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HDS26-19, trip log, Antarctica - Discovery and Learning Voyage

by Oceanwide Expeditions

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Day 1: Embarkation, Ushuaia

Embarkation, Ushuaia
Datum: 29.12.2019
Positie: 58°48’.5 S, 008°18’.1 W
Wind: SW7
Weer: Partly cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: +10

Ushuaia! ‘The End of the World; the Beginning of Everything’ and for us the beginning of an incredible adventure. For most of us, it was a long-time dream, which had been booked months in advance, and we were really excited to board Hondius. However, before that, we had the full day to explore this beautiful Patagonian city; savouring the local flavours and enjoying the laid back Argentinian culture.

The southernmost town in the world marks the end of the road in Argentine Tierra del Fuego and the beginning of a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Ushuaia, which means “the bay that penetrates to the west” in the indigenous Yaghan tongue, is a flourishing town that benefits from its magnificent, yet remote setting. A big community of adventure travellers meet where the rugged spine of the South American Andes ends. As could be expected from such an exposed setting, the weather has the habit of changing on a whim. We had the best example today with a sunny and warm, yet windy day, where every hour felt like a different season.

It is finally 04:00 pm and we are slowly making our way to our future home for the next 10 days, Hondius. Actually, most of us were already waiting on the pier to board and you could feel the excitement in the air. The Expedition Team greeted us at the gangway, and you could feel the exhilaration among the team which was also starting a new journey. We were met at Reception by Michael and Alex, our Hotel Managers. We were then checked into our cabins with the assistance of our fabulous Filipino crew.

We had a little bit of time to get familiarise with the ships before we all convened in the lounge to meet our Expedition Leader, Martin, and our Hotel Manager, Michael. They gave us an overview of the ship, a floating hotel which will be our home for the next few days, and a short introduction of the next couple of days. Then, we met the first officer Matei who led us through all the details of the required SOLAS briefing (Safety of life at sea). At the end of the briefing we all went outside to see our last glimpse of Ushuaia before heading into the Beagle Channel. Bathed in golden light under a beautiful sun, and surrounded by sea birds, we left the harbour and city life for a while. On hearing the alarm, we reconvened at the ‘muster stations’, the Dining Room (Deck 3) and the lounge (Deck 4, 6, and 7), for the mandatory safety briefing and abandon ship drill. We donned our large orange life jackets that will keep us safe should the need arise.

One last time before dinner, we gathered in the Lounge with a glass of Prosecco. We were introduced to our captain, Remmert Jan Koster, who toasted to a safe and amazing trip. At 19:30 we sampled the first of many delicious meals on board, prepared by Chef Ivan and his galley team. This first evening on board was occupied by more exploration of the ship, adjusting to its movements, and settling into our cabins. In the early hours of the morning we would be out into the open waters of the Drake Passage and heading southeast towards Antarctica.

Day 2: At Sea, Drake Passage

At Sea, Drake Passage
Datum: 30.12.2019
Positie: 56o40’.3 S 064o57’.3 W
Wind: NNE4
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +7

We woke up in the morning happy to discover we were travelling in relatively calm seas and the ship was really stable. After a nice breakfast in the dining room, we gathered in the Lounge where Martin introduced us to Expedition Cruising and the team that is going to take care of us during the whole trip. We learned about plans A, B, C and sometimes even F or G. He also told us how to behave around wildlife and in the Zodiacs. He explained why we had to clean all our gear before landing on Antarctica.

We had a small break before were called down to Deck 3 to get our rubber boots. After finding our pair of boots for the trip, it was time to find some food as well, and the kitchen delivered an amazing lunch buffet.

During the day, various sea birds were sighted around the ship from black-browed albatrosses to cape petrels, and even different types of prions. To give us more knowledge about some of them, Meike gave a very interesting lecture on albatrosses, the ultimate sea bird. Then, she invited us outside to see these magnificent birds in actions. The weather was amazing with the sun shining through the wispy clouds.

