HDS26-23, trip log, Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctica

by Oceanwide Expeditions


Day 1: Ushuaia, Embarkation Day

Ushuaia, Embarkation Day
Fecha: 04.01.2023
Viento: SE-7
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: +8

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, Matai, 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 Captains 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 towards the Falkland Islands

at sea towards the Falkland Islands
Fecha: 05.01.2023
Posición: 53°42.1’S / 063°43.3’W
Viento: NW-4
Clima: Clear Sky
Temperatura del Aire: +7.5

Our first day at sea on the way to the Falkland Island starts with a wakeup call from our expedition leader Pippa: ships position, weather, winds and temperature - we know it all before even getting up.

We enjoy a lovely breakfast and then start this day filled with preparations for the trip and especially the Falkland Islands.

We start with the mandatory zodiac briefing during which we learn how to put on our zodiac life jackets which are different from the ones we used yesterday during the drill.

We now know where to find the shell doors, know how to embark and disembark a zodiac, how to dress and how to behave – all this is new to us and very exciting.

Shortly after that, Tiphanie invites us to her introduction to the Falkland Islands – she grew up there and still lives in Stanley. You do not often get a chance to get insights in such a remote place by a local. A very interesting and amusing lecture.

At around 12h, “boot camp” starts. We are called by decks down to the expedition deck where Muck Boots are fitted, and we all leave with a pair we call ours for the next 18 days.

Lunch gives us a well-deserved break from a lot of information – more is to come.

After a short break, it is time for biosecurity to avoid any import of alien species to the Falklands. All our outer gear is going to be properly cleaned – the vacuum cleaner goes over everything and into every single pocket. Velcro are scratched free from any fiber that we can find, shoes and tripods are cleaned and disinfected.

Later this afternoon, Carina shares with us her passion for penguins and introduces us to all the species we will most probably see on our journey.

During the daily recap, Pippa, our Expedition Leader presents the plans for tomorrow as we will be arriving in the Falkland Islands and have our first landings and activities there.

A lovely dinner concludes a great day, and we are very much looking forward to tomorrow.

Day 3: Carcass Island and Saunders Island

Carcass Island and Saunders Island
Fecha: 06.01.2023
Posición: 51°18.3’S / 060°33.4’W
Viento: W-3
Clima: Partly Cloudy
Temperatura del Aire: +13

We are here! The Falkland Islands! Today we wake up by the wake-up call of our Expedition Leader Pippa who tells us about weather and wind conditions for our very first landing here at Carcass Island. And it looks just brilliant! Very little wind and warm, sunny weather…perfect conditions for a first experience in Zodiacs and on land.

After breakfast we go straight back to our cabins to prepare for Carcass Island. We put on our waterproof gear, pack our backpacks with camera and binoculars, put on some sunscreen and at 08:30 we all meet at the shell doors. For some of us this is the first time ever wearing a lifejacket and going on a zodiac ride. How exciting! The Expedition team is shuttling us to the designated landing beach where Pippa awaits us and gives us a short briefing about Carcass Island. The first group who comes to the beach are the people who signed up for the longer hike over the island to the settlement where the McGill family awaits all of us with a treat: Coffee, tea and huge choice of delicious homemade cakes and cookies. But first we start our activities. Those of us who are not hiking enjoy a walk to the other side and the other beach of the island. On our way to the beach, we encounter our first Penguins! Magellanic Penguins and Gentoo Penguins with their chicks! It is just fantastic! Many other birds surround us as well as the brown Skua, Uppland Geese, Tussac birds and Magellanic Oystercatchers. We enjoy the landscape, the wildlife and take a lot of photos. Now it is time for the promised treat at the settlement of the McGill family which owns the island and has been sheep farming there for over a century. We get there by zodiac again and enjoy a summer day in the beautiful garden of the Carcass house with a cup of coffee or tea and one or two pieces of these really fantastic pastries! With a huge thank you to our hosts we slowly start heading back to the jetty where the zodiacs are waiting for us to bring us back to Hondius. What a perfect morning!!!

During lunch the ship repositions and shortly after lunch we are going out again to our second destination of the day: Saunders Island!

As we arrive at the landing beach the owner of the Island David Pole-Evans and his family awaits us with a warm welcome. We start following the well-marked trail up to the albatross colonies passing by different penguin colonies of different penguin species. From the vocal Gentoos to the elegant Kings, from the active Magellanics walking on the white sandy beach to the funniest Rockhoppers…. we see them all! It is just breath taking the variety of wildlife here! And all these chicks!!!!!

