HDS23-22, trip log, Antarctica - Discovery and learning voyage

by Oceanwide Expeditions


Day 1: Embarkation – Ushuaia, Argentina

Embarkation – Ushuaia, Argentina
Fecha: 04.12.2022
Viento: W4
Clima: Clear
Temperatura del Aire: +10

Ushuaia is the southernmost city of South America and known as “el fin del mundo,” the “end of the world” – today we know that there lies another world beyond that rough ocean to the south known as the Drake Passage. The destination of our voyage is a world unlike any other place we have seen before: Antarctica.

On embarkation, our luck already began as it was clear and sunny while we are embarking our home for the next 10 days, the Dutch Expedition Ship Hondius. We all are excited about the adventure lying ahead of us. Once we are all aboard and settled into our cabins, we watch how the ship slowly leaves the dock and heads out into the Beagle Channel, leaving the stunning panorama of Patagonia behind us. 

The evening programme consists of the mandatory safety drill by Chief Officer Matei, including the abandon ship drill which is followed by a warm welcome by Captain Artur accompanied by fizzy drinks and delicious canapés. Hotel Manager Will gives us a brief introduction to the ship and Expedition Leader Pippa presents the sailing plan and the international team of expedition guides.

We spend the rest of the evening cruising down the Beagle Channel. We will spend the coming two days at sea on the Drake Passage where we will come across many seabirds and maybe even whales that accompany the ship on our way south.

Day 2: At sea on the Drake Passage

At sea on the Drake Passage
Fecha: 05.12.2022
Posición: 57°14.1’ S / 065°15.7’ W
Viento: SW7
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: +6

We awoke after our first night aboard ship to the surrounds of the Drake Passage; despite some ‘slight’ rocking and rolling which kept a few folks in their beds it proved to be a very pleasant day at sea as we cruised south.   Briefings and planning were deliberately kept to a minimum to allow everyone to find their sea-legs in anticipation of a calmer sea-day tomorrow, those unaffected by the dreaded mal-de-mare were treated to a selection of lectures and talks on the birds and cetaceans that we would hopefully soon be seeing for real.

Just after before lunch, Ross gave an interesting lecture about birds in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, specifically about the birds we might encounter on this voyage. After lunch Annelou made an fascinating comparison between Antarctica and Mars & Outer space during her lecture.

The intrepid souls that could and did peruse the sea from the outer decks were, as ever, treated to a fine array of birds following in the wake of the ship; we started out with Southern Royal, Black-browed and Grey-headed Albatrosses, Sooty Shearwaters, White-chinned Petrels and Wilson’s Petrels – amongst which at least one Fuegian Storm Petrel was picked out (for anyone studying taxonomy, a potential split from the common Wilson’s down around the peninsula).

As we headed further south the composition of our avian attendants slightly changed with Blue Petrels, Slender-billed and Antarctic Prions and Cape Petrels becoming regular, but it was not until the evening that the first Wandering Albatross and Black-bellied Storm Petrels appeared, heralding the changing conditions as we crept ever closer to the Antarctic convergence.

Day 3: At sea in the Drake Passage

At sea in the Drake Passage
Fecha: 06.12.2022
Posición: 61°34.6’ S / 063°31.9’ W
Viento: WS5
Clima: Cloudy
Temperatura del Aire: +3

We awoke to calm seas, clear horizons and a beautiful blue sky as we continued to head South across the Drake Passage. To kick start our day on the ‘Drake Lake’, we were very lucky to have multiple sightings of whales, including both humpback and fin whales that were seen on both sides of Hondius; we were also accompanied on our journey by many types of seabirds, including albatross, petrels and prions.

Following breakfast, we undertook the mandatory IAATO and zodiac briefing that was provided to all guests onboard. This outlined all the regulations that needed to be followed during the expedition as well as practices for boarding the zodiacs. Following on shortly from these briefings, expedition guide Josh provided an inciteful lecture titled ‘Race to the Pole’. This introductory lecture explored Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott’s race to reach the South Pole in 1911.

