delicious lunch, it is time for more education. Expedition guide Marcos is talking about the geology, Origins of the Antarctic Peninsula. A very interesting story of fire and ice. Shortly after the talk about rocks the program continues with Jakub’s (some call him the ice man) talk about different ice types in antarctica and their meaning.

All in all, afternoon full of new and interesting information. After even more information about the Drake passage, sea birds and hypothermia in the daily Recap, Pippa tells us about the plans for the next day. It will be the first day with activities on the Antarctic Peninsula!

Soon after dinner we go to our cabins, prepare our gear for the next day and fall asleep very excited about the following day.

Day 4: Antarctic Peninsula, Portal Point and Danco Island

Antarctic Peninsula, Portal Point and Danco Island
Datum: 05.02.2023
Position: 64°30.1’S / 061°44.3’W
Wind: N2
Wetter: Partly cloudy
Lufttemperatur: 0

The day has come!

We made it to Antarctica!

After our breakfast we all go to our cabins and get ready for our very first landing and zodiac cruise at a place called Portal Point.

We put on our warm and waterproof clothes, get our cameras and binoculars ready and meet after we got called by our group at the Shell doors on deck 3. The Expedition team already prepared the zodiacs and the landing site so that we can just jump into the zodiacs right away and start our adventure.

Portal Point is a continental landing, which means for some of us, that we reach our 7th continent. As we arrive at the rocky landing site, we are welcomed by our Expedition Leader Pippa who gives us a short briefing about the landing site at Portal Point, the wildlife we will find and the route we can follow. As it is our first time on land everything is new. We feel perfectly prepared and the whole Expedition Team is ready to answer questions, give advice or kindly remind us about some important rules and guidelines to protect the area and its wildlife.

The Expedition team brought an Antarctica flag ashore, so we have a lot of fun taking photos of our companions and ourselves in this beautiful landscape holding the flag of the continent. While one part of us is on land, enjoying the scenery, the landscape and the wildlife which means the first sighting of a Weddell seal, a group of Crabeater Seals and even a solitary Gentoo Penguin resting on the snow. Rest of us is out at the sea cruising the shoreline and the surrounding which is full of absolutely breath-taking icebergs.

At one point we do a swap on the landing site, which means the group that was on shore is now going on a zodiac cruise and the other way around. In this way everybody sees and experiences everything.

At around 11am we are back on the ship to start our transfer from Charlotte Bay to the Errera Channel where the landing site for the afternoon is located.

After lunch, which is absolutely delicious again, we meet in the lounge for the daily Recap which is earlier today because we want to spend as much time at Danco Island this afternoon as possible. After the briefing for the following day, we go to our cabins and get ready again for our second landing on this day.

The bravest amongst us even plan are joining the Polar plunge today. And it couldn’t be a better day! As the weather in the morning was a little cloudy and greyer it is a relief that the sky here at Danco is clear and blue and the sun is warming our faces and hands. The perfect day to do the polar plunge!

But first we start exploring this stunning piece of land. On the Island we find our first Gentoo Penguin Rockery and we can’t take our eyes off these amazing, funny birds. As clumsy they appear on land, waddling up and down their highways, as fast and elegant they are in the water swimming and porpoising. Standing on the beach observing them coming in and out of the sea or taking care of their chicks just fill our hearts with joy!

On the zodiacs we are cruising around huge and beautiful icebergs. Penguins swimming around us while Weddell seals are resting on rocks next to the Imperial Shags. It is a calm and sunny day. It feels so peaceful. As we continue our cruise, we encounter our next wild animal. Sleeping on an ice floe there is a Leopard Seal, very close to us. As our zodiac driving Expedition guides read the behaviour of this amazing animal we can approach a little bit closer. Always in mind that this apex predator deserves its break and that we try our very best not to disturb it.

Another surprising treat already awaits us in form of a zodiac which provides us with some hot coco! William, our Hotel Manager and his Staff are handing out these warm drinks and we receive them with big smiles on our faces! Such a great surprise!

After we all enjoy this absolutely stunning afternoon now it is time for the group of people who signed in for the polar plunge to face the reality and get ready to dive into the cold Antarctic waters… or maybe just dip in!

Happy and smiling we all return to Hondius to take a warm shower and get again another delicious dinner provided by the Kitchen and Hotel department.

It was simply the perfect first day in Antarctica we all agree on that!

