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OTL32-24, trip log, Antarctica - Polar Circle - Deep South Discovery Voyage

by Oceanwide Expeditions


Day 1: Ushuaia - Embarkation Day

Ushuaia - Embarkation Day
Datum: 16.03.2024
Positie: 54°53.7’S / 067°43.9’W
Wind: SW 6
Weer: Cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: +6

Day 2: At Sea towards Antarctica

At Sea towards Antarctica
Datum: 17.03.2024
Positie: 57°37.5’S / 066°03.0’W
Wind: E7
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +3

Today it is quite the emotional rollercoaster as we make our way down to Antarctica through the infamous Drake's Passage. The night is rough with waves causing some turbulence, but it was nothing compared to the rogue wave that hit in the early hours of the morning, sending belongings flying off shelves and waking up half of the ship. Despite the shaky start, as the day goes on, the waves begin to calm down and the weather turns surprisingly sunny with moderate winds. After breakfast, the Expedition Team handed out rubber boots for our upcoming Antarctic adventures and by 10 AM, the divers gathered for a briefing and gear fitting. We are all eager to explore the underwater world of the Southern Ocean. Katlyn, one of our guides, then gave a captivating lecture on the Whales and Dolphins of the region, filling our minds with wonder and excitement. Lunch is a welcome break before another group of divers have their briefing, and during that time, the Expedition Team spotted incredible wildlife from the bridge - Black Browed Albatrosses, Light Mantled Sooty Albatrosses, and even a massive male Orca! We rushed to the outer decks to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. Later in the afternoon, Juan talked to us about Photography in the polar regions, followed by Laurence's introduction to Antarctica. As the day drew to a close, we are treated to the sight of Wandering albatrosses and Grey-headed Albatrosses soaring gracefully through the sky with their awe-inspiring 3.5-meter wingspans. During the evening recap, a daily event where we go through what we have seen and the plans for tomorrow, Sara amazes us with demonstrations of the wingspans of birds common in the Drake's Passage and Antarctica, while the other guides share fascinating insights about whales and albatrosses. The night concludes with a sumptuous plated dinner and lively conversations in the bar, as we bond with fellow guests and the friendly expedition staff. Today may have had its challenges, but the beauty and wonder we experienced made it all worthwhile. Antarctica, here we come.

Day 3: At Sea towards Antarctica

At Sea towards Antarctica
Datum: 18.03.2024
Positie: 62°26.1 S/ 64°44.9 W
Wind: NE 3
Weer: Cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: 0

We awoke to snow blowing sideways across the ship. Sea conditions were still quite calm, so it felt like we were sailing in a snow globe. After breakfast Lucia gave a lecture about some of the stars of Antarctica – penguins. As we steamed South the snow continued to fall, by the time Jakub gave his lecture on glaciers and ice, the decks were turning white. Occasional seabirds circled past the ship throughout the morning. After lunch it was time for biosecurity. Everyone brought their outer gear to the lecture hall for inspection and cleaning. We used brushes, paperclips and vacuums to make sure that all of our gear was free from any potential invasive species. This is one of the necessary preparations we must do before landing in the remote habitats of Antarctica. During biosecurity the bridge notified us that they had seen our first iceberg. Last night at recap we opened up a friendly bet among the passengers about when we would see the first iceberg.

After biosecurity, the sky was clear for miles, icebergs and whale blows were scattered on the horizon. We spent the next few hours enjoying the views and wildlife. Dozens of Fin Whales were feeding outside the South Shetland Islands and we could see Smith and Low Islands on the horizon. In the late afternoon Sarah and Chief Engineer Floris gave a lecture about how things work on Ortelius. Our water systems, waste management, food storge and more! It takes some creative thinking and interesting innovations to run an expedition ship in remote areas. At recap in addition to covering the plans for tomorrow from Expedition Leader Sara and some information about the Drake Passage from Charlotte, the winner of the iceberg bet was announced. The winning guess was only 3 minutes off from the actual sighting! Amazing guess that has been rewarded with a complimentary cocktail from the bar. During dinner we had views of a stunning sunset, several people snuck outside for photos between appetizers and the main course. By the end of dinner there was just enough light to see the mountains under a layer of clouds – our first fleeting glimpses of Antarctica.