 We see albatross flying, bonding with their chicks, feeding them and Adam the brother-in-law of David spends some time with us at the colony to talk and explain and share about “their” albatross. Sadly, at one point an absolutely fantastic day comes to an end and slowly we all make our way back to the landing beach. We put on our life jackets, take a last look into the little shop of self-made souvenirs in the back of one of the land rovers and head back to Hondius. After the daily recap where we learn about our plans for tomorrow and our Expedition guide Tiphanie gives us some useful and interesting information about Stanley, the hotel and restaurant crew already awaits us in the dining room and we have a wonderful dinner with not only delicious food but also interesting conversations and sharing of our experiences of our first day at the Falkland Islands.

Day 4: Stanley

Fecha: 07.01.2023
Posición: 51°41.2’S / 057°51.3’W
Viento: N-5
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: +8

This morning we wake up to the wake-up call from our expedition leader Pippa who is already giving us some information about the weather conditions outside. It is still warm and not very windy but it’s raining just a little bit. After breakfast we get ready for our second landing day which will be at Stanley, the main city in the Falkland Islands. Prepared with a street map we make our way through this beautiful little town. We visit the visitors centre, some souvenir shops, the churches, and the very interesting and lovely historic dockyard museum. We have a cup of coffee in one of the little cafés and of course after our “city tour”, we finish in the Gin distilleries where we of course buy some original Falkland Gin to bring back home to our families and friends as a gift.

Back on Hondius we have lunch as we are hungry from the morning activities. After a little break we are invited to listen to the first lecture of the afternoon. Expedition Guide Michael tells us his very interesting story about his experiences during the Falkland War in 1982. The next lecture planned for the afternoon is given by Expedition guide Felicity who is talking and explaining about the Southern Ocean. Full of new knowledge and a lot of information to think about we start our evening program with the daily recap where Pippa tells us about the next day at sea and what to expect. Also, more information is delivered by the expedition team about the colossal squid, how the members of the early expeditions survived, the different direction in which a ship can move and about the solar system sky walk in Stanley.

Now it’s time for dinner which is again absolutely delicious. After dinner, we had the chance to enjoy a beautiful sunset and at 22:30 it was dark enough for Stargazing.

Lothar showed the planets Jupiter and Mars in the North-West near the horizon. The constellation of Orion became visible with the chance to spot the Orion Nebular with binoculars. Finally, the southern constellations came out and we could observe Alpha Centauri and the Southern Cross, in the direction of the centre of our milky way. A perfect end to a perfect day!

Day 5: At sea

At sea
Fecha: 08.01.2023
Posición: 52°30.4’S / 050°38.1.3’W
Viento: SW-4
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: +7

Today we have a sea day as we are heading for another highlight of this trip, South Georgia. A perfect day for some interesting lectures and keeping our eyes out for birds.

At 10.00 we start with a lecture in the lounge from Mikhail, where he shares his knowledge with us about bird migration. And we learn more about why and how birds cover great distances from nesting to wintering grounds.

Shortly after most of us go outside to attend the Bird Identification at the stern of Hondius on decks 5, 6 and 7. The expedition staff is there at 11:00 to help identify the different birds hovering around the ship. Sensational is the visit of the Wandering Albatross, the one with the largest wingspan of 3,5 meters. Although there is also a lot of excitement for the typical yellow shiny beak and beautiful light greyish colourisation of the Grey-Headed Albatross. Besides that, two regular visitors fly, the Northern and Southern Giant Petrel, hard to distinguish but the Northern has a more reddish bill compared to the greenish from his Southern brother. We also see White-chinned Petrels, Fairy Prions, Black-bellied Storm-Petrels and a flock of Great Shearwaters.

After lunch at 14.00 Lothar explains in his lecture "Orientation on the Southern Sky" many constellations visible only in the southern hemisphere. Including Centaurus, Southern Cross, Carina, Vela and the False Southern Cross. In the recap we also hear about the planets, stars and nebulas we observed during the Star Gazing last night.

While the scones with clotted cream and jam are served at 16.00, Saskia shows us the untold side of the polar exploration. Two great stories about wives of famous explorers, Kathleen Scott and Jo Peary. We finish the day off with another delicious meal.

