HDS24-23, trip log, Antarctica - Discovery and learning voyage

by Oceanwide Expeditions


Day 1: Embarkation - Ushuaia

Embarkation - Ushuaia
Date: 07.12.2023
Position: 54° 51.8 ’S / 068° 01.9’W
Wind: SW
Weather: Sunny
Air Temperature: +9

Today is the day to embark M/V Hondius, the beautiful 107 m vessel that would take us to explore Antarctica. After visiting Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, we boarded the ship at 4pm where we were met by the staff and crew who warmly welcomed us onboard. After checking in we were directed to our cabins, followed by the lounge for tea, coffee, and biscuits. Whilst in the lounge we started with a briefing to get us familiar with the ship, a mandatory safety briefing by Chief Officer, Matai and we completed the mandatory drill.

After the drill, in the Observation Lounge we joined the Captain’s Cocktail Party, where we met the Captain and took this opportunity to enjoy the canapés. Captain Toni told us a little about himself and toasted the voyage ahead. The Expedition Team then introduced themselves; it was interesting to meet all of them and learn where they were from. 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 ship sailed through the Beagle Channel, we enjoyed the sights in the fantastic light along with our dinner. The excited chat at dinner was all about the journey ahead and the adventures that lay before us.

After dinner, quite a few of us went outside to enjoy the views and watched all the other vessels making their way through the Beagle Channel. This channel is a strait in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, on the extreme southern tip of South America between Chile and Argentina. The channel separates the larger main island of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego from various smaller islands including the islands of Picton, Lennox and Nueva; Navarino; Hoste; Londonderry; and Stewart. The channel's eastern area forms part of the border between Chile and Argentina and the western area is entirely within Chile. The Beagle Channel, the Straits of Magellan to the north, and the open-ocean Drake Passage to the south are the three navigable passages around South America between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

The channel itself is about 240 km long and 5 km wide at its narrowest point. It extends from Nueva Island in the east to Darwin Sound and Cook Bay in the Pacific Ocean in the west. The biggest settlement on the channel is Ushuaia in Argentina followed by Puerto Williams in Chile. These are amongst the southernmost settlements in the world.

Those who stayed up late to enjoy the views and changing light of the evening were also rewarded with our first whale sighting of the trip.

Day 2: At sea – Drake Passage

At sea – Drake Passage
Date: 08.12.2023
Position: 57°15.7’S / 065°14.3’W
Wind: NW 4
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +5

After our first, relatively calm, night on board of Hondius we were woken up at 07.45hrs by our expedition leader. Ready to start the day. The waves weren’t that high, but some of us unfortunately felt a little sea-sick and didn’t appear for breakfast in the restaurant. At 09.15hrs there was a mandatory Zodiac & IAATO Briefing in the lounge on deck 5.

Out on deck expedition guide Meike was already enthusiastically watching the sea birds that were hovering around the ship. The beautiful, patterned wings of the Cape Petrel were easy to recognise, where Blue and Antarctic Petrel were harder to distinguish from each-other.

We saw the Southern Giant-Petrel and several big Albatrosses soaring over the waves. We spotted the Black-browed, Grey-headed and creamy coloured Light-Mantled Sooty Albatross.

At 11.00hrs it was time to go down to deck 3 to collect our Muck boots and shortly after a wide-ranging lunch was served. The announcement at 14.00hrs said it was time to get all our outerwear, backpacks, footwear and tripods / walking sticks and go to deck 3 again to complete our biosecurity cleaning one deck at a time.

Everybody enjoyed being outside and looking at the waves and the birds till it was time for a lecture about Whales of the Southern Ocean given by Felicity in the lounge at 16.30hrs. We learned more about these ocean giants, with some clips from documentaries filmed in the Antarctic demonstrating what we could encounter along the way down south.

We all joined the expedition team in the lounge again at 18.15hrs for recap. Adam told us about the program for tomorrow, followed by some short recaps. Koen explained to us about the Drake Passage and the Antarctic Convergence Zone that we were about to cross during the late evening. Jerry informed us about useful nautical information while on Hondius and Sasha explained the question box we could use for any questions during our trip. And Bill inspired us ‘engage brain’ with his interesting ‘Looking, seeing, thinking…and doing’ recap. Then it was time for an amazing plated 4-course dinner at 19.00hrs, prepared by head chef Bawa and his team.