Day 4: Lemaire Channel, Port Charcot and Booth Island

Lemaire Channel, Port Charcot and Booth Island
Datum: 19.03.2024
Positie: 65°06.6’S / 064°02.1’W
Wind: NE 2
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: 0

The day dawned with a whisper of excitement, the crisp Antarctic air tingling with anticipation as the M/V Ortelius cut through the icy waters. In the Antarctic Peninsula, the world seemed to shimmer with possibility, and our expedition team was eager to embrace every moment. Our morning journey led us through the majestic Lemaire Channel, a corridor of frozen grandeur where towering cliffs of ice framed our passage. It’s one of the narrowest passages a cruise ship can go through in Antarctica and one of the most photographed. As the sun cast its golden glow upon the pristine landscape, we embarked on a breathtaking zodiac cruise. Along the way, nature unveiled her wonders in spectacular fashion – Leopard Seals feasting on unsuspecting penguins, crabeater seals lounging on ice floes, and colossal icebergs sculpted by millennia of wind and wave. Beautiful encounters with Humpback Whales were the cherry on the cake to start our amazing expedition day. The first dive of the trip is a mandatory check dive for every diver. This way, the diver can get used to the new environment and the special conditions, for example the amount of weight or the cold water. The check dive had been conducted close to Pleneau Island - a perfect place for a first dive, as the water is around 5 to 10 Meters deep, no currents or wind. However, this rather easy dive resulted in one of the divers favourite dive, as they were visited by a few Leopard Seals as well as some Penguins. After 30 to 40 Minutes underwater, the divers surfaced with a huge smile on their face - this is why we Dive Guides love our job!

With hearts full of wonder and cameras brimming with memories, we returned to the Ortelius for a well-deserved lunch. But our adventure was far from over. In the afternoon, we made a landing at Port Charcot, a hallowed ground steeped in Antarctic history. Here, amidst the remnants of Charcot's famed French expedition of 1904, we encountered an enchanting array of penguin life. Gentoo and chinstrap penguins dotted the landscape, their comical antics a testament to the resilience of life in this unforgiving realm. It was also a great opportunity to stretch our legs on a hike to the top cross for an amazing view of the iceberg graveyard and the penguin colonies uphill.

The second dive of the day was on the South West side of Port Charcot. The conditions were once again perfect - no wind and clear visibility underwater. During the dive, the divers encountered a lot of different Antarctic Marine life, for example Nudibranch, Crabs, Sea stars and Kelp Forests. Most of the Underwater Marine life here is, besides the Seals and Penguins, rather small. After the dive, the divers had time to enjoy Antarctica above the surface and go for their first landing. As evening descended upon the frozen horizon, we gathered for our daily recap, eagerly discussing the wonders we had witnessed and the adventures that lay ahead. With charts and information spread before us and dreams of tomorrow in our minds, we plotted our course through the endless expanse of ice and sea towards even southern waters. We concluded our day with a hearty dinner, sharing stories and laughter in the cozy embrace of our expedition family. For in this land of ice and snow, every moment is a treasure, every experience a testament to the indomitable spirit of exploration. And as the Ortelius sailed ever onward, we knew that our journey had only just begun.

Day 5: Crossing the Antarctic Circle and Detaille Island

Crossing the Antarctic Circle and Detaille Island
Datum: 20.03.2024
Positie: 66°52.5’S / 066°49.5W
Wind: S 4
Weer: Cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: -1

At 05:45 we heard Sara; good morning, good morning, good morning announcing we were about to cross the Antarctic Circle and at 06:20 we finally crossed the circle with 35 guests joining to celebrate.

After breakfast we were ready to embark the zodiac’s for a visit to the British Base at Detaille Island. Built in 1956 scientists studied meteorology, geology and mapping which also participated in the Geophysical Year 1957/58. The scientists collected geological samples, weather data and mapped the area for three years. It was planned to continue, but in late March 1959 it became clear that their support ship wouldn’t be able to get close to the base due to heavy ice. Subsequently the stores of food, coal and fuel for the generator was not enough to keep the 8-10 scientists going through the approaching winter so a quick decision was made by the base commander; gather up your things we are leaving now! Scientific work and geological samples were taken on the sledges with the men while they crossed 30 miles of ice to get to their supply ship. The base was never reopened, but it stays today completely as it was left (in a hurry) as a time capsule.