Day 5: Antarctic Peninsula, Palaver Point

Antarctic Peninsula, Palaver Point
Datum: 06.02.2023
Position: 64°08.6’S / 061°46.2’W
Wind: NE5
Wetter: Overcast
Lufttemperatur: 0

It is exactly 07:30 AM when we close in to our chosen landing site for the morning: Palaver Point, inside Two Hummock Island (64°08’53”S 061°45’33”W). Despite being snowing outside, and under a gentle but chilly breeze the Expedition Team leaves the vessel to scout the place. After finding it suitable for landing, we commence our morning operations. While the first group enjoys the landing, the other one has the opportunity to explore the outside shores of Two Hummock Island. This landing site is particularly interesting due to the Chinstrap penguin colony that reside there, on top of a big number of fur seals that decided to make this beach their home. The experience is complete with the magnificent view of the immensity of the Gerlache Strait, that we have the luck to also go and explore with our zodiacs.

We finish our landing close to noon, and it’s time to go back to the vessel, get changed, and enjoy a delicious lunch in the Restaurant. After a cup of hot coffee (and maybe a short nap) we delight ourselves listening to Pelin’s lecture about the early explorers of the Antarctic Peninsula. During the afternoon we continue to make our way towards the Antarctic Sound, where we plan to spend the following day. While ship cruising the Northern shores of the Trinity Peninsula, and at around 5:30 PM we are pleasantly surprised by a very exciting sighting: Killer and Humpback Whales !!! We have the joy of enjoying this wild and unique encounter, watching whales and seabirds alike having a feast in Antarctic waters, our hearts pump with excitement, and our eyes can’t believe what they see. With all of this images fresh in our memories and cameras, we listen to the Team’s Daily Recap & Briefing, and enjoy dinner in the Restaurant.

Day 6: Antarctic Peninsula, Paulet Island and Brown Bluff

Antarctic Peninsula, Paulet Island and Brown Bluff
Datum: 07.02.2023
Position: 63°34.6’S / 055°51.8’W
Wind: NW1
Wetter: Snow
Lufttemperatur: +1

The captain and the Bridge Team skillfully navigate us through the Antarctic Sound, and into the much less explored and visited Eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Our day look packed with activities, first aiming to land in a small but very special Island (Paulet), and an afternoon spent in another famous site called Brown Bluff.

After an arrival to Paulet Island at around 8 AM the Expedition Team goes out for a scout once again. The wind is blowing more than the day prior, about 20 knots constant, so the decision is made, we will only make landings during the morning, skipping the zodiac Cruise. But no time is spare time in Hondius, so Saskia offers an insightful lecture onboard, focused on Nordenskjold explorations in the Antarctic continent while the first group goes ashore, and the same happens a second time during the morning with the ones that return from their adventure outside.

The landing turns out to be a one-of-a-kind experience! Thousands of Adelie penguins contained in a small little volcanic island and fur seals all around whilst big and chubby penguin chicks entertain us with their antics. On top of everything wildlife related, we get to Nordenskjold men’s hut, built in that very island to endure the Antarctic winter, from February to November waiting for their rescue.

Around 11:30 AM we are all back onboard Hondius, recharging batteries, eating and warming up for the afternoon activity. After a few hours sailing the ship makes its way to Brown Bluff, a spectacular landing site on the foothills of an old englacial Volcano (with part of its eruptive activity underneath the ice!), and of which we can only infer its previous shape and form. Beautiful boulder called ventifacts cover the beach, occupied by colonies of Gentoo and Adelie Penguins, and Fur seals that at times surprise us by their camouflaged presence amongst the brown boulders. Our zodiac cruise is equally rewarding, navigating between brash ice, icebergs packed with Penguins jumping from and into the ocean, and even close sightings of a few Leopard Seals. We maximize our time outside, spending as much time exploring as we possibly can. The sun shines, and Antarctica says goodbye giving us again the present of the finest weather one could ask for. Finally, we return to Hondius at around 7:15 PM, and after a warm shower we enjoy a delicious dinner. We sail north, thinking back and being grateful for the last three incredible days spent in the Southernmost continent. A new adventure awaits, and South Georgia our next destination!

Day 7: At sea and Elephant Island

At sea and Elephant Island
Datum: 08.02.2023
Position: 61°24.5’S / 054°53.7’W
Wind: SW5
Wetter: Overcast
Lufttemperatur: +6

Today we left the pristine, snow-capped Antarctic mountains behind and started heading northeast towards South Georgia. However, today is no ordinary sea day. Our expedition leader Pippa has something special planned for us all – we were to sail towards Elephant Island, with the hope of a short zodiac cruise at Point Wild. This particular location is of historic significance to many of us on board. Point Wild is the exact location where Ernest Shackleton and his crew set up camp for four months, whilst Shackleton and 5 men set off in one of their lifeboats, the James Caird, for South Georgia in order to find a rescue ship for the remainder of his men.