Day 3: At sea – Drake Passage

At sea – Drake Passage
Date: 09.12.2023
Position: 61°41.4’S / 062°41.3’W
Wind: NNW 4
Weather: Overcast/fog
Air Temperature: +2

We awoke to the subtle reminder that we were still in the Drake. That delicious feeling [When you are lying in bed!] a dozy state, our bodies unweighting and weighting and rocking from side to side. It is extra-ordinarily pleasant to savor this monotonous gently motion of the sea. That is, until you get out of bed and topple over, trying to stand on one leg to pull on your clothes. Thankfully the weather was really quite kind to us. Only a few passengers had felt a bit sick and uncomfortable the previous day and missed the early morning Zodiac briefing and biosecurity session…they attended a repeat lecture today as this was a requirement if they were to leave the ship.

At 10.30 Meike delivered her ‘What is penguin lecture!’ in the lounge to an almost full house of passengers eager to learn about these iconic symbols of Antarctica. This was followed by lunch with us all marveling at the splendid catering on board and the professionalism of the ever smiling incredibly friendly dining room team and the rest of the staff. In the afternoon after lunch, Jens our Danish guide delivered a beautifully crafted superbly presented talk on Sir Ernest Shackleton and the Transantarctic Expedition. This voyage was proving to be not only fun but highly educational. We were learning new stuff all the time and each little snippet of information made us hungry for more.

Beth finished the lecture programme for the day by talking about the Ice of the Southern Continent. Very appropriate as we were encountering our first signs of ice. In the beginning sightings of specs of white, isolated ‘growlers’ ‘followed bobbing small bergs then stately monsters in the form of dramatic full size ice-bergs. Cameras clicked constantly. This was the first real signs of the visual delights that lay ahead.

Throughout the day during this exciting and informative programme of lectures, pulse rates rose regularly in response to loudspeaker announcements from the bridge…’Orcas 1 o’clock…Humpbacks 3 o’clock…black-browed albatross flying around the ship etc’. ‘Fin Whales at 12 o’clock’ was a real highlight as we even had time to layer up and head out on deck to watch the krill feast. Thousands of photographs were poured over and edited in the evening with people proudly sharing the most dramatic.

Wow, wow…. if this is a taste of the things to come when we get to the peninsula then bring it on! Oceanwide Expeditions were living up to the brochure promises. The product was excellent!

Day 4: Portal Point & Føyn Harbour

Portal Point & Føyn Harbour
Date: 10.12.2023
Position: 64°20.0’S / 061°43.3’W
Wind: W 4
Weather: Partly cloudy
Air Temperature: +3

The scene was set beautifully for our first Antarctic mainland landing – a bit of snow during the late evening and night (making the deck and stairs a bit slippery) but quite a few were on deck to look for wildlife and the beautiful sunlit landscapes.

After a healthy breakfast, we were ready to board the Zodiacs – one group for the cruise, the other for landing on the mainland continent – and what a morning! A bit of cloud cover to give us the dramatic scenery of all the mountains and glaciers. There were also a few gentoo penguins welcoming us ashore. It was time to test our balance on snowshoes and enjoy the pristine whiteness of the snow and glaciers at Portal Point.

Back to the warmth of Hondius, we enjoyed a cup of tea or coffee and sharing all the impressions of our morning landing and cruise. After a delicious lunch we were ready to set out again for a two-hour cruise in the Zodiacs at Foyn Harbour. It was a bit more windy this time with dramatic snow showers covering some of the mountaintops, while others were in bright sunlight – needing sunglasses to look at them – fantastic contrasts! One of the historical highlights on this cruise was the wreck of an old Norwegian whale factory ship, named Governoren/The Governor, which was struck by disaster back in 1915. Having processed about 22.000 gallons of whale oil, the crew of 65 were ready to return to Norway with a fortune in oil, but a fire spread at the celebration party, and the ship went up in flames. Fortunately, the captain was wise enough to sail the ship aground and thereby saving the lives of all of all 65 crewmembers!

As we continued on our cruise both Antarctic shags, Weddel seals and a couple of Adelie penguins were spotted among the rocks and majestic icebergs.

Back at Hondius – and maybe after a hot shower – it was time for the daily recap, plans for tomorrow by Expedition Leader Adam, a very instructive lecture from Misha about tips, tricks and settings for taking good and memorable photos on our journey, and our proud Scotsman, Bill, gave us a lot of interesting information on both our own Hondius, but also on Plancius and Ortelius – two other Oceanwide ice going vessels, that operate in both the Arctic and Antarctic waters. We are all well prepared now for questions from friends and family back home about our ship and how we managed to take so beautiful pictures! 😊

“The frosting of today’s cake” was also the fin- and humpback whales, we saw during the day – a beautiful day!

