HDS22-23, trip log, Antarctica - Basecamp

by Oceanwide Expeditions


Day 1: Embarkation - Ushuaia

Embarkation - Ushuaia
Fecha: 13.11.2023
Posición: 54° 48’S / 068° 17’W
Viento: SW 4
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: +7

Today is the day to embark M/V Hondius, the beautiful 107 m vessel that would take us to explore Antarctica. After visiting Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, we boarded the ship at 4pm where we were met by the staff and crew who warmly welcomed us onboard. After checking in we were directed to our cabins, followed by the lounge for tea, coffee and biscuits. Whilst in the lounge we started with a briefing to get us familiar with the ship, a mandatory safety briefing by Chief Officer, Matai and we completed the mandatory drill.

After the drill, in the Observation Lounge we joined the Captain’s Cocktail Party, where we met the Captain and took this opportunity to enjoy the canapés. Captain Toni told us a little about himself and toasted the voyage ahead. The Expedition Team then introduced themselves; it was interesting to meet all of them and learn where they were from. If we weren’t full enough already, it was then time to enjoy a delicious buffet dinner cooked by our Head Chef and the kitchen team. As the ship sailed through the Beagle Channel, we enjoyed the sights in the fantastic light along with our dinner. The excited chat at dinner was all about the journey ahead and the adventures that lay before us.

After dinner, quite a few of us went outside to enjoy the views and watched all the other vessels making their way through the Beagle Channel. This channel is a strait in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, on the extreme southern tip of South America between Chile and Argentina. The channel separates the larger main island of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego from various smaller islands including the islands of Picton, Lennox and Nueva; Navarino; Hoste; Londonderry; and Stewart. The channel's eastern area forms part of the border between Chile and Argentina and the western area is entirely within Chile. The Beagle Channel, the Straits of Magellan to the north, and the open-ocean Drake Passage to the south are the three navigable passages around South America between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

The channel itself is about 240 km long and 5 km wide at its narrowest point. It extends from Nueva Island in the east to Darwin Sound and Cook Bay in the Pacific Ocean in the west. The biggest settlement on the channel is Ushuaia in Argentina followed by Puerto Williams in Chile. These are amongst the southernmost settlements in the world.

We stayed up late to enjoy the views and changing light of the evening. We wondered what awaits us in Antarctica.

Day 2: At sea – Drake Passage

At sea – Drake Passage
Fecha: 14.11.2023
Posición: 57°11’S / 065°35’W
Viento: NNW 4
Clima: Partly cloudy
Temperatura del Aire: +6

This morning was our first wakeup call from our Expedition Leader, Mal. Our first night of this voyage wasn’t as quiet as we thought it might be. The rocking and rolling that started during the night made some of us sleep profoundly well, others less and some did not have a great time at all, as not everyone showed up for breakfast. The program for today was filled with a lot of preparation for our visit to Antarctica, especially the Basecamp and activities.

We started at 9:15 am in the Observation Lounge with the mandatory International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) briefing. IAATOs primary goal is to advocate and promote the practice of safe and environmentally responsible travel to the Antarctic. We learned a lot about the rules and regulations, wildlife and biosecurity - the dos and don’t-s, the cans and cannot-s. We too wanted to leave as little trace as possible on our voyage down to Antarctica. This is then followed by the mandatory zodiac briefing during which we learned how to put on our zodiac life jackets which were different from the ones we used yesterday during the drill. We learnt where to find the shell doors and know how to embark, disembark a zodiac, how to dress and how to behave – all this was new to us and very exciting.

At 11:00 am we are called by decks to come to deck 3, the shell door area where we collected our Muck boots and we all left with a well fitted pair that we called ours for the next 10 days. After our first delicious buffet lunch we go back to deck 3 again to preparing for our first day in Antarctica. This was our biosecurity, all our outer gear like waterproof jackets, waterproof pants, backpacks, gloves and hats were properly cleaned with a vacuum cleaner and a paper clip which is very important to pick out any seeds that may be in the Velcro.

In the afternoon we were invited to join our first lecture given by Ashleigh in the lounge. With a warm beverage, we listened to all the interesting facts about marine mammals and what kind of whales, dolphins and seals we were most likely to see down here over the next couple of days. We were very excited and some of us start wandering around the ship with our cameras and binoculars ready to spot the first wildlife!