As we are transiting towards Elephant Island, sailing north through the Prince Charles Channel, there are many eyes on the water in search of marine mammals. And to our absolute joy, some of the staff spots a few whale blows up ahead. As we draw closer, we begin to see blow after blow, scattered across the horizon. To everyone’s amazement, we stumble across approximately 100 Fin Whales in a huge feeding frenzy! There are hundreds of seabirds, Cape Petrels and Black-browed Albatross included, hovering about the feeding hotspots. This spectacle is like something out of a documentary; whales lunge feeding and surfacing as far as the eye can see. The ship slows all the way down and we creep our way around the aggregations of marine life, before turning the corner to Point Wild. Before we reach Point Wild, we also have the delight of listening to expedition guide Pelin, deliver her lecture all about Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic Expedition, an incredible story of success, failure and outstanding leadership.

Upon reaching Point Wild, we gain the first glimpses of the statue of Captain Luis Pardo, the Chilean Captain of the Yelcho, the ship that rescued Shackleton and his men. Our own Captain, Captain Tony does a fantastic job of maneuvering Hondius into the more sheltered bay adjacent to Point Wild. Everyone then proceeds to head out on to the bow, grab a glass of glühwein and soak in the surrounding landscape and history. Unfortunately, due to the swell conditions, we are unable to drop the zodiacs and take everyone for a short cruise along the shore. However, due to the beautiful weather and position of the ship, our view can’t get much better anyway!

After lunch, it is time to depart and we start sailing north, towards South Georgia. Shortly after departing, Marcel gives a short lecture about Elephant Island, going into more detail about the hardship Shackleton’s crew endured on the hostile island.

After a short break in the afternoon, and a siesta for some, the 18:00 recap comes around and we were treated to a wide range of recaps from the team, including an overview of Fin Whales, cloud formations and how sailors use to survive without lots of fruit and vegetables! After dinner, there is a screening of a short documentary about the Trans-Antarctic Expedition. This was followed by an open discussion led by Pelin, about anything Shackleton or polar exploration related, a chance for anyone to share their knowledge, stories and trivia!

Day 8: At sea towards South Georgia and Iceberg A76a

At sea towards South Georgia and Iceberg A76a
Datum: 09.02.2023
Position: 59°00.56’S / 048°27.1’W
Wind: NNE7/8
Wetter: Overcast
Lufttemperatur: +2

Today, it is all about ice!

During the night the ship starts to roll and pitch sailing through an increasingly rough sea. Yet as we have made it through the Drake most of us feel a bit more at ease. During the morning rain and wind keeps us. While some are reading, knitting, or chatting in the lounge or resting in the cabins a few brave guests withstand the weather watching cape and giant petrels, black-browed and even a wandering albatross soaring around our ship.

In the morning, Jakub introduces us to the beauty of icebergs. We learn that factors like the origin, age, floating time, and internal structures influence their sizes and colors. Environmental parameters such as wave action, sunlight, and different melting processes above and below the surface also affect shapes and textures turning each iceberg into unique sculptures.

Jakub explains that Antarctica is divided into four sectors A, B, C and D. In May 2021 a huge iceberg broke off the Ronne Ice Shield. An area lying within sector A. Being the 76th born iceberg since counting it was therefore named A76. At that time, it was the largest iceberg of the world covering an incredible 4300 km2 in size!

Past one o’clock somebody on the bridge discovers our highlight of today in the far distance: The giant tabular iceberg A76a which, at some point during its journey, has broken off from A76. It is now about 2000 km north from its birthplace at the position 58°32.123’ S and 47°18.990 W! Measuring 25 by 135 km and weighing an estimated 500 million tons it is today’s largest floating mass of ice!

Everybody is now out on deck admiring this unusual sight. Lots of photos are taken as the breaking high waves nicely contrast with the motionless iceberg in the background. And many of us are wondering how such a giant can float and drift.

After almost an hour we reach its end. The officer on the bridge increases our speed taking up the original course towards South Georgia. Meanwhile Adam presents us some fascinating insights into his life when he had worked at Rothera Station in Antarctica and in King Edward Point on South Georgia. Besides the diverse and at times challenging work we learn that non-work-related activities like hiking, skiing and entertainment are very important when living at such remote places. Just like early explorers.

Around 4 o‘clock we pass the small counter in the lounge as much to our delight and following today’s topic ice cream is served while Jakub offers insights into today’s knowledge about the future of the planet’s ice. Not surprisingly, many places it doesn’t look too good.

At recap Pelin responds a question from the box. Were there any women in Antarctica in the early days? She tells us about Edith (Jackie) Ronne who in 1947 accompanied her husband on a journey south. Instead of returning home to USA she stayed and unexpectedly ended up doing 15 months’ work as a historian in Antarctica. To honor her achievements a glacier was named after her but later renamed after her husband.

Yes, the very Ronne Ice Shield where A76 was born some 50 years later.

An interesting and impressive day at sea comes to an end while Hondius is sailing steadily on its north-easterly course.