A happy story from the ‘evacuation’; when the men were bringing the sled dogs back onboard the supply ship, one of them ‘Steve’ escaped and disappeared – and the ship had to leave. However, Steve went back to the hut, accessed the stockpile of seal meat, and survived for three months by himself. Eventually he decided to look for his human and canine friends at the other British station at Horseshoe Island more than 60 miles/110km’s away – and made it, fit and well. Must have been a happy reunion!! The visit was followed by a short zodiac cruise among majestic icebergs, followed by resting Crabeater and Fur Seals. The divers prepared for their third dive in Antarctica. This dive site looks a bit like a stair made of rocks. These rocks are covered with so much marine life once again and the highlight of the dive were two Crabeater Seals at the end of the dive.

A few of the divers encountered some difficulties - from leaking glove systems, free flowing regulators or lost dry suit valves - that day, we had it all.

Quote of the day: ‘Dry Suit - The most expensive wetsuit on the market’. However, the wind was picking up quite a bit, so today we got a taste of the true Antarctic experience with a bit of spray in the zodiac’s! As we enjoyed our lunch, we set sail to go further South on our expedition and in the afternoon, we could enjoy Charlotte’s lecture about the Seals of the Southern Ocean. Timing was fantastic for the interesting lecture, as we saw crabeaters, Weddell’s, Leopards and Fur Seals on our way further south. Navigating through the narrow “Gullet” was also a treat – the bridge was full as we zigzagged our way between icebergs and along majestic high and completely snow-covered mountains, having snow showers every now and then. With a truly special encounter with a group of Orca and Humpback Whales which passed right passed the ship! A truly spectacular day in the Antarctic.

Day 6: Porquois Pas and Horseshoe Island

Porquois Pas and Horseshoe Island
Datum: 21.03.2024
Positie: 67°44’ 5S / 067°51’ 7W
Wind: N1
Weer: Cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: -1

The day started with a zodiac cruise at Porquois Pas island, named after the ship that the French explorer Jean Baptiste Charcot used for his second Antarctic expedition. We knew already that unfortunately this landing site is closed due to avian flu, and we also knew it was going to be really cold: -6°C! the coldest forecast we have had so far. So we wrapped up warmly and got in the zodiacs just on time; Orcas have been spotted from the ship! The Expedition Team drivers quickly headed to where they were last seen and effectively, a group of at least 6 orcas were swimming right next to us! What an amazing and unforgettable experience! After that, we started exploring the coasts of that magnificent area, full of males and juveniles Fur Seals resting and plenty of variously shaped icebergs that kept us astonished as we were approaching the island called Porquois Pas. Once we got there we found Adelie Penguins, finally! For some of us it was the first time we saw them, so we had fun for a while looking at them walking on the beach, swimming, jumping on the small ice floes and more. After more than two hours, with frozen hands, but warm hearts, we headed back on board to enjoy a hot chocolate and an abundant lunch at the dining room as usual. The fourth dive was the next highlight - the divers were going to dive an iceberg for the first time. To dive a iceberg, you have to make sure that it is safe. For example the iceberg should not move in the water or it should not have some ice formations that could fall. The one for that day was considered safe from the Dive Team Leader - it was (above the surface) approximately 10 Meter high and around 25 Meter wide. As we all know the majority of an Iceberg is below the surface, so the total depth of the iceberg was 60 metres. Diving the iceberg was spectacular in itself and we also had Sea Butterflies and Comb Jellyfish to add to the beauty.

The afternoon activities were awaiting us; Horseshoe island, a more sheltered place with an old British hut from 1956. The island was just amazing, we could walk into the hut and travel 60 years back in that time while looking at the different daily objects and research tools that had been left behind after it was abandoned. In this case we could also roam freely around the island, where we found several Adelie Penguins hanging out in the small patches of snow, a Weddell Seal resting at the coast, and a few Fur Seals again playing and enjoying their relaxed time, seeming unbothered by our presence. We also had the chance to walk all the way up to a viewpoint with the most spectacular view we have probably had of the Antarctic Peninsula. A magical place to remain silent and enjoy the views for as long as you wanted and take tons of photographs. None of the current Dive Team had ever dived at Horseshoe Island before, therefore, it was an Exploration Dive for everyone. The ground was slightly steep, but because a lot of icebergs had been grounded there was not a lot of marine life, only several Seastars. The divers who choose not to dive were more lucky - they were greeted by a Humpback Whale very close from the zodiac!

The sun was starting to lower as we boarded our zodiacs back to Ortelius and left behind the beautiful Horseshoe Island. We all headed to the bar to warm up and for the daily recap with the expedition team. Afterwards, a magnificent dinner in the dining room was served to finish this successful and perfect day of expedition in Antarctica.