At 6:15 pm we all meet for the daily recap, which will happen throughout the voyage, we get to know our plan for the next day and also get some information about the things we did and saw that day. Anthonie talked about the Antarctic convergence, Misha introduced us to photography and gave us great tips to get the most beautiful photos and Bill talked about the differences of “seeing-looking-thinking-doing” which we kept in mind and remembered whilst we entered this special environment.

After the sea calmed down during the afternoon, most of us felt better and we were able to enjoy a delicious dinner. Some of us were in the cabin early after a full day while others enjoyed the evening in the bar to play games, meet friends and make new ones.

Day 3: At sea – Drake Passage

At sea – Drake Passage
Fecha: 15.11.2023
Posición: 61°42’S / 063°46’W
Viento: N 4
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: -2

Our second day at sea dawned beautifully calm but also very quiet. However, the wind began to pick up after a couple of hours and with it came a veritable swarm of seabirds around the ship. Clouds of Cape Petrels and Southern Giant Petrels swept across the sea almost coming within touching distance along with smaller numbers of Black-browed Albatross, White-chinned Petrels, Great Shearwaters and light Sooty Albatrosses whilst a few Southern Royal Albatrosses glided majestically through the throngs of smaller species.

After a hearty breakfast our programme started with the Kayak, Camping and Mountaineering mandatory briefings in the lounge with the activity leaders and their assistants, giving everyone some incredibly useful tips and tricks to take forward into the trip. Shortly after this we had a perfect lunch. After that all the guests made their way, deck by deck to the zodiac boarding area where the guides were on hand to initiate everyone into the vital world of biosecurity – making sure that we do not transfer any organic material into the pristine natural world where we will visit in the days to come.

The evening recap then wetted-our-appetites for the first landing of the trip in the morning and some information about the weather in the peninsula the next day. Everybody looked super excited about the start of our Basecamp activities. The exploration finally starts!

Day 4: Danco Island and Cuverville Island

Danco Island and Cuverville Island
Fecha: 16.11.2023
Posición: 64°43’S / 0642°36’W
Viento: SE 1
Clima: Low
Temperatura del Aire: +4

We have finally arrived in Antarctica, and after a luscious breakfast, we are preparing to disembark the vessel for the first time, to experience, feel, taste and see this beautiful white continent. Everyone has been briefed, and our first port of arrival is Danco Island. Home to a colony of Gentoo penguins and sometimes others, our zodiacs approach the shores and disembark passengers. As they take off their lifejackets, they get their first look at the waddling of many penguin feet, delighting in the sheer athleticism of those rather small birds, as they scale up hills, which to them must be the equivalent of huge mountains to us. One half ashore, and the other half embarks upon their first zodiac cruise, in search of seals, icebergs and anything that happens to be in the water. After an hour and a half, everyone swaps. The day is beautiful, blue skies shine and everyone gets their first unexpected taste of sunburn. One could truly observe the penguins in their activity for hours on end, but eventually, we must get back to the ship. Before that happens however, we invited all passengers for a polar plunge in the icy cold and international waters of Antarctica, which many partook in. Many photos were taken, showing the shocked faces of people not understanding how water could possibly be this cold, and burn. Afterwards, people went back to the ship for tea and the hottest shower of their lives.

In the afternoon, after a sumptuous lunch, everyone headed to Cuverville Island being weighed down by our chef cook Ralf’s delicious food. The sun was still shining with its full strength, and now people were more aware of sunscreen. Once more, we had a split landing situation, with half the people going ashore and the others cruising amongst the icebergs in the bay. On land, people were amazed by the penguins, as they climbed hills, fell over, slid down, made tons of noise, and waddled around on their highways, all in one incredibly organized mayhem. Every single aspect of their behaviour was photographed, videoed and observed. In the bay, the cruisers gazed in wonder at all the different hues of blue you could find in icebergs, in all shapes and sizes, with penguins swimming past them in the clear blue waters, seals scratching themselves on land, and the whole landscape being one of whites, blues and blacks. The stillness and reflection of the water was incredible, being mirror-like, and the calm permeated everyone’s skin. In the middle, people swapped, and afterwards, we all headed back to the ship for the evening’s recap and dinner.

After dinner, it was the first night of camping! 50 courageous souls headed out with sleeping bags, mats and shovels to brave the cold Antarctic night for the first time, so later, they could tell tales of adventure to their families and loved ones. Truly a test of strength, everyone had to dig a hole in which to sleep, curl up in their gear and just enjoy the solitude and silence. The night and the colours were beautiful and increased everyone’s enjoyment of the evening. Thus ended our first full day on the Antarctic continent.