Day 9: At sea towards South Georgia

At sea towards South Georgia
Datum: 10.02.2023
Position: 56°38.8’S / 041°46.0’W
Wind: NW6
Wetter: Fog
Lufttemperatur: +4

Our ninth day onboard MV Hondius is filled with excitement as we prepared to arrive in South Georgia the following day. The expedition team is looking forward to making landfall and showing the guests everything, South Georgia has to offer; a place some have waited years to explore. The morning starts off different than others with no wakeup call and an opportunity to catch up on sleep. After a filling breakfast of yoghurt and toast, Expedition Leader Pippa holds a mandatory South Georgia briefing. The briefing explains how we can help do our part and contribute to keeping this island one of the most beautiful and remote place in the world. We learn about the work the Heritage Trust has completed, the invasive species removal, and methods for biosecurity.

A sea day is a great opportunity to spend time out on deck and on the bridge looking out for wildlife such as humpback whales and wandering albatross.

Marcos holds a midmorning lecture about the origins of South Georgia, providing information about the main geological features of the spectacular island. He passionately describes places like Drygalski Fjord, an intricate meeting place of ancient basement rocks and ophiolite with fragments dating back to Gondwana. Or Cooper Bay, our landing site the next day, which provides visitors the opportunity to see a concoction of graywacke, phyllite, and slate mélange.

Everybody onboard just simply can not wait to land in South Georgia, so much that we even moved our clocks forward an hour in an attempt to speed up time :-)

After another delicious meal in the dining room, we were stuffed full of vegetables and fresh bread, preparing for the big event of the day, biosecurity! All guests are welcomed to deck 3 for a biosecurity check by the expedition team with smiles on their faces, vacuums at the ready, and paperclips in hand. Although this task can feel tedious, it is an important part of being stewards for the conservation of South Georgia.

Ursula holds a mid-afternoon lecture about commonly sighted species: seals! Preparation for South Georgia would not be complete without a lecture about the fur seals and elephant seals who are scattered on the shoreline. The Southern Elephant Seal is the world’s largest pinniped species, with the males topping out at 3700 kg in weight. These seals are more than twice as heavy as a Walrus and seven times heavier than a Polar Bear! These seals are also the deepest diving seals with some recorded depths of over 2,300m. Next up in the lecture, Ursula presents information about the Antarctic Fur Seal, the Southern Ocean’s only eared seal species. The Fur Seal has a true comeback story in South Georgia having historically been targeted for seal hunting. Over 1.2 million fur seals were killed in between 1800-1801 and now more than 90% of this species is found on South Georgia, totalling around 2,700,000. What a great story!

To end the day, Expedition Leader Pippa give us the plans for the next day, our first South Georgia landing. We have a zodiac cruise around Cooper Bay scheduled for the morning, followed by a landing in St. Andrews. It is an early night as everyone wanted to be fully rested and ready to wake up to the breath-taking views of South Georgia.

Day 10: Cooper Bay and St. Andrews

Cooper Bay and St. Andrews
Datum: 11.02.2023
Position: 54°28.3’S / 035°55.1’W
Wind: SW2
Wetter: Overcast
Lufttemperatur: +12

After three long days at sea (with a stop at Elephant Island and the A76a Iceberg) we are finally arriving in South Georgia. The morning looks amazing, and we are off for a morning cruise in Cooper Bay. The excitement is over the top as we are first spotting land! The first real difference to Antarctica that catches our eye are the lush green hills. The tussac grass fields are virtually covering everything the light touches and the amount of wildlife on the beaches is overwhelming.

As soon as we board our zodiacs, we are off to explore the coast. The water here has this beautiful dark shiny blue almost greenish color and along with the kelp reaching the surface from the deep the whole scenery creates an eirie atmosphere. We cruise straight towards large rocks close to the coast where we have our first sighting of the Macaroni Penguin. Their yellow feathery crown catches the eye immediately and gives this species of penguin a funny but charismatic look. Along with the South Shetland Islands and the South Orkney Islands, South Georgia happens to be one of the main locations where we can find the Macaroni Penguin. According to the IUCN the population status of this species is classed as vulnerable and over the past decades we can observe a decrease in numbers, which makes this sighting extra special.

Not long into the cruise some expedition guides spots a large Leopard Seal playing with a dead penguin in between the kelp, which is a great reminder of the predatory position this species holds in the food chain down here in the Southern Ocean. Shortly after this impressive sighting we cruise along the beach and are greeted with large numbers of Fur Seals (especially pups), Elephant Seals, and King Penguins mixed with some individuals of Gentoo Penguins. Seeing so many species gathered in one place gives us a small glimpse of the rich wildlife found in South Georgia. What a morning!

