PLA32-24, trip log, Antarctica - Polar Circle - Whale Watching

by Oceanwide Expeditions


Day 1: Ushuaia – Embarkation Day

Ushuaia – Embarkation Day
Fecha: 21.03.2024
Posición: 54° 55.6’S / 67° 25.4’W
Viento: SW-6
Clima: Partly Cloudy
Temperatura del Aire: +8

It was a windy autumn day in Ushuaia with some sunshine, and cold temperatures. Last time to do some outdoor gear shopping and a last cup of coffee on solid grounds.

At 4 P.M. we were welcome to board our gracious ship M/V Plancius. She was the only blue vessel in port today, but the coolest. The expedition team gave us a warm welcome and so did the entire hotel team. Assistant Hotel Manager Alfredo checked us in and we were guided to our cabins by the friendly members of the crew.

At 5:15 P.M. our expedition leader Claudio welcomed us in the lounge where he gave us more information about the mandatory safety drill and abandon ship procedure. After being shown a safety video, the second officer Martin provided us with more information before starting the drill. When the alarm signals had sounded, we made our way back to the lounge together with our large life jackets. We put on our life jackets and then awaited further instructions. Then the abandon ship command was given, and we all made our way to the deck where the life boats are located.

The 2nd officer gave us more information about the life boat procedure and after that there was time to have a look inside one of the life boats. Not very comfortable or spacious, but of course necessary in case of emergency.

And then the moment was there; the mooring lines were pulled in and we were leaving Ushuaia Port. Our expedition had officially started! We enjoyed the wind in our faces and stunning landscapes from the outer decks while Ushuaia slowly became smaller and smaller.

At 6:30 P.M. we were invited to join the expedition team and the captain in the lounge for a toast with some delicious prosecco and tasty snacks. We received more information about how things work on the ship and how the expedition is planned. During the expedition we depended a lot on the weather conditions and Claudio explained that we often have multiple plans in case our Plan A cannot be done. That sounds like a proper expedition which excited us even more!

After a long day it was time to have dinner. Today chef Ivan and his team prepared a delicious buffet menu. We met our fellow passengers in the dining room which was buzzing with chatter and laughter. A perfect way to start the expedition.

The first few hours of the evening the ship was still very stable, but around midnight we started to sail into the Drake and it started rolling. Good night!

Day 2: At Sea – Drake Passage

At Sea – Drake Passage
Fecha: 22.03.2024
Posición: 57° 04.7’S / 65° 19.9’W
Viento: W-5
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: +7

Today was the first full day at sea on the notorious Drake Passage! The night was a bit wavy with 3 to 4-metre waves which lasted until the morning. We got ourselves a little Drake Shake. Although some people were seasick, the majority slowly seemed to get used to the waves. The morning started with a delicious breakfast (for those who had an appetite :)) that was served between 8 and 9 AM.

At 10 am, Marco presented a lecture in the observation lounge with the self-explanatory title “Introduction about Antarctica”. It was an opportunity to get more information about our remote and unique destination, Antarctica. Marco was very passionate and at times quite funny when he spoke about the geography, wildlife, and history of the White Continent. During the lecture our excitement grew, and we couldn’t wait to see it all with our own eyes.

Lunch was served and then it was time for the mandatory briefings. Safety is our main priority and as such we were informed on do’s and don’ts related to our zodiac operations. IAATO is the organization of Antarctic Tour Operators and together the members have established rules and regulations for visitors to Antarctica. We only want to leave footsteps and take memories, whereas at the same time we want to observe, but not disturb the wild animals that we can meet during our expedition.

In recent years the avian flu has become a real threat, and this also means a mandatory biosecurity cleaning and no more kneeling or laying down. We don’t want to bring any alien species to Antarctica, nor do we want to spread potential diseases.

The rest of our day at sea was spent playing games, or even reading some books from the nice collection in the library.

The day ended with a brief recap of the day, and a small presentation about “The Drake Passage” by Stefi, Koen explained “The Antarctic Convergence“, and Carina told us the ship and sea terms or slang we used onboard M/V Plancius.

Afterwards, a plated dinner was served in the dining room with tiramisu as dessert, a classic! The first day at sea on the Drake Passage has been completed, one more to go!