Day 6: Towards South Georgia

Towards South Georgia
Fecha: 09.01.2023
Posición: 53º10,9’S / 043⁰10,6’W
Viento: N-4
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: +3

Today we were woken by the wakeup call from our expedition leader Pippa giving us the weather information and the activities for the day. We quickly prepared ourselves for the day before heading to the dining room for a hearty breakfast. Today we would be learning about our next destination which we would reach tomorrow…South Georgia!

After breakfast we all made our way to the lounge for the mandatory South Georgia briefing and IAATO video. We learned about the rules of visiting South Georgia and how to deal with certain hazards such as aggressive fur seals! After the briefings we had some free time and then at 11 we joined Tiphanie in the lounge for a lecture titled “Introduction to South Georgia”. We learned a lot about South Georgia including how the government works, a brief history and sights of South Georgia. After the lecture it was time for lunch. We had a wonderful buffet lunch whilst we watched the world go by through the restaurant windows. The weather was extremely kind to us and we were able to see the a variety of graceful birds following the ship.

After lunch it was time for us to bio-secure our outer wear again ready for landing on South Georgia. We were called down to deck 3 deck by deck and the expedition staff helped us inspect and clean our gear. We had to make sure all biological material from the Falklands was removed and safely discarded. Once our gear was all cleaned, we again had some free time.

At 4pm we started to see the silhouettes of Shag Rocks in the distance. Our first sighting of South Georgia! As we looked for the rocks in the fog, we started to get a glimpse of the wonderful wildlife of South Georgia. We spotted lots of whale blows! A humpback swam past close to the ship followed by several fur seals. A beautiful juvenile wandering albatross glided effortlessly through the air in front of the ship.

After a little while it was time for us to head to the lounge for recap. The expedition staff gave us several small presentations on different things related to our journey. We learned to identify seabirds, where maritime words come from, how albatross fly and the danger of fur seal bites. After a full day of learning and watching the views, we were finally called down to dinner for a delicious meal before heading to our cabins for a well-earned nights rest.

Day 7: South Georgia

South Georgia
Fecha: 10.01.2023
Posición: 54º 02,4’S / 037⁰18,5,’W
Viento: WNW-6
Clima: Partly Cloudy
Temperatura del Aire: +6

Finally, after two and a half days of navigation, Hondius arrived at the misty and mysterious coast of South Georgia. The island met us with rain, wind and dark clouds looming over the tops of the mountain chain. It looked like the island of South Georgia was challenging us, whether we dare to try to land or retreat without a fight. Or maybe the spirit of the island decided that we had to earn the right to discover its secrets by first experiencing the worst conditions.

The terrible weather forecast given to us by Pippa, the expedition leader, got justified in its entirety: the wind was 30 to 40 knots with gusts of up to 55 knots. The plan was to try to land at a place called Salisbury Plain, but when we arrived there, it was clear that we would not be able to do that. The plan got corrected and we headed to a place called Rosita Harbour. There, the expedition team put the Zodiacs on the water and after a quick scouting we were given a green light to land.

Those of us who were supposed to land later could watch the first Zodiacs with passengers raising clouds of splashes into the air when bumping choppy waves were slowly moving towards the shore. South Georgia refused to admit its defeat and the wing started picking up. After 3 or 4 Zodiacs disembarked their passengers on the shore of Rosita harbuor, the Captain and the Expedition Leader had to make a hard decision of aborting the landing and evacuating everybody back onboard.

It took time to get all the passengers back, because due to strong gusts of wind, piloting of Zodiacs was not safe at all. After some maneuvering, captain Tony had Hondius repositioned closer to the shore and turned perpendicularly to the direction of the wind. Thus, a lee was created, and all the Zodiacs were able to approach the shell doors and disembark the passengers.

The rest of the time before lunch was dedicated to a lecture by one of the expedition guides.

In the meantime, Hondius sailed back to Salisbury Plane. The weather conditions had not improved. Well, it became sunny, but the wind stayed very strong. We decided to wait and see if any positive changes occur. Charlotte, an expedition guide, gave us a lecture about whales and pinnipeds of the Antarctic region.

Our expedition team, when the wind seemed to have dropped a little, made an attempt to land, but their Zodiac had to return very soon as the landing had proven iteself to be impossible.

Sadly, we had to admit our defeat. The rest of the afternoon we spent on the open decks looking at the colony of penguins from a distance. At 18:15 we had a recap followed by dinner. We could only hope that the wind would drop by tomorrow and we would be able to do some activities. Well, this is an expedition cruise after all. Nobody promised that it would be easy.