After such an impressive morning and a short rest onboard, we are now ready for our first landing in South Georgia, and no place could be more suitable and charismatic than St. Andrews. Famously pictured in BBC Our Planet documentaries, we are super excited to finally go on land and experience South Georgia’s wildlife firsthand. Right at the landing site where the zodiacs arrive, we are greeted by Elephant Seals resting on the beach and curious King Penguins.

Making our way along the walking route towards the … glacier we encounter dozens of brave Fur Seal pups and adults. It seems some of them are not very happy about us passing by and so some of us get charged and threatened by the bravest seals of the lot, of which most are tiny pups. It is impressive to see how courageous these youngsters are defending their space!

The whole scenery of this place is magical: Lush green grass patches divided by a river formed through the melting glacier and high snowy mountains in the background. Following the route all the way to the glacier moraine is a long walk, but absolutely worth it!

The further we move inland the lesser we see wildlife. Some King Penguins, mostly moulting individuals, can be found along the shore of the glacial meltwater lake. With the reducing numbers of animals, more and more we can experience real silence and even have the chance to spot less abundant, more rare wildlife such as the South Georgia Pipit and South Georgia Pintail. These two species are endemic to South Georgia and cannot be spotted anywhere else in the world. What a special first landing!

Day 11: Fortuna Bay and Salisbury Plain

Fortuna Bay and Salisbury Plain
Datum: 12.02.2023
Position: 54°03.3’S / 036°50.6’W
Wind: W5
Wetter: Cloudy
Lufttemperatur: +7

After an eventful day yesterday, which was filled with amazing first experiences in South Georgia, today we are off to dive even deeper and see more of this amazing island by going on an early morning landing at Fortuna Bay. This time we have the wakeup call at 4:15 AM! Even though we are a little bit tired in the beginning as soon as we spot our cruise/landing of the morning we are all very excited.

Located on the north shores of South Georgia, Fortuna Bay is surrounded by a rugged, mountainous landscape and covered by rich, green tussac fields. Home to healthy populations of King Penguins, Antarctic Fur Seals, Elephant Seals, Brown Skuas, Giant Petrel and Antarctic Tern, this scenic bay was named after a co-owned Norwegian and Argentinian whaling ship.

On our way to the lookout point at the end of the set-out route we cross a small river which is filled by juvenile fur seals playing in the water. What an incredible chance to watch these little troublemakers close by.

Once we reach the final lookout point, it is mesmerizing to watch the huge colony of King Penguins of hundreds of thousands of individuals gathering in one place.

After a delicious lunch on board, in the afternoon we land in Salisbury Plain! On land we have the incredible opportunity to enjoy the amazing density of wildlife that greets us. Encountering hundreds of Antarctic Fur Seal pups, along with Elephant Seals resting in the high tussac grass and the second largest colony of King Penguins is overwhelming. We have the incredible chance to watch a range of milestones in the long breeding cycle of these penguins, from eggs being passed between adults, to chicks being fed by their parents and adults that have finished moulting getting ready to go back to sea. Once again, we are blessed with amazing weather, a blue sky and sunshine. Another incredible day in South Georgia!

Day 12: Stromness and Grytviken

Stromness and Grytviken
Datum: 13.02.2023
Position: 54°09.6’S / 36°42.0’W
Wind: Variable-2
Wetter: Overcast/rain
Lufttemperatur: +7

Yet another big day lay ahead of us today as we pulled into Stromness Harbour in the early hours of the morning. There is not a breath of wind this morning and the cloud is low, hugging the mountains surrounding the derelict whaling station. It is here that Shackleton finished his epic expedition; when he heard the whistle sound from the station, he then proceeds to walk down the valley and into the hustle and bustle of the whalers.

This morning, we have the opportunity to walk up the valley to Shackleton Falls, a steady 5km round trip retracing Shackleton’s final steps. If you didn’t fancy the walk though, there was plenty to see. As always, the beach is littered with Antarctic Fur Seal pups, Gentoo Penguins and a handful of moulting King Penguins. However, compared to our previous days in South Georgia, this time the wildlife is also distributed through the abandoned station buildings and equipment, a poignant image, demonstrating nature has regained control once again!

Whilst at Stromness, we are also able to zodiac cruise around the corner and visit Leith Harbour, the largest whaling station on South Georgia. Whilst cruising the shoreline of both Stromness and Leith Harbour, we can see the huge oil and fuel tanks, the flensing plant, warehouses and other rust-coloured factory buildings. In amongst the rusty tractors and barrels are resting elephant seals and fur seals, now the principal habitants of the area. A memorable morning for many.