In the afternoon, we went down to Deck 3 once more. The rubber boot shop had now transformed to a biosecurity check area. Vacuum cleaners and staff members were ready to help us, they made sure we did not bring any invasive species to Antarctica. We really felt we were getting closer to Antarctica, now that we were allowed to land. At 06:00 pm, it was time for our first recap where Vide guided us through the topics of the evening. Martin told us about the plans for tomorrow. We all crossed our fingers that the weather will stay as calm as it is. Then, Ben gave some information about camping and Jerry told us about the Antarctic convergence and how it affects life and climate in Antarctica. Neill had a small presentation about how to wear the pants with the boots, then he talked about social media responsibilities and how important it is to act as good ambassadors for Antarctica. Sarah told us about Krill; these fascinating little creatures that make up the largest biomass of the planet. With our heads full of all this new information, we went for dinner and admired the view of the open sea through the windows of the Dining Room.

After dinner, while the kayakers got an introduction to their activity, many of us gathered in the Bar for board games, chatting with new and old friends, or just to have a drink and relax before going to bed. We were ready for another day at sea and hopefully the first sight of the Antarctica.

Day 3: At Sea, Drake Passage and Robert Point

At Sea, Drake Passage and Robert Point
Datum: 31.12.2019
Positie: 61o05’.0 S 060o36’.1 W
Wind: NW4
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +4

Overnight, we entered the Southern Ocean, sailing through the Antarctic Convergence as we approached the Antarctic Peninsula. We woke to find seabirds flying overhead and the gentle sway of forgiving seas welcoming us to a new day on the Drake Passage. Having made good speed overnight, the expedition team was busy planning a New Year’s surprise, but for that we had to wait.

After a delicious breakfast from our galley team, we gathered in the lounge to hear Sara telling us about the different species of Penguin that awaited us in Antarctica. The kayakers met to gear up for the paddling ahead, and just before 12:00 pm, we saw our first iceberg. However, the biggest surprise came just before lunch when Martin, our Expedition Leader, asked us all to attend an unscheduled meeting in the lounge to reveal his plan.

Having had the wind at our stern and the full grunt of Hondius’s engines running all night, we were able to plan a landing for Robert Point that afternoon – a second day landing that had never before been attempted by an Oceanwide vessel. Excitement rippled through the passengers as we all looked forward to the afternoon.

At lunch, we saw the Shetland Islands slowly approaching in the distance and by 2 pm we were deep in Nelson’s Straight en route to Robert Island. At 4 pm, we boarded our zodiacs and set sail for our first landing of the expedition. Awaiting us on the shore were elephant seals, giant petrels nesting, and thousands of chinstrap penguins nursing freshly hatched chicks. During our zodiac cruises, we saw blue-eyed Antarctic shags flying overhead and seals swimming in the ocean below us.

At 7 pm, we returned to Hondius for a cocktail in the bar, before enjoying a well-earned 6-course meal in the Dining Room after our adventures ashore. We finished the day on the bow, welcoming the new year at midnight, surrounded by pack ice and drinking mulled wine with new friends. There are few places better on earth where one could take a moment to reflect on the year that has passed and look forward to the year ahead.

Happy New Year!

Day 4: Brown Bluff and Anderson Island

Brown Bluff and Anderson Island
Datum: 01.01.2020
Positie: 63o30’.4 S 056o56’.2 W
Wind: SE2
Weer: Fog
Luchttemperatuur: -1

Everybody was super excited by the early start due to Hondius’ fast speed and the helping hand from the wind and the waves. Nobody expected this moment to come this soon… Our first proper continental landing! Brown Bluff was the designated place for it, but the charm of the location didn’t come just from being the continent … but also from a hundred thousand breeding Adelie and gentoo penguins in their nests taking care of their newly hatched chicks. The Expedition Team opened a path that took us to great locations to have a look at the nests, but we had to be very careful when walking and even just turning around, because the penguins were everywhere! The interest not only came with the penguins, but also with the geology of the place. There were some amazing boulders and volcanic rocks creating an incredible contrast of colour which, combined with the misty day, provided an amazing setting for taking pictures. During the morning zodiac cruise, we saw lots more penguins and even some distant humpback whales, but we were most aware of one thing, the remoteness and wildness of the place. Not very far from the landing site, a lot of brash ice and icebergs had gathered making a unique environment.