Day 8: Fortuna Bay

Fortuna Bay
Fecha: 11.01.2023
Posición: 54º08,8’S / 036⁰43,3’W
Viento: WSW-8
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: +4

A new day and new hopes of better weather conditions. We are anchored in Fortuna Bay, the sun is shining but the wind blows heavily. The expedition team makes its way to land and Pippa decides that it will be a “go” for the landing, but it is too windy for a zodiac cruise. While one group will be on land, the other will stay on the ship. We are just happy if we can finally all get our feet onto South Georgia.

We land on a black sandy beach surrounded by king penguins and fur seals of all ages and sizes. The backdrop of Fortuna Bay is lush green land and mountains. A walk is flagged to lead us to a small end in some distance from which we will have an overview of a king penguin colony with moulting adults and fluffy brown chicks - thousands of them. It is magical. On the way, we can see lots of king penguins standing or walking around, alone or in groups. Fur seal pups and adults are also to be seen all over the place.

In the afternoon, we hope to visit Grytviken which has been the centre of human activity since 1904 when C.A. Larsen established the first whaling station in South Georgia. In its cemetery, you can visit the grave of the great explorer Ernest Shackleton. As we will get inspected by the Government Officials there, we do return to biosecurity and clean all our clothes and gear. We are getting pretty good at this.

But even before approaching Grytviken, Pippa has received news that the wind in the sheltered bay is about 60 knots. This wind is way too strong to allow any safe operation and we need to change our plans. Not far away is a small bay called “Godthul” which means “good cove” in Norwegian, it is well sheltered, and we plan for a zodiac cruise. But even here the wind speed is excessive, and we need to cancel this plan too and leave the bay.

We will stay in the area, just outside the bay at sea where the swell is not too bad, and the ship is quite stable. Felicity holds a lecture on whaling in the southern parts of the world and we learn how humans have hunted whales to the brink, as the title suggests.

During the daily recap hopes arise and plans are made for the next day as the storm is supposed to be over by tomorrow! Pippa plans to make up for this difficult day and take us off the ship well before breakfast.

With these plans, not many of us are seen in the lounge late this evening.

Day 9: St. Andrews & Grytviken

St. Andrews & Grytviken
Fecha: 12.01.2023
Posición: 54º26,2’S / 036⁰09,5’W
Viento: NE-6
Clima: Cloudy
Temperatura del Aire: +11

What an early wakeup call am from our expedition leader Pippa at 3:45, but it was worth it. We arrived at St. Andrews Bay, where we have the biggest King Penguin colony in South Georgia.

We are going out before breakfast, half the ship for a Zodiac cruising and the other half for a landing. What a beautiful start to the day. We are sitting in our zodiac and approaching the beach, we are already seeing the big colony, the fur seals and we can hear the elephant seals. We are swinging our legs gently out of the Zodiac in the water and up to put our lifejackets in the orange bag. The first thing to look at is some young elephant seals fighting each other and making a lot of noises. We are walking through a big open part of land with a lot of fur seals trying to protect their territory. We are following the red poles till the end and there we are having a lovely view towards the glacier and the malting King Penguins around the little lake from the melting glacier.

At the same time, we are cruising along the beach and are looking at the big King Penguin colony. It is overwhelming to see so many penguins in one place, seeing them going in the water and coming out.

We are going back to the ship around 7 o’clock and having breakfast before we are swoping from landing to cruising and the other way around.

What a wonderful and unique experience at St. Andrews Bay. The ship is cruising towards Grytviken the big old whaling station and the grave from the great explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Arriving in Grytviken is amazing compared to all the other landings we are seeing a lot of buildings. The blue group is going to the cemetery first and the red group to the museum. It is a great museum to visit which tells a lot of different stories about whaling and Shackleton’s James Cairds which he and his crew was sailing to South Georgia.

Lothar is standing next to the grave and is giving a wonderful toast to our dear explorer Shackleton.

In the church we are ringing the bell and enjoying the atmosphere there. After we are joining a tour through Grytviken and listening to the history of the old days.

After a wonderful day in Grytviken, we are driving back in our Zodiac towards Hondius and when we are approaching the ship we are having a good smell in our nose the smell of BBQ. What a delicious and outstanding finish of the day having BBQ with a view to Grytviken and enjoying BBQ.