Day 7: Stonington Island

Stonington Island
Datum: 22.03.2024
Positie: 68°06.4’S / 067°50.6’W
Wind: NE 7
Weer: Snow
Luchttemperatuur: -1

Today was a day we will never forget. The early wake-up call at 6:45 by Sara was worth it as we opened our eyes to the breathtaking sight of Stonington Island outside our windows. This place, so rich in history and significance, had captured our hearts even before we set foot on Antarctica. As we gathered for breakfast, the sky outside put on a show like no other. The colours of the sunrise painted the sky in shades of red, orange, and pink, creating a magical backdrop for the majestic mountains and glaciers of Stonington Island. It was a moment of pure awe and wonder, a reminder of the beauty and power of this remote continent.

Our Expedition Team was already on their way to the landing site, eager to explore the abandoned bases on the island. We followed them, stepping onto the icy shores surrounded by brash ice. The two bases, UK Base E and US East Base, stood as silent witnesses to the incredible feats of exploration and research that had taken place here. It was humbling to walk in the footsteps of those who had come before us, to imagine the challenges they faced and the discoveries they made. We explored every corner of the bases, soaking in the history and the stories that echoed through the empty rooms. For the divers there was quite a lot of wind this morning so operations could not take place as planned, we had to choose a different dive site than originally planned. We found a spot and in the divers went who managed to see beautiful Sea Stars and Amphipods.

The wind started to pick up, a reminder of the harsh conditions that can quickly descend upon Antarctica. We knew our time on the island was limited, but we made the most of every moment, savouring the experience and the knowledge that we were standing in a place that had shaped the course of Antarctic exploration.

Back on Ortelius, Jens gave a riveting lecture about the race to the South Pole between Amundsen and Scott. We listened with rapt attention, feeling a deeper connection to the struggles and triumphs of those early explorers. Misha followed with a fascinating talk about marine mammal acoustics, opening our eyes to the hidden world of underwater sounds. Lucia rounded out the day with a discussion about krill, the cornerstone species of the Antarctic ecosystem. As we gathered in the bar for our daily recap, the emotions of the day washed over us. Today we had a recap from Alan and Peter Tonkin the two sons of John Tonkin; the man who first visited Stonington Island in 1946 and built the British Base E. Peter told us all about his father’s life there over the next 2.5 years from looking after the dogs to venturing out across the snow. A fascinating and moving story. As we drifted off to sleep, the memories of Stonington Island and the spirit of exploration that filled the air lingered in our dreams, a reminder of the incredible journey we were on together.

Day 8: Fish Islands and Crystal Sound

Fish Islands and Crystal Sound
Datum: 23.03.2024
Positie: 66°00.6’S / 065°25.6’W
Wind: E3
Weer: Cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: 0

As we entered Fish Islands, we can feel the excitement bubbling within us. This is a new place for us to explore, a small group of islands at the western shore of the Antarctic Peninsula. The names of the islands - Mackerel Island, Flounder Island - evoke images of the icy wilderness that surrounds us. After a hearty breakfast in the dining room, we eagerly boarded the zodiacs for a cruise around the islands.

The Expedition Team was just as eager as we were, for almost none of them had ever visited this place before. The sense of anticipation is palpable as we set off into the unknown. Setting foot on the mainland Antarctica for the first time is a dream come true for many of us, so we set off to Prospect Point to do so. Laurence, who spent his whole morning alone at this remote location, warmly greeted us with an Antarctica flag. We took photos with the flag which added a special touch to the moment, symbolizing our journey to this icy paradise. As we continued our cruise around the Fish Islands, we were greeted by the sight of Adelie Penguins, Fur Seals and Humpback Whales. Before the dive, the Dive Guides André and Mike were exploring the area around Fish Island in order to find some interesting Wildlife for example Penguins and Seals, which the divers could encounter during their dive. However, the dive guides couldn’t find much, so it had been decided to dive another iceberg. Once again, the Iceberg had to be checked for safety reasons and after release from the Dive Team Leader, the divers descended into the depths for their second Iceberg. The visibility was way better than with the first Iceberg and the divers were impressed by the dimensions of it, as it formed some interesting formations below the water.

