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HDS28-24, trip log, Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctica

by Oceanwide Expeditions


Day 1: Embarkation – Ushuaia, Argentina

Embarkation – Ushuaia, Argentina
Date: 01.02.2024
Position: 54° 51.8 ’S / 068° 01.9 ’W
Wind: NE- 3
Weather: Partly cloudy
Air Temperature: +14

Nestled amongst towering peaks of the Martial Mountains and the windswept Beagle Channel, lays the picturesque city of Ushuaia, where we really did feel like we were at the ‘end of the world’. Located at the southernmost tip of Argentina and the capital city of the Tierra del Fuego (meaning "Land of Fire") archipelago, this port city marks the end of South America and acts as a port of call for Antarctic voyages. But this was just the start of our adventure! We would be venturing even closer to the ends of the Earth before we knew it. Travellers from far and wide gathered on the pier, eagerly awaiting embarkation on board the MV Hondius where expressions of excitement, nerves, and anticipation were upon us.

As we walked up the gangway and set foot onboard the Hondius for the first time, we were welcomed by hotel manager William who handed us our cabin cards and directed us to our rooms with the help of the warm friendly crew. Our luggage was awaiting us inside our cabins, and we began to settle into our new ‘home’.

Then followed Chief officer Matei for a mandatory safety briefing where we put on our bright orange lifejackets and gathered to our assigned muster stations followed by a safety drill where we were shown where our life rafts are kept. As we began to set sail from Ushuaia, we gathered in the Observation Lounge for a celebratory drink and canapes with Captain Artur from Russia who toasted us and his crew a safe and successful voyage. Expedition Leader then introduced himself and the Expedition Team; these would be the people who would be driving us in the zodiacs, presenting lectures, planning our landings and keeping us safe while we explore the beautiful yet isolated places on our voyage. Chris ran us through our expedition plan, and the atmosphere was buzzing with excitement. However, we were warned that the term ‘plan’ is very fluid, and that we can expect to move from ‘Plan A’ to ‘Plan D’ very quickly. After all, this was an expedition!

We then had a delicious buffet meal in the restaurant where we got to meet more of the wonderful crew who would be taking care of all our meals and beverages for the next 20 days. In the evening we spent time unpacking, resting from jetlag, and getting to know our new ship ‘family’ and of course, wildlife watching outside. Later in the evening we ventured back into the lounge where we participated in the very important IAATO (the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) and zodiac operations briefings, which are mandatory for our operations in the Antarctic and subantarctic regions.

The crew and staff on board have all been very welcoming, cheerful and eager to make us feel at home. We were so excited for what the next day of adventure would bring!

Day 2: At Sea, The Drake Passage

At Sea, The Drake Passage
Date: 02.02.2024
Position: 56° 49.4‘ S / 065° 28.1‘ W
Wind: W- 4
Weather: Partly cloudy
Air Temperature: +5

Today was the first full day at sea on the Drake Passage! The night was a bit wavy which lasted until the morning. Although some people were seasick, the majority slowly got used to the waves. The morning started with the first wake-up call from expedition leader Chris, after which breakfast was served between 8 and 9 AM.

After breakfast, an announcement was made to bring our thick woollen socks to Deck 3 to try on the warm, insulated waterproof muck boots. Afterwards, we went outside with the expedition team for 30 minutes of ‘wildlife watch’. This was to encourage us to get out in the fresh air, stretch the legs and help ease any seasickness we might have. Plus, one cannot expect to see wildlife from inside their cabins, so the best place to be is outside on deck! Later in the morning, Hazel presented a lecture in the observation lounge about albatrosses and other seabirds we have been observing around the ship and might encounter during the rest of our voyage. Here we got to see the actual length of an wandering albatross, measuring up to 3.5 meters (11.5 feet)!

A delicious lunch was served in the restaurant, after which Martin gave a presentation with tips and tricks for photography in the Observation Lounge. With the help of these tips, we felt a bit more prepared and eager to take some breathtaking photos of the incredible scenery and wildlife on our voyage. Elizabeth then invited us into the Lounge for her presentation on ‘Cetaceans of Antarctica’. It was a wonderful way of being introduced to the marine mammals of this region, as some of us had already spotted a few whales, and we expect to see many more of them during this voyage.

