HDS21-23, trip log, Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Antarctica

by Oceanwide Expeditions


Day 1: Embarkation – Puerto Madryn, Argentina

Embarkation – Puerto Madryn, Argentina
Datum: 24.10.2023
Positie: 42°49’S / 064°30’W
Wind: NE 3
Weer: Partly cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: +12

Flying into Puerto Madryn started this epic adventure for a lot of us, its unique tundra coupled with the urban sprawl provided the backdrop for the start of our voyage. At Puerto Madryn port we were greeted with queues to see the magnificent Fragata Ara Libertad, or ARA Libertad (Q-2), an Argentinian sailing ship that serves as a school vessel for the Argentinian Navy. This vessel was launched in 1956 and completed her first round-the-world trip in 1965. She is well-known throughout Argentina, hence the crowds at the port! We boarded late afternoon where the Expedition Team helped to handle our luggage and see us onto the beautiful ship that was to be our home for the next three weeks: MV Hondius. Let the adventure begin!

Before we left port, sightings of Southern Right Whales were seen from the lounge, where we could see tail slapping and breaching. These animals are often seen in the shallow bays of Puerto Madryn, and we could really get a sense of their size by the great big splashes we could see as they were breaching. We also saw some Kelp Gulls, South American Terns and Snowy Sheathbill’s and our first penguin species, the Magellanic Penguin. Whilst in the lounge we started with a briefing to get us familiar with the ship, a mandatory safety briefing, we introduced the Expedition Team and completed the mandatory drill. We were already sailing at this point, with Puerto Madryn moving further away as we approached the open waters of the South Atlantic.

In the Observation Lounge we joined the Captain’s Cocktail Party, where we met the Captain. We took this opportunity to enjoy the canapés, toast the voyage and start to meet our fellow passengers. If we weren’t full enough already, it was then time to enjoy a delicious buffet dinner cooked by our Head Chef and the kitchen team.

As the sun was setting a few were lucky to spot Southern Right Whale’s on the starboard side where there was a mother and calf pair spotted amongst other adults. A teeny tiny V-shaped blow was evidence of the Southern Right Whale calf, right next to its mother, with a bigger V-shaped blow. What a fantastic day had by all, a great start to the trip.

Day 2: At Sea towards the Falkland Islands

At Sea towards the Falkland Islands
Datum: 25.10.2023
Positie: 45°35’ S / 063°20’ W
Wind: NW 5
Weer: Partly cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: +10

We started our adventure with a beautiful day. Blue skies, relative flat waters and our first pelagic birds flying around. What a great start! The coffee machines already had been working when Pippa did the wakeup call at 07:45 through the PA system. Just 15 minutes later our Hotel Manager, Albert, told us that the restaurant was open for breakfast. With our bellies full everybody made their way to the observation lounge for the first Mandatory briefing. Here Pippa explained all the safety features of the Zodiac Operations and how to prepare ourselves for the outings. Nothing was left untouched throughout the hour-long briefing.

Later that morning we got invited to the lecture of Ashleigh. Her lecture was about the different whales and porpoise species that we could encounter during our trip. She talked about the toothed whales and the largest animal that has ever lived, the filter feeding Blue Whale. The expedition team on the bridge spotted dolphins swim by just when the lecture finished. Not long after, more dolphins were spotted, they were confirmed as Peale´s Dolphins. Sadly, they swam out of sight quite fast and not everybody was able to see them. Luckily everybody was outside though as several Fin Whales were spotted not far from the ship. Our ship made a small turn and slowed down as one of the Fin Whales came up quite close to the ship. The people on our port side of the ship had a really good view of its white lower cheek which is iconic to the Fin Whale. We also came by a large group of Great Shearwaters as they were resting on the water. It must have been a thousand individuals and we could see why on the sonar. Our second officer showed that there was a great spot on the sonar not far from the ship where a giant school of fish were swimming just 40 m below the surface. An amount of this magnitude will always bring a lot of activity.

After a delicious lunch in the restaurant, we got invited to the lounge on deck 5 by Anthonie. His lecture was about the waves of the sea. He told us how they are created and how they affect the oceans and shorelines. After that, everybody got a bit of down time and many of the birders went to the back deck to photograph the pelagic birds that were flying around our ship. There were Black-browed Albatross, White-chinned Petrels, Giant Southern Petrels and the largest of them all the Wandering Albatross. With a wingspan of 3.6 m this is the largest wingspan of any living bird on this world. An incredible sight to see soaring over the waves.

Before our dinner started it was time for the Daily Recap. During the Recap we got to hear about the plans of the following day by Pippa. We were introduced to the question box by Sasha and Felicity gave us more information about the Fin Whales that we had seen today. Simon talked about the Black-browed Albatross that everybody saw flying around the ship and Misha told us about how to identify different types of whales by their shape and blow. Finally, Bill made a very good introduction to Seeing Looking and Thinking. A concept to let everybody know that we should stand still occasionally and think about what you see and feel to really grasp every detail of this grand experience we are on. An overall great start of our adventure to these remote places on the world.

Day 3: At Sea towards the Falkland Islands

At Sea towards the Falkland Islands
Datum: 26.10.2023
Positie: 50°17’ S / 061°20’ W
Wind: W 4
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +3

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

After a hearty breakfast our programme started with a photography workshop in the lounge with Juan, giving everyone some incredibly useful tips and tricks to take forward into the trip and capture some memorable pictures of the fantastic places we will visit. Shortly after this lecture all the guests made their way, deck by deck to the zodiac boarding area where the guides were on hand to initiate everyone into the vital world of biosecurity – making sure that we do not transfer any organic material into the pristine natural world where we will visit in the days to come.

Following another filling lunch, we turned our attentions to the bird world with an introductory lecture on the Birds of the Falkland Islands by Simon in the lounge as he showed some wonderful photographs of the potential species we could encounter over the next few days in these beautiful islands. After a short break in which the crew performed some safety drills it was back to the birdy or ornithological realm with a birding workshop out on deck five where, in the now bright sunshine we marveled at the clouds of birds still following the ship.

The evening recap then wetted-our-appetites for the first landing of the trip in the morning where, because of an approaching weather front our start would be before dawn (!) everyone took the news of the early start like champions being the willing expedition members that we all are.