Back to the comfort and warmth of Hondius, we had a wonderful lunch that brought our energy back and got us ready for the afternoon adventure. Unfortunately, the landing wasn’t looking very good because of the ice conditions and the visibility was deteriorating, but it was good enough to spot a dozen whales around us. Immediately, a voice on the PA system invited us outside to enjoy the beautiful show given by the humpback whales. As the conditions for the landing didn’t look promising, Martin and his team organised a split zodiac cruise to get some good experiences with the whales. The very beginning of the cruise didn’t look like we were going to be able to see anything besides mist and brash ice, but the huge effort from the guides driving among the ice rewarded us. Some of the humpbacks we first spotted from the ship were now closer to us and, from the perspective of water level in the Zodiacs, we were able to take amazing pictures. During the first cruise the mist dissipated and it was possible to find even some crabeaters and Weddell seals on the ice which made all the waiting in the cold worth it. The second group was a bit luckier with the mist clearing up which allowed us to enjoy the beautiful background view made by the mountains surrounding us, while the people of the first group now enjoyed it from the comfort of Hondius having a hot coffee and chocolate.

As usual, the day ended with a quick recap where Martin talked about the plans for tomorrow and Laura gave an overview of Brown Bluff’s formation. 7:30 pm, Michael invited us in the Dining Room for another delicious meal!

Kayak Trip Log
Brown Bluff
2020 welcomed us with a foggy, but calm morning! Eight paddlers were ready to paddle between bergy-bits of ice towards the red-brown cliffs inhabited by thousands of Adelie penguins. The first few ones we saw were resting on the brash ice and swimming around. A southern giant petrel and flocks of Antarctic shags flew just a few meters above our kayaks. Once we arrived at the beach, we observed penguins coming in and out of the water and wobbling around on the cliffs. As conditions were calm, we even made a continental landing on one of the beaches. Just for fun, we paddle through a gap between two rocks inhabited by shags before the zodiac brought us back for lunch on the ship. It was a great first paddling and an amazing first experience in Antarctica.

Anderson Island
We arrived at Anderson Island in foggy conditions. It is with 24 passengers that we started paddling and, soon after, we had a very close whale encounter, which was very special. Thanks to a light tailwind, the fog burnt off and we had a great paddle around the icebergs. We observed some Adelie and gentoo penguins. Towards the end, we got rewarded by a Weddell seal resting on a block of ice. What a day! We were spoiled by the wildlife and the weather.

Day 5: Astrolabe Island and Zig Zag Island

Astrolabe Island and Zig Zag Island
Datum: 02.01.2020
Positie: 63o17’.3 S 058o42’.6 W
Wind: NE2
Weer: Fog/Rain
Luchttemperatuur: -1

Our 7:15am wake-up came easier today and almost everyone seemed recovered from the New Year’s celebrations. In the morning, the lounge was buzzing as we were all grabbing a hot drink and looking out the windows at the conditions. There was fog and poor visibility as well as rain. It gave quite a mysterious allure as we all waited to reach Astrolabe island and get a look at what we would be seeing today.

We all enjoyed a delicious, hearty breakfast as always and there was plenty of conversations and excitement among the guests as they were sharing photos and exchanging experiences. The Expedition Team was rushing around getting everything prepared as always and the usual build of excitement and energy was evident as the guests spotted them geared up and waiting.

As soon as the Zodiacs were dropped in the water, the shore party was on their way to set up the landing site. We were all ready and we started boarding quickly to go ashore. Yellow and green groups were at the landing first today and they were not disappointed! We saw a new seal species. Indeed, we were lucky to have a hauled out Antarctic fur seal lounging on the rocky beach. There was also loads of Weddell seals and some, close enough, to get great images of. This island is also well-known for the fractured boulders that we saw as we walked to the seals. This is caused by the thawing and freezing of the ice that works its way into the already existing smaller cracks in the massive plutonic rocks. The expansion of the water will eventually fracture the rocks into many pieces. This island has so many of these rocks scattered along the walk and a small area was closed so it is not disturbed. We were also lucky today to have all three penguin species in one area! There are quite a few Adelies and chinstraps here and, of course, a few gentoos. There always seems to be at least one gentoo. Some of the guests have been making up stories about them being undercover and spying on the other species… who knows! We even spotted the ever-elusive leopard seal patrolling the landing site, before it tired and took a rest on the ice flow quite close to the Antarctic fur seal. The Zodiac cruise didn’t disappoint either, with icebergs that looked like whales, plenty of cormorants, fulmars, and skuas flying overhead. Beautiful landscapes painted by colourful lichens, and, of course, penguins! But a leucistic chinstrap penguin was definitely a show stealer for those lucky ones that spotted it, camouflaged on an iceberg.

