||64°40’.2 S, 62°39’.9 W
The view this morning was a dramatic scene. Rugged Cuverville Island was off the bow surrounded by towering mountains with glaciers falling from the heights. The sea was full of icebergs of every shape and size, and every shade of white and blue imaginable. Indescribable. Welcome to the Antarctic Peninsula.
After a quick bite we were in the zodiacs, or kayaks, for a landing at the Gentoo colony at Cuverville (plus one lost Adelie) or a cruise in the surrounding waters. Both were delightful. The penguins were busy feeding and cleaning in the sea – how quick they are in the water! On shore they are clumsier, but still cute, and determined to get to their nest to share the task of incubating the eggs. The cruise included views of the penguins, crabeater and Weddell seals, Humpback whales, and those magnificent icebergs.
In the kayaks, we circumnavigated the island along the way spending time in the big icebergs and ice cliffs along the shoreline. We turned the corner and went with the flow that pushed us along for a nice visit with a couple of Humpbacks close by.
We didn’t want to leave, and who can blame us.
We were so excited to see the penguins frolicking, that some decided to join them for the Polar Plunge. We were not as graceful, to say the least, nor as well insulated, but we had super fun, and the birds came over to check us out. What a “hoot” for them.
The afternoon landing was on the continent of Antarctica at the spectacular setting of the mountains and glaciers of Orne Harbour. We could have walked to the South Pole from there, but we would have missed dinner. So, we decided to limit our climb to the saddle and a visit to the Chinstrap penguin colony. That made three penguin species in the same day! We had a bonus bit of fun with a bum slide back to the landing site.
The zodiac cruise also featured nesting Chinstrap penguins plus Antarctic Shags with chicks, terns, kelp gulls, and still more cool icebergs. From the water it was possible to get a sense of the vast scale of the scene.
At recap Laura showed us the different types of icebergs. Then dinner was yet another special surprise from the kitchen and hotel teams – a BBQ on the back deck including free beverages! What could be better? How about Killer whales coming in from the starboard bow (did they want some of the BBQ?) And then, how about dancing in the sunset with the crew and staff and our new friends! Too much fun.
During all this excitement the campers had been preparing for their night out. They left the ship at about 10 pm – and I think that most were tired enough to actually sleep. The camping location was Paradise – Paradise Bay that is, but we felt like we were in heaven.