Day 4: Saunders Island - Falkland Islands

Saunders Island - Falkland Islands
Datum: 27.10.2023
Positie: 51° 23’ S / 060° 25’ W
Wind: NE 3
Weer: Rainy
Luchttemperatuur: +3

To deceive nature! That was our cunning plan. Yesterday the members of our expedition team consulted meteorological reports incessantly and reached a disheartening conclusion. There would be no miracle; the weather on the 27th of October would be simply dreadful all day long: rain, winds gusting at 50 knots and towering waves that would make landing on the shore a life-threatening endeavor. So, we had to resort to craftiness. Since we couldn't start the landing at 9am in the morning, who said we couldn't finish it at the same time? What time was sunrise, by the way? 5am in the morning? Excellent!

At 4:45, Pippa, our expedition leader, announced over the loudspeaker that it was time to rise and wished us a good morning, urging us to leave our cozy blankets behind and embrace the adventures awaiting. It was still pitch black when the intrepid members of our expedition team boarded the Zodiacs and set off for the shores of Saunders Island to prepare for our landing. Playful Commerson's Dolphins, brimming with joy that guests had finally arrived after a long hiatus that felt like an entire winter, leaped playfully out of the water, giving our zodiacs an honorary escort to shore.

As the rays of the rising sun gilded the peak of a high hill to our left at the landing site, the official start of our operation was declared. Zodiac after zodiac were raced across the calm waters and, upon reaching the shore, were hastily disembarked, eager to rid ourselves of the heavy life jackets. White, fine sand, calm waters, and... penguins! The latter stared at us in complete bewilderment, flapping their peculiar wings and trying to fathom who we were and what we wanted.

The trail had already been marked. We had a one-and-a-half to two-kilometer walk ahead of us along the seaside. Gentoo Penguins sat on their nests made of mud and grass, diligently incubating their eggs. It was amusing to observe how they would turn their necks towards us, peering with their beaks almost as if to say, "Move along, folks, we've got plenty of problems here already!" And indeed, they had their share of troubles. From above, pesky Skuas and the Striated Caracaras circled, keeping a watchful eye on the penguin colony. If any penguin made a mistake, a skua would swoop in and snatch a precious egg! It would clamp it in its beak, perch at a distance, and crack the shell with a beak strike, feasting first on the egg white, then on the yolk. Nature here could be ruthless, but there was little to be done. Beneath our feet, the occasional crunch of eggshells served as remnants of the skua's dinner. The Gentoo Penguins didn't lose heart. The predators consumed one egg, and well, they would just have to lay another. The local summer was much longer than the Antarctic one, providing ample time to raise their chicks.

However, Magellanic Penguins were much cleverer; they didn't build nests. Instead, they dug deep burrows for themselves. There, no Skua, Striated Caracaras, or any other predator could reach them. As we followed our trail, the Magellanic Penguins, driven by curiosity, peered out of their burrows, observing us.

On a slope that was more aptly described as a "cliff," a colony of Cormorants had settled, while right next to them, Rockhopper Penguins had claimed a piece of land as their own. These little, agile rascals, living up to their name, were constantly in motion, hopping from rock to rock. We lingered beside them, taking photographs, and simply watching their bustling activities. Eventually, the trail led us to a colony of Black-browed Albatrosses. These enormous and majestic birds, trumpeting and clacking their beaks, were meticulously tending to their perfectly cylindrical nests. Most of the Black-browed Albatrosses were already incubating their eggs, eagerly awaiting the arrival of their offspring. The albatrosses, while frowning their brows at us, still posed for photos. With a whoosh, they occasionally soared through the air above us, their massive wings slicing through the sky.

Unfortunately, it wasn't just the whistle of wings that reached our ears. It was increasingly mingled with the sound of the whistling wind. The once calm waters had now turned into rolling waves, intermittently frothing and churning. After gazing at the Black-browed Albatrosses, we set off on the return journey. Somewhere halfway to our landing point, we had the option to turn right and arrive at another beach, opposite the one we initially landed on. But who are those penguins standing by the water's edge? They are none other than King Penguins! There were only a few of them, some still young chicks who were clad in massive, clumsy brown pajamas made of soft, warm feathers. What a surprise!

Strolling purposefully past the penguins were Kelp and Dolphin Hulls. They swiveled their heads and occasionally pecked at the sand, devouring crustaceans lurking within. Oystercatchers ran between small sandy hills, astonishing us with their long, bright red bills. On the hillside, periodically drawing attention with their loud bleating, Sheep grazed. In the local setting, they were perceived by us as something quite out of harmony with the surrounding landscape, if not as extraterrestrial beings.

One way or another, it was time to return to the ship. The sky had become overcast, and the wind was beginning to be a nuisance. Moreover, breakfast was being served in the restaurant. While we enjoyed breakfast the wind rapidly intensified, 30 knots, 40 knots, 50... Hondius leaned to the port side. Waves, bristling with white foam and seething with fury, pounded against the starboard. It became clear that, unfortunately, any hopes of an afternoon shore landing were out of the question. It was, of course, a disappointment, but after our wonderful and unforgettable morning walk, none of us harbored any feelings of resentment.

Hondius set a course for Stanley, the capital of the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands. We spent the rest of the day watching a film about the war between Argentina and the United Kingdom and listening to fascinating lectures by our guides such as Misha’s lecture on Bird Migration. It was a fantastic start to our landings.

Day 5: Stanley, Falkland Islands

Stanley, Falkland Islands
Datum: 28.10.2023
Positie: 51°41’ S / 057° 50’ W
Wind: NW 8
Weer: Sunny
Luchttemperatuur: +6

After sailing through the night from Saunders Island, we started the morning with Pippa’s daily wakeup call at 6:45am letting us know that Hondius was entering the channels. The entrance to the harbour requires precise navigational skills, through shallow waters and narrow passages. We crossed the entrance to Stanley Harbour, named "The Narrows", a passage that honours its name. We dropped anchor and after assessing the weather situation, we commenced operations. The Expedition Team launched the first zodiacs in the water. The wind was blowing close to the 30 knots around 8:30am and by the time the last guests reached the pier it went up to 40 knots. After a wet and wild zodiac ride, as we approached the jetty, we could clearly see the "Welcome to the Falklands Islands" sign on the shore that greets every visitor.

At the jetty the security staff greeted us and soon we were all moving out into town, trying to squeeze every minute out of the visit. The port of Stanley offered us well stocked souvenir shops, a supermarket, museum, post office, church, and a few other attractions. Some of us opted to take a short excursion to Gypsy Cove, a lovely white sanded beach filled with Sea Lions, Penguins and various species of Birds. Some folk spent time shopping, whilst others went walking along the sea front, taking pictures of the wildlife. The wildlife was not shy, and we had close encounters with many species of birds and Southern Sealions who were having a nap on the jetty in the sunshine.