Our first sea day was spent playing games, drinking tea and perhaps if we didn’t get seasick, some of us even read some books from the nice collection of polar literature and wildlife guides in the library. The day ended with a brief ‘recap’ of the day. Recaps on board are small presentations of numerous topics about the Antarctic and subantarctic regions we endeavour to encounter, which would be presented at the end of each day before dinner, to help recount what we have seen that day, answer any burning questions about wildlife we have observed, or learn more about the historical and geographical aspects of the places we visit. Tonight’s recap included the history of the Antarctic Peninsula by Julia; Carina told us about the expressions we use onboard (‘portside’/’starboard’, ‘3 o’clock from the ship’) and Jakub gave us some insights on why Antarctica is so dry and cold.

Afterwards, a plated dinner was served in the Dining Room with tiramisu as dessert, a timeless classic! Now, the first day at sea on the Drake Passage has been completed; one more, and then we’re finally ready to set foot on the Antarctic Peninsula!

Day 3: At Sea, The Drake Passage

At Sea, The Drake Passage
Date: 03.02.2024
Position: 61° 27.4’ S / 063° 57.7’ W
Wind: NW- 4
Weather: Partly cloudy
Air Temperature: +3

“Good morning, Hondius, good morning” – said the smooth dulcet tones belonging to Expedition Leader Chris who woke us up at 07:45 on our second day through the Drake Passage. Shortly after, Hotel Manager William invited us to breakfast at 08:00. It was great to see that more of us made it to the restaurant this morning, compared to yesterday’s rock and rolling swell. A full day with several lectures was planned for today. We’ve started with a presentation in the lecture room from Joyce – ‘Exploring the wonders of the deep ocean floor in Antarctica’, where she passionately shared her interest and knowledge about creatures that live under the ocean’s surface and call the seabed home.

At 10:30 we all went out on deck to join the Expedition Team outside for our ‘Wildlife Watch’ through the Drake Passage. Thirty minutes of fresh air, having a chat and looking for wildlife. It was rather quiet around the ship. The whole day actually, but we did see some Wilsons storm petrels dancing on the surface of the water, and some blue petrels flying around the Hondius.

As we were approaching Antarctica, it was the perfect timing for our Expedition Guide Jakub, aka, ‘The Iceman’, to give his lecture, ‘On thin ice – why do we need it?’ As a university professor, he shared with enthusiasm and passion all of his incredible knowledge on the topic. At the same time, Jerry was giving his ‘Ice’ lecture for our Mandarin speaking guests in the lecture room. Buffet lunch included a wide variety of delicious treats today, and immediately after it was time for the mandatory IAATO ‘biosecurity’. This was an extremely important procedure to participate in to allow us to land in Antarctica in the following days. We were called deck by deck to come downstairs to Deck 3 where we had to bring all our outer garments, bags, boots, life jackets, tripods, etc. that we would plan on using while in Antarctica. All these pieces of clothing and equipment were to be thoroughly checked and cleaned (the vacuums even came out!) for any foreign seeds, soil and organic material we may have brought from our home countries or from our prior South American travels. For some of us it was quite a job, but when we were cleared by the Expedition Team and ticked off, it meant we were ready for our first adventure! In the afternoon it was time for another lecture, from Aitana this time. Her theme was appropriate for our sea day - ‘How the oceans move’. It was really interesting to learn more about the currents and waves of the ocean.

We all gathered in the lounge again at 18:15 to hear about the plans for tomorrow, and our daily recap from the Expedition Team. This was super exciting, as it would be our first day in Antarctica tomorrow!

Day 4: Damoy Point, Antarctica

Damoy Point, Antarctica
Date: 04.02.2024
Position: 64° 49.2’ S / 063° 32.3’ W
Wind: NE-5
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +1

Our first landing in Antarctica! Many of us got up quite early, some as early as 05:00, to see our passage through the Gerlache Strait. This was absolutely worth it as the sun was coming up, and some whales were even spotted this early in the day. At 07:45 we were ready to finally go on land. Guidelines by IAATO only permit 100 guests on land at a time, which means for our operations the guests are split into two groups; one group going shore, and the other zodiac cruising simultaneously, then they swap. Although it was quite windy, this is also what was promised to us: Antarctica as it really is, with a bit of swell and splash. Luckly for us most of us were well prepared and wore our waterproof clothing.