Day 5: Paradise Harbour (Brown Station) & Damoy Point

Paradise Harbour (Brown Station) & Damoy Point
Date: 11.12.2023
Position: 64°44.8’S / 063°02.8’W
Wind: NE 5
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +1

Today we awakened in the accurately named Paradise Harbour. This Bay offered us the full spectrum of Antarctic beauty. From the ship one could gaze over dozens of active calving glaciers, sharp and tall dark dagger-like mountains sticking out from their eternal white mantel to reach the clouds, floating icefields of freshly forms Icebergs of all sizes and shapes contrasting with the multicolour rock formations of the shoreside. One could feel the palpable anxiety to get on board our zodiacs and discover the dream like world.

After breakfast we began our first operation of the day, a zodiac cruise of Paradise Bay. We set off headed towards the intriguing Brown station, a spec of orange in the otherwise binary landscape. It dates back to 1951 and was taken over by the Argentine Antarctic institute in 1964. This patch of land does not only provide for scientists but also for a healthy Gentoo penguin colony. Their hygiene standards were clearly debatable but after a fresh dip in the bay, the sweet creatures would come back clean and shiny.

Further along began the dense icefield, a maze of small and large icefloes where our first Leopard Seal encounter occurred. A single individual, hauled out on a floe, was peacefully napping as we slowly cruised by him and borrowed a moment of his time. Some moments later the breathtaking glacier faced us, showing its immense strength and unpredictable temper. His heart the deepest blues, teasing us with a possible calving kept us silent for long minutes of contemplation.

As we rounded the cape, a multitude of seabirds found refuge and a fitting nesting place for their offspring. At vertigo triggering heights, the Shags and Petrels fought for space but joined forces to chase away the mighty Brown Skua, relentlessly ready to capitalise on a distracted parent and snatch an egg for lunch.

In the Afternoon, the Antarctic mood having cradled us in a false sense of security during the early hours of the day, showed us her raw power and changed her mood. The wind picked up, waved increased and menacing fog crawled in on us. It was time to brave the elements to set foot on Damoy.

The hut offered a glimpse of the past, a time gone where a trip to antarctica meant uncertainty and hardship. But where the company of fellow humans would warm both hearts and souls during the cold and dark winter months. Antarctica stubbornly kept throwing weather at us and we had to cut our visit short after gusts up to 50 knots were recorded. We were quite pleased now to have it confirmed that our waterproof gear actually works!

In the evening a celebration was held, not for any peculiar reason, just for the simple beauty of being alive together hanging off the edge of the world (but conveniently it was our guide Meike’s Birthday too!). We were treated to a feast fit for kings and queens as our dear crew barbecued meats and vegetables, along with keeping us suitably hydrated with a rich variety of beverages and mulled wined. We ate, drank, laughed and danced on deck until the early hours, braving the cold and connecting with our innate ability to unite as one and feel as family.

Day 6: Danco Island & Cuverville Island

Danco Island & Cuverville Island
Date: 12.12.2023
Position: 64°36.6’S / 062°34.1’W
Wind: NE 6
Weather: Snow/fog
Air Temperature: -1

Nothing. If you ask someone what nothing looks like, no one will give you a clear answer, because how can you describe something that doesn't exist? Nevertheless, when the word 'nothing' is uttered, an image takes shape in everyone's mind: something colourless, monochrome, without beginning or end, without directions, without height, without scent, without emotions — something lifeless and oppressive. That's how one could characterize what unfolded before our eyes on the morning of December 12th. The black waters of the Gerlache Strait, gusty wind, and heavy snowfall. Antarctica, like an old quarrelsome woman, decided to show us its nasty character: 'Look, they've come for a visit! And who invited you? Clear off! No need to wander around here!'