We arrived back at the jetty from late morning to be greeted by the smiling staff. The zodiac return trip was slightly less windy thanks to tail winds. Once all aboard safely, we lifted anchor at 12:30pm and headed away from Stanley Harbour back through the Narrows.

Soon after lunch we sailed away from the protection of the Falkland Islands and encountered the first heavy swells which made the ship roll a bit more than we had felt during this trip. Bill gave a wonderful lecture about the ship we were sailing on, the Hondius. As we sailed to the East-South-East, we left the continental shelf and entered the deep waters of the South Atlantic Ocean.

In our daily recap, Koen gave a very interesting and profound explanation about the origin of the winds. Misha introduced us to the Photo Competition which will take place almost at the end of the expedition and Pelin taught us about Charles Darwin’s presence and studies around the Falkland Islands. We ended our day with a tasty plated dinner and mild winds and waves.

Day 6: At sea towards South Georgia

At sea towards South Georgia
Datum: 29.10.2023
Positie: 52°24’ S / 051°07’ W
Wind: NNW 6
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +6

Waking up this morning by ourselves did feel a bit odd without a wakeup call from Pippa. We have got so used to her voice first thing in the morning. But still everybody enjoyed another delicious breakfast presented by the team of Wilmore and his stewards. As this was a sea day, after breakfast, we found ourselves on deck 5 aft with our birder, Simon. He was totally enthusiastic when he spotted the Atlantic Petrel, a species he was looking for, for months. Most of us were overwhelmed with some of the bird species we had never seen before. We spotted adult Southern Giant Petrels. Dark coloured immature ones that looked similar at first glance to the White-chinned Petrel were also around. But when we looked closer to the beak, we could tell the difference. Same tactics were applied to differentiate the huge Southern Royal Albatrosses and the mightiest of them all, the Wandering Albatross. With their 3.5-m wingspan they soared just above and in between the waves. What a beautiful sight! Furthermore, we spotted Cape Petrels, the beautiful Grey-Headed, Light-Mantled Sooty and Black-browed Albatrosses. Some of us that were not interested in birds before the start of this voyage, quickly turned into bird lovers, thanks to our avid birder Simon.

After an hour-long birding session, it was time to go back inside for a cup of coffee. We listened to Julia’s lecture on Whaling in South Georgia and learned how and why whales were commercially hunted in South Georgia in the recent past. As we headed to South Georgia the clocks were moved 1-hour forward. It was time to head down to the dining room for another delicious lunch buffet.

The afternoon was all about Ernest Shackleton and his adventures. Koen began with an interesting lecture about Shackleton’s Youth and Journeys, he told us about the real person behind the hero and we even got to hear Shackleton’s voice on an old recording. Amazing! At 4.30pm it was Pelin who passionately shared her extensive knowledge about Shackleton’s Saga of Survival (1914-1916) on the Endurance. Every little detail was mentioned, even during the recap she told the story of Mrs. Chippy, the beloved ship’s cat that belonged to carpenter Harry McNish, who was actually a Mr.

To stay in the theme of explorers Head Chef Ralf and his team made ‘hoosh’ as a starter for our dinner this evening. Earlier in the trip there were a few requests to have a movie night and tonight, was the first one. We grabbed our popcorns and watched the merry movie, Happy Feet. What a way to end this calm day on the Scotia Sea towards South Georgia. Tonight, we will cross the Antarctic Convergence Zone, into the colder, nutrient rich waters of the Southern Ocean.

Day 7: At sea towards South Georgia

At sea towards South Georgia
Datum: 30.10.2023
Positie: 53° 16’ S / 043° 48’ W
Wind: NW 5
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +5

The day began with a briefing about South Georgia, our upcoming destination. Our expedition leader Pippa provided valuable insights into the history, geography, and wildlife of the island. We also watched a captivating documentary by David Attenborough, setting the scene for our adventure in South Georgia. His storytelling and breathtaking footage heightened our excitement for the journey ahead. Following the briefing and movie, we had our second biosecurity check of the trip. We diligently inspected all outer layers, pockets, velcros and boots to ensure we wouldn't introduce any foreign organisms to South Georgia's delicate ecosystem. After the biosecurity checks, we enjoyed a delicious lunch as the ship continued its course towards South Georgia.

The afternoon was packed with knowledge. Carina delivered a captivating lecture on the different species of penguins found in South Georgia and Antarctica. Her insights into their behaviour and habitats were enlightening. Felicity then took the stage, educating us about the diverse species of seals inhabiting these southern waters. Her lecture was both informative and entertaining, shedding light on the fascinating world of marine mammals. Throughout the day, we were treated to incredible wildlife encounters. We spotted a magnificent Humpback Whale and Albatrosses of various species and Petrels soared gracefully around the ship. An unexpected highlight was encountering a large pod of Long-finned Pilot Whales.

As the day progressed, our excitement grew when we sighted our first iceberg on the horizon. Intricate shapes and vibrant blue hues of the icebergs left us in awe. This discovery marked the end of the iceberg competition organised by Saskia. In the evening, we gathered for a recap for the plans for our first day in South Georgia, which only intensified our anticipation. Our expedition leader, Pippa, shared details about the upcoming landings. The day concluded with a delightful dinner, where we shared stories and experiences, further fostering a sense of camaraderie among our fellow adventurers. The excitement and anticipation for our South Georgia adventure were palpable.

As we retired to our cabins, the hum of the ship's engines reminded us that we were on the cusp of exploring the incredible beauty and wildlife of South Georgia, a destination that has been the focus of our dreams and preparations for so long.

Day 8: Right Whale Bay and Salisbury Plain, South Georgia

Right Whale Bay and Salisbury Plain, South Georgia
Datum: 31.10.2023
Positie: 54°00’ S / 037°40’ W
Wind: SE 2
Weer: Sunny
Luchttemperatuur: +7

After two and a half days of open waters, Hondius arrived at the dramatic coast of South Georgia. The island met us with blue skies, sun and distant mist looming over the top of the mountains. It looked like the island of South Georgia was inviting us, to experience the vast wilderness it has to offer.

We landed at Right Whale Bay to a picture-perfect scene, postcard worthy. Elephant and Antarctic Fur Seals hauled out across the beach with the distant squawks of Penguins being heard across the glacial outwash. The first zodiacs went out and found a safe spot on the beach and then we all witnessed the valley in its majesty. There was a short walk across a stream to the Penguin colony where we saw hundreds of King Penguins and their chicks. We could see how the Tussac Grass provided shelter for the Penguin colony. We also saw the South Georgia Pintail and Imperial Shag amongst Skuas and Albatrosses on the beach. The swell definitely picked up on the way back and most of the zodiacs were full of water, meaning we were very wet! After a quick dry it was time for lunch, a buffet lunch was served for us all in the Dining Room.