During the zodiac cruise we got to see gentoo penguins entering the water, which looked very clumsy! Funnily enough, in the water they look quite elegant! A true seabird indeed. A lonely Antarctic fur seal was spotted as well, and we were able to get closer to some nice icebergs drifting around Damoy Point. Very few of us got to see an elusive Minke whale; it just popped up twice before it was gone again. Hazel later told us during recap in the evening that thanks to this behaviour, marine biologists like to call them ‘slinkey minkes’.

For the landing at Damoy Point, we got to walk up to the gentoo penguin colony where we observed lots of funny and captivating behaviour. Hearing their calls, smelling their (very pungent) scent of their guano (poop), and just simply observing them was endless entrainment, almost synonymous to a tv soap episode. There were a lot of young gentoo chicks to our surprise, which was a little worrying as the Antarctic summer season is almost over, and they need to moult their fluffy down and get into their waterproof feathers in time before the soon approaching winter conditions lower temperatures and the formation of sea ice begins.

We also got to visit a historic hut, where Martin explained the history of this special place. The hut was originally established by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in 1975 and was used as a transit station and airfield for BAS staff to travel even farther South, when sea ice prevented ships from travelling there.

Today was also the first diving day for the scuba divers. After assembling the gear and a few adjustments in the morning, it was time to touch the water. But only for a check dive. We took shelter behind a small island nearby the landing site at Damoy Point as wind was a bit too strong. Underwater, lot of kelp and small crustaceans were seen, with a visibility of about two meters/six feet. Several weight adjustments were necessary as weight belts were slipping, gloves were flooded and some other minor little mishaps with gear proved that it was a good idea to conduct a check dive. Overall, it was a great start to our polar diving adventure!

In the afternoon, our original plan was to go to Orne Harbour, but we quickly noticed ashore that the wind was picking up not only to an uncomfortable degree, but an unsafe degree. The expedition staff still went out to assess the conditions, but it was unfortunately not possible. Chris, our Expedition Leader, reminded us the day before how plans can go from A to B to C and we got to experience this in the afternoon! ‘Plan C’ however, was wonderful, as the station crew of Port Lockroy came on board and talked about their work ashore managing the ‘Penguin Post Office’- the world’s southernmost post office, and the monitoring program of gentoo penguins that also call Port Lockroy home. After this interesting presentation, we were treated with some retail therapy from the post office gift shop, where some of us got stamp of the station in our passports, wrote and sent some postcards, and indulged in some fluffy toy penguins and memorabilia for ourselves and our loved ones. Most of the proceeds go towards the UK Heritage Trust Foundation, which helps preserve historic buildings and artefacts in Antarctica to help current and future generations discover, understand, value and protect this precious wilderness.

While the shop was open, Carina told us all about the different species of penguins that we can encounter on our voyage. Before we knew it, the day was already ending. In a short evening recap, Chris explained the plans for tomorrow and how we should prepare for a possible polar plunge!

After a long day, most of us went to bed early, our first successful day behind us!

Day 5: Portal Point and Danco Island, Antarctica

Portal Point and Danco Island, Antarctica
Date: 05.02.2024
Position: 64° 27.8’ S / 061° 58.0’ W
Wind: NE- 5
Weather: Fog
Air Temperature: +2

Our day started, for many, some time before the daily wakeup call from Chris. The weather was overcast with some snow on our transit towards Portal Point, our landing on ‘continental’ Antarctica!

The wakeup call informed us that we were nearly at our destination, and everything was looking good to get us ashore. After another very tasty breakfast we made our way back to our cabins to start the process of dressing for Antarctica, after a little practice we now realised that zodiac operations could very easily mean wet and quite cold, so to dress warmly with full waterproofs was very important.