After a buffet lunch, we were once again preparing for our expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula as we completed the mandatory biosecurity checks of our outer clothing, backpacks, muck boots and tripods / walking sticks. After a thorough clean of these items all guests were finally signed off as completed after approximately two hours. As a reward for these efforts, ice cream was offered in the lounge before expedition guide Hazel introduced ‘The Seals of the South’ to inform us about the pinnipeds of Antarctica which we may encounter during our voyage.

With views of the South Shetlands Islands coming into view, the day ended with a relaxing

three course dinner accompanied by several beautiful views of humpback whales surfacing

down the starboard side of Hondius.

Day 4: Cuverville & Anvord Bay

Cuverville & Anvord Bay
Fecha: 07.12.2022
Posición: 64°40.2’ S / 062°37.7’ W
Viento: SE3
Clima: Clear
Temperatura del Aire: +1

After two long sea days, here comes our first expedition day! The staff got up nice and early to head towards Cuverville Island to set up the site, as the weather was simply stunning. Blue sunshine and quiet waters greeted our arrival, and everybody got ready for disembarkation. The zodiac cruise around the island, close to some big icebergs was incredible, with views of Weddell seals, vast amounts of Gentoo Penguins, Skuas and Antarctic Shags. On land, people had to give way to the gentoo penguins waddling every which way, curious about our belongings, curious about us. The penguins were breeding, and some skuas were fortunate enough to scavenge an egg here and there. Much penguin mating was seen. Everyone could simply indulge in the joy of observing the penguins continue their life unabetted. The kayakers went for a lovely paddle, and the weather continued to be gentle throughout the day. As far as first expeditions go, it was truly a fortunate one. The sunburns were richly distributed, the smiles many, the want to stay ubiquitous. However, we had to move on, so we returned to the ship, wanting to see more.

After a delightful and rich lunch prepared by our head chef Ralph and his team, we went on our way towards Neko Harbour. However, the ice unfortunately blocked our path, making it impossible to reach in time for an activity. Therefore, we deviated the plan and went for a full ship zodiac cruise in Andvord Bay. The zodiacs were widely scattered, and everyone had their own little adventure. Some people saw two resting Humpbacks, others found a lovely Weddell seal on the ice floe, the ice all around gathered and we pushed our way through, the first taste of true sea ice. The weather continued to give, people now wore sunscreen, and despite not terribly many wildlife sightings, everyone just enjoyed the feeling of gently cruising through brash ice, listening to the crunch of solid water underneath our zodiac.

After two hours and a half of cruising, we then returned to the ship, tired, hungry, but incredibly happy for having had the privilege of such a spectacular first day.

After dinner, most people went to have drinks and relax, but for a brave few who put on their gear and went on land for their camping adventure, ready to endure the cold Antarctic night, amidst singing Weddell seals while the sky coloured itself in all available pastel hues, soft reds, sunburst oranges, lovely pastel blues, truly a landscape of Wes Anderson’s favourite colours. What a day, what a way to end. Almost impossible to go to sleep, the mind just wanders, and the feeling of wanting to continue being in this place, in this light, in this moment, made everyone stay on at the price of sleep.

The colours of red, yellow and blue,
Soft and tender, all kinds of hue,
The sky was burning,
And the ship was churning,
In this place accessible to few.

Day 5: Brown Station & Damoy Point

Brown Station & Damoy Point
Fecha: 08.12.2022
Posición: 64°53.8’ S / 062°52.6’ W
Viento: W5
Clima: Clear
Temperatura del Aire: -2

Another beautiful, calm start to the day for us all as Paradise Bay really lived up to its name. Some of us had spent the night camped out under the stars, witnessing the beauty of Antarctica from the shore. A truly unique experience.