After lunch we arrived at Salisbury Plain and this time the weather had certainly changed. We were in the mist. As we landed, we could see the mist blowing through Penguin colonies and carrying the bellows of the Seals. This place was a large open vista, we took a long walk to a King Penguin colony where we could see short fluffy brown chicks right to the eye could see, they stretched right up the mountain into the snow. On the way back we saw many bones and skeletons of dead animals along with the hundreds, if not thousands, live animals. Perfect carrion for all the Skuas that were roaming the plain. Again, the swell was high, so we had a pretty wet ride back to the ship where we had a quick change for dinner.

As it was Halloween, the restaurant had put on a spook-tacular buffet complete with face masks and a Scottish man dressed in a wig. Of course, this was Bill, pretending to be Misha! Pippa completed her briefing in the dining room where she told us that we were headed to Stromness and Grytviken tomorrow. A huge round of applause erupted from the Dining Room as we all thanked Pippa for such a great day. What a day it was, let’s hope the same for tomorrow!

Day 9: Stromness and Grytviken, South Georgia

Stromness and Grytviken, South Georgia
Datum: 01.11.2023
Positie: 54°09’ S / 036°42’ W
Wind: E 2
Weer: Partly cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: +4

A new day and new hopes for better weather conditions… The expedition team did make its scouting trip to the landing immediately after the breakfast and Pippa took the decision that it would be a “go” for the landing at Stromness. The wind conditions were good, and it looked very promising for a nice and dry landing. We were all very excited to get off the ship to visit the old whaling station in Stromness and go for a hike to Shackleton falls, a historic waterfall. We landed on a black sandy beach surrounded by Elephant Seals and Fur Seals. The backdrop of Stromness is lush green land, a river coming down from the surrounding mountains. The trail was flagged by the Expedition Team to lead us to the Shackleton waterfall and to the lookout point on top of the hill right next to it where we all enjoyed the breathtaking views over the remains of the whaling station and the bay. It was a beautiful and dry day, but the ground and the grassland were very slippy from the recent thawing. We were all very conscious and careful on our way down the hill giving each other a hand. On the way, we could observe lots of birds such as Brown Skuas, Kelp Gulls, Pintail ducks and also the famous South Georgian Pipit, a real treat for the bird lovers. The Expedition Team also had marked a little path towards the small Gentoo Penguin Colony where we could enjoy these interesting little guys.

Once we all stretched our legs and had a nice little hike, we made our way back to the ship in where we had a delicious lunch prepared by our wonderful galley team.

In the afternoon, we hoped to visit Grytviken which has been the centre of human activity since 1904 when Carl Anton Larsen established the first whaling station in South Georgia. As we were to get inspected by the Government Officials there, we did a thorough biosecurity and cleaned all our outdoor gear. We are getting pretty good at this. We never have been that clean before! Once arrived at Grytviken we first went to the cemetery, where we visited the grave of the great polar explorer Ernest Shackleton. At the entrance of the cemetery, we were given a glass of Shackleton whiskey and Pelin gave a toast to the great man citing his last entry to his diary when they completed the crossing of South Geogia. After the cemetery visit, we continued our walk around the old whaling station. We witnessed how old, abandoned buildings were slowly claimed by the local wildlife. Fur Seals and Elephant Seals were sleeping amongst the buildings while Antarctic Terns were nesting close to the old Catchers.

At the museum we learned a lot of about the life in the whaling station, the operations, and the process of the whale hunt. The post office, the church and also the old store building were interesting places to discover. Some of us joined the guided tour through the area provided by the museum staff. In beautiful evening light we then head back to Hondius where another surprise awaited us.

The galley and the hotel team prepared a wonderful barbecue for us! We all enjoyed our very delicious dinner on the outer deck with Gluhwein and a fantastic view over Grytviken and the bay. What an amazing day!

Day 10: Cooper Bay, South Georgia

Cooper Bay, South Georgia
Datum: 02.11.2023
Positie: 54°19’ S / 036°11’ W
Wind: SW 8
Weer: Partly cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: +5

The day started early…unbelievably early, with a ‘cruel’ 4.30am announcement from our super-human EL Pippa. Wake-up time to start operations! Passengers stirred in disbelief… back home, they signed up for an Oceanwide Expedition voyage, expecting exciting adventure not realising that it could also involve some very early activities! Overnight, Hondius had ploughed a cautious course to Cooper Bay guided by searchlights scanning ahead to avoid contact with ‘growlers’ [ dangerous small bergy bits floating low in the water]. This was a tricky task as a balance had to be struck between avoiding bird strikes in the dark and the necessity to display basic navigation lights and checking the sea ahead.

At 5pm Hondius arrived at our destination and rather than anchoring, drifted downwind as guests, slightly bleary eyed and some probably only minutes out of their pyjamas, boarded the fleet of 14 zodiacs for a short cruise along the shoreline everyone hoping to see Macaroni Penguins and a variety of other wildlife. The reason for such a very early activity was a weather forecast indicating that we had only a short time of suitable conditions. This forecast was proved to be highly accurate as by 9am the wind increased to gusting furiously above gale force. During the zodiac cruise the flotilla encountered a variety of wildlife, Gentoo Penguins, Giant Petrels etc., but no luck, only one Macaroni. The adventure highlight turned out to be an inquisitive Leopard Seal who investigated a number of boats much to the photographic delight of the passengers although creating slightly apprehensive safety tension amongst our experienced guides. All zodiacs were safely back on board by 7am and passengers fed breakfast at 7.30. Most of us retired to our cabins to snooze and catch up on sleep as Hondius headed north experiencing increasingly violent winds voyaging towards the landing site at Ocean Harbour.

The vessel ploughed north at a reduced speed of 8 knots in 40 plus knots of wind [Force 9] with some extended gusts in the 60’s being rated hurricane force on the Beaufort scale. The sea was studded with massive icebergs, the scattered remnants of a disintegrating massive 74 mile long 14-mile-wide tabular berg of the previous season. [A76] The overcast skies and dull overhead conditions of the morning steadily improved to give sparkly sunlight enhancing the stunning landscape. At Ocean Harbour conditions were still subject to violent gusts. You did not need to be an expert to understand why we were not landing. This was first- hand experience of the effect of the dangers of strong katabatic winds in this southern landscape.