The mornings operation was a split landing and zodiac cruise. The cruise resulted in so many whales we couldn’t believe our eyes! Humpback whales were everywhere, feasting on the copious amounts of Antarctic krill and other critters that the whales manage to trap with their baleen plates. We were astounded by the size of these magnificent creatures, their majestic movements in the water, so slow but purposeful resulting in a roll showing off their pectoral fins or a dive and the wonderful view of the tail flukes. Many of us captured some amazing photographs of this behaviour. Some of us also got to observe a minke whale, but as we learnt they are often referred to as ‘slinkey minkes’ and disappear very quickly after surfacing. We also got to see some more penguins porpoising through the water and saw our first (lonely) chinstrap penguin on an ice floe!

Even from the shore we could hear the whales coming up for breath and their deep exhalations, it was a truly magical whale extravaganza! Of course it was also such a treat to be able to stand on the continent of Antarctica. The route had been laid out for us by the expedition team to keep us away from any dangers such as crevasses and to give us some fantastic views of the water and mountains around us.

The divers also got in the water this morning, where they dived around a grounded iceberg. It was an amazing experience to see the sheer volume of the berg underwater.

Before too long it was time to get back to the ship, have some lunch and move to our next destination, Danco Island. The transit would take nearly three hours so plenty of time to warm up, have a relaxing lunch and to watch the spectacular scenery go by.

Danco Island is a relatively small island, with a steep climb to the top. On the way to the top of the island we passed a couple of gentoo penguin colonies and were very entertained by their ‘penguin highways’. As always, we give way to wildlife down here, and it was so funny to observe their little tracks and seemingly busy lives they lead. Who would have thought before this trip that penguin highways were a thing! These amazing seabirds climb so high to get to the best nesting spots (and a pretty good view as well!)

The divers went out again in the afternoon to another iceberg, with one lucky diver having seen an octopus! Some of the snorkelers headed to a beach nearby our landing site and waded in the shallows to watch the penguins go in and out of the water. The photographers and videographers were delighted to take this opportunity of taking great shots.

It was soon time to make our way down, and for some, ‘The Polar Plunge!’ Several of us braved the elements and with all but our swimsuits on, shrieked with joy and nerves as we dived into the icy water. After a well-earned warm shower and a hot drink, it was time for daily briefing and recap and another scrumptious dinner.

Day 6: Orne Harbour and Foyn Harbour, Antarctica

Orne Harbour and Foyn Harbour, Antarctica
Date: 06.02.2024
Position: 64° 37.0’ S / 061° 59.5’ W
Wind: SSE- 2
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +1

Our morning started with some seriously strong winds and unfortunately unfavourable conditions for our landing at Orne Harbour. The anemometer (the instrument that measures wind speed) measured over 45 knots and there was too much brash ice in the bay to get zodiacs into the landing site.

In the morning we continued to sail through Wilhelmina Bay to reach our afternoon’s destination, Foyn Harbour. Throughout we were passed numerous humpback whales and were yet again blown away by the sheer number of them.

One of the most important aspects of an expedition cruise is that we not only find ourselves in breathtaking landscapes but visit historic places of early explorers and encounter unique animals. In the writer’s opinion what makes the voyage go beyond and complete is the knowledge shared during lectures. The in-depth information deepens our understanding of nature, the ecosystem and the animals’ lives. It is especially nice to see how passionate the guides are when presenting.

Today’s program started with Elizabeth sharing insights into the ‘Charismatic Ocean Traveller’, the humpback whale. This cosmopolitan species is known for their acrobatic aerial displays and underwater songs. This well-studied species offers a lot of fascinating and surprising insights. Elizabeth also explained how researchers use the colouration pattern on the underside of the flukes to identify individuals. She invited us to take part in the citizen science project called ‘Happy Whale’ (www.happywhale.com) by submitting photographs taken during the cruise.

Later, dive team leader Faith took us onto a little journey to the underwater world of Antarctica, which the divers on board have had the pleasure to discover during the voyage. Who would have thought that there is so much hidden beauty of creatures of various shapes, sizes, colours and lifestyles under the water and ice.

After lunch, life on board got busy as we prepared for a zodiac cruise in Foyn Harbour. While the zodiacs were launched one by one onto the water, two humpback whales passed near the ship inviting us to follow them at a respectful distance. It became an interesting observation as these two later joined a group of four, two of which being calves.

The beauty about staying with animals for prolonged times is, that one gets a better understanding of their behavioural repertoire, area use and inter-specific interactions. Unlike orcas, the humpbacks coming together are not related. They form temporary groups to increase their hunting success. Once the prey is too depleted, they split up into groups of two or three.