Day 3: At Sea – Drake Passage

At Sea – Drake Passage
Fecha: 23.03.2024
Posición: 61° 11.3’S / 62° 55.9’W
Viento: W-5
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: +2

Good morning!

The program for today is filled with a lot of preparation for our visit to Antarctica. As our second day at sea starts with the first “good morning, good morning,” wake up call from our expedition leader Claudio, we are already mid-way to Antarctica across the Drake Passage. Fortunately for most of us, Neptune is merciful as the Drake is relatively calm.

After breakfast it was time to go to deck 3 to collect our rubber boots in the Boot Room. These boots are warm and waterproof, and we’ll use them during all our landings.

And then it was really time to start our so-called vacuum party, biosecurity cleaning! This cleaning surely isn’t the most fun part of the expedition, but is mandatory and on the upside, it is not a bad thing cleaning all your outer layers every once in a while.

We brought our Muckboots, jackets, trousers, backpacks and all the gear we plan to use onshore in Antarctica. The expedition team was there to help and to check everything was done according to IAATO standards.

Lunch was served and afterwards the divers had their mandatory dive briefing.

In the meantime, the outer decks had been opened and many of us took the opportunity to get some fresh air. We spotted large sea birds such as Albatrosses and Giant Petrels. Some of us were lucky to spot dolphins and later some fin whales! It was nice being outside and seeing more wildlife. It was also a good opportunity to integrate and mingle with other guests and our expedition team.

In the afternoon, Steffi invited us for a lecture about whales during which she described many interesting and surprising facts about the largest animals of our planet.

We knew we were heading in the right direction as we spotted our first icebergs from the bridge at 16:50. We already started to feel Antarctica!

Later in the afternoon we all gather again in the lounge for a daily recap. Claudio presented the plans for tomorrow – our first day on the white continent. We couldn’t wait for the next morning to arrive! Time to have dinner and sleep! Good night everyone!

Day 4: Wilhelmina Bay – Neko Harbour

Wilhelmina Bay – Neko Harbour
Fecha: 24.03.2024
Posición: 64° 38.8’S / 62° 06.7’W
Viento: SW-3
Clima: Snow
Temperatura del Aire: -1

We started our day early, filled with anticipation and excitement as we embarked on our first zodiac cruise in the icy waters of Wilhelmina Bay. The crisp Antarctic air and the serene beauty of the surroundings set the stage for an unforgettable experience.

We slowly navigated through the icy maze, and before long, we were surrounded by towering icebergs glistening in the morning sunlight. The silence was broken by the distant spouts of water, signaling the presence of humpback whales. As we approached closer, the sight of these magnificent creatures took our breath away. The hum of their songs reverberated through the air, creating a magical atmosphere. We watched in awe as they gracefully glided through the icy waters, occasionally breaching and splashing playfully.

After a mesmerizing morning, we headed towards Neko Harbour for our first continental landing!! The anticipation was palpable as we set foot on the Antarctic soil, a momentous occasion for each one of us.

Our first encounter was with a colony of Gentoo penguins, their comical antics and curious stares providing endless entertainment. We marveled at their agility as they tobogganed down snowy slopes and went about their daily activities.

The sight of elephant seals lounging lazily on the rocky shoreline added to the scene, their massive size a stark contrast to the agile penguins. We observed them from a respectful distance, marveling at their sheer power and tranquility.

The highlight of the afternoon was witnessing glacier calving in the background. The rumble of ice breaking free from the glacier echoed across the bay, a reminder of the dynamic and ever-changing nature of Antarctica's landscapes.

As we soaked in the sights and sounds of Neko Harbour, surrounded by towering mountains and pristine wilderness, we couldn't help but feel a profound sense of wonder and gratitude for being able to experience this remote and fragile ecosystem firsthand.

Overall, our first day in Antarctica exceeded all expectations, leaving us eagerly anticipating the adventures that awaited us in the days to come.

Day 5: Lemaire Channel – Pleneau – Petermann Island

Lemaire Channel – Pleneau – Petermann Island
Fecha: 25.03.2024
Posición: 65° 07.0’S / 64° 02.3’W
Viento: Light Air
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: -1

The soft light of a fresh morning in the Antarctic continent woke us up today. We moved out to the outer decks and found ourselves surrounded by the jagged peaks of Cape Renard guarding the Northeastern entrance of the Lemaire channel. The sea was calm, and we could see icebergs and bergy bits reflected on the water, whilst on the horizon clouds started to get their pinkish and orangish coloration.