Day 10: Gold Harbour & Cooper Bay

Gold Harbour & Cooper Bay
Fecha: 13.01.2023
Posición: 54°37.5’S / 035°56.3’W
Viento: SSE2
Clima: Partly Cloudy
Temperatura del Aire: +6

Today we look out the window and see the beautiful Gold Harbour. The glacier is tumbling down the mountain, the ice is oozing down the sharp, steep slope as if it has frozen in time. Our eyes cast upon the beach and see thousands upon thousands of orange and black heads, what can it be? King Penguins, 250,000 of them all clumped together on one very small beach, we can’t wait to get ashore to witness this magnificent site.

After a very filling and tasty breakfast, the first group embark the zodiacs and go ashore, the second group head off on a zodiac cruise. The first thing our guides spot is a Leopard Seal eating a King Penguin, wow this really feels like David Attenborough! It is slightly drizzling, which only adds to the atmospheric intensity of this landscape. The clouds scrape over the hills and the waterfall next to the glacier roars like a lion in the Serengeti. The swell continually crashes onshore, the sound of the Penguins and Elephant Seals echoed along the beach, we all watch in awe at this great spectacle. On land, it is the most beautiful thing we have ever seen, so many animals sharing this space and yet cooperating so well. There are no words to be said, we are speechless and feel so privileged to be here. The sun decides to shine its ray upon us, we can feel the warmth beating down on us and warming our hearts. Feeling very satisfied we head back to the ship for lunch and prepare for an afternoon at Coopers Bay.

Coopers Bay is 2 hours away, so we take the opportunity to have a wee nap. The afternoon is a full ships zodiac to visit a colony of 10,000 Macaroni Penguins. We haven’t seen them yet, so we are all very eager to see this rockstar Penguin! We spend the next 2 hours exploring the many coves and bays. We spot Chinstrap Penguins with chicks; the cute fluffy ones patiently sit waiting for their feed of krill. A Leopard Seal gives us quite a fright by swimming under the zodiac! Our guide slowly drives us into a cove with towering rocks above us, the turquoise water slowly laps at the zodiac and the kelp moves elegantly with the swell, it’s arms at mercy of the sea. It was time to head back to the ship for a recap with Pippa and the team, followed by dinner, what a fantastic day.

Day 11: At Sea

At Sea
Fecha: 14.01.2023
Posición: 56°43.9’S / 38°22.7’W
Viento: NW 4
Clima: Overcast & Fog
Temperatura del Aire: +3

After a very busy, packed last day in South Georgia, it was a quiet morning on board Hondius today. After some very early starts, many were happy to know that there was no wakeup call this morning. We were all treated to a lie in until 0800, when Michael announced that breakfast was ready and waiting! Considering the forecast Pippa mentioned at last night’s recap, today was surprisingly calm, with a steady 20-25kn wind and a smooth 1-2 meter swell. However, there was low visibility, with a thick sea fog surrounding us, reducing our visibility to just over 1nm at times.

The first activity of the morning was a lecture by Lothar, ‘Wonders of the Southern Sky.  He showed images of constellations, open clusters, globular clusters, nebulas, and galaxies only visible on the southern hemisphere where we look into the direction of the centre of our galaxy. Including the nearby star Alpha Centauri and the Southern Cross with the dark dust cloud “Coal Sack”. Some of the presented objects are visible with the naked eye, others with binoculars or larger telescopes.

After yet another delicious lunch provided by the wonderful crew, the expedition team set up a film in the lounge, with the extra bonus of fresh popcorn! The documentary was all about Shackleton’s famous expedition to the Antarctic, the Imperial Trans-Atlantic Expedition of 1914-1917.

During the documentary, the fog began to lift and so after it finished, many of us went up to the bridge and the outside decks to look out for seabirds, whales and ice! And soon, on the edge of the fog, we spotted the first icebergs, just about visible through the fog! Shortly after, we saw our first tabular iceberg of the trip, 4nm off our port side! A beautiful chunk of ice, roughly 1.5 km in length and approximately 40 meters high! Of course, with more eyes on the water, we began to spot more ice on the horizon, all shapes and sizes, but none quite as impressive as our first tabular block. The seabirds were also making an appearance, mainly shearwaters, prions and a handful of black-browed albatross.

Next on the agenda was the most appropriate lecture of all, the journey of iceberg A-76A, presented by Carina. During her lecture, she described the ice-shelves around the Antarctic Peninsula, how they form icebergs and how they are transported around the Southern Ocean. Carina focused on A-76A, the famous iceberg that broke free from the Larsen iceshelf in November 2020 and slowly drifted towards South Georgia, but luckily changed courses and is now drifting in the Drake Passage.