During the zodiac cruise we visited the shipwreck of the Norwegian Governoren, sticking halfway out of the water. The divers had a great time to glide along this iron monster offering an ideal home for many marine creatures under water. Originally a cattle carrier, the ship was turned into one of the largest factory ships of its time, offering enough space on board to flense and process whale carcasses. The large amounts of blubber were then cooked in huge boilers to gain the oil. At one point there were 20, 000 gallons stored in large tanks. At the end of the hard whaling season in 1915, the crew partied below deck when the ship and the whale oil caught fire. By grounding the ship on land, all 85 crew members were saved leaving the whale catcher behind. Today it is a strong reminder of the dark times of industrial whaling in Antarctica.

The day was not over yet! During a delicious dessert, Chris made an announcement that caused everyone to put down their spoons and swiftly run for their binoculars and cameras…. “Orcas!” We had a wonderful orca encounter with a group of around ten individuals that the Expedition Team identified as being ‘Large Type B’ orcas. There are five ‘ecotypes’ of orcas found in the Antarctic and subantarctic waters, and although they are the same species, they differ in appearance, habitat, diet and hunting strategies. The orcas came right up to the ship at one stage, and we continued to watch them cruise into the distance, perhaps foraging and hunting for a meal.

What a beautiful ending to another brilliant day in Antarctica!

Day 7: Duroch Islands, Antarctica and King George Island, South Shetland Islands

Duroch Islands, Antarctica and King George Island, South Shetland Islands
Date: 07.02.2024
Position: 63° 18.7’ S / 057° 55.8’ W
Wind: E-5
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +1

Wake-up call was at 07:15 today, bright and early! We were ready for our last day of exploring the Peninsula. After we had breakfast from 07:00-08:00 the expedition guides picked us up from the shell doors and we were ready for our next adventure. First the blue group, followed approximately 15 minutes later by the orange group. The program this morning was zodiac cruising around the Duroch Islands and a short landing on one of the islands.

Some rain, snow, and wind didn’t keep us from enjoying the icebergs and scenery. The landing in the small cove was amazing. Male Antarctic fur seals were resting on the rocks and didn’t seem to matter that we were walking past and taking pictures. We asked why there weren’t any females or pups about, and we learnt that all the mothers and young are still at South Georgia where their breeding colonies are. The older males and sub adult males are now farther southward here in the Peninsula as there is plenty of food for them to hunt on. There were lots of chinstrap and gentoo penguins ashore, and some of us saw the odd Adélie penguin as well! This was an amazing opportunity to see all three ‘brushtail’ penguin species in one place. Now we could also take steady pictures of the penguins who always seem to be busy with something. The penguins were also swimming in ‘rafts’ in the water and many of them queuing up at the rocks on shore to dive in. Cute, but clumsy little guys. Some tumbled over and bounced back, others slipped before taking a dive. Every time again a spectacle to watch and observe.

We also passed the Chilean Antarctic station, General Bernardo O'Higgins. The base was established on 18 February 1948 by the Chilean Antarctic Expedition and is one of the Antarctic bases with the longest times of continuous operation.

The divers heading out again, with this morning being a true expedition dive as only a few people on board ever came to Duroch Island. Some medium size fishes, kelp on the bottom and even penguin bones were found!

Back on board we could warm up again and make ourselves down to the Dining Room for another delicious buffet lunch.

Expedition guide Chloe is totally in love with seals. At 14:00 we all gathered in the Observation Lounge to hear her lecture about all the different seal species of the Southern Ocean, but it was first the expedition leader Chris who informed us about our changed plans for the afternoon, due to a medical evacuation from one of the expedition guides. As we were close to King George Island, one of the South Shetland Islands, it was the best option to sail there, and it would not interfere too much with our schedule. A heart-warming applause rose out of the audience, and then Chloe took over to start her seal lecture. It was interesting to be able to compare the different seal species that we had seen.