M/V Plancius graciously glided over the water entering the legendary channel which has been baptized “Kodak Gap” due to its excessive photogenic beauty. The Lemaire channel is a narrow 500-600m wide channel between the Kyiv Peninsula on the east and Booth island on the west. It was first discovered although not surveyed by Edward Dallman in 1873-74, and subsequently explored and named by the Belgian explorer Adrien de Gerlache on board of the Belgica in 1897-99.

After crossing the Lemaire we were invited to breakfast and immediately after the zodiacs were launched, so down the gangway we ran. Girard Bay and the Penola Strait, located at the southern entrance of the Lemaire were steaming with whale blows. Their sound echoing all around the place due to the incredible absence of wind and peacefulness of the area.

The humpbacks this morning were incredibly active; in groups of three or four, some busy feeding on the surface, some others curious and spy hopping around our boats, and some were swimming quickly and taking deep dives while showing us their beautiful flukes.

Around the eastern shore of Pleneau island, clumsy and inexperienced juvenile Gentoo penguins were practicing their skills in the water. The shallow areas around this low rocky island made for ideal conditions for Leopard Seals hunting. As we moved closer to this area, we started encountering these inquisitive and agile phocids. Leopard seals can reach 3.2-3.5 meters in length and up to 500 kilograms; their massive jaws and powerful fore flippers make them one of the top predators in Antarctic.

It was a privilege to observe and witness a true wildlife encounter with these species. Several attempts to catch a penguin were made by one of these seals, before the poor individual was finally caught and pulled around for quite some time. In the meantime, Kelp Gulls, Brown Skuas and Wilson Storm petrels had gathered to feast on the carcass left behind by the seal. It was nature at its purest and crudest this morning.

Back on board we warmed up our bodies and limbs after an intense and cold morning. Lunch was quickly served while the ship was repositioned in front of Petermann Island, our site for the afternoon landing.

Petermann Island is located on the West side of Penola Strait, South of Hovgaard. Another island discovered by Eduard Dallman in 1874, which was named after a famous German cartographer. It’s a low-lying island mostly composed of intrusive granodioritic rocks, which became important for the second Antarctic French Expedition led by Jean Baptiste Charcot in 1908-10.

Our landing site was Port Circumcision, the place used by Charcot to moor his ship Pourquoi-Pas and overwinter in 1909. We had to pay attention to roam around the rocky and slippery shoreline, before getting on the fresh snow to enjoy an incredible sunny afternoon on the White continent. Gentoos were waddling everywhere, the youngsters running after their parents whereas several adult ones had to be patient as they were molting their feathers. Molting penguins are not waterproof and therefore they can’t go out to sea to feed. Usually we leave these penguins in peace as they are hungry and probably not in the best of moods ;).

The views of the landscapes were simply breathtaking, and we couldn’t have asked a better day for our second landing amongst these funny creatures. Basking in the sun we enjoyed a nice stroll around the southern tip of the island and before we even realized it, it was time to go back on board. In the evening we would start our long voyage south with the intention of reaching the Antarctic Polar Circle the next day. Little did we know that soon we would be the southernmost ship on the planet.

What a great trip so far!

Day 6: Polar Circle – Liard Island – Detaille Island

Polar Circle – Liard Island – Detaille Island
Fecha: 26.03.2024
Posición: 66° 49.1’S / 67° 11.1’W
Viento: E-4
Clima: Partly Cloudy
Temperatura del Aire: 0

During the night M/V Plancius sailed south and in the morning we reached our special latitude. Our Expedition Leader Claudio woke us up, telling us that we are about to cross the Antarctic Polar Circle soon.

It was a beautiful morning, behind the mountain chain of the Antarctic Peninsula the sun started to rise and the clouds coloured beautifully red.

It was magical and we celebrated the moment of the crossing S 66°33´ with the ships horn and many pictures of the GPS devices, but also photos of us in a lovely made Polar Circle Crossing frame in the bar.

During breakfast we continued sailing south. Our expedition team organised an additional activity because of the good sailing progress during the night. We were going to zodiac cruise on the east coast of Liard Island. A new place for the team so it had “Expedition” written all over.