The snowfall was so thick that the wipers on the captain's bridge windows could barely cope with their task. The gusty wind made relentless attempts to plaster everything around with snow, depriving us of the ability to see anything. The Hondius, our ship, albeit slowly, but persistently moved forward through this snowy chaos. The staff captain sat silently in his chair, gazing at the instrument readings. Adam, our expedition leader, stood motionless near the window on the starboard side, accompanied by his assistants. The tense silence was intermittently broken by short and quiet remarks about the weather, visibility, wind, and plan adjustments. In the end, it was decided to gather on the bridge a little later, reaching the Orne Harbour, our place of morning activity. Exactly at 6:45, Adam, checking his notes, pressed the loudspeaker button, leaned over the microphone, and spoke in a pleasant baritone: 'Good morning, good morning, good morning… "

While we were having breakfast, the Hondius reached Orne Harbour. Peering out of the window, we could discern a massive, towering cliff with sheer walls. At its base, a picturesque iceberg swayed in the water, propelled by the wind and waves. The wind, by the way, was relatively mild, as the harbour was well-sheltered by the surrounding mountains. However, all the brash ice in the water had been driven ashore right around the landing site. It was evident that no Zodiac could overcome this barrier. A painful and difficult decision loomed – to cancel the operation. After a brief consultation, the ship's senior officials reluctantly arrived at this discouraging conclusion. Orne Harbour remained unconquered, leaving us with nothing but to gaze through the snowy veil at its contours, imagining how the Chinstrap penguins triumphed and gloated, observing us from their nests high on the shore. Well, it's fate, nothing to worry about. Let's move on; perhaps luck will be on our side in the second half of the day.

The heavy, rust-coloured anchor chain creaked and grated as the powerful winches wound it, link by link, onto their spools. Once the anchor was raised, the Hondius subtly shifted, setting course for Danko Island in the middle of the Errera Channel. Meanwhile, we settled into the main lounge, listening to a lecture about shipwrecks resting on the bottom of Antarctic waters. Monika, our guide, narrated with great interest, and we hung on to her words, holding our breath.

As soon as Monika finished her narrative, Adam took the microphone and briefed us on the plans for the remainder of the day. The decision regarding the subsequent schedule was, it must be said, quite original. It was decided to compensate for our morning setback with an evening landing on Cuverville Island, scheduled after dinner. The old cantankerous lady, Antarctica, exchanged her wrath for mercy, and by lunchtime, the weather had somewhat improved. The snow had almost stopped, and the wind had subsided, turning the landing on Danko Island into a tangible reality.

The Zodiacs were lowered into the water, and the expedition team, leaping into the first two boats and loading all the necessary equipment, raced to the shore to mark the trail and conduct reconnaissance. Meanwhile, we started dressing and gathering near the Zodiac boarding area. And there, Albert, our assistant hotel manager, got the green light for the operation, and now we were speeding towards the shore on the Zodiacs.

Reaching the shore of Danko Island, we put on snowshoes and, imitating the waddle of penguins, began to ascend the mountain slope, aiming to climb higher to get close to the Gentoo penguin colony located there. Penguins, diligently covering everything around with their guano, were hard at work constructing nests. They carried small pebbles to and fro in their beaks, arranging them in a strict order to ensure comfort and coziness for themselves and their partners during egg incubation. The stones had to be carried from the very edge of the water. It was a considerable distance. To make their lives a bit easier, the penguins had trampled paths in the snow, known as penguin highways, along which they scurried back and forth, spreading their wings for balance.

Some penguins were already attentively sitting on their eggs, pleased with the wonderful nests they had built. Some careless and cunning ones sneakily stole stones from the nests of those who had already completed construction. And some penguins still just lay on the snow, waiting for it to melt, only then to start building their nests. We watched all of this in fascination, never forgetting to cast our eyes over the landscapes that unfolded before us.

At the appointed time, we returned to the landing site, where our guides, seating us in their Zodiacs, took us on a short Zodiac cruise. Manoeuvring between icebergs, we tried to capture all this beauty in the form of photographs. Some of us were fortunate enough to see a leopard seal sleeping on an ice floe. The creature would occasionally lift its head, cast a disapproving glance at us, and flare its nostrils, trying to understand the strange scent emanating from these unfamiliar beings.

Instead of taking us back to the ship, our guides brought us back to Danco Island. Why, you might ask? Because another event was planned for us on the shore, and its name was the polar plunge – a unique opportunity to overcome fear and plunge into the cold Antarctic waters. Undressing was cold, getting into the water was even colder. One step, another step, yet another... The cold pierced to the bones, the water burned, and breathing became intermittent. But then – splash! – you dive headfirst and emerge a completely different person. No more cold, no fatigue, only joy and adrenaline! Quickly to the shore, where a towel awaits. Then you can catch your breath, calmly get dressed, and only then board the Zodiac and head back to the ship. Dinner is coming soon!