The afternoon at Zigzag Island was cancelled due to rough conditions and large swell at the landing site as well as very poor visibility. So, with that, we continued sailing into the Gerlache Strait. Of course, we had a plan B prepared. This time plan B was an educational one, where we got to hear some lectures delivered from the expert expedition staff. In the afternoon Sarah gave a brilliant lecture on whales and all their secrets. Later, Laurence followed with an equally amazing lecture on Glaciology. As we were sailing away from the Weddell Sea, the breathtaking Antarctic Peninsula came into view at 5:30 pm. We got to enjoy the views during dinner, and it continued on into the night. It was an absolutely stunning day again and filled with so much action! This voyage continues to amaze us daily.

Kayak trip log
Astrolabe Island
French explorer Dumont D’Urville sighted Astrolabe Island in the Bransfield Strait during his 1837-40 Antarctic voyage and named it after his Expedition Flagship, Astrolabe. Eleven paddlers ventured out in mystical foggy conditions along the rocky island. On the high cliffs, we saw Antarctic fulmars nesting and some terns flying over our kayaks, while a few chinstrap penguins watched us paddling past. We saw icebergs which were not grounded and kept a safe distance from them as we stopped for a few minutes of Antarctic silence. We listened to the swell of the ocean, the wind blowing around the ice and the penguins porpoising, before the zodiacs brought us back. We felt like being alone in the middle of a surreal environment, especially as the ship was hidden in the fog during almost the entire excursion.

Day 6: Neko Harbour and Cuverville

Neko Harbour and Cuverville
Datum: 03.01.2020
Positie: 64o50’.6 S 062o33’.3 W
Wind: Light Wind
Weer: Partly Cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: +7

After a day of foggy weather and difficult conditions for landings, Antarctica showed us it’s best side, with a stunningly beautiful sunny morning! As if we would have known before, we had plenty of exciting activities planned for today. We started with split landing and zodiac cruise at Neko Harbour. Neko is another landing site on the Antarctic continent where we had the chance to walk up a slope to an incredible viewpoint. What makes this place special is the view onto a very active glacier calving into Andvord Bay. After making our way up to the top, many sat down to rest, enjoyed the sun and listened to the rumbling glacier. For two of our guests, it was without a doubt one of the most memorable days of their lives – a wedding proposal took place on top of the hill, and she said yes! Meanwhile, at the gentoo penguin colony a few meters below, a couple of chicks were hatching out of their eggs, and some of us were lucky enough to witness those special moments.

During the zodiac cruise, we were mesmerised by the different shades and shapes of the icebergs, while searching for wildlife resting on them. We found penguins posing for us, crabeater and Weddell seals enjoying the sun. A few passengers even had an elusive minke whale popping up just right next to their zodiac, disappearing again just a couple of breaths later.
Back on the ship, we regained energies with a delicious lunch and, afterwards, we joined our guides George and Neill for a photography workshop on the outer decks. Some humpback whales seemed to be aware of that and wanted to be the stars of our pictures, breaching several times behind the ship. This is a rare behaviour in their feeding grounds, you could tell by the excitement of the Expedition Team.

Our afternoon landing took place in Cuverville Island, nesting place of one of the largest gentoo penguin colonies in this area of the Antarctic Peninsula. We had time to observe all types of different behaviours of those charming creatures – resting, bonding, mating, and stealing each other’s pebbles. Two elephant seals were hauled out in between the colony and, also, Antarctica’s largest land animal - the 5 mm long Antarctic Midge - was active on this sunny afternoon.

With our zodiacs, we circumnavigated Cuverville and were able to understand the dimensions of the penguin colony, nesting all around the Island. Nesting Antarctic terns, leopard seals and sleeping humpback whales were other highlights of this cruise, of course, always accompanied by stunning iceberg formations.