Well-dressed we explored the area, full of massive icebergs, but also seals and whales. Most of us had close encounters with Humpback whales which were actively feeding in the area. They showed us their huge tails regularly offering us perfect photo moments.

Then a nice and warm surprise; our lovely hotel team with Ingrid showed up, offering us a warm apple juice, which was great. What was even better was the whiskey they added giving us a warm and relaxed feeling.

After a successful cruise we sailed with in the direction of the next planned destination, Detaille Island. The conditions could not be better, with flat calm sea, no wind, blue skies, and abundant sunshine. All over the place there were massive icebergs and whales.

After having a good rest, we started our afternoon activity, which was at that time a landing and a zodiac cruise. We landed in a sheltered bay, on solid rocks. Detaille Island was covered with nice powder snow which is always fun to walk in. Flagged paths led us to the historical hut, but also to higher viewpoints on the island. The historical hut belonged to a British scientific base build in 1956, however it closed already in 1959 due to the difficulty of accessing the base. The landscape itself looked like a brochure for selling trips to Antarctica, blue sky and water, icebergs and huge mountains and glaciers.

During the zodiac cruise we visited the last individuals of a big Adelie penguin rookery, also a Chinstrap Penguin was spotted. Especially those Adelie penguins belong to the high southern latitudes, and it was great seeing them. Soon they will leave this area as the sea will freeze and then they are deprived from their food source. As such these penguins move to the ice edge where they still have access to the ocean.

We circumnavigated the island and found a few Crabeater and Fur Seals on ice flows, but also on land. Our experienced zodiac drivers brought us quite close to these lovely animals, but without disturbing them. Looking back from the ship, Detaille Island is small, but at the same time great in terms of wildlife and history. After the day, full of activities south of the Antarctic Polar Circle, we sailed north in the Crystal Sound again. The Southern Cross was visible while the full moon slowly rose from behind the snowy mountains.

Day 7: Fish Islands – Lemaire Channel - BBQ

Fish Islands – Lemaire Channel - BBQ
Fecha: 27.03.2024
Posición: 65° 55.6’S / 65° 25.4’W
Viento: SE-2
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: -4

We were so fortunate to have yet another beautiful sunrise over the Antarctic Peninsula. M/V Plancius glided past bergy bits and big ice floes of sea ice. Outside a crispy -4 ⁰C welcomed us as when we went to the outside decks to witness the soft light of the morning. Good progress had been made during the night, completing the navigation of Crystal sound from South to North and part of the Mudge passage which we were about to finish during our approach to the site of the morning operation.

The Fish Islands are an archipelago of seven glaciated small-size islands located at the northern entrance of the Holtedahl Bay off the West coast of Graham land. The area was discovered and surveyed during the British Graham Land Expedition (BGLE) of 1934-37 led by the Australian explorer John Rymill. Considered to be one of the last expeditions of the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration, it is particularly important since it was the first expedition to use an aircraft for aerial surveys of the Peninsula. Thanks to this new technology used in the White continent the BGLE finally put a definitive end to speculations about whether it was a channel or a passage connecting the West side of the Peninsula with the Weddell Sea.

We immediately felt the cold temperatures once we sat down on the rubber pontoons of the zodiacs. Nonetheless the breathtaking landscapes which surrounded us made us forget the cold for a little bit. Approaching the biggest of the island, Flounder, we observed playful Adelie penguins hopping out and in the water.

This species of Brush-tailed penguins are the southernmost breeders of the peninsula and can be found this far south due to their quick breeding cycle compared to the Gentoos we had seen further north.

The islands and rocks were surrounded by beautiful ice floes of old sea ice which had survived the summer melting season and had been blown off North by the wind patterns of the previous week. Splendid Blue-eyed Shags were cleaning and draining their feathers on one of the rocks that dotted the bay; adults were easily distinguished by juvenile thanks to the eye-catching two yellow caruncles located on top of the bill.

A further exploration towards and around Perch Island allowed us to navigate through newly formed sea ice, winter is really around the corner. In the distance we spotted a big ice floe with about fifteen to eighteen Crabeater seals lying on it. Slowly we moved the floes away and we approached these beautiful and restful animals. Yet another memorable encounter in the icy waters of the Seventh continent. With our feet frozen we concluded the cruise with an incredible encounter of a Leopard seal attempting to catch a six-month old Crabeater seal which miraculously seemed to escape the surprise hunt.