While we were having dinner, the Hondius approached Cuverville Island, home to the largest Gentoo penguin colony on the entire Antarctic Peninsula. On one hand, it was already quite late, but on the other hand, when else would we have the chance to visit here? So, we all gathered near the Zodiac boarding area and headed to the shore. The penguins, as always, were bustling about, purposefully treading their paths, carrying stones to each other for nest construction, and paying no attention to us. We had only an hour for everything, so we briskly followed our paths, concentrating on pressing the shutters of our cameras.

We returned to the ship by ten in the evening. Time for bed!

Day 7: Fournier Bay & Orne Islands

Fournier Bay & Orne Islands
Date: 13.12.2023
Position: 64°37.5’S / 062°37.1’W
Wind: NE 5
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +1

After an early breakfast we launched all Hondius’ zodiacs for a cruise in Fournier Bay. The large bay was filled with icebergs and, for the moment there was a little bit of wind and light snowfall. Among the ice bergs we found all sorts of sizes and shapes that tantalized our minds. Whatever forms we could imagen we could find in the ice. The sculptures of ice were the landmarks forming a maze in which we observed passing snow petrels, southern fulmars, terns and whale tails.

Just as we got into the zodiacs and started our cruise a call came over the radio. “HW six o`clock!”. A whole group of humpback whales were feeding just in the entrance of the bay! A couple of the zodiacs carefully moved a bit closer to the area where they were surfacing and diving. We also saw a lot of birds feeding on the water. Fulmars and terns were flying around in a frenzy marking the spot but suddenly concentrating in one area on the surface of the water where we started seeing a lot of bubbles. The next moment was like an explosion as a giant head broke the surface. The humpback whales pierced the surface with their mouths wide open and throat groves extended. The activity splashed water everywhere drawing our attention to the scene. Before we even lowered our cameras there was another head coming up. And yet another! There were birds, blows and splashing water in a chaotic mix and we sat in awe taking it all in from our small boats. It was like being in a nature documentary but all the elements around us made us feel so present in the Antarctic environment. The whales were unaffected by us and continued to dive, feed and surface, filling themselves with krill in these rich waters after returning from a long winter without feeding opportunities. What a treat!

Hondius moved north during the afternoon, and we anchored off a little island called Orne Island on the edge of the Gerlache Strait. Here we hoped to find a colony of Chinstrap penguins. The landing was straight onto slippery rocks and a little bit tricky, but everyone made it ashore. We were lucky that the island was bustling with Chinstraps, enabling us to enjoy seeing our second type of penguin with ease. Their behavior differs from the gentoos, who also nest in Orne Island, making it entertaining to watch and compare the colony goings on. There was one colony on each end of the island with one being a little bit higher than the other. It was snowing a lot making the grounds soft. Therefore, to prevent making holes which are hazardous to the penguins, we all had to put the snowshoes on to be able to walk at all.


We split the landing with a short zodiac cruise around the island. On a small snow covered outcrop we saw two little penguins slightly different from the others. Two Adelie penguins! They were right in the mix of Chinstraps and Gentoos and obviously felt right at home. Perhaps they were on a feeding mission from their own colony further south. There were a few Weddell seals hauled out among the ice too. Their mottled coloration makes them hard to spot but as they have no land predators, they are not sensitive to us spending a few minutes searching the coastline for them. The wind and snow increased during our outing, and we finally got cold and decided to head back to our warm home on Hondius.

Day 8: Half Moon Island and Whalers Bay (Deception Island)

Half Moon Island and Whalers Bay (Deception Island)
Date: 14.12.2023
Position: 62°39.6’S / 059°45.0’W
Wind: N 3
Weather: Foggy
Air Temperature: +1

Embarking on an exhilarating journey aboard the Hondius, we set our course northward, venturing into the mystical realm of the South Shetland Island archipelago. Our destination: the captivating landscapes of Half Moon and Deception Islands, brimming with the promise of adventure and discovery.

As dawn broke, we gracefully approached Half Moon Island, a small crescent nestled between Livingston and Greenwich Islands. A beacon of exploration with this island hosts a summer Argentinian Research Base (Camara), amidst a symphony of excitement, we feasted our eyes on the nesting grounds of Chinstrap Penguins. From the ship's vantage point during breakfast, we marvelled at these charming creatures, diligently tending to their nests. Eager to set foot on this nature reserve of wildlife, we embarked on a shore expedition, guided by the allure of the penguin highways.