Day 5: Orne Harbour and Neko Harbour

Orne Harbour and Neko Harbour
Fecha: 17.11.2023
Posición: 64°39’S / 062°50’W
Viento: NE 3
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: -2

Oh no! It just had to happen eventually; we awoke to a seascape shrouded in thick mist. Such a contrast to the previous day and a reminder of how fickle the weather is in Antarctica. Hondius moved her way forward into Orne Harbour almost blind in swirling heavy snow but guided by GPS and radar we were eventually reassured when out of the whiteness emerged a menacing mass of mountain, ‘Spigot Peak’, rock faces plastered in snow but looking eerily magnificent in the fuzzy mistiness.

As usual a couple of staff scout boats were lowered and headed to the prospective landing site …a massive rock protruding from snowy overhangs at the edge of the fjord. They un-loaded marker poles and shore barrels but as they checked it out and risk assessed conditions, they realised that the steep slope was a problem. The deposition of this huge snowfall on this frozen base meant that any passenger falling would immediately start careering down the hillside out-of-control. Perhaps amusing but obviously unacceptable, so the proposed landing was abandoned, and a safe plan B announced…a zodiac cruise in the bay involving all boats. This proved to be a highlight experience for most of us, as paired-up for safety the zodiacs cruised through the extensive brash ice helmed by highly experienced polar guides, backed-up by handheld GPS. It was an exciting experience for all passengers…. really VERY exciting!

After lunch, the snow stopped falling and the weather improved slightly…at least we could see the stunning views. A backdrop of magnificent now clad mountains, tidal glaciers in every direction, an awesome expanse of ice. This was Antarctica…endless visual stimulation. Hondius wove a route through the drifting bergs and brash whilst Anthonie educated and entertained by delivering an appropriate interesting lecture on the complexities of ice. The next scheduled landing was to be at Neko Harbour but as we motored towards this destination the bridge and guide team were obviously concerned by the extent of the drifting brash and bergy bits, a term we learnt from Anthonies lecture.

We had been briefed the previous evening at recap of how potentially dangerous this bay could be in the event of a major calving event. Now it was drifting ice presenting the problem. The bay was choked and clearly landing was impossible so sensibly we turned and cruised along the coast. This was not a disappointment…as it offered fantastic polar panoramas and everyone really understood the safety considerations.

During the evening recap Bill presented a time-lapse video of the movement and build-up of brash which cleared reinforced the safety decisions made during the day. This day had been Oceanwide Expedition cruising at its best…flexible programming making the most of difficult ever- changing weather.

Day 6: Paradise Island and Orne Islands

Paradise Island and Orne Islands
Fecha: 18.11.2023
Posición: 64°45’S / 063°01’W
Viento: E 2
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: +2

The day started early for the campers who had spent the night on land on a peninsula, opposite Brown Station. It was a beautiful morning, a few clouds, the sun started lighting the highest peaks of the mountains surrounding Paradise Island.

After a good breakfast we got offered a zodiac cruise in that area. We looked forward to jumping in the small boats so we got ready. Here and there was ice and while exploring we passed icefloes where seals were resting, Weddel Seals. They watched us, slightly moved, and fell asleep again.

Huge glaciers had their quite active looking fronts in the sea, we even heard the cracking as we were driving passed. It was absolutely amazing being in that beautiful landscape. While exploring we passed the Argentine Research Station, Almirante Brown, situated on rocks right next to the shoreline. A couple of dark red painted houses with the Argentine blue/white colors on the roof form a summer only station, currently inhabited by penguins. A couple of bird species took advantage of the and nested in the area (or at least they were present in the area), Antarctic Shags, Antarctic Terns, Snowy Sheathbill and Cape Petrels.

The kayaker’s went kayaking and the mountaineers climbed the highest point next to the Brown Station. For many of us it was too early to leave that extra ordinary spot; however, there were more stunning places waiting for us. Hondius started to make the way to our next destination, Orne Island. We sailed through the Gerlache Strait in a southerly direction. A lot of ice was in the region, ranging in size from small growlers to huge tabular icebergs. It was interesting to observe the bridge staff how they operate navigating through the ice, which is not like setting a course, it is more like zigzagging around (and also through) the ice, in order to get to a certain point. Orne Island is exposed to the Gerlache Strait and is home for Gentoo and Chinstrap Penguins.