At least half of our passengers plus some crazy crew and staff members took advantage of that warm summer day and took a very quick swim in the freezing Southern Ocean just before getting back on board.

To finish this amazing day, we were invited to a barbecue Dinner on the outside decks, with mulled wine and beer, followed by some dancing for the passengers and crew that still had energy left over. A small part of our passengers decided to take the quieter option and went for a camping night at Kerr point, listening to calving glaciers, singing Weddell seals, and humpback whales passing by their night camp.

Kayak trip log
Neko Harbour
Neko Harbour, a place of great beauty at the end of Andvord Bay, was the morning destination for eight paddlers. During the night, the fog cleared and, this morning, we enjoyed a clear view of the mountain tops towering over the sheltered bay as we paddled at a safe distance of the calving glacier. On the top of a very steep iceberg, we saw three penguins which look like mountaineers and we wondered how they could reach that location. Somewhere in the bay, a whale is indicating its presence by his loud breathing noises and we paddled out to find a fluke, a hump, or the spray caused by the breathing. Luckily, we found two beautiful humpback whales slowly making their way out of the bay. A loud thunder is followed by a glacier calving and we saw a piece of ice falling into the sea. It was too small to create a big wave, but still impressive to observe from several hundred meters away.

Cuverville Island
Our goal for this afternoon was to circumnavigate Cuverville Island which is at the end of the Errera Channel. At the beginning, we passed some big icebergs which laid off the island before following the shoreline beneath ice cliffs. At the other end, the island opens to a big bay where we spent time observing two Humpback whales quite closely and a minke whale in the distance. After 4:00 pm, we paddled back to the ship to get ready for the polar plunge, observing several gentoo penguin rookeries along the way.

Camping Trip Log
After an amazing day full of activities with good weather, it was time to experience the camping, but not before having the most southern barbecue in the world. First of all, Vide and Ben went out scouting and preparing the camping site with all the gear needed for spending the night out. By the time they got there, they found a lot of Weddell seals resting at our site, so the logistics were a bit tricky. However, it definitely added an unexpected plus for all of us. After a long ride on the zodiacs from the ship, the guides welcomed us and briefed about rules and procedures. It did not take long to dig our holes and, when we had some quiet moments, we could listen to the beautiful and unreal singing of the Weddell seals around. This was the best way to get ready to sleep and a good night song. Just in time, the staff in charge warned us about the rain coming and suggested it was much better to be already inside our ‘bivy bags’ when it will arrive. They were so right, it rained almost all night long, not strongly, but enough to prove that the equipment works very well, even in the extremes of Antarctica. At about 4:15 am, we woke up and as soon as we opened our eyes, a group of humpbacks started feeding and breaching in front of us, not too far from the coast line… What a way to start our day! Finally, the zodiacs arrived and we were all ready and excited to go back to Hondius for a warm shower, hot coffee and happy to share the experience with all our fellows!

Day 7: Orne Island and Orne Harbour

Orne Island and Orne Harbour
Datum: 04.01.2020
Positie: 64o39’.9 S 062o38’.8 W
Wind: SE2
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +2

On this early morning of our last day in Antarctica, we had a very mixed way of starting the day. While most of us woke up by the familiar voice of our Expedition Leader, Martin, speaking from the bridge, 38 guests and 2 guides woke up in their sleeping bags after a night of camping at Kerr Point. The early birds on board the Hondius could notice that Zodiacs and staff members were buzzing around at 4:30am to collect the intrepid campers, and to prepare for another day full of adventure. The first activity of the day took place on and around Orne Islands, located in the Gerlache Strait – a place with many opportunities for the adventurous. Already before breakfast, the announcement was made that there were many humpback whales that were having a krill feeding frenzy all around the ship. The action did not stop, but rather intensified as we disembarked the Hondius and went out by the zodiac to observe them at a closer distance.