Hondius nosed carefully into the confined mouth of the bay to investigate conditions and give us a view of its most distinctive feature, a wrecked two masted steel hulled clipper vessel lying forlornly on the southern shore a short distant from the abandoned whaling station. The rest of the afternoon was spent cruising amongst the bergs offshore, the sparkling sunshine emphasising the convoluted shapes of ice. The history of each berg etched on its surface awaiting analysis. It was all a photographer’s delight! By mid-afternoon the lecture programme was resumed…first Saskia gave an excellent lecture on superman polar explorer Tom Crean followed by our ever entertaining and informative Russian guide Sasha with an amusing account of his first voyage to Antarctica.

The recap session early evening was longer than usual…Pippa led off with information about the plans for the next day then an interesting account of research into penguin communication focussing on identification between sexes. Misha followed with an explanation of the history and eradication of the rat population on South Georgia. Next, Anthonie one of our Dutch guides gave a detailed lecture on icebergs, staggering statistics, their formation, origin and eventual decomposition. Bill ended the recap with a detailed analysis of a painting from his lecture ‘Paintings of the Sea…the meaning of the sea in paintings.’ The example presented Breugel’s magnificent painting … ‘The Fall of Icarus’.

Day 11: St Andrew’s Bay, South Georgia

St Andrew’s Bay, South Georgia
Datum: 03.11.2023
Positie: 54° 35’ S / 35° 46’ W
Wind: NW 7
Weer: Cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: +4

Another early wakeup call from our expedition leader Pippa at 4:45am, but it was totally worth it. We arrived at St. Andrews Bay, where we have the largest King Penguin colony in South Georgia, 150,000 breeding pairs. We headed out before breakfast for two hours long zodiac cruise. What a beautiful start of the day! We sat in our zodiacs and as we approached the beach, the sun came out and it dyed the entire scenery a golden colour. We watched King Penguins on the rocks, hesitating to jump into the cold waters, big Elephant Seal bulls slowly and curiously swam around, lifting their heads out of the water to see what was going on and who these strange early visitors were. We slowly made our way along the beach observing the huge colony of the Kings with a very high density of fluffy, fat, brown chicks. The Elephant Seals were all over the beach, some fights of the beachmasters we saw as well as the females nursing their pups. The sound of this place was overwhelming, the vocal Kings and the cheeping chicks, the funny noises of the Elephant Seals, the sound of the waves crashing onto the beach. It was just wild. A true wildlife spectacle! We took our time and tried to soak it all in. It was a special and unique morning and we all could feel the joy and gratefulness to be able to experience these places down here in South Georgia. Just overwhelming! We reluctantly headed back to the ship around 8am and had breakfast with a big smile on our faces. Shortly after breakfast Juan gave a well-attended workshop on Smartphone Photography while Hondius made its way towards Gold Harbour where we were planning to do our next, and last landing in South Georgia.

The wind picked up again around mid-day. The Expedition Team prepared to go out with two scouting zodiacs to see how the conditions and swell were on the beach. Already from the ship we were able to make some very concerning observations. Several dead Elephant Seal pups were floating in the water around us. As the Expedition Team came back to the ship, they reported a high number of animals who clearly showed the signs of long feared avian flu. The decision was made that it was impossible to go on land or do a zodiac cruise. Our Expedition leader Pippa invited us all to the lounge to give a short briefing about the situation and the Plan B for the afternoon. Pelin gave a talk on Swedish Antarctic Expedition that sailed to the East Antarctic Peninsula in the early 20th century. What a fascinating story of survival and scientific endeavour!

Meanwhile Hondius made its way towards Drygalski fjord where we were hoping to observe some beautiful Icebergs and maybe sail little bit further into the fjord. While were sailing the wind picked up again to almost Hurricane force. It was blowing up to 59 knots and the ice-cream, which was planned to be served on the bow while sailing through the ice had to be served in the lounge.

Later we bid our farewell to South Georgia and began our sailing down South to the white continent.

Day 12: At Sea to South Orkney Islands

At Sea to South Orkney Islands
Datum: 04.11.2023
Positie: 57°29’ S / 039°25’ W
Wind: SW 5
Weer: Partly cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: -2

We had a full day of sailing ahead of us before reaching the Orkney islands. We started the day with a hearty breakfast and prepared ourselves for a day filled with interesting activities. During early morning hours we sighted several Humpback and Fin Whales around Hondius. The Humpbacks showed their flukes before diving for food. The Fin Whales were recognisable with their large blows and the particular shape of their dorsal fin which is one of the larger dorsal fins we see on baleen whales. We also had a full program of presentations planned. Pelin started the presentation program at 9:30am with her talk: An introduction to Antarctica. During the lecture she explained the political situation in Antarctica and gave us an idea about what we are to expect and experience on this white continent. After her lecture most people headed outside again to spot the blows of whales in the distance. It was a great day to observe pelagic wildlife outside on the open decks. Some of the Fin Whales got even quite close to the ship’s starboard side. We also had large flocks of seabirds flying around the ship of which most were Cape petrels. It was quite a spectacle seeing the large flock fly around the ship using aerodynamics. Just an hour after Pelin, we headed back to the lounge to learn more about Antarctica from Sasha. His talk is called: Geographical intro to Antarctica. He focused more on the landscapes of Antarctica and talked about what kind of features and plants we would encounter when we are there. He also explained the complex geology of the continent, giant lakes that are located under the kilometres long ice sheet that covers the continent. It was a fascinating talk! After an active morning of wildlife spotting and learning everybody was ready for lunch.

Before Simon started his talk about Birds of Antarctica, we got invited to the lounge by our Expedition leader Pippa and our Captain Toni. The Captain explained the reason why we felt a drastic turn the night before. This had to do with an unexpected problem in a sensor that communicates from the bridge to the rudder. He explained that this issue would not have any impact on our journey to Antarctica and that engineering team were trying to solve the problem on our way to the Peninsula. After this briefing, Simon was ready to start his talk. He introduced us to many new bird species such as Antarctic Petrel and Antarctic Prion that we are likely to encounter on the Antarctic continent in the days to come. He talked about where they live, how they breed and where they travel during the wintertime. We felt very excited to learn that two new species of penguins would potentially come in our path on the peninsula. In the afternoon weather got better however we did not see much activity of the whales. We have, however, seen many pieces of ice and it was a perfect timing since we were about to have our last talk of the day from Anthony who explained us everything about ice.

Before making our way to dinner, we had our daily recap and briefing. We heard about the plans for the next day from our Expedition leader, Pippa. We were expecting large amount of sea ice around the South Orkneys nevertheless bridge team would try to get as close as possible to the islands. We also heard a short story from Bill about the HMS Discovery, a story that was still overdue from the Shackleton afternoon. Afterwards Koen introduced the origin of Penguins. He talked about the etymology of their name and how they evolved into the biggest and smallest penguins of all time. After dinner the sea got little bit rougher so many people made their way to their cabins to rest.