Our experienced guides navigated through the ice flows and around bigger icebergs, which was an absolutely nice experience in still pleasant conditions, sunshine, no wind. On land we enjoyed the snowshoe walk along the groups of penguins. The view from a slightly higher position was absolutely stunning. It is not possible to describe that scenery with scattered blue icebergs, massive mountains, calm ocean, and the blue sky.

We all headed back to the Hondius where we spotted Humpback Wales and a group of Orcas. Late in the evening we sailed through the famous Neumeyer Channel, a spectacular narrow passage with high mountains on both sides. A few of us enjoyed that on the outer decks, the others enjoyed the view from the lounge. It was again a day full of unforgettable impressions.

Day 7: Pleneau and Peterman Island

Pleneau and Peterman Island
Fecha: 19.11.2023
Posición: 65°06’S / 064°02’W
Viento: S 2
Clima: Sunny
Temperatura del Aire: +3

Good morning, everyone! And a special very early good morning to our campers that came back from Damoy Point after a spectacular night on the snow. It was a VERY cold night, but the clear sky made way for a beautiful sunrise hitting the surrounding mountains in the Neumayer Channel.

Our day started with our usual wakeup call from our expedition leader. There was no real surprising news regarding the outside world as it was again a stunning windless day. What a luck we have. Today our morning program included a zodiac cruise through around Pleneau Island. An island situated at the southern end of the Lemaire Channel. The mountaineers went to Hovgaard Island to do a roped glacier trek up the mountain and the kayakers went out in a large group to kayak among the icebergs drifting around the coastline.

With a perfect reflection in the water, we left the ship in the direction of a giant bay which we call the iceberg graveyard. This area is filled with giant icebergs that get stuck on the shallow waters. This makes for an spectacular sight and feeling to be among such giants. The icebergs laid around each telling its own life´s story. Were they part of an iceshelf or a tide glacier. Have they been in the water for a long time or have they tumbled a lot already. Tidelines, cupules and firn lines could explain all this. It was already enough to be in awe from these unique sculptures made by mother nature. But on top of that we were able to see much wildlife as well. There were many penguin rookeries in the area. The first one on Pleneau Island. A Gentoo colony. They seemed quite busy as always moving out and about the water. In the bay we could observe big rafts of penguins porpoising around the giant icebergs. You would not be able to help to feel the incredible Antarctic thrills that would be running through your mind and body as the giant groups of penguins swam around your zodiac whilst being surrounded by many shades of turquoise-colored icebergs towering over you. A memory to stay with you for the rest of your life.

On the way we were also lucky to have found multiple Weddell Seals laying on the islands. Although the waters were quite shallow, we were able to get quite close to them. At the end of the bay, we could see a cross stand on top of a hill. This relic was left behind from the French Antarctic expedition in 1903-1905 led by Jean-Baptiste Charcot who overwintered in this area. All in all, a complete adventure and successful zodiac cruise.

In the afternoon we got to visit our first Adelie rookery on Petermann Island. This landing gave us the opportunity to get a real leg stretch hiking to several points of interest on the island. The landing site was in a little protected bay called Circumcision Bay. Named by Charcot during his second Antarctic expedition. There were also an Argentine emergency hut and a wooden cross to commemorate the three British that died here during an expedition of the British Antarctic Survey in 1982.

Meanwhile the hikers were on land the other half was on board a Zodiac cruising among the many growlers and icebergs that filled up the channel in between Petermann Island and the mainland. There were many seals to be seen laying around on the ice and a group of 7 Weddell Seals that were laying on one of the smaller islands close to Petermann Island. Some of the cruisers went quite far into the channel to the south in the search for a LS. The mystery that nobody could solve. (Leopard Seal). However, the search for many people was in vain as all seals that were found were instead lonely Weddell or Crabeater Seals. In any case, the search was good fun, and the reflections were again stunning enough to amaze everybody for hours.

These incredible experiences did not mark the end of the day! As the Hotel and Restaurant crew had organised an outside BBQ for this day whilst going through the Lemaire channel on our way back to the north of the Peninsula. This day could really have not been better for an outside BBQ as there was no to little wind and the sun was shining bright. The salads and meat were a delicious treat at the end of the day. And even though many people were very tired and pretty much ready to go to bed. The party just started after the tables and benches were removed as everybody found themselves standing on a dancefloor. The energy was suddenly found out of the furthest part of our body and mind and the dancefloor filled with wonderful dancing penguins hopping from the left to the right. Smiling faces and warms hearts everywhere. These were likely moments that nobody expected but came more then welcome as passengers, staff and crew danced as one to the beats of happiness whilst looking out to an unreal world surrounding us made of glaciated mountains.