Tail flukes in every direction, whales swimming right under our Zodiacs, and waterspouts from exhaling humpbacks so close that we could smell the krill on their breath! The performance was so enchanting that, for a second we nearly forgot about the enormous icebergs, even larger than the Hondius, that surrounded the bay. When it was time to swap the groups ashore there were many excited people standing in line to hop in the Zodiacs, nervous that they might have missed the show – but rest assured the feeding frenzy resumed and there were plenty of whales for all of us! At the same time, the shore party enjoyed the perfect sunshine on Orne Island – the whales were everywhere around the island and made for a spectacular observation from land. The inclusion of a massive chinstrap penguin colony only made things better… and noisier. By this stage in the expedition we had spent plenty of time with all different brushtail penguin species, and had gained knowledge of their different languages and vocalizations. The somewhat confusing nickname “Rockbreaker Penguin” that has been given to the chinstraps finally started to make sense as we could listen in closely to their powerful, high-pitched song. A morning to remember!

When we came back to the Hondius, the galley had prepared a bountiful buffet lunch, so that we could recharge our energy levels as the vessel navigated further north through the Gerlache Strait towards our afternoon landing site: Orne Harbour. While most of us had their minds focussed on the continental landing, and some a bit anxious about the rather steep foot path leading us nearly 100 metres above sea level. The stunning sunshine made everything even more exciting. While the Zodiacs cruised around the bay, observing both humpback whales and Weddell seals, the rest of us were made the ascent up to the chinstrap colony located on the lower ridge of the Spigot Peak. Up on the top, we could marvel at a mind-blowing view with the Gerlache Strait on one side and the massive glaciers on the Antarctic mainland behind us. In the colony we even managed to catch a glimpse of some newborn chinstrap hatchings. This day finished off with a thrilling slide down the mountainside, back to the landing site.

As we dined, Hondius set her course north and the announcement was made that we were in fact leaving Antarctica and headed for the treacherous waters of the Drake Passage. Our minds were full of impressions and feelings. From the misty fog in the Weddell Sea to the glassy surface of Neko Harbour, we had seen Antarctica in most of her moods and weathers.

Our memory cards were full and our camera batteries empty – truly a sign of a successful Oceanwide expedition.

Kayak Trip log
Orne Island
Orne Island, situated just around the corner from yesterdays’ polar plunge, zodiac cruising, and kayaking, surprised us with its diversity. As we circumnavigated the island, we saw several snowy sheathbills, two crabeater seals, and a colony of Antarctic petrels. We, then, crossed over to some icebergs with magnificent blue colours. As we kept paddling, we discovered a resting leopard seal on a snow slope above the beach. At the same time, humpback whales and a gentoo penguin colony could be seen around. The mountain ranges in the distance looked wild and overwhelmingly beautiful, thanks to that gorgeous weather!

Orne Harbour
Orne Harbour one of the most magnificent places on the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula! We started paddling with 13 people from the harbour out and around Spigot Peak. Along the coast, we saw the penguin highway that goes all the way up to the top where there is the colony. We were incredibly lucky with totally calm conditions and clear sunny skies as we hugged the coast on the way back to the ship.

Day 8: At Sea, Drake Passage

At Sea, Drake Passage
Datum: 05.01.2020
Positie: 61o41’.0 S 063o46’.4 W
Wind: NNE4
Weer: Fog
Luchttemperatuur: +1

For our first day back in the Drake Passage, we enjoyed the quiet and calm sea. In fact, we were appreciating a bit of a sleep in after four and a half intensive days of discovering the Antarctic Peninsula. As usual, at 8 am, Michael announced that the doors of the Dining Room were open, and breakfast was ready.

The sun was shining through the clouds between short periods of fog and a few birds were flying around the ship. We were chatting in the lounge until, at 9:30 am, Laura talked about the geology of Antarctica. She explained how Antarctica has been formed and which type of rock you could find down there. This talk was followed by Terri’s talk about the plastic in the ocean and what can be done to change our habits. In between the talks, some of us went outside trying to find some sea birds, or just to enjoy a bit of sunshine. Finally, 12:30 pm rung and we were called back into the Dining Room... As we don’t eat enough on this ship. Even by doing nothing all morning, we were all extremely hungry and the full Dining Room which is a sign how calm the Drake was.