After a delicious lunch on board the ship, we set out for another cruise in the afternoon. This time we moved to the North, as during the lunch our brave vessel Ortelius repositions and unloads us around Duchaylard Island. The icy landscape is breathtaking, with a towering mountain in the center of the island and Leopard Seals and Crabeater Seals dotting the ice floes and icebergs. The Adelie penguins on land bring a smile to our faces, their playful antics a reminder of the beauty of nature in this harsh environment. The dive guides did some exploring today to find a dive site. One spot had been found which was slightly sloping down to approximately 20 metres. The ground had a lot of Kelp around and the divers had once again seen Seastars, Mussels and a few other interesting macro life. After the dive, we did a zodiac Cruise around the area to also enjoy this place from above the surface. After two or three hours we came back to the ship, a bit chilly but happy. Soon afterwards we were hit with a surprise – another pod of Orca had been spotted just next to Ortelius! We rush to outer decks equipped with binoculars and the longest camera lenses on the market to get the perfect Killer Whale photo. We acknowledged how lucky we are to have the third opportunity to meet them during our voyage.

In the evening we gathered for a recap with Sara and the Expedition Staff, sharing our highlights and memories of the day. Another delicious dinner awaited us, followed by a relaxing evening in the bar, reflecting on the incredible experiences we have had. This day in Antarctica has been a day of true expedition and exploration, a journey into the unknown that has left us in awe of the beauty and majesty of this frozen wilderness.

Day 9: Neko Harbour and Cuverville Island

Neko Harbour and Cuverville Island
Datum: 24.03.2024
Positie: 64°50.8’S / 062°33.4’W
Wind: S4
Weer: Cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: +1

Today began with the anticipation of another thrilling day exploring the pristine landscapes and unique wildlife of the Antarctic Peninsula. After a hearty breakfast, we geared up for a split landing and zodiac cruise in the enchanting snowy surroundings of Neko Harbour. As we approached the harbour, the majestic sight of Humpback Whales greeted us. Their graceful movements in the icy waters left us in awe. The shimmering blue ice and the echoing sounds of cracking ice of the glacial calvings created a surreal atmosphere. A highlight of our time at Neko Harbour was undoubtedly the visit to a Gentoo Penguin colony. Watching these charismatic creatures go about their daily routines was a delightful experience. The divers all wanted to experience Penguins on a dive, so the dive team took this mission up to try and find a perfect dive site to fulfil this wish. At Neko Harbour the divers descended directly in front of the Gentoo colony. They did not have to go deep to see Penguins and they had to patiently wait for the Penguins to occur. When they did, it was an amazing experience for everyone and after the dive, the divers ascended with a huge smile in their face. A truly Antarctic Experience.

After our morning adventure, we returned to the M/V Ortelius for a satisfying lunch, refuelling our energy for the afternoon activities. Our afternoon expedition took us to Cuverville Island, home to the largest Gentoo Penguin colony in the Antarctic Peninsula. The island's rugged beauty and abundant wildlife did not disappoint. As we explored the area, we were greeted by curious Leopard Seals, their sleek bodies gliding effortlessly through the water. The Humpback Whales made another appearance, their spouts visible in the distance as they surfaced for air. For the afternoon dive, we dove at a wall close to Cuverville Island. During the dive, there was huge kelp towering above around which looked like a mystery underwater forest. In between these leaves, the divers encountered Seastars, Amphipods. Nudibranchs and Sun Stars. You always have to keep your eye open underwater for the small stuff as there is life on every rock and in every hidden corner. After the dive, there was the chance for the divers to go onshore as well and get close to Gentoo Penguins.

On land, the Gentoo Penguins welcomed us with their characteristic calls and waddling walks, offering us more opportunities for close-up encounters and photographs. As the day began to wind down, we returned to the M/V Ortelius to relax and reflect on the incredible experiences we had. To celebrate another successful day in Antarctica, the crew organized a special BBQ on the helideck. The atmosphere was lively with laughter, dancing, and camaraderie among fellow expedition members. Underneath the vast Antarctic sky, we enjoyed delicious food, shared stories of the day's adventures, and marvelled at the beauty of our surroundings. As we retired to our cabins tonight, we are filled with gratitude for the unforgettable experiences and the incredible wildlife encounters that Antarctica has offered us today. Looking forward to what tomorrow's adventures will bring!