Finally, it was time for our daily recap which hosted by several of the expedition team, talking about the King Penguin cycle, Tussac Grass and a short video of our landing at St Andrews Bay.

Day 12: South Orkney Islands

South Orkney Islands
Fecha: 15.01.2023
Posición: 60º47,8’S / 044⁰34,5’W
Viento: NW-7
Clima: Overcast/Rain
Temperatura del Aire: +2

Today we woke up to the wonderful sight of massive tabular icebergs. They made the ship seem small in comparison as we sailed passed on our way to the South Orkneys. Michael called us down for a delicious breakfast at 8am and we enjoyed the ice floating by as we tucked in. The day would start with the mandatory activities for Antarctica. First, we started with our mandatory briefings which taught us what we can and can’t do in Antarctica. After the briefing it was time for us to perform our biosecurity cleaning once more. We are all experts by now after the Falklands and South Georgia.

By 11:30 we had all completed our biosecurity and were treated to our first views of the South Orkney Islands. Our goal was to visit Scotia Bay on Laurie Island, which is the site of Orcadas Station, an Argentinean research base. The weather forecast wasn’t promising but we sailed into the bay and the expedition team decided that it was worth a try. The zodiacs were lowered and those willing to face the wind a rain loaded up and headed for the coast. On the coast we could see many chinstrap penguins and Antarctic Fur seals. We also had the opportunity to view the glacier terminating at the water’s edge. As we rounded the bay we were able to observe the Orcadas base sitting in the saddle between the glacier and the mountain. Bright orange in a sea of grey we enjoyed considering what life must be like for its occupants. As we continued our cruise the weather suddenly took a turn for the worse gusting up to 50 knots. We headed for home with our zodiac drivers doing their best but unsuccessfully managing to keep us dry. We arrived at the ship wet but exhilarated. We dried off quickly and went up to the lounge in time for a lecture by Chloe on plankton. Then it was time for recap and finally a well-earned dinner.  

Day 13: At sea

At sea
Fecha: 16.01.2023
Posición: 62º16,3’S / 050⁰15,6’W
Viento: NW-4
Clima: Fog/Snow
Temperatura del Aire: -1

Monday Jan 16th, the sea day after the visit to the South Orkney Islands, started with a gentle wakeup call by our receptionist Karolina at 8:00. After quite some waves during the night, the sea was moderate.

At 10:00 Lotti introduced the white continent Antarctica and how the early seafarers discovered it. She described the topography, glaciers and ice shields, the ecosystem and also the science stations and the political status based on the Antarctic Treaty.

After “Burger time” at Lunch, several Humpback Wales passed by the ship. And more and more icebergs appeared on the sunny day. At 14:00 Simon was examining the different types of ice that can be found on, and around, Antarctica. This included the ice from glaciers and how it gets compressed, the different types of glaciers, ice shields, and sea ice. 98% of the surface if Antarctica is covered by ice, only 2% is ice free.

The lecture was followed by the Filming & Editing Workshop at 16:00. Using the video sequences Dorette filmed during the first part of the trip, she showed how easy you can produce videos using simple equipment like mobile phones. The presentation was followed by interactive editing tips in the Lecture Room.

After the Happy Hour in the Bar at 17:30, we started the South Georgia Heritage Trust Auction. Many guests and the Expedition Staff dressed up in fine gowns for an afternoon of fundraising in the Lounge. Several unique items have been available to the highest bidder. This included a special bottle of Whisky and the accessories for it, little penguins, but also the permission to make the last wakeup call, get the Oceanwide flag signed by the Expedition Team, a dinner with the Chief Engineer, and much more. Altogether GBP 2.700, - came together which are all donated to the SGHT for their conservation work in South Georgia.

The day ended with a beautiful sunset and relatively calm sea.

Day 14: Paulet Island & Brown Bluff

Paulet Island & Brown Bluff
Fecha: 17.01.2023
Posición: 63º35,7’S / 055⁰54,1’W
Viento: W-6
Clima: Sunny
Temperatura del Aire: +8

The long wait was now over! This morning, we were greeted with the crisp white, stunning landscapes of Antarctic. Everywhere you turned, there was an iceberg, growler, towering snow-capped peak or even the blows from distant humpback whales.