After a well-deserved lunch and rest, we gathered again in the lounge to listen to Laura, Sara, Sarah, and Maricel who talked about Citizen Science or how to help-out science by giving some of our time and photos. They introduced us to four projects: (1) RecognIce who use photos of glaciers all around the world to raise positive awareness, (2) Happy Whale who identify whales all over the planet, (3) Penguin watch who ask for your time to count nesting penguins from photos, and (4) Oceanites who make an inventory of sea birds in Antarctica by asking you to do some bird surveys when you venture towards the southern continent.

Finally, the last lecture of the day was given by Vide who talked about the Antarctic Treaty that protects Antarctica, keeps it pristine and untouched by any human activity. Like every day at 6:15 pm, we had the Recap where we got some new information about disembarkation, paying our bills, but also an interesting comparison between the Arctic and Antarctic presented by Karen. The dining room was, again, buzzing with conversation waiting for another delicious meal to be served. After dinner, we all gathered in the lounge for the photo competition and we were all excited to see if our photos had made to the final three. We all cheered up for our favorite photo!

Day 9: At Sea, Drake Passage

At Sea, Drake Passage
Datum: 06.01.2020
Positie: 56o30’.25S 065o48’.4W
Wind: NW3
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +6

For our last day in the Drake, we were woken up by Michael and his enthusiastic voice calling us for breakfast. There was a bit more wind than yesterday and the ship was pitching a bit. Some of us decided to stay a bit longer in bed, but the dinning room was still pretty full. The day started slowly with Karen talking about the Sweedish expedition of 1901-1904. Then, we were called deck by deck to hand out the boots that we used during the whole trip. You could feel that it was the end of the trip and everyone could feel the emotion in the air.

At 11:30am, Sara talked about the women in Antarctica and how they shaped Antarctica exploration. We were surprise to learn how late it took for the first women to be part of an expedition team. For one last time, before lunch, we enjoyed a bit of time on the bridge or on the outside deck to observe sea birds or just enjoying the slow movement of the waves.

As we were getting closer to the Beagle Channel, we started seeing land which was the tip of Patagonia. It was perfect timing as Ben talked about the history of the Beagle Channel and the people that lives along the coast. For the last talk of the trip, Vide, Laurence, Syzmon, Maricel and Laura talked about climate change and the impact on the icy continent. After visiting this pristine environment, it was interesting to learn on how it could change in the next few years.

To end the trip on a positive note, we all gathered in the lounge for an evening of celebration. It is with the usual glass of Prosecco that, with the Captain and the Expedition team, we toasted in honour of this amazing trip. This was a life changing experience! For one last time, we had a delicious diner with our fellow companions. We were already nostalgic of the ship life as we were picking up the pilot that would bring us back to Ushuaia.

Day 10: Disembarkation, Ushuaia

Disembarkation, Ushuaia
Datum: 07.01.2020
Positie: 56°51’.2S, 065°27’.2 W
Wind: N2
Weer: Rainy
Luchttemperatuur: +11

Today we were woken by the last wake-up call from our Expedition Leader Martin and got ready to disembark in Ushuaia. The last 10 days have taken us on an eye-opening journey to the frozen continent and allowed us a short glimpse into an environment that most will never see. We all had slightly different experiences, but whatever the memories, whether it was our first-time onboard Zodiacs, hiking in rubber boots, seeing massive ice cliffs, sitting with penguins watching their funny antics or making new friends, they are memories that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Thank you all for such a wonderful voyage, for your company, good humour, and enthusiasm. We hope to see you again in the future, wherever that might be!

Total distance sailed on our voyage: 1637 nautical miles

Furthest South: 64o50’.6S 062o33’.3W

On behalf of Oceanwide Expeditions, Captain Remmert Jan Koster, Expedition Leader Martin Berg, Hotel Manager Michael Frauendorfer and all the crew and staff, it has been a pleasure travelling with you.

Details

Reiscode: HDS26-19
Reisdatum: 29 Dec, 2019 – 7 Jan, 2020
Duur: 9 nachten
Schip: m/v Hondius
Inscheping: Ushuaia
Ontscheping: Ushuaia

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Aboard m/v Hondius

Hondius is het eerste geregistreerde Polar Class 6-schip ter wereld dat voldoet aan de nieuwste en hoogste Lloyd's Register-normen voor ijsversterkte cruiseschepen.

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