However, the day is far from over! During lunchtime, many of us bio-secured our outer layers, boots and back packs (again) as we transit to Grytviken for our afternoon landing. We arrive shortly before 14:00 and welcome several of the South Georgia Heritage Trust Museum staff and Government Officials on board, where they deliver their Welcome presentation and conduct final checks on our gear and the ship. Once given the all clear, we are all able to land on shore, half of us to the cemetery and the other half to the museum side. Over the next couple of hours, in between rain showers, many of us enjoy a ‘Toast to the Boss’ with a wee dram of Shackleton whisky. We are also able to wander at our leisure around Grytviken, a whaling station that has been cleaned up and made safe for visits. The wealth of information and history surrounding us is outstanding; a museum, whaler’s church, a library and an old store house are just a few of the areas to visit. Eventually it is time to post the postcards, pop the whisky down and head back to Hondius.

Luckily, the rain has ceased and we are all treated to a special dinner which entails a BBQ out on the decks! With the music playing and the drinks flowing, it is a superb end to a jam-packed day.

Day 13: At sea towards Falkland Islands

At sea towards Falkland Islands
Datum: 14.02.2023
Position: 53° 17.4 S, 39° 27.9 W
Wind: NW3
Wetter: Cloudy/sunny
Lufttemperatur: +10

After the BBQ and dancing, Grytviken style, the night before we find ourselves approaching the potential landing site of Right Whale Bay, at the north end of South Georgia first thing in the morning. On approach conditions are very windy and rainy but once in the shelter of the bay it turns into a lovely morning, unfortunately though after much deliberations the swell conditions at both the shell door and on the beach forces the planned morning’s operations to be shelved.

So, with more than a few lingering glances we say goodbye to the fabulous South Georgia and headed north towards the next wondrous set of islands on the itinerary – The Falklands! A few sighs are heard as we resign ourselves to the first of several sea days but soon enough the sun comes out and we are treated to some magnificent wildlife spectacles throughout the day which has everyone glued to the outer decks.

First to mention is the simply epic show given to us by at least 25 Wandering Albatrosses which surrounded the ship as soon as we made the open sea; seemingly coming to within touching distance of the stern of the ship at times they stay with us all day, drowning out any sighs with audible gasps of wonder as these ocean-going beauties sail effortlessly across the waves. Other birds include super views of the three smaller Albatrosses – Black-browed, Grey-headed and Light-mantled Sooty, South Georgia Diving Petrels, White-chinned Petrel and a Snow Petrel which appear around the bridge in the afternoon, quite unusual this far north – more at home gliding angel-like around the Antarctic icebergs.

Almost (but not quite) falling into second place are the pod of acrobatic Hourglass Dolphins, several Fin Whales and a Southern Right Whale…. what a day at sea! As if all that is not enough we are treated by Saskia talking about the unsung hero of Antarctic expeditions, Tom Crean, the dulcet tones of Sir David Attenborough waxing lyrical about Antarctic wildlife (unfortunately in documentary style not here on the ship in person!) and Pippa giving us the emotional history of whaling in the Southern Ocean and especially South Georgia, make all the more poignant by our visits to Stromness, Leith and Grytviken yesterday.

Day 14: At sea towards the Falkland Islands

At sea towards the Falkland Islands
Datum: 15.02.2023
Position: 52° 41,8 S, 46° 27.0 W
Wind: NW6
Wetter: Foggy, slightly clearing mid-morning
Lufttemperatur: +6

After a spectacular day at sea yesterday we continue to cross the Southern Ocean towards the Falkland Islands. Our enthusiast expedition guides are there to share their knowledge and passion with you today. Adam starts the day off with his interesting stories and adventures about the science support he did during his stay for two years at Rothera Station in Antarctica and nearly a year at King Edward Point on South Georgia.

Elizabeth has been doing research regards to whales and specifically the endangered North Pacific Right Whale. In her lecture at 11.00 hrs., she gives us an insight into the IUCN Red List, the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. Founded in 1964, it is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species.

There is a lot happening again in terms of birds around the ship. Wandering Albatrosses, less than yesterday, but still beautifully gliding close to the ship. As well as the Black-browed, Grey-Headed and Light-Mantled Albatross and the bulky Northern and Southern Giant Petrel. Then Simon leaves the deck to check the bird book in the library for a special sighting out here. And he confirms it is a Grey Petrel.

After another delicious lunch with again a ‘to die for’ dessert, we all gather for Sasha’s captivating story about his journey to the white continent. How he got to go and spend four months on Novolazarevskaya Station. In his ‘Sasha’ way; honest, open, and straight from his heart he shares his personal adventure. He even adds his moment of fame (a short National Geographic film) about spending five years by himself as ‘minister of foreign affairs’ of keeper of the ghost town of Pyramiden’ as he calls it of the Russian Settlement on Svalbard in the Arctic.