Day 8: Port Lockroy and Damoy Point

Port Lockroy and Damoy Point
Fecha: 20.11.2023
Posición: 64°49’S / 063°31’W
Viento: NE 3
Clima: Sunny
Temperatura del Aire: +6

The day unfolded under the crisp Antarctic sun, casting its glow over the frozen landscape. Another day with beautiful weather, we were lucky once again. Expedition leader Mal's wakeup call spurred us into action, sharing the promise of another day filled with activities.

Following a nourishing breakfast, our morning activities commenced at Port Lockroy, organised seamlessly through a rotation system. Meanwhile, experienced mountaineers embarked on a thrilling adventure, traversing Jabet Peak from one side to the other, navigating the challenging terrain that only Antarctica can offer. The team from the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust enriched our day with a presentation about their important work. To our delight, they also brought onboard a selection of merchandise, allowing us to carry a piece of this unique experience home.

Our journey continued with a zodiac cruise in the bay surrounding Port Lockroy, revealing a world of icebergs and remnants of the winter's sea ice. Gentoo Penguins, seemingly unfazed by our presence, populated the island on which the station stands. A juvenile Leopard Seal, gracefully resting on one of the icebergs, became one of the highlights of this leg of our adventure.

Jougla Point greeted us with a remarkable scene - seven Weddell Seals reclining on the fast ice, while Gentoo Penguins engaged in the construction of nests using rocks they collected. The wildlife against the Antarctic backdrop was a reminder for us to the resilience and adaptability of these incredible creatures. After a satisfying lunch, we embarked on a short transit to Damoy Point for our afternoon activities. A combination of a landing and zodiac cruise awaited us, providing a different perspective on this location.

The landing involved a pleasant walk to the hut at Damoy Point, once a transit station for British Antarctic Survey staff and last occupied in 1993. The surrounding landscape echoed with tales of exploration and scientific endeavor. The zodiac cruise around Damoy point revealed nature's artistry in the form of uniquely shaped icebergs. Wildlife sightings were abundant, including Crabeater, Weddell and a majestic Elephant Seal. The trio of brushtail penguins - Adelie, Chinstrap, and Gentoo - added a vibrant touch to the icy tableau.

Back on board, we gathered for a daily recap of the day's discoveries and received insights into the plans for the next adventure. Dinner, plated and delightful, brought the day to a close, this beautiful day on the Antarctic peninsula.

Day 9: Foyn Harbour and Portal Point

Foyn Harbour and Portal Point
Fecha: 21.11.2023
Posición: 64°26’S / 061°51’W
Viento: SW 4
Clima: Sunny
Temperatura del Aire: +3

The day began aboard the Hondius with a hearty breakfast that energised us for the adventures that awaited in the icy realms of Antarctica. Excitement filled the air as we geared up for a full ship zodiac cruise in Foyn Harbour. The mountaineers among us eagerly prepared for their activities, ready to conquer the challenges presented by the rugged Antarctic terrain. Guests not participating in mountaineering enjoyed a mesmerising circumnavigation around Enterprise Island. The landscape was a spectacle of nature's grandeur, with towering icebergs and breathtaking views in every direction. Humpback Whales gracefully appeared on the surface, seals lounged on floating ice, and curious penguins waddled along the shoreline, creating unforgettable moments captured by cameras clicking away.

A well-deserved lunch break came at midday, with the ship gliding through the icy waters. The dining hall buzzed with conversation about the morning's sightings, and anticipation filled the air as we looked forward to the afternoon's activities around Portal Point; however, nature's unpredictable temperament took center stage as the weather intensified, and uncharted waters around Portal Point posed a challenge to our planned afternoon operations. Safety being paramount, the decision was made to postpone our activities.

Instead of disappointment, the change in plans led to unexpected delights. A documentary about Antarctica provided a deeper understanding of this majestic continent, and Bill, our knowledgeable guide, captivated us with a fascinating whaling history lecture. The lounge became a classroom, and we soaked in the rich tales of human exploration in these extreme conditions.