The morning’s landing was based at Paulet Island, in the Antarctic Sound. Paulet Island is a favourite landing/zodiac cruise spot for many of the expedition team, and with good reason! It is home to approximately 100,000 breeding pairs of Adelie Penguins, Blue-eyed Shags and several Weddell Seals. Historically, Paulet Island was used by shipwreck survivors from the 1903 Swedish Antarctic Expedition, led by Otto Nordenskiöld. Their ship was crushed by the ice in the Weddell Sea and so 20 men reached Paulet Island, built a stone hut and a cairn on the highest point of the island to draw attention to the rescuers. They managed to survive almost a full year over the winter, living off penguins and eggs.

Our visit was slightly more pleasant as we slowly wandered around the bustling Adelie Penguins, along the beach towards the nesting Blue-eyed Shags. To everyone’s surprise, at the end of the beach, there was a deceased, juvenile Emperor Penguin! It was extremely cool to see a new species, albeit deceased. With half of the guests onshore, the other half were zodiac cruising around the island, some even circumnavigating the island. During the cruise, half of the zodiacs were lucky enough to spot a leucistic Adelie Penguin, a very rare sighting!

Once back on board Hondius, we began the 3-hour transit to Brown Bluff, our next destination on the other side of the Antarctic Sound. When we arrived, the water was like a mill pond, barely a breath of wind and minimal swell, perfect conditions for us! So, we dropped the zodiacs, and the shore team loaded the gear and went to find our landing spot. We also had the pleasure of welcoming a few guests to join the team for scouting, as they won the bidding for this prize during our South Georgia Heritage Trust Auction.

Whilst we were scouting, the wind began picking up quite quickly and soon, it was blowing a steady 30kns. The swell on the beach began dumping waves too and soon the conditions were unfavourable. It was then decided it would be better use of our time to pick up the zodiacs and move on, we had a long transit round to the Gerlache Strait and with a purple weather monster looming, we were best getting a move on!

Whilst sailing, we were treated with amazing humpback whale encounters, several mother and calf pairs, with the calves throwing their tail around and doing pec slaps! Later this afternoon, Saskia presented her lecture on the 1903 Nordenskiöld expedition, which was shortly followed by recap and yet another, beautiful three-course dinner from the crew!

Day 15: Foyn Harbour

Foyn Harbour
Fecha: 18.01.2023
Posición: 64º23,0’S / 061⁰38,6’W
Viento: SW-3
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: +7

The gray and overcast morning greeted us with low clouds looming over the Charlotte Bay. That was supposed to be the place of our morning activity. The idea was to do a Zodiac cruise and navigate through quite narrow and very picturesque Graham passage.

Hondius dropped the anchor pretty far from the entrance of the passage because this part of Antarctic peninsula is being visited pretty rarely and as a result the sea floor there still stays uncharted. The swell was pretty big for Zodiacs, but there was nearly no wind, so the conditions were quite OK.

After we had breakfast, we dressed up and started embarking Zodiacs. The first surprise – and it was a good one – was waiting for us right next to the ship. A couple of Humpback whales was swimming around. We spent some time watching them and then continued our Zodiacs cruise navigating to the passage.

The passage itself was a very calm and well protected place so the swell did not bother us there at all and we could have a good chance to look around and photograph the crevassed walls of glaciers and icebergs drifting around. On the way back though we had to fight the waves again. Some of us also spotted a couple of whales. We don’t know whether it was the same couple of whales as at the beginning of the Zodiac cruise or different ones.

During lunch Hondius navigated to the place called Foyn Harbour. There we had another Zodiac cruise. This time we also spotted several whales. Besides Foyn Harbour is known as the place with a shipwreck. The remains of Norwegian whaling ship Governoren can be seen and even circumnavigated at one of the coves of the harbor. At the same time, it is a good anchorage position, so we saw two sailboats moored to this shipwreck. Also, in the area we could see and visit with our Zodiacs the so called “Garden of Icebergs” – a place with many icebergs grounded. There we also saw several Weddell seals.

That was not the end! After dinner we had a third activity of the day. As we failed to land at Brown Bluff due to the weather conditions, the expedition team found us a good substitute for this – a place called Portal Point. Known as a place of the start of many Antarctic expeditions, Portal Point is a place not on an island, but on the Antarctic continent. That was very interesting and meaningful for us to set our feet on the 7th continent.

We came back onboard pretty late, almost at 10 PM. Ahead of us there was a very short night, but none of us complained, because this was exactly what they called an expedition cruise! Keep going!

Day 16: Danco Island landing & Zodiac cruise

Danco Island landing & Zodiac cruise
Fecha: 19.01.2023
Posición: 64º27,7’S / 062⁰54,1’W
Viento: NNW-5
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: +2

To get the most out of the last day we are getting up at 4:45 am. We are just arriving in front of Danco Island. We could almost smell the Gentoo Penguin colonies on Danco Island.