The camping spot was situated just opposite the Argentine Scientific base, Almirante Brown, which would be the main landing site for the morning’s activities. The station, first built in 1951, is currently unoccupied so we were able to enjoy the morning ashore and weave in and out the buildings up to some spectacular viewpoints over the bay. Whilst many of us were enjoying time ashore amongst the Gentoo penguins, others were zodiac cruising amongst the large amounts of ice in the bay. A brief sighting of Humpback whales for some of us was the highlight of the morning, while others of us enjoyed the nesting Antarctic Shags under the cliffs next to Brown station and a couple of Leopard seals who had hauled out on the floating ice. One of the Weddell seals even treated a few of us to a song as it sung while atop the ice.

After a brilliant morning amongst the ice and the wildlife of Brown station, with the Antarctic sun beaming down upon us, we made our way towards Wienke Island and our afternoon landing spot of Damoy Point. Situated in the relative shelter of Dorian Bay, Damoy Point is home to the historic British Antarctic Survey (BAS) Damoy hut. It was used between 1975 and 1993 as a ‘waiting lounge’ for BAS staff heading further south to Rothera Research Station when sea ice prevented access by ship.

With a colder breeze in the air, some of us made it first to shore for an explore of the Damoy Hut and the surrounding wildlife. Many Gentoos nest around the point, and evidence of their eggs could be seen littering the snow, with many of them still unable to build nests properly due to the amount of snowfall on the ground. The hut was open for us all to take shelter in and enjoy the preserved artifacts within, although with the snow-shoes on many of us decided a look in the door perhaps worked better than taking the shoes on and off.

A hot chocolate was a welcome surprise for everybody, as the Hotel team took to the water and distributed mugs to everyone to enjoy a warm drink on their zodiacs. The zodiac cruise, while slightly colder than the morning, was still full of wildlife for us all to enjoy.

The zodiac offers a different perspective to view the animals and scenery, and we got some great viewings of the penguins coming and going from the shore. A few seals, Weddell and Leopard, were again spotted in the afternoon, with one Leopard seal curiously investigating a zodiac from below and giving those of us in the zodiac some unforgettable memories.

With the temperature dropping and the wind increasing, it was nice to get back onboard and warm up. After the usual evening recap, we settled down to another great dinner and reflected upon the day’s great experiences.

Day 6: Lemaire- Petermann- Port Charcot

Lemaire- Petermann- Port Charcot
Fecha: 09.12.2022
Posición: 65°10’S / 064°07’W
Viento: S2
Clima: Sunny
Temperatura del Aire: +4

We awoke this morning to find ourselves in The Lemaire Channel and a dusting of snow over the decks. It was still snowing but the views were still spectacular as we cruised through the channel. A great start to what was to be an excellent day.

At 06:40 we cleared the channel and then made for Petermann Island whilst enjoying another good breakfast.

We arrived at Petermann Island just after breakfast, the snow was falling as the first of us landed. The expedition team had cleared the way from the landing area past a penguin highway and routes to two spectacular views. We were treated to views of passing Gentoo penguins as we fastened our snowshoes for the hike up the hill to a pass overlooking the French Passage. Walking in the other direction we were privileged to see Adelie Penguins as well as Gentoo’s. The visibility improved over the next hour, the sun began to shine, the light changed constantly and soon we were enjoying a blue sky and warm temperatures. The visit to Petermann Island included a zodiac cruise through the Panola Strait, the ice formations were spectacular, and we were treated to views of nesting Imperial (Blue Eyed) Shags which already had chicks.

We returned to the ship for lunch, as we ate the ship was repositioned in the Port Charcot area. This was to be our playground for the afternoon, due to the amount of ice it was decided to enjoy the utterly spectacular scenery with a zodiac cruise for all. For the next three hours our senses were bombarded with natural wonder after natural wonder, the icebergs, the mountainous backdrop with fantastic cloud formations around them and of course the wildlife. We were amazed by the colours in the ice and the structures that years of natural forces had formed, no human could ever reproduce the beautiful sculptures that we were viewing. We watched feeding Gentoo Penguins, Chinstrap Penguins hanging out on the ice, Crabeater and Weddel Seals and some were lucky enough to see Humpback and Minke whales and even Killer whales. It was yet another wonderful experience under clear blue skies.