Day 13: At sea to South Orkney Islands

At sea to South Orkney Islands
Datum: 05.11.2023
Positie: 60°14’ S / 045°00’ W
Wind: NE 7
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: 0

The day started with an early wake-up call as Hondius sailed through the icy waters of the Southern Ocean on arrival to the sea ice surrounding the Orkney Islands. After a hearty breakfast in the ship's dining hall, we gathered in the ship's lounge for an important briefing. An IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) video provided us with essential information on how to behave in the fragile Antarctic environment, emphasizing the importance of respecting the pristine wilderness we were about to explore.

Following the IAATO briefing, we had a biosecurity session. This crucial lesson educated us about preventing the introduction of non-native species and contaminants to Antarctica, ensuring we left no trace during our visit. Lunch was served in the ship's restaurant at 12:30. It was a delightful meal, and we shared stories and excitement about the upcoming activities. In the ship's lounge, a captivating documentary about Ernest Shackleton's Endurance expedition was presented. As we enjoyed fresh popcorn, we were transported back in time to the era of heroic exploration, marvelling at the determination and resilience of those early Antarctic explorers.

A lecture on Antarctic exploration was presented by Koen, from the earliest expeditions to the dawn of the 20th century, commenced. The historian's insights into the challenges and triumphs of these pioneers helped us appreciate the history of this remote region. As the lecture concluded, we gathered for the daily recap. Our expedition leader provided us with a detailed itinerary for the next day, including anticipated landings and wildlife spotting opportunities. Juan presented a short but captivating slideshow of historical pictures from the Heroic Age of Exploration in Antarctica. The black-and-white photographs transported us back in time, offering a glimpse into the incredible feats and hardships of early explorers.

Saskia presented the unique cloud formations we could see, adding a touch of meteorological wonder to our understanding of the region. The day concluded with a sumptuous buffet dinner. The dining hall buzzed with conversations, laughter, and the clinking of glasses as we discussed the day's experiences and eagerly looked forward to the adventures that awaited us tomorrow. With full stomachs and hearts brimming with excitement, we retired to our cabins, ready for another day of exploration in the majestic and enigmatic Antarctic landscape.

Day 14: At sea to Elephant Island, South Shetland Islands

At sea to Elephant Island, South Shetland Islands
Datum: 06.11.2023
Positie: 62°33’ S / 059°20’ W
Wind: NW 6
Weer: Foggy
Luchttemperatuur: -1

The day kicked off with Pippa's lively wake-up call, setting the tone for a new and exciting Antarctic adventure. After enjoying a hearty breakfast, the team delved into the mysteries of the galley, fielding numerous questions about how things work in the kitchen. Chef Ralph, our culinary expert, shared some behind-the-scenes insights, from the secrets of keeping lettuce fresh for weeks to the surprising number of eggs consumed on our journey. Following a satisfying midday feast, Ashleigh took the stage to enlighten us about the remarkable adaptations of marine mammals to extreme conditions. Her talk provided a fascinating window into the survival strategies of these resilient creatures, adding a deeper layer to our appreciation of Antarctic wildlife.

In the afternoon, our vessel navigated through dense fog, gradually revealing the majestic Point Wild on Elephant Island. All gathered on the bow, we savoured hot chocolate with cream and a hint of rum, a comforting ritual to ward off the chill. As the fog lifted, we were treated to awe-inspiring views of the monument dedicated to Chilean Lt. Luis Pardo, commemorating the 1916 rescue mission of the 22 men who were stranded on Elephant Island after Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Transantarctic Expedition.

Beyond the monument, the landscape unfolded to show the grandeur of the Furness Glacier and the presence of a Chinstrap Penguin colony. Departing from Elephant Island, we were delighted to have had our first sightings of Antarctica.

As is our custom, we gathered for the daily recap, sharing reflections on the day's adventures. The evening concluded with a satisfying dinner, fostering the camaraderie that has been growing among the team. The anticipation of setting foot on the Antarctic continent heightened, and the prevailing atmosphere on board remained vibrant and positive. After 3 days at sea, we are ready to step foot onto the Antarctic continent, the last leg of our amazing trip to deep south.

Day 15: Half Moon Island, South Shetland Islands

Half Moon Island, South Shetland Islands
Datum: 07.11.2023
Positie: 62° 33’ S / 59° 20’ W
Wind: NNW 6
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: 0

This morning the fog was still low and skulking across the ocean surface, however the mood on board was high as after three days crossing the Scotia Sea, today was finally the day we would set sights on the South Shetland Islands and complete our first Antarctic landing at Half Moon Island!

As we sailed further south to our destination, our ship was surrounded by Cape Petrels, Giant Petrels and Prions. Some were even lucky enough so spot several whale blows in the distance! These were all great signs that we are travelling through high upwelling areas, creating productive feeding areas for all marine life. Mid morning, we were treated to a lecture by Misha, who taught us all about marine mammal acoustics. Misha had completed his Master’s thesis on killer whale acoustics and so he used several sound examples from his research, demonstrating how within the killer whale species, there can be different dialects, depending on which part of the world the pod is found!

Shortly after the lecture, Ashleigh hosted an ‘ID by Sound’ quiz to test if we had been paying attention to the lecture or not! Ashleigh included eight sounds, some man-made, others biological, and we had to guess what they were and if possible, even guess the species if possible! The expedition team claimed to have guessed all eight correctly…I guess we’ll never know!

After yet another delicious lunch from the wonderful galley team, we sailed into Half Moon Island. A small, curved island nestled in front of Livingston Island. The landscape was stunning - snow-capped mountains with deep blue glaciers at their base. Half Moon Island is a wonderful landing site as it is home to many breeding chinstrap penguins, gentoo penguins and Antarctic Shags. Albeit a little windy, everyone managed to disembark Hondius, jump into a zodiac and head to solid ground! A welcomed moment for some!

The time ashore was thoroughly enjoyed by all, with plenty of time to watch the cheeky Chinstrap Penguins steal rocks from each others’ nests, followed by them chasing one another across the colony and then waddling back to their partner! As the snow wasn’t too deep, we were also able to stretch our legs with a walk all the way to the Argentine Camara base. Here, we were lucky enough to see several Weddell Seals hauled out, including one pup – a rare sight even for the expedition team!

Eventually, dark clouds began to roll in over the mountains and we all made our way back to the warmth of our floating home. After a short recap, it was dinner time and there was a great buzz in the restaurant, with excitement continuing to grow as we sail closer and to the Antarctic peninsula!