As we traversed the island without snowshoes, we were greeted by the bustling Chinstrap colony. Patiently waiting as the penguins returned from their morning fishing, we observed their intricate rituals—keeping eggs warm, maintaining nests, and indulging in powernaps. The wilderness unfolded before us, revealing a spectacle of a humpback whale gracefully showcasing its fluke and head at the same time, while zodiacs cruised along the coastline, unveiling weddel seals perched on rocky outcrops.

Our journey continued south-westward towards Deception Island, a caldera born of volcanic fury. Enriching our minds during the sail, a special mini-lecture series unfolded, delving into the island's history, geology, and tales of Antarctic exploration. Meike, Beth, Bill, and Monika took us on a captivating odyssey through time and knowledge, setting the stage for the wonders awaiting us.

Approaching Deception Island through Neptune’s Bellows, a narrow opening in the caldera, Captain Remmert skilfully navigated the Hondius while we were all out on deck. Our destination was Whalers' Bay, a historic site steeped in the legacy of Norwegian whalers since 1912. As we stepped onto the pitch-black volcanic beach, steam rose, a testament to the island's volcanic heartbeat.

Undeterred by wind and rain, we immersed ourselves in the remnants of the whaling station, exploring aged buildings and the cemetery, buried by a volcanic eruption in 1969. The haunting echoes of the past surrounded us as we walked along the beach, discovering relics of whaling history, including whale bones and remnants of water boats.

A steep hike up the caldera walls led us to Neptune's Window, offering a breathtaking panoramic view. Here, within the heart of an active volcano, we enjoyed looking at Cape Petrels, Gentoo and Chinstrap Penguins with the indomitable spirit of exploration that brought us here.

Day 9: Drake Passage

Drake Passage
Date: 15.12.2023
Position: 60°35.0’S / 063°20.0’W
Wind: NNE 5
Weather: Foggy
Air Temperature: 0

Today marked the beginning of our journey back to Ushuaia through the infamous Drake Passage. Our Expedition leader, Adam, decided to give us a well-deserved break from the early morning wake-up calls, allowing everyone to recover from the exhilarating landings and zodiac cruising we experienced in the previous days.

At 9:00 am, a call was made for all guests to return their lifejackets, muck boots, dry bags, and rental gear to the designated shell doors on deck 3. This signaled that the onshore activities and outings for this trip had officially come to an end. However, we were delighted to be informed by Adam, our Expedition Leader, that there were still engaging activities planned for the sea days ahead.

Misha, one of the expedition guides, started the photo collection for the submissions to the photo competition at 9:30am, encouraging guests to submit their best shots taken during the expedition. There were three categories for the competition which were wildlife, landscape and comedy. The library became a hub of creativity as guests eagerly shared their captured moments!

Shortly after, Bill, an art teacher and artist himself, delivered a captivating lecture titled "Paintings of the Sea." He delved into the profound impact of ocean-inspired artwork on artists' thoughts and people's lives, teaching us how to interpret the meanings behind these masterpieces. He left us feeling inspired to look more deeply into artwork we see in the future, allowing our thirst for details and answers to be released.

Following a satisfying lunch, Magnus took to the stage to enlighten us about the acoustics of the underwater world. We were fascinated to learn about the distinct sounds produced by different species of cetaceans, deepening our understanding of marine life.

Meike, an expert on birds, then shared her knowledge in a lecture dedicated to the majestic Albatross. As if on cue, as Meike’s lecture concluded, a spectacle unfolded before our eyes. Numerous Albatross, including the light mantled, black-browed, and wandering Albatross, gracefully soared around the ship. Enthralled, many of us rushed to the outside deck to capture photographs or simply admire these magnificent creatures up close.

During the recap session, Adam provided insights into tomorrow's plans, including updates on sea conditions and weather forecasts. Mini lectures were also conducted, allowing us to reflect on the remarkable sights and experiences of the day.

After a satisfying dinner, the winners of the photo competition were announced in the lounge. It was heartwarming to witness the camaraderie among fellow passengers as they voted for their favorite images. Following this, an entertaining Antarctic quiz, hosted by William, tested our newly acquired knowledge from lectures and conversations with guides. The quiz encompassed both educational and light-hearted questions, adding a lot of fun to the evening. As the quiz concluded, we bid farewell to an eventful day filled with captivating lectures, breathtaking wildlife encounters, and friendly competitions. Anticipation filled the air as we eagerly looked forward to the adventures that tomorrow would bring.