At 16.00 hrs. Marcos, Fiona and Felicity join forces for a miniseries lecture about ‘The Climate – Past, Present and Future’. Marcos speaks about the geological record of changing climate over the last millions of years. Fiona throws in a general explanation about anthropogenic climate change and its impact on Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. Whilst Felicity shares a really interesting look at a natural carbon sink solution that has already been in place for many years, a solution driven by whales!

After dinner we all head into the lounge for happy hour at the bar with Rolando and John. Followed by the auction for the South Georgia Heritage Trust. Pippa and Marcel do an amazing job in hosting this joyful and successful evening, raising a total of GBP 3676 for the Trust. We get some extra sleep tonight as we are turning back the clock one hour. Perfect timing!

Day 15: At sea towards the Falkland Islands

At sea towards the Falkland Islands
Datum: 16.02.2023
Position: 52º01,9’S / 053⁰38,0’W
Wind: S6
Wetter: Partly cloudy
Lufttemperatur: +6

Today is a rough sea day. The most rebellious part of the World Ocean decides to remind us of its power. What we experience is not yet a hurricane but very strong winds that create big swells. Hondius starts rolling and stabilizers do not help much. The majority of us is awake already at 4:30am feeling the motion.

The day starts with late breakfast. Well, the breakfast is being served at 8 AM as usual, but at midnight we have switched back to Argentine time zone, so 8 AM becomes one hour later than we got used to during our staying on South Georgia. Breakfast is followed by series of mini-lectures about the nature, history and economy of Falkland Islands given by Simon, Marcos and Marcel. It gives us an opportunity to know more about geology, vegetation, wildlife (especially birds) and other aspects of this archipelago.

The rules of visiting the Falkland Islands prescribe to have our clothes clean and biosecured. Being already specialists in biosecurity, we go to deck 3 and use vacuum cleaners and paper clips to complete the procedure. The lunch is right on time and as delicious as always. Though we cannot help but notice that many faces are missing due to the rough seas.

After lunch at 2 PM Ursula gives us a very interesting and thought-provoking lecture about hunting marine mammals and fishing. And at 4 PM we finally get a chance to have the answers on many our questions regarding the ship and the way it is functioning as Marcel, William the hotel manager and our chef Bawa are giving us a lecture about how Hondius work.

The day does not come to an end with the dinner. By 9 PM we are all back in the main lounge as one more event is planned for today. Pelin and Sasha have prepared a quiz for us. A good opportunity to have fun and at the same time to remember everything we learned and experienced during the voyage.

Day 16: Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
Datum: 17.02.2023
Position: 51º39,5’S / 057⁰44,2’W
Wind: S3
Wetter: Sunny
Lufttemperatur: +6

Land ahoy!!! Finally, we have finished the crossing! Early in the morning, shortly after 6 AM Hondius passes through two narrow passages and entering the harbor of Stanley, the capital of The Falkland Islands! The weather is fantastic. Stanley is slowly waking up lit by the yellow rays of the morning sun.

At 6:45 AM Pippa does a wake-up call and we are heading to the restaurant on deck 4 to have a proper breakfast before the busy day. In the meantime, the expedition team lowers the zodiacs on the water.Soon we get shuttled to the jetty. Right after having set our feet on the land of this mysterious country, we get to the bus, because the first half of the day we are supposed to spend at Gypsy cove – a small nature reserve a few kilometers away from the town.

After 15 minutes ride we get to the beginning of a walking trail. Everything is beautiful, but the wind is of a Southerly direction which means cold temperatures. Gypsy cove gives us a good chance to spot different endemic birds and also our first encounter with Magellanic penguins – strange critters who prefer digging burrows to build their nests of pebbles as their Antarctic cousins.

2-3 hours later the buses are taking us back to the center of Stanley. Some of us get shuttled back onboard for a lunch, some prefers staying in town and getting acquainted with local cuisine.

The rest of the afternoon we spend roaming around and studying Stanley: walking down the streets and reading their names on the plates, sending postcards home from the local post office, visiting the museum and the church. Right next to the jetty there is a souvenir shop and a distillery where it is possible to buy authentic Falkland gin.

Time flies very fast and at 4:45 PM we have to start thinking of getting back onboard.

During the recap Pippa announces the plans for tomorrow and also introduces us new members of the Expedition team – Tiphanie and Georgina. They were supposed to get onboard at the very beginning of our expedition, but as we had to completely change our plans and turn the voyage the other way round, they get their chance to join us only today. The rest of the recap time we spend asking them questions about the Falklands.

Day 17: Carcass Island and Saunders Island

Carcass Island and Saunders Island
Datum: 18.02.2023
Position: 51° 18,30’ S, 060° 33,4’ W
Wind: NW2
Wetter: Overcast
Lufttemperatur: +6

Sailing through the night Hondius reaches our second last destination, Carcass Island. And our last day of our breath-taking journey starts just like previous ones. Fully clouded, windy and slightly raining. Yet, as lucky as we are, we know that this is going to change.