The day concluded with the Hondius making its way towards the South Shetland Islands. As the sun dipped below the horizon, we gathered for a final, sumptuous dinner, reminiscing about the incredible experiences of the expedition. The anticipation for our last day of operations on this basecamp adventure heightened surrounded by the vast, serene Antarctic landscape.

Underneath the polar night sky, filled with stars and the distant glow of ice, we retired to our cabins, grateful for the day's unique blend of unexpected turns and extraordinary discoveries. The Antarctic adventure aboard the Hondius had etched indelible memories, and the promise of a thrilling final day on the horizon filled us with eager anticipation.

Day 10: Yankee Harbour and Half Moon Island

Yankee Harbour and Half Moon Island
Fecha: 22.11.2023
Posición: 62°32’S / 059°48’W
Viento: NE 3
Clima: Partly cloudy
Temperatura del Aire: +11

The day started with a lovely wakeup call again to announce the start of our last day of operations in this beautiful part of the world. Just like the previous days the weather forecast was looking great, but with the potential of a change in wind at any time.

We were all very keen to make the most of this last day here on the Antarctic Peninsula. Overnight we made our way up North to the South Shetland islands. We arrived at Yankee Harbour early in the morning where we could see lots of ice blocking the usual landing spot. Luckily there was an alternative landing site so we could get everybody ashore. The passengers could roam around freely and walk towards the Gentoo Penguins. We were very lucky to see an Elephant Seal family, with a big bull, a female and juvenile. A few Fur Seals also came over to say hi to our group. Of course, there were also a few Weddel Seals hauling out on the snow.

The other half of the group started with a beautiful zodiac cruise where some lucky few were greeted by a Humpback Whale. The second zodiac cruise found a Leopard Seal on the ice. A great team of chef Ralf, assistant expedition leader Felicity plus our two Carolina’s from reception made a surprise visit to every zodiac, offering all the passengers a lovely hot chocolate with or without rum, what a treat! On our return to the ship a huge amount of brash ice made this a very slow drive. While the ship relocated and created a way through the ice, the passengers ashore were given a bit more time ashore before heading back to the ship for a quick lunch.

From Yankee Harbour we could already see Half Moon Island, our final landing site of this voyage. Half Moon Island is one of the favorite islands to visit in the South Shetland Islands. On the island we can visit a beautiful Chinstrap colony on the rocky outcrops. We could see the first penguins sitting on their eggs, what a beautiful sight! On the other side of the island we had the chance to stretch our legs a bit more, towards the Western side of the island with an amazing view of Livingston Island. The Cormorants and Wilson’s storm petrels were also seen around the island. The zodiac cruise took us a bit closer to Livingston Island for a last close look at the ice. By 4pm we were all back on board our beautiful ship Hondius to start making our way North, back to Ushuaia.

On request, a Happy Feet marathon was played in the Lecture room for the keen ones who wanted to see more penguins!

Our amazing bartenders Mark and Rolando were shaking up some nice cocktails throughout the evenings, what a celebration of a beautiful Antarctic voyage!

Day 11: At sea – Drake Passage

At sea – Drake Passage
Fecha: 23.11.2023
Posición: 59°36’S / 062°27’W
Viento: N 5
Clima: Coudy
Temperatura del Aire: -1

The low, slightly overcast sky, the smooth outlines of waves, and the sea birds — such an ambiance could be seen looking through the windows and portholes of the ship. The Hondius was moving north, crossing the Drake Passage.

We walked on the decks and corridors, experiencing a sense of bewilderment. Everything seemed normal: Albert announced that the restaurant was open and breakfast awaited us, but at the same time, there were no planned activities after breakfast related to landing ashore. Is our journey coming to an end? How unfortunate, but alas.

After breakfast, Misha, one of our guides, announced the start of a photo contest. The results were scheduled to be revealed late in the evening of the same day.

Other guides delivered lectures. Bill, in particular, stood out, spending an hour and a half telling us about art, specifically the depiction of the sea in paintings by famous artists and how to perceive it.

Before lunch, it was time for us to part with our Muck boots. Sad, but what can you do. They were so comfortable! Once we're home, we'll buy the same ones.