Then, for some, the fun of the Polar Plunge began. Around 50 hardy souls decided that they would brave the elements and immerse themselves in the rather chilly Southern Ocean. Some enjoyed the experience, and some endured it, but all agree that it was well worth the effort.

So while some warmed up back on the ship, we were all excited to hear that the BBQ’s had been lit and the drink was flowing. It was a perfect evening to eat out on deck with friends new and old, to enjoy great food cooked on the BBQ, to celebrate birthdays and all whilst navigating the spectacular Lemaire Channel. A perfect end to a perfect day!

Day 7: Port Lockroy (Goudier Island) & Jougla

Port Lockroy (Goudier Island) & Jougla
Fecha: 10.12.2022
Posición: 64°49.7’ S / 63°30.4’ W
Viento: Variable 1
Clima: Sunny
Temperatura del Aire: +5

We could not believe our luck this morning when we awoke, once again, to the most glorious sunshine and calm waters. Our activities in Port Lockroy Bay were split into three: visiting the famous ‘Penguin Post Office’ on Goudier Island, going ashore at Jougla Island and a zodiac cruise around the bay. Before our adventures outdoors could get started, we went to breakfast followed by attending a short talk by staff from the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT). Our expedition team readied the zodiacs whilst we listened to the staff give us information about the historical interest of the area, UKAHT’s work to preserve the buildings and how we should conduct ourselves during our visit. Then we were ready to go!

The first group of guests went to the Post Office and museum, sending their postcards, buying souvenirs and getting their passports stamped. Meanwhile, the second group went ashore at Jougla to enjoy a walk around the Gentoo penguin colony, taking care to avoid their highways as they waddled to and from from their rock pile nests to the water. Antarctic shags (aka Blue-eyed shag) were also here, using seaweed they had gathered to build their nests. The third group went on a zodiac cruise around the bay to look for wildlife with the dramatic ‘Seven Sisters’ mountain peaks as a backdrop. We were treated to magnificent views of three Weddell seals hauled out at separate locations resting in the sunshine, Chinstrap penguins and Adélie penguins preening themselves on the rocks and flotillas of Gentoo penguins swimming around the zodiacs. Everyone rotated through the three activities and enjoyed a wonderful morning before going back on board for a Burger buffet lunch.

In the afternoon we ship cruised along the Gerlache Strait, named after Belgian Naval Officer Adrien de Gerlache who led his home country’s Antarctic expedition from 1897-1899. The Antarctic small-type B eco-type of Killer whale (Orca) are also known as the Gerlache eco-type due to the fact they are commonly encountered in this strait, and we were lucky enough to see a large pod travelling in the opposite direction to us! Although they were quite distant, everyone was thrilled to have seen these impressive animals. Throughout the rest of the afternoon numerous Antarctic minke whales and Humpback whales were seen from the bow whilst we sipped hot chocolate with rum and whipped cream, kindly served by the hotel department.

The scheduled activities of the day ended with the daily recap from Expedition Leader Pippa and the rest of the Expedition Team. This included Pippa telling us the plans for tomorrow, Charlotte helping us to identify the Antarctic Killer whale (orca) eco-types and Chloé regarding Adrien de Gerlache. ‘Peter the Penguin’ also made another appearance, thanking staff for their work during the cruise. After dinner some of us relaxed in our cabins whilst others played card games and shared drink and happy chatter in the bar. A beautiful sunset at sea was the perfect end to our final day in Antarctica.