At 16:30 there were two other lectures given. Rose informed us about the French Antarctic explorer Charcot for our Mandarin speaking guests, and Saskia told the intriguing story about the Belgian Antarctic Expedition, which gave the name to the Gerlache Strait that we had been sailing through the last few days. After the talks, we sailed into a large bay at King George Island. A busy island with a lot of research stations from different countries. From deck we could see Great Wall Station from China, Escudero from Chile and the Russian Bellingshausen Station.

At 18:15 Chris told us in the recap that, after the drop off from the evacuation was done, he could tell us more about the timings for tomorrow. We had dinner in the dining room and around 21:30 we were on our way to our new destination, name unknown. Exciting times ahead!

Day 8: Elephant Island and Iceberg ‘A23a’

Elephant Island and Iceberg ‘A23a’
Date: 08.02.2024
Position: 61° 82.9’ S / 054° 36.9’ W
Wind: SW-4
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +1

As we left the pristine, snowcapped Antarctic mountains behind, we started heading northeast towards South Georgia. However, today is no ordinary sea day. Our expedition leader Chris has something special planned for us all.

In the morning, we have the delight of listening to our expedition guide Annelou, who delivers her lecture comparing Antarctica to… Mars! Both of these worlds are cold, dry, and extreme in many other aspects, but what makes them even more similar are glaciers and ice caps. These are a promising source of water for future astronauts and a priceless source of data about ancient climate of Mars for scientists.

Soon after the lecture we start to see ice-capped mountains on the horizon, the coasts of Elephant Island, where Point Wild is located. This particular site is of historic significance to many of us on board. Point Wild is the exact location where Ernest Shackleton and his crew set up camp for four months, whilst Shackleton and five men set off in one of their lifeboats, the James Caird, for South Georgia in order to find a rescue ship for the remainder of his men. As we are approaching the morning destination in misty and windy weather, typical for this area, our Captain Artur does a fantastic job of maneuvering Hondius into the more sheltered bay adjacent to Point Wild. Everyone then proceeds to head out on to the bow, grabs a camera and take tens of photographs of the surrounding landscape.

After lunch, it is time for a South Georgia and biosecurity briefing in the lounge and soon afterwards for another lecture. This time Ursula from the expedition team explains the fascinating feeding and hunting strategies of whales and dolphins.

Shortly before the dinner somebody on the bridge discovers another of our highlights of today in the far distance: the giant tabular iceberg A-23a. It is now nearly 2000 km north from its birthplace, the Ronne Ice Shelf. Measuring 88 by 80 km and weighing an estimated over 1000 billion tons it is today’s largest floating mass of ice! Interestingly, it detached from the ice shelf in 1986, but because it was stranded in a colder region of Antarctica for nearly 30 years it remained nearly unchanged until today.

WW W.OCEANWIDE-EXPEDITIONS.COM Everybody is now out on deck admiring this unusual sight. Lots of photos are taken as the breaking high waves nicely contrast with the motionless iceberg in the background. And many of us are wondering how such a giant can float and drift. After a long sail we reach its end after dinner. The officer on the bridge increases our speed taking up the original course towards South Georgia via South Orkney Islands.

Day 9: At sea, sailing towards South Orkney Islands

At sea, sailing towards South Orkney Islands
Date: 09.02.2024
Position: 60° 53.7’ S / 045° 58.7’ W
Wind: WSW-7
Weather: Fog/overcast
Air Temperature: 0

Chinese New Year found us leaving the Antarctica Peninsula behind on our way to South Georgia. We woke up to a festive atmosphere with the windows decorated with Chinese cartoons. This year’s will be the Dragon year, how exciting!

Today will be an exciting day with lectures in the morning, dumpling making in the afternoon and a pub quiz at night. Unfortunately, wind and swell conditions prohibited us to land at the South Orkney Islands, but we could see them from afar and boy did it look wet and wild out there!

During the morning there was a talk organized about Shackleton by Saskia and Jerry, where we learnt the extreme challenges and hardships that these brave men endured on their journey to survival. Their sheer tenacity and bravery were such an inspiration in those perilous polar conditions they experienced, much harsher than we are experiencing on our voyage.