We are putting our swimsuits on to be prepared for the top event polar plunge. The weather is a little bit cold, and it is snowing/raining, but this is the mystery of Antarctica, to have all kinds of different weather.

We are landing in Danco Island and having a lovely Zodiac cruising around the island with some humpback whales. On the island we are hiking with our snowshoes for the first time up to the very top, about 130m above sea level, sadly it is foggy, and the view isn’t the best but it is nice to walk a little bit before going back to cruise back to Ushuaia.

In the end of the landing, we are taking the swim in the sea and completing our polar plunge.

Back on the ship we are cruising along the last landscape from Antarctica into the open sea. In the afternoon the ship is moving a lot and the portholes on Deck 3 have to be closed. We are ending the day with eating popcorn and watching the documentary of David Attenborough.

An early dinner with amazing food is leading us to our deserved rest.

Day 17: At sea

At sea
Fecha: 20.01.2023
Posición: 60º10,2’S / 063⁰09,2’W
Viento: W-6
Clima: Partially Cloudy
Temperatura del Aire: +2

Today we wake up to the slight rocking and rolling of Hondius, the weather had calmed significantly in the night, so we all managed a very good night’s sleep. We dreamt of giant-sized penguins leaping over the pectoral fins of Humpback Whales and the dancing light of the Antarctic sun shining upon us, the warmth slowly waking us up with Pippa’s soothing voice entering our ear lobes. We start the day with bacon and coffee, a commodity we can get used to. Julia gives us a fascinating talk on Antarctic medical history, followed by Light Pollution in the afternoon at 1400.

It has been a very busy few days, we got to rest a lot and have a proper look through the photos from the last three weeks. What a fantastic trip it has been. As I look out the window, I see the occasional Albatross and Giant Petrel shearing across the water with its 2 metre wing tips barely scraping over the water. At 1600 we listen to Michael talk about Hurley the photographer and at 1800 we hear the recap from the expedition. Dinner is particularly delicious, the camembert crème brulee, wow can we please have the recipe?

Day 18: Drake passage

Drake passage
Fecha: 21.01.2023
Posición: 56°22,0’ S, 063°17,4.’W
Viento: NNE-5
Clima: Fog
Temperatura del Aire: +6.5

We have, after many wonderful expedition days, left Antarctica. One would expect spirits to be low, the longing for the Frozen Continent settling in to stay. Only one more day, only one more hour. However, it’s nice to be returning home too. The guests recover from the fatigue of expeditioning, lounging in the turning chairs, listening to one lecture after another. In the morning, Sasha gave a talk on how he got to the Antarctic continent and the adventures he’s had on his journey. Then, next up, Charlotte gave an insight into the astounding race to the South Pole between Amundsen and Scott, a tale of bravery, of hardship, of heroism and tragedy. It’s a slow day today, with people editing photos, remembering what has been seen or done, and letting the day pass by.

After gorging ourselves on the vast quantities prepared by our galley team, in the afternoon, many chose to indulge in a well-deserved rest, and those who didn’t, joined Lothar for a sextant workshop, where they were shown how the seamen of past times were able to use the sun to determine their position and navigate the vast seas. In the afternoon, the ship is followed once again by Black-browed and Wandering Albatross, as well as other seabirds. The shaking of the Drake decreases as time goes by, and Felicity is giving her lecture on the threats facing the marine life of today, especially surrounding krill and other plankton. 

As the last event of tonight, people dressed in their fancy clothes and headed to captain’s cocktail, where they were served drinks, small bites and gave their farewell to the staff and crew. Mikhail put together a slideshow that was presented, and people headed off to dinner.

The journey is at an end, the beagle channel is almost upon us.

As always, I finish with a limerick:

The waves of the Drake,
Took many in its wake,
But the Hondius still sails,
And our humour prevails,
And our way back home we make.

Day 19: At Port Ushuaia

At Port Ushuaia
Fecha: 22.01.2023
Viento: N-1
Clima: Sunny
Temperatura del Aire: +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 to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Orkney Islands, to the Antarctic Peninsula and ultimately over the notorious Drake Passage. 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: 3503,5 Nautical Miles
Furthest point south: 19/01/2023, Danco Island  64°43,8’S / 062°35,8’W


Código del viaje: HDS26-23
Fechas: 4 ene. - 22 ene., 2023
Duración: 18 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.

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