After breakfast we board the zodiacs like professionals and land at Dyke Bay. The green hillsides invite us for an extensive exploration. After visiting the beach on the north side and enjoying the diversity of birds most hike to higher grounds and heading along the bay reaching the Carcass settlement after 3.5 km. Everybody seems to enjoy the physical exercise as well as the wonderful view.

The rest of us stay at the Leopard Beach taking in the amazing scenery with Magellanic and Gentoo Penguins walking along the waterline. On the green vegetation several Brown Skuas guard their chicks of various ages. However the most unusual sight of today is the many smaller birds hiding in the tussac and grass. We watch and enjoy the tiny Cobb’s Wrens, female Meadowlarks and the colourful males as well as the very confiding Tussockbird.

Then we head back to the beach and are shuttled to the Carcass settlement. Although there are many more birds at the landing site, we head straight over to the main house. Here Rob McGill and their team welcome us warmly. On the table an amazing variety of sweet pastries are waiting to be tasted. What a special treat to receive on this remote island.

Meanwhile and just as we know it from other days, the clouds break open to let the sunshine in. At the beach we observe Steamer Ducks, Upland geese, Oystercatchers and highly approachable young Caracaras. Back on board another rich and diverse lunch is served while Hondius sails over to our very last landing site, Saunders Island.

At the sandy beach David and Suzan Pole-Evans, the owner of the island and their dog welcome us. We head over to a long sandy beach where hundreds of Magellanic and Gentoo Penguins hang out. Most of us walk first up to the cliff where countless Black-browed Albatross chicks, almost ready to fledge, rest on their beautifully built and elevated nests. In between we find southern rockhopper penguins and a small colony of Imperial Shags while some Dolphin Gulls soar above in the air.

The view over the large bay and the blueish-greenish coloured water is breath-taking. Even more as we watch a dozen Commerson’s Dolphins play and surf in the waves breaking at the sandy beach. Just like in the morning: So much to discover, so much to observe, so much to take in.

However, and very sadly our last landing of our journey comes finally to an end. With heavy hearts but filled with memorable impressions nature has given us on these islands, we make our way back to the beach.

As the wind has picked up strongly, our zodiac drivers, despite their perfect driving skills, can’t avoid that we get splashed and soaked with rather warm salty water. But who cares! The cloths will dry, a warm shower and a tasty diner are awaiting us on board. Meanwhile, Hondius sets sail towards Ushuaia and begins the very last leg of our journey.

Day 18: At sea towards Ushuaia

At sea towards Ushuaia
Datum: 19.02.2023
Position: 53°55,7’ S, 063°59,2.’W
Wind: S5
Wetter: Overcast
Lufttemperatur: +4

Our final day on the ocean! After an enthusiastic wakeup call from our guest, Scott, the last day at sea started with a leisurely breakfast on calm seas. Black-browed albatross glide along with us under overcast skies and drizzly conditions, but brighter skies and a little sunshine appear by the afternoon.

Tiphanie entertained us with a lecture on weird and wonderful marine life before lunch and, later, we enjoy a thought-provoking, combination presentation about our planet given by Felicity, Fiona, Ursula and Pippa. By late in the day, we are well on our way into the Beagle Channel and emotions are running high, with so many amazing memories gathering in our thoughts and the time to travel back home closer on the horizon. In the early evening we all gather for one last hurrah as our Captain, Toni Salo, gives his farewell and thank you speech at the Captain’s Cocktail. The farewell dinner is a memorable event with more absolutely delicious food from our head chef, Bawa, and we finally get to see all the faces of those crew working so hard behind the scenes to make our trip so comfortable and enjoyable. Many cheers and applause all round as we celebrate a truly sensational voyage!

Day 19: Ushuaia, Disembarkation Day

Ushuaia, Disembarkation Day
Datum: 20.02.2023
Position: At port Ushuaia
Wind: N1
Wetter: Sunny
Lufttemperatur: +7

One last wake-up all from Pippa. Our bags are packed when we head down for breakfast one last time and we are getting ready to disembark our dear Hondius that has taken us to one of the most beautiful places on earth. The last 19 days have taken us on a remarkable journey over the notorious Drake Passage, the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and ultimately the Falkland Island. It has given us a glimpse of life in these remote and sometimes inhospitable places. We have encountered amazing wildlife, made new friends, learnt, and experienced so much together. We will all take away different memories of our cruise, but those memories will stay with us for the rest of our lives. This was our expedition.


Tripcode: HDS28A23
Daten: 2 Feb - 20 Feb, 2023
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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