Zodiacs were lifted, lunch was served, and the ship started sailing North passing the Maskeline channel and entering the Grandidier passage on the way to the Argentine islands. The afternoon was filled up with Koen’s lecture about “Wildlife Photography”, followed by ice cream and an early recap where we learned about the plans for the next day, Sea ice formation and dynamics and citizen science project such as “Happy Whale” and “Penguin Watch”.

To end another fantastic day a surprise BBQ dinner was laid out for us on the aft of the ship, whilst we found shelter in Deloncle Bay after having crossed once again the incredible Lemaire channel filled up with magical views and whale encounters.

Day 8: Foyn Harbour – Portal Point

Foyn Harbour – Portal Point
Fecha: 28.03.2024
Posición: 64° 32.6’S / 61° 56.9’W
Viento: N-1
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: -1

In the early morning we arrived at Wilhelmina Bay with Enterprise Island and Foyn Harbour. We again had a very beautiful sunrise, with colourful clouds and stunning orange light on the mountains on the west side of the Gerlache Strait. After a good breakfast we entered the zodiac and started to explore the area. A lot of Humpback whales were around in the bay and all of us had close encounters. Also a Southern Right Whale was spotted which was very special because they are rarely seen in Antarctica.

At Foyn Harbour a wreck of the Norwegian whaling vessel Governoren is located, and we had a close look during our zodiac cruise. The Governoren was run on ground on purpose to save the life of the 85 crew members. In January 1915, which was the end of the whaling season for that ship, the crew celebrated this day before leaving home, but during the party the ship caught fire which spread rapidly. The ship is still in its original sinking place and on low tide through one of the holes in the steel you can see the harpoon shells that were leftover at the end of the whaling season.

It was interesting to visit that place. We also spotted a leopard seal on ice and a couple of fur seals were playing on the snow-covered rocks. Compared to the zodiac cruise a day before it was warm and pleasant, and it felt we had to return to our gracious ship much too early. It was a great morning though!

After lunch and a good break, the expedition team invited us to join them for the next activity. Portal Point is part of the Antarctic Peninsula and we planned to do a landing here. The landing was delayed though as two humpback whales decided to greet us while they were swimming and spy hopping next to the ship before taking a rest. After that unique encounter, half of us went ashore, whereas the other started with a zodiac cruise exploring the area and seeing Chinstrap penguins on a nearby island.

On land we went up a small hill where a nice loop was marked with great viewpoints in all directions. The landscape was simply fantastic, with massive icebergs in the bay east of Portal Point and in the background ice covered mountains. After the earlier heavy snowfall, the sky opened up and the sun came out giving us a little bit of warmth.

During the zodiac cruise we found Fur seals and Chinstrap penguins. The seals were numerous on small islands out in the Gerlache Strait and the penguins called a steep and rocky island home. It was fun to observe them arriving and departing from the island by jumping out and into the water!

Another great day!

Day 9: Deception Island – Whalers Bay – Half Moon Island

Deception Island – Whalers Bay – Half Moon Island
Fecha: 29.03.2024
Posición: 62° 55.5’S / 60° 22.7’W
Viento: SE-4
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: -1

The wakeup call this morning was quite early compared to the other days. But we had a big program ahead of us. We were heading into an active volcano – Deception Island in the South Shetland Islands. The entrance is very narrow, and you can only sail in on the east side of Neptune’s Bellows (name of the entrance) into the caldera, which has the name Port Foster after the geologist who explored this area.

Our destination for this morning was Whaler’s Bay. A place where the Norwegians were processing whales to produce oil to sell it in Europe. After the whaling station closed British researcher established their own station here. They encountered a volcanic eruption twice in the 50’s and had to be rescued from their meticulous situation. After the last eruption in 1970 the station closed permanently, and the site became an open-air museum. Remains of the former whaling station and research building such as the airplane hangar are still there and offer an insight into history.

Today there are two active summer research stations. One from Argentina and the other is a Spanish station. The Spanish continuously measure seismological activity monitoring potential new eruptions. Should this happen whilst we are visiting Deception Island, a safety plan is ready in case we must evacuate quickly.