Day 10: Drake Passage

Drake Passage
Date: 16.12.2023
Position: 55°42.7’S / 066°03.2’W
Wind: NW 6
Weather: Partly cloudy
Air Temperature: +4

Our last day on this unforgettable journey. A day at sea, a day to reflect, a day to start saying goodbye to the people we have met. The sea state was a bit rougher this morning as the wind had picked up during the night. An adventurous start that many people were waiting for as they had asked for a Drake shake the days before. Not yet 8 meters but 4 meters was more than enough for most people on our ship. We started this morning with a lecture from William about the geopolitics of Antarctica. He explained to us how the continent got divided into camembert pieces and how all claims have no real meaning as long as the Antarctic treaty stands. Hopefully it keeps on going after the new meeting in 2049.

Later in the morning we got invited to see the movie “Around Cape Horn” in the lounge about the 1920 footage of the incredible bravery of sailing through these rebellious waters. This movie is narrated by one of the sailors that was on the sailing ship shown in the movie. His way of explaining the journey is very personalized and interesting as the footage alone would not have given the same feeling watching the ship being drowned in large 30 feet waves. Before and after lunch we had the chance to observe many birds around the ship including black browed albatross, wandering albatross and different kind of petrels. The weather was quite comfortable and the sun was shining which gave for great opportunities for taking photos on the back deck. In the afternoon we got invited by Sasha for his lecture about “How to reach Antarctica”. This is his own story about the first time he was in Antarctica helping out at a Russian research station. And as Sasha always has found himself in very interesting places together with his great sense of humor, he made it everybody’s worth a while listening in.

In the late afternoon we had a fantastic trio talk on the human impacts to the polar regions by Felicity, Meike and Bill. On board the Hondius with our fellow travelers we have crossed the wild Drake Passage into this newly discovered world. We have watched as animals roam freely living as nature does, leopard seals capturing penguins, skuas stealing eggs, penguins wickedly robbing stones to upgrade their own nests. We have seen a world without human settlements and with regulations protecting the landscape and its rich resources. Our human presence leaves evidence though. A trace with every action. We have heard and seen of the impact of the whaling days. This century, our plastic constructed items infiltrate what is left of plant earth’s nature. This spread of plastic is like a disease, not always visible, masked by the vast oceans, yet our everyday lives produce it, release it, require it and of course unavoidably pollute even the most remote parts of our planet such as Antarctica. This trio informed us of our impact, both big and small, visible and invisible. And it reminds us that when returning home, we have choices each day that will impact this majestic monochrome world which we have been so lucky to explore.

At 6pm we were invited back to the lounge for Captain´s cocktail. We were surprised to see all the Expedition Team dressed unprepared for Antarctic action! Instead, they were all there, set up of an evening to celebrate our voyage. Everyone had big smiles on their faces. Captain Remmert 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. It gave a fantastic sense of togetherness and filled us with pride in the adventure we had all been part of.

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. This was also a way to show our appreciation for the many other staff who are involved in the smooth operation on board Hondius many of who we have not even seen! But we know that walking the decks where we cannot go there is another world of crew working hard.

Day 11: Disembarkation - Ushuaia

Disembarkation - Ushuaia
Date: 17.12.2023
Position: 54° 48.6 ’S / 068° 17.8’W
Wind: NE 2
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temperature: +5

When we awoke, we were already at the port of Ushuaia ready to disembark for the final time. The last 10 days have taken us on a remarkable journey to the Antarctic Peninsula, the South Shetlands, and the vast Southern Ocean in between. This unforgettable journey showed us how varied and numerous life is in these remote and sometimes inhospitable corners of Planet Earth. We have encountered amazing wildlife, made new friends, learned and experienced together. We will all take different memories from our voyage back home, but those memories will stay with us for the rest of our lives.


Tripcode: HDS24-23
Dates: 7 Dec - 17 Dec, 2023
Duration: 10 nights
Ship: m/v Hondius
Embark: Ushuaia
Disembark: Ushuaia

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Aboard m/v Hondius

Hondius is the world’s first-registered Polar Class 6 vessel and was built from the ground up for expedition cruising.

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