Strangely enough, crossing the Drake Passage was by no means a dull pastime. You could always go out on the open deck, as the weather allowed, and watch the waves and seabirds soaring in the air. Sooty albatrosses, rarely flapping their wings, gracefully either approached almost closely or moved away. Giant Petrels either soared high or dived almost to the water. Cape Petrels playfully darted to and fro, maneuvering among the waves. If one flock, losing interest in Hondius, fell behind and drifted away, another flock of the same Cape petrels would immediately appear out of nowhere, taking over the relay. "Don't be sad, friends, we're still with you, you're still in Antarctica!"

Nevertheless, the distance between us and the White Continent gradually increased, and South America loomed closer and closer.

In the evening after dinner, Misha and Anthonie gathered us in the main lounge to announce the results of the photo competition. Winners awaited valuable prizes in the form of free cocktails at the bar and toy penguins. Once the photo competition concluded, we were invited to participate in a quiz. We formed several teams and then answered questions posed by Anthonie. It was amusing!

By nightfall, the weather deteriorated. The waves rose higher, the wind stronger, but we were almost indifferent to it by then. On the contrary, it was much more pleasant for us to fall asleep. Each of us had the opportunity to feel like a child again, soothed in a cradle by a mother.

A good and slightly melancholic day. This is not the end yet!

Day 12: At sea – Drake Passage

At sea – Drake Passage
Fecha: 24.11.2023
Posición: 55°47’S / 065°48’W
Viento: W 8
Clima: Rain/fog
Temperatura del Aire: +5

Our last day at sea began with the Drake Passage picking up to a 4 m swell, finally some Antarctic weather! Just like yesterday, we were again seeing many species of Albatrosses accompanying us in our journey towards Ushuaia. Since early morning, our keen birders were out in the decks looking for the Light-mantled Albatross.

We all were feeling a little bittersweet with our wonderful voyage slowly coming to an end. Some of us were busy packing our bags for tomorrow. But there was still lot to do on board. The Expedition Team had prepared a busy presentation programme for us. We started off with Misha, hosting a Photography Workshop. We then had a lecture from Alexis titled ‘Yamanas’ which was about a group of indigenous peoples in the Southern cone, also called The Yahgan. Their traditional territory includes the islands south of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, extending their presence into Cape Horn. It was fascinating to learn about ow these people and their remarkable history.

After another delicious buffet lunch prepared by our galley team, we headed back to the lounge to watch a documentary on Cape Horn. We were able to recognise some of the places shown in the documentary. And what a joy it was. We were part of the fortunate minority who visited one of the most remote corners of our Planet Earth. Around late afternoon we once more were invited to the lounge for the very last presentation of our voyage. Sasha talked about the his journey to Antarctica, what a fascinating journey it was. To round the expedition off we then heard form Mal who talked to us about climate change and what actions we can do to support our planet and help reduce the impacts of increased change.

Around 6pm we were invited back to the lounge for Captain´s cocktail. We were surprised to see all the Expedition Team dressed up nicely. Everyone had big smiles on their faces. Captain Toni raised his glass to our voyage. Then we had the great pleasure to watch Juan´s end of the voyage slideshow. It was such a delight to watch his work. Wonderful images accompanied by footage of wildlife, beautiful background music…. Wow! And the incredible amount of work he had put into the slideshow really came through. We all had tears in our eyes after watching it.

After this emotional gathering in the lounge, we were invited to our dining room for one last dinner on board. The Galley team did not disappoint. Another delicious meal, laughter, and many happy faces. We also had a chance to show our gratitude to the hotel team who always made sure we always got what we needed.

Day 13: Disembarkation - Ushuaia

Disembarkation - Ushuaia
Fecha: 25.11.2023
Posición: 42°49’S / 064°30’W
Viento: NE 3
Clima: Partly cloudy
Temperatura del Aire: +12

When we woke, we were already at the port of Ushuaia ready to disembark for the final time. The last two weeks have taken us on a remarkable journey to the Antarctic Peninsula, the South Shetlands, and the vast Southern Ocean in between. This unforgettable journey showed us how varied and numerous life is in these remote and sometimes inhospitable corners of our Planet Earth. We have encountered amazing wildlife, made new friends, learned and experienced together. We will all take different memories of our voyage back home, but those memories will stay with us for the rest of our lives.


Código del viaje: HDS22-23
Fechas: 13 nov. - 25 nov., 2023
Duración: 12 noches
Barco: El Hondius
Embarque: Ushuaia
Desembarque: Ushuaia

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Aboard El Hondius

El Hondius es el primer barco de clase polar 6 registrado en el mundo y fue construido desde cero para cruceros de expedición.

More about the El Hondius »