Day 10: Foyn Harbour and Palaver Point

Foyn Harbour and Palaver Point
Datum: 25.03.2024
Positie: 64°20.5’S / 061° 48.1’W
Wind: NE 3
Weer: Clear
Luchttemperatuur: +2

What a wonderful morning to wake up to – sunshine and calm waters for a zodiac cruise. Maybe a good opportunity to get some fresh air after the memorable BBQ yesterday! Foyn Harbour was our first “destination”, named after Sven Foyn, the inventor of the first automatic harpoon used in the whale hunting era. We visited the remains of “Guvernoren” (Norwegian for “Governor”) a former cattle transport ship, that was turned into a “state of the art ”whale factory ship” early 20th century. Disaster struck at the end of the whaling season in 1915, when the crew celebrated a long, hard, and dangerous season with 22.000 gallon/80.000-liters of whale oil onboard. As they were ready to go back to Norway with a fortune in whale oil, the celebration ended in disaster, as an oil lamp was knocked over at a party and the whole ship – and oil set ablaze. Fortunately, the captain was quick enough to run the ship on a reef, thereby saving the lives of all the crew members – but they stayed wet and cold on the nearby rocks for many hours, until they were rescued by another whaling ship! From wealth to poverty in a few hours!! As the zodiac cruisers had their share of the “Governor”, the divers went in and had a chance to see a bigger part of the more than a 100-meter-long whale factory ship. The divers had a beautiful dive diving the shipwreck, the visibility was spectacular and there was so much life over the whole wreck.

The rest of us who stayed at the surface, had a very whaley morning with lots of Humpbacks, either logging on the surface or slowly travelling, giving us all a good chance to enjoy the majestic animals. The afternoon – still in sunshine and calm seas – we went to Palaver Point. The route up the steep hill covered in fresh snow gave us a chance to “warm up” before the Polar Plunge. Chinstraps and Skuas welcomed us, and from the top of the hill, we had the most stunning view over the bay with multiple Humpbacks visible, the glaciers and the snow-covered mountains in the background – what a stunning view! The afternoon dive was at a wall again. Some divers found a smartphone underwater, which someone may have lost on a previous trip. However, the highlight of the dive was at the end, when some divers had the chance to dive / snorkel with Fur Seals. After the dive, there was one more mission; the Polar Plunge. Only a handful divers were brave enough to jump into the water without their comfortable and warm dry suits - well done! The beautiful day gave us the most magnificent sunset, and just as starters were served, a full moon was rising and quite a few of us went outside again to enjoy the view – a lovely sunny day gave way for an equally lovely starry night!

Day 11: Whalers Bay, Deception Island

Whalers Bay, Deception Island
Datum: 26.03.2024
Positie: 62°59.35’S / 060°35.7’W
Wind: SE5
Weer: Cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: 0

The day started earlier on the outside decks as we were approaching our first and only destination in the South Shetland Islands: an active volcano called Deception Island. The Neptune’s Bellows, entrance to Foster Bay , is very narrow and provided us with spectacular views as the fog added its touch for the dramatic scene. We knew the weather was going to pick up at midday, so we started the operations in Whalers Bay for landing and zodiac cruise as soon as we were at anchor.

The landscape at Whalers Bay seemed a different planet with its dark coloured sand, whales bones everywhere and hundreds of Fur Seals resting on the beach as we walked in a snow blizzard. The human and historical factor in this area was shocking, with destroyed old huts and rusty abandoned calderas and tanks that used to be used during whaling times at the beginning of 20th century. This has been completely different from everything we saw during the trip so far, and finishing our Antarctic exploration there made us think about all the history and slaughter that happened as well. It made us appreciate much more of the amazing and close whale encounters we have had. We also had the chance to zodiac cruise through the bellows (entrance of Deception Island) to the towering cliffs up close. Our guides mentioned that usually we don’t cruise there, so we felt really special to be able to do it.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and it was already time for the last dive. The divers had the opportunity to dive here at Deception Island. This history can be seen underwater. A lot of bones from the Whales are still laying on the ocean ground and they create an eery feeling, knowing what happened at this place during earlier years. Otherwise, this dive site was different than the ones more south as it had more soft corals and a lot of brittle stars which covered the ground. Some divers even had the chance to snorkel with Fur Seals at the end of their dive. After the dive, there was the possibility to quickly go onshore and after returning to Ortelius, the divers had to clean all their equipment, bring back their weights and store the equipment for drying. Another amazing trip comes to the end and there are 24 more divers which has experienced this continent from below the surface.