After sailing through the Neptune’s Bellows we made a right turn to our destination. From the ship it was a short zodiac shuttle to the black sandy shoreline. It is a nice stretch, and we could either start with the whaling station and a look at the hangar or walk the other way into the direction of Neptune’s Window. The beach was full of fur seals which tried to mark their territory and every now and then they came quite close to us. But with clapping hands and making ourselves tall they realized they better back off ;). It was a lovely walk in the fresh snow along the coast and uphill.

After the walk it was time for the famous Polar Plunge. The very brave amongst us did it, others took photos and videos. The best way to do it is to run in and get it over with and many of us did exactly that. Out of the water it didn’t feel that cold, but it was still hard to put on our clothes again. Quickly we were shuttled back to the ship where a warm shower awaited, and the coffee machine was ready to dispense a hot drink.

For the afternoon the plans depended on the weather, but then Claudio announced good news, another landing! We went to Half Moon Island, our last landing of the expedition. The transfer from Deception to Half Moon takes about 4 hours so a good amount of time to relax or maybe take a nap.

When we arrived, the wind was still very weak, but we had quite a lot of swell at the beach and the gangway. This landing would be our final zodiac operations exam as the swell made the landing challenging and we needed to act swiftly. However, we all passed with honors and then Claudio briefed us at the beach.

At Half Moon Island we could walk around again, enjoying the last moments to be out and see the last penguins and seals before we had to say goodbye to beautiful Antarctica.

To go back to the ship, we faced another challenging and adventurous zodiac boarding procedure. Big waves were crashing behind and into the zodiacs, which were held in position by 4 guides. Once in position we were urged to jump in and slide into position. Quite the adventure and a lot of fun.

The staff on shore were soaking wet and so were some of us. But they did a great job in keeping us safe. The zodiacs picked up a lot of water as well and they looked like small inflatable swimming pools that kids enjoy in the summer ;). A great and perfect ending to our last landing.

Time to get dry and warm and say our final goodbyes to this amazing continent.

Day 10: At Sea – Drake Passage

At Sea – Drake Passage
Fecha: 30.03.2024
Posición: 59° 45.3’S / 62° 14.7’W
Viento: WSW-6
Clima: Overcast
Temperatura del Aire: 0

Good morning dear guests onboard M/V Plancius! Not too bad of a morning as the movement of the ship wasn’t too extreme. The weather forecast looked worse so it’s safe to say our first day on the Drake is better than expected. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.

Today we got to sleep in a bit as Claudio didn’t wake us up so it was Ingrid who woke us up when she announced breakfast. After breakfast a varied program of lectures was planned with time for napping scheduled as well.

At 09:30 Carina kicked off the day with a presentation about penguins. Ever since Carina became a polar guide she has been in awe with penguins, and she shared her penguin passion with us during her interesting lecture. The part where she talked about the micro sleeps of penguins was very fascinating in particular.

After Carina it was Andres’ turn to talk about the diseases of the seas. Not your usual sea sickness, but diseases the early explores had to face such as scurvy. Scurvy is a disease caused by a significant lack of vitamin C in your diet. The sailors tried many remedies against scurvy such as drinking lots of alcohol, but eventually they discovered that eating fruit was the real cure and remedy.

Michael Green talked about the history of whaling. We saw many of these amazing creatures during our expedition and it is great seeing them when you realise, we almost hunted them to full extinction. Micheal’s lecture was powerful and made us think. He also addressed krill fishing which could now be seen as new era of whaling as huge fishing vessels are literally taking the krill away from the whales with large drift nets as they fish in areas where whales are feeding. When the whales and many of the other marine mammals that depend on krill for survival no longer have food the effects on their future survival will be catastrophic. Last night when we left the South Shetland Islands we actually saw two of these large krill fishing boats in the area confirming what is happening in these pristine regions.

Recap closed the lecture program and dinner soon followed. Thank you for a relatively calm day at the Drake, fingers crossed that tomorrow will be the same.

P.s. Today we also discovered several stowaways on the ship. Free loading passengers that clearly needed a ride to South America ;). The Snowy Sheathbills are known to use vessels to go to other places and these 4 little stowaways found a nice spot on our lifeboats.

Day 11: At Sea – Drake Passage

At Sea – Drake Passage
Fecha: 31.03.2024
Posición: 55° 58.9’S / 65° 38.3’W
Viento: WSW-7
Clima: Cloudy
Temperatura del Aire: +6

Happy Easter everyone! Good morning and welcome to the second day on the Drake. Today we could feel a little bit more movement compared to yesterday and the waves were bigger and topped off with white heads. It was only fair to officially conclude that were experiencing a Drake Shake.