Day 8: At sea on the Drake Passage towards Ushuaia

At sea on the Drake Passage towards Ushuaia
Fecha: 11.12.2022
Posición: 61°19’ 35S / 063°56’ 4 W
Viento: SW1
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: 0

Today we had the chance to ‘lie in’ after a very busy, incredible few days. It was so action packed with wildlife we were all on such a high we needed time to wind down from the excitement! Breakfast was absolutely delicious, bacon, hash browns and eggs, not that we needed more food, but we are on holiday so why not! We sipped our coffees in the lounge as we watched blow after blow from Humpback, Fin, Minke and Beaked Whales constantly throughout the day! It really felt like whale paradise.

Chloe gave a fascinating talk on the life of plankton, it shows it’s not all about whales and seals, these microscopic are extremely important in the ecosystem!  During another fantastic lunch the expedition staff spotted several blows in the distance. We all finished our lunch as fast as humanly possible, and all eagerly looked out the window in anticipation. We saw blow after blow then as we grew closer, we realized we were surrounded by 15 feeding Humpback Whales! We watched them from a distance as they were feeding and resting at the surface, they continually showed us their tails, once we saw 8 flukes in a row! It was absolutely awe inspiring seeing these animals. We couldn’t believe how lucky we had been, especially from the last 4 days, how could it be any better.

Day 9: At sea on the Drake Passage towards Ushuaia

At sea on the Drake Passage towards Ushuaia
Fecha: 12.12.2022
Posición: 55°47.0’S / 066°07.0’W
Viento: W3
Clima: Cloudy
Temperatura del Aire: +5

We woke to a  grey, overcast day with Hondius  making its way northwards in the Drake Passage; yet again it was unusually quiet and calm. Looking back, we know we have been really lucky with the weather and sailing conditions – only the first sea day heading south testing our personal ‘sea worthiness’. Pippa kicked off a short lecture programme with her informative talk on whale acoustics and the effect of human, noise generating, oceanic activities. Ross used his experience from his other career to tell us about the environmental aspects our own expedition - the actual impact we have on the land, sea and air as we travelled aboard Hondius. Rose then followed up on the rather scary topic of marine plastics. All in all, a pretty sobering series, reminding us that we need to take personal responsibility when we return home to make sure others following behind still have the opportunity to experience what we’ve just been privileged to.

After a quiet start outside the seabird species and numbers started to pick up with Wandering, Southern Royal, Grey Headed and Light Mantled Albatross putting in an appearance with the usual Cape Petrels and Prions. There was a surprising aerial encounter when a Chilean Skua began to severely harass a Southern Giant Petrel – a bird twice its size and weight!

After lunch, another mini lecture series from Simon and Mikhail about bird ringing and migration respectively. Around 3 in the afternoon we came across a pod of feeding dusky dolphins, very close to the ship as we approached land again.

Head Chef Ralph gave a fascinating insight into managing the kitchens on board. Questions galore followed. The privilege of the final lecture of the voyage fell to Paulo who educated us all on the climate of Antarctica. He surprised us all when he told us the sun doesn’t always shine there! Last action of the afternoon was our group photo out on the bow – in perfect weather - again!

The evening was our chance to reflect and give thanks. We saluted the Captain and his crew with a glass of bubbly and then offered our gratitude towards the expedition, hotel and galley teams, who have gone above and beyond to deliver an almost indescribable experience. Mikhail showed his fabulous slide presentation of our trip – just one of the many ways to take home memories that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Day 10: Disembarkation in Ushuaia

Disembarkation in Ushuaia
Fecha: 13.12.2022

Very early in the morning we approached the port of Ushuaia. 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 10 days have taken us on a remarkable journey over the notorious Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula. 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.

Total distance sailed on our voyage: 1,526 Nautical Miles (2826.152 km)
Furthest point south: 65°10.6’S

On behalf of everyone on board we thank you for travelling with us and wish you a safe journey home.


Código del viaje: HDS23-22
Fechas: 4 dic. - 13 dic., 2022
Duración: 9 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 »