After that, we came back onboard Ortelius for lunch. We already knew that there would not be any afternoon operations outside as the weather forecast for the Drake passage seems horrible and Captain Toni wanted to do his best to try to outrun the purple monster, where winds of over 70knots and waves of 10m could be hitting us. We all understood and appreciated the idea of making the last Drake crossing as pleasant as possible, so we finally said goodbye to Antarctica and started heading North. During the afternoon, our Expedition Leader Sara gave a wonderful and worrying presentation about marine threats, so we finished our day with even more reflective thoughts. Daily recap, dinner was the last order of the day before hitting the Drake’s Passage.

Thank you for everything Antarctica.

Day 12: At Sea heading to Ushuaia

At Sea heading to Ushuaia
Datum: 27.03.2024
Positie: 59°25.7’S / 063°29.3’W
Wind: SW 10
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +4

Today we woke up after being a little shaken in the night, the waves were between 3 and 5 metres which unfortunately some were feeling more than others.

Nevertheless, we plugged on, went to breakfast and did our best to attend the lectures. First up was Juan on photo editing, it was very interesting to learn how he edit the photos as he is a professional. Next on the lecture programme was Charlotte, who told us about feeding, breeding and diving capabilities of Whales. Then came the famous ‘lunch is ready, lunch is ready please join us in dining room’, not that we needed it, but we still managed to fill our plates and our stomachs with the buffet. The divers had to have a de-brief, so they cracked on with that while the rest of us restocked our energy supply with a short nap. Late afternoon Jens told us the fascinating story of Shackleton and the Endurance, we were completely gripped by this triumphant story. At recap Mike showed some beautiful images from the diving this week which showed colourful Sea Stars, Nudibranchs and Limpets. We had a relaxing and quiet dinner as the sea joyfully rocked us during each course.

Day 13: At sea towards Ushuaia

At sea towards Ushuaia
Datum: 28.03.2024
Positie: 55°35.8’S / 65 53. 5’W
Wind: NNW 8
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +8

This morning we woke up feeling a million times more human than yesterday, we were ready to face the day and just wanted to enjoy a relaxing day on the ship without feeling the motion of the ocean. It started with breakfast; tea, coffee and eggs. Then Laurence gave an interesting talk on Bathymetry where he delved into the realm of mapping and detailing the ocean floor. Katlyn then spoke to us about Whales as ecosystem engineers in the worlds’ oceans. Lunch followed shortly after, did we really need more food? No, but did we eat more food? Yes. We then auctioned the flag which went for …. The money would go to the crew fund. We had our final lecture from Jakub with ‘Future of Ice’ he is such an intelligent man. At 1815 dressed up in our suits and gowns we went to the bar to have our Captain’s farewell, to say thank you to the staff for taking us on this voyage and to watch the slideshow, the phenomenal piece of art Misha had put together. At dinner we said our thank you’s to the crew and ate and drank in smiles and laugher as we rolled into the Beagle Channel.

Day 14: Disembarkation, Ushuaia

Disembarkation, Ushuaia
Datum: 29.03.2024
Positie: 54°48.561’S / 68 18.070’W
Wind: NW 4
Weer: Cloudy and raining
Luchttemperatuur: +4

Well, here we are back in Ushuaia, and it is time to leave Ortelius. At 0830 after our last buffet breakfast the Expedition Team carried our luggage outside for us and we disembarked the ship. We said our goodbyes to the crew and staff and either hopped on the bus or went into town for last minute souvenir shopping. It has been a phenomenal trip with so many activities happening, we have met some fascinating and incredibly inspiring people who are doing amazing things in the world. We only hope to cross paths in the future.

Thank you for your enthusiasm and support, but most of all for joining us on this adventurous Antarctica voyage. We hope to see you again in the future, wherever that might be!

Total distance sailed: 2255 nautical miles

Farthest south: 68°12.77’S / 067°16.4’W

On behalf of Oceanwide Expeditions, Captain Toni Salo, Expedition Leader Sara Jenner, and her team, Hotel Manager Volodymir Cherednychenko, and all the crew and staff of M/V Ortelius, it has been a pleasure travelling with you!


Reiscode: OTL32-24
Reisdatum: 16 mrt. - 29 mrt., 2024
Duur: 13 nachten
Schip: m/v Ortelius
Inscheping: Ushuaia
Ontscheping: Ushuaia

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Aboard m/v Ortelius

De ijsversterkte Ortelius is grondig uitgerust voor expeditie cruises en, op sommige reizen, helikoptervluchten.

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