Day 16: Cierva Cove and , Mikkelsen Harbor, Antarctica

Cierva Cove and , Mikkelsen Harbor, Antarctica
Datum: 08.11.2023
Positie: 64°07’ S / 060°58’ W
Wind: N 1
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +4

This morning was a beautiful Antarctic morning; the sky was blue, the sea was calm, and we were surrounded by towering, snow capped mountains. During breakfast, we sailed into Cierva Cove and on our way in, several passengers from the bridge had spotted Humpback Whale blows heading into the cove! Cierva Cove is home to the Argentine Primavera Base, a summer base that carries out lots of meteorological research. The base is also an important hub for many other stations, due to having a helicopter pad, it is key for any search and rescue missions in the area.

The unique fact about Cierva Cove is due to its micro-climate, during the summer months, you are able to find up to 90% of all Antarctic species there! This can include Chinstrap Penguins, Gentoo Penguins, a wide variety of sea birds and large cetaceans, as well as Crabeater Seals and Leopard Seals! Thank you to the keen-eyed spotters this morning, our cruise got off to a fantastic start, with views of two Humpback Whales. These two individuals were mostly in a resting phase, logging at the surface, moving very slowly, but upon occasion, they showed their true Humpback reputation and entertained us with several pectoral slaps and fluking! Moving away from the whales, each zodiac created their own adventure and carved a path into the ice in the search of the next species.

The ice in Cierva Cove was spectacular – the bay was surrounded by two large glaciers and so often there are huge ice bergs drifting by. We can see the most vibrant of blues, shades you feel like you have never seen before! Whilst cruising by Primavera Base, many passed a couple of Crabeaters swimming by before watching the large Gentoo colony on shore. If you waited long enough, you would be entertained by waves of Gentoo’s porpoising through the water and catapulting themselves onto the snow, one after the other!

Eventually it was time to return to Hondius and start making our way to our afternoon landing in Mikkelsen Harbour. As we sailed north, the clouds rolled in, and the first sprinkling of snow began. However, this weather did not deter anyone! We landed on D’Hainaut Island in Mikkelsen Harbour, where we walked a loop around several gentoo penguin colonies, a small refuge hut and five Weddell Seals! If you paused long enough by the seals, you were lucky enough to hear a male Weddell Seal singing! Weddell Seals are the most vocal of the Antarctic seals with over 34 different vocalisations. After most of us managed to complete the loop, the weather began to close in and with it came thick fog and a blizzard. Within minutes there was a queue for the zodiacs back to the warmth of Hondius! Although some journeys back to the ship took a little longer than expected … fog can be quite disorienting! Nonetheless, everyone made it back on board safely and defrosted with a hot drink and a piece of afternoon cake!

Shortly after getting back on board, it was time for the evening recap where Pippa explained tomorrow’s ‘plan A’ of Neko Harbour and Damoy Point, with the option of a polar plunge (of which not many looked excited for)!

Day 17: Damoy Point, Antarctica

Damoy Point, Antarctica
Datum: 09.11.2023
Positie: 64°53’ S / 063°39’ W
Wind: SE 2
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +2

In the morning, we sailed through the Gerlache Strait and arrived at Neko Harbour. A harbour which is well known for its very active glacier that calves frequently. Yesterday during our recap Pippa had showed us an old video footage. We could clearly see what could potentially happen if we were too close to the beach. The Penguins were quicker to react to the sudden calving in the video than clueless humans. But as we were approaching to the landing side, we started to notice many brash ice and icebergs around Hondius. Additionally, we had windspeed around 30 to 40 knots.

So, the decision was made, we had unfortunately to cancel our landing at Neko Harbour. Instead, we kept sailing towards our afternoon landing spot at Damoy Point. The transit took us around four hours. We heard a presentation from Pelin about the extraordinary story of the Belgica expedition led by Adrien de Gerlache who pioneered the era known as ‘Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.’ The very same waters we were sailing was named after him. Just shortly before Pelin’s presentation, we spotted Blue Whales, the biggest Marine Mammals that have ever lived on the Planet Earth. They weigh up to 60 tonnes, with a length of around 30 meters and they primarily feed on Krill and Plankton. They require up to 3 tonnes of food every day. As we were observing the whales passing our ship, we discovered that there were three blows, two bigger ones and one smaller which meant there were two adults with a calf. What an exciting moment! To see these great marine mammals once hunted to almost extinction reclaiming their places in cold Polar waters.

At 12.30, as always, we heard the announcement for the lunch being served in the dining room. And shortly after that we arrived in our afternoon destination, Damoy point, where the brave and the ‘fool’ had the opportunity to do the Polar Plunge. With less wind and a bit of fog we made our way to the landing site. The landing site was just a white wall with a small corridor up to the snowshoes and the hut. But Expedition Staff, as always, had crafted comfortable steps and a nice path leading to the Gentoo Penguin colonies. The landing side was hardly accessible. We had to find our way between pieces of floating ice in the bay. Once on land, we had the opportunity to go straight for a longer or shorter walks. Some of us opted to have a look at the historical hut on the site. It was curious to see tiny but cosy space where once several men resided to oversee flight operations to the British bases that are in the Antarctic Peninsula.

The snowshoes were mandatory and very helpful to go through the deep snow. There were three different Gentoo Penguin’s colonies to visit. We even spotted a single Adelie Penguin next to the Gentoo Penguin colony. Just shortly before the landing came to an end most courageous of us did the Polar Plunge. Back onboard, there was a special dinner waiting for us. It was our second barbecue party out on Deck 5. An almost perfect day in Antarctica ended with a breathtaking sunset while we were dancing and enjoying the views of Neumayer Channel.

Day 18: Orne Harbor and Chiriguano Bay, Antarctica

Orne Harbor and Chiriguano Bay, Antarctica
Datum: 10.11.2023
Positie: 64°30’S / 062°25’W
Wind: NE 3
Weer: Fog/snow
Luchttemperatuur: -2

The day started with an early wake-up call again to beat the predicted bad weather later in the day. Before breakfast we launched the zodiacs to head out to Orne Harbour. The landing site was covered in a lot of fresh snow, making it a perfect place for a morning hike up the hill in our snowshoes. The switch back trail prepared by the Expedition Team up to the hill led us to a beautiful colony of Chinstrap Penguins. For a few among the group this was an even more spectacular landing site as this is considered a continental landing. Photos with the ‘7th continent’ flag were made and lots of happy faces were seen among the passengers. The Chinstrap Penguins were very active and entertaining while we had quite a few gusts of cold wind and snow come over the hills. For most of us, it was very difficult to leave this beautiful site as the views were just stunning. We could see many glaciers all around us, with Hondius waiting for us back in the bay. A handful of guests who were extremely fortunate decided to go on a zodiac cruise instead of the climb up the hill. They were welcomed to the bay by an impressive pod of Killer Whales. What a show!