This morning the Easter Bunny featured in the dining room which was decorated Easter style and with many coloured eggs and Easter bread. What a lovely surprise!

Today a variety of lectures was scheduled and the first one this morning was a very special one. It had nothing to do with nature, wildlife or Antarctica. No, this morning Valeria talked about the tradition of the Argentinian Mate Tea. She shared background information, and at the same time she gave us tips and tricks to make the best Mate.

Many of us enjoyed the views of Antarctica from above the surface, but we also had a number of divers on board. Tanja, one of our dive guides, talked about the history of diving in Antarctica. After that she also shared incredible images of the Antarctic underwater world which is colourful and unique. The water might be cold, but there’s a lot of life down there.

With all this ships movement, our bodies are working hard to keep the balance. But after lunch this hard work needed to be rewarded with some nap time until the next lecture.

Michael Green is an avid and excellent photographer himself. He has an interest in historical photography and legendary photographers as well. As such he talked about one of the heroic photographers of its time. Michael shed a light on the life and work of Herbert Ponting, a well know and legendary exploration photographer.

By the end of Michael’s lecture, the ship had found shelter from the South American continent and the movement gradually decreased. A perfect moment to bring back our rubber boots. We have started to love these boots as they kept our feet dry and warm during the expedition, but unfortunately, we really had to return them ;).

And then it was time for the official festivities. We were nice and sheltered in the Beagle Channel when the champagne flutes were being topped once more. Our fantastic captain came down from the bridge to make a final toast and to wish everyone a safe onward journey. An incredible adventure was about to end, but our minds and memory cards were filled with beautiful images and the time to start processing everything had arrived. What a wonderful trip it has been.

Dinner was fantastic as usual, and the dining room was buzzing with excitement. After our main course it was time to thank the entire hotel department. Hotel Manager Ingrid introduced each team member, and they were treated with loud cheering and applause. Many of the crew work behind the scenes and it was nice to see them in the spotlight to receive the appreciation they deserve. This was the last trip of the season and many of the crew are flying home to enjoy a well-deserved break after sometimes more than 6 months onboard.

Then the lights of Ushuaia slowly came into sight. But luckily, we had one more night on the ship that gave us so many unforgettable moments. Good night one last time!

Day 12: Ushuaia – Disembarkation Day

Ushuaia – Disembarkation Day
Fecha: 01.04.2024
Posición: 54° 55.6’S / 67° 25.4’W
Viento: W-3
Clima: Pt. Cloudy
Temperatura del Aire: +7

After more than two days on the Drake Passage, the inevitable moment had unfortunately arrived. Today we arrived back in Ushuaia, and it was time to say goodbye to our gracious M/V Plancius and its crew and staff. We felt happy and excited about our wonderful expedition, yet at the same time we felt sad that it was really ending.

Of course, Oceanwide wouldn’t let us disembark without a last breakfast. Here and there contact details were exchanged and promises to meet each other in the future were made. These expeditions often lead to new friendships, and it is wonderful to see how everyone connected.

Then it was time to say our goodbyes. Not a very fast process as there was a lot of hugging and laughter. Saying goodbye is never easy especially when the expedition has been so spectacular. For sure we hope to meet again in the future and who knows, maybe onboard this gracious ship again. Have a safe onward journey and until next time! Thank you for your enthusiasm and support, but most of all for joining us on this adventurous Antarctica, Polar Circle and Whale Watching voyage. We hope to see you again in the future, wherever that might be!

On behalf of Oceanwide Expeditions, Captain Evgeny Levakov, Expedition Leader Claudio Ghiglione and his team, Hotel Manager Ingrid Van der Loo, and all the crew and staff of M/V Plancius, it has been a pleasure traveling with you!

Farthest South: 67°50.318’S / 67°10.838’W

Total distance sailed: 1901 Nautical Miles


Código del viaje: PLA32-24
Fechas: 21 mar. - 1 abr., 2024
Duración: 11 noches
Barco: El Plancius
Embarque: Ushuaia
Desembarque: Ushuaia

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Aboard El Plancius

Nuestro barco más antiguo, el Plancius, es un clásico para algunos de nuestros viajes polares más populares.

More about the El Plancius »