After all this excitement we got back to the ship for a well-deserved breakfast while sailing to Chiriguano bay for our second activity of the day. The weather in the Peninsula was bad just then but our expedition leader Pippa found a good spot to do another activity before we left Antarctica for the Drake Passage. About an hour after breakfast, we arrived at Chiriguano bay, a place none of the expedition team members had ever been before. We dressed up warmly for our last zodiac cruise since it was heavily snowing outside. We cruised along the coastline of the bay, checking out all different sorts of ice. We spotted several Antarctic Shags and Gentoo Penguins that were resting on the icebergs, while getting completely covered in snow ourselves. On our return to the vessel, we had quite a distance to cover through big swells but a hot chocolate and lunch was waiting for us back on Hondius. What a great way to experience the stunning and mysterious scenery here in the Peninsula.

During the afternoon there were unfortunately no more opportunities for any other activities due to the bad weather, so we bid our farewell to the Antarctic Peninsula while heading north to Ushuaia. Many of us had a well-deserved nap in the afternoon while the keen birders were always outside trying to see the Albatrosses again. As usual, before dinner there was time for a recap and a briefing for our upcoming days. Chef Ralf and his team made the delicious Kaiserschmarrn. What a treat to end our last day in Antarctica!

Day 19: Drake Passage

Drake Passage
Datum: 11.11.2023
Positie: 61° 06’S / 064° 01’W
Wind: NW 4
Weer: Partly cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: -1

We woke to a clear sky and a gently undulating sea in a deceptively friendly ‘Drake’ as, Hondius steadily ploughed a course to Ushuaia. On the bridge an endless stream of …blow at 11 o’clock, oh, ah, there, where? Blow at 10 o’clock, now, also 1 o’clock, oh, ah, yes, I see it, where? There! Humpback…Sei….Fin…Blue? Again there….it was something big for sure! At 9.00am a sad moment…the handing in of our muck-boots. This heralding the coming end of what has been a magnificent voyage, exceeding even our wildest expectations, especially given the difficult weather. Umpteen successful landings and exciting Zodiac cruises and an endless stream of interesting highly educational lectures and recaps. It has been a wow! To say nothing of having discussions and sharing fun with fellow passengers from such a range of cultures and countries.

Photo competition entries of high quality poured into Misha for the various categories for the presentation in the evening and Bill’s Cartoon Polar Plunge certificates were issued to the select band of hardy souls who stumbled across the snow and boulders to suffer emersion in the freezing waters at Damoy. The morning continued with a lecture from our resident fanatical ornithologist Simon explaining in detail the birds of the Drake and Juan running a well- attended technical photo analysis and editing workshop in the lecture theatre. All afternoon numbered entries in the various categories of the photo competition were displayed in a rolling programme on the TV screens. Much discussion amongst passengers as they considered who should win.

In the afternoon, appropriately as we had covered such an enormous mileage of ocean since the start of the voyage and were crossing the vast expanse of the Drake , Bill delivered his ‘Looking, Seeing , Thinking’ lecture ‘Paintings of the sea…the meaning of the sea in paintings’. Highlights were the detailed explanations of the paintings of Breugel, Rembrandt, Turner, Gericault, Winslow Homer and numerous others. A common theme…mortality. A perspective on existence ‘ His quote…’We are but nothing in nature and the scheme of things.’ This was a thought-provoking presentation. The evening entertainment began after dinner with a viewing and passenger vote on which were the best photographs in the competition. Finally, passengers were asked to form teams and participate in the end of cruise quiz Anthony hosted the highly competitive event as groups racked their brains and debated the answers. It was a most enjoyable evening and as Hondius motored steadily north in a calm Drake, a perfect end to another most enjoyable day.

Day 20: At Sea to Ushuaia

At Sea to Ushuaia
Datum: 12.11.2023
Positie: 56° 42’S / 065° 46’W
Wind: N 7
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +3

Our last day at sea began with a wakeup call from our Expedition Leader Pippa. Drake Passage was treating us all very well. Just like yesterday, we were again having smooth sailing in relatively calm seas with many species of Albatrosses accompanying us in our journey towards Ushuaia. Since early morning, our keen birders were out in the decks looking for Light-mantled Albatrosses.

We all were feeling a little bittersweet with our wonderful voyage slowly coming to an end. Some of us were busy packing our bags for tomorrow. But there was still lot to do on board. The expedition team had prepared a busy presentation programme for us. We started off with Saskia. She had prepared a delightful presentation on Polar Wives, the stories of all these remarkable women behind famous Polar Explorers. Then Pelin continued with her presentation on prehistoric life in Antarctica titled “Green house to Ice house”. It was fascinating to learn about how Antarctica was once home to lush forests and dinosaurs and how this remarkable continent throughout its history played a pivotal role in the migration and distribution of all life in today´s southern continents.

After another delicious buffet lunch prepared by our galley team, we headed back to the lounge to watch a documentary on Antarctica. We were able to recognize some of the places shown in the documentary. And what a joy it was. We were part of the fortunate minority who visited one of the most remote corners of our Planet Earth. Around late afternoon we once more were invited to the lounge for the very last presentation of our voyage. Felicity talked about the Threats Antarctic wildlife was facing in today’s changing climatic conditions. She urged us to act, be Antarctic ambassadors and defend an otherwise defenseless continent.

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

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

Day 21: Disembarkation in Ushuaia

Disembarkation in Ushuaia
Datum: 13.11.2023
Positie: 54° 48’S / 068° 17’W
Wind: SW 4
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +8

At 06:00 am, we approached the port of Ushuaia ready to disembark for the final time. The last three weeks have taken us on a remarkable journey to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia South Shetlands, the Antarctic continent itself and the vast Southern Ocean in between. This unforgettable journey showed us a glimpse of life in these remote and sometimes inhospitable corners of our Planet Earth. We have encountered amazing wildlife, made new friends, learned and experienced together. We will all take different memories of our voyage back home but those memories will stay with us for the rest of our lives. This was our expedition !


Reiscode: HDS21-23
Reisdatum: 24 okt. - 13 nov., 2023
Duur: 20 nachten
Schip: m/v Hondius
Inscheping: Puerto Madryn
Ontscheping: Ushuaia

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Hondius is 's werelds eerste geregistreerde Polar Class 6 schip en is van onder tot boven gebouwd voor expeditie cruises.

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