Also during the morning some of us gathered for a game called ‘Black Magic’, in which through some sort of witchcraft Chloe and Joyce could communicate and guess objects that us players had chosen. After a few rounds a few of us started sharing the ‘magic’ and were able to communicate through their thoughts as well in a mysterious way…

Next up was more biosecurity for South Georgia, and after some practice we were getting a lot more efficient on locating any foreign material on our items. Boots were scratched and dumped in Virkon, Velcros (oh what a nightmare!!) were picked with the safety pins, gloves, hats, pockets and meshes (oh what an even bigger nightmare!) were vacuumed. We have never been this meticulous in cleaning our clothes! But we understand the importance of this procedure for not only our entry onto the island but also for the local wildlife and vegetation.

Due to time zone differences, we entered the Chinese New Year while having lunch. Happy New Year to you Hondius!

We then gathered in the Dining Room for more New Year celebrations- dumpling making!

The kitchen staff prepared the dough with flour and water, and the filling with a special kind of meat and spices. Tables were prepared with floured tries and bowls with meat and chopstick to fill the dumplings. Music was filling the room helping with the atmosphere. The Chinese guests shared their knowledge with the group, rolling and cutting the dough to prepare a flat round shaped dough which then was filled with the meat and sealed in a very special way. It was so interesting to see the skilled women create beautiful shapes with the dough, like flowers and envelopes. It was lots of fun to learn how to create (or try at least) those shapes.

Some of the dumplings were filled with a clove of garlic. If you were to find that garlic, it meant good luck and you got to cash in a prize later on. You would also be asked to make a wish!

We ended up with a wonderful array of dumplings that would be steamed for dinner time. After the dumpling making there was also time for dancing! Some of us enjoyed the music and took to the dining room as a dance floor. Many happy faces and swirls!

We had plated dinner in the dining room with the handmade dumplings as entrée, and they were so tasty! We kept our eyes (and tastebuds!) out for the lucky garlic.

The night continued with a video made by Rose where all the expedition team tried their best at saying ‘Xīn Nián Kuài Lè’ which means ‘Happy New Year’ in Mandarin.

This was followed by an ‘Antarctic Pub Quiz’, where 30 questions were given to test our knowledge about Antarctica- its wildlife, the polar explorers and all sorts of information gathered during our lectures and landings. People gathered on teams and they put all their efforts in answering all the questions. In general, people did very well with some teams scoring 29 points out of 30, woo-hoo!

But first, the lucky garlics! Five lucky winners found a garlic in their dumpling and were gifted with an Oceanwide Patch. They were also asked about their wishes and almost all of them wished for good weather for the next few days and for the next landings.

What a fun day to enter the new year!

Day 10: At sea, sailing towards South Georgia

At sea, sailing towards South Georgia
Date: 10.02.2024
Position: 57° 56.8’ S / 039° 58.2’ W
Wind: WSW-8
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +4

“Good morning Hondius, good morning”, Expedition Leader Chris awoke us with at 07:45. Another day at sea ahead for us, through the wild Southern Ocean, mystery over every wave’s crest and under every wave’s trough. We never know what to expect on this expedition, and that’s the beauty of expedition cruising. Mystery and adventure await us. Seabirds soared around the Hondius, and we were now in the approach of then much anticipated South Georgia, which meant more chances of albatross spotting as we come closer to their breeding colonies.

We started the daily ‘edutainment’ off with a fascinating lecture by Annelou- ‘South Georgia: an introduction from an Earth Science perspective’. It was wonderful to see Annelou’s passion for geology and the physical environment, sometimes these aspects of nature can be overlooked by charismatic wildlife.

We were accompanied by more whales en route to South Georgia, including fin whales and humpback whales. After our orca encounter the other day, it was only fitting that Elizabeth gave us a very detailed and entertaining lecture about orcas and their behavior, life histories and explained more about the different ‘ecotypes’ found here in the Antarctic and subantarctic waters. Orcas are truly fascinating creatures and can be very misunderstood, and we were so lucky to have witnessed them the other evening.

Another delicious buffet lunch was served in the Dining Room, which afterwards we were welcomed by Joyce in the lecture room for her lecture ‘Subzero survival: cold-adaptations of Antarctic wildlife’.

Jakub also gave us an informative and entertaining talk about ‘Ten things you must know about icebergs’ and we were so fascinated by the concept of ‘green’ icebergs, that Jakub announced the first person to see one would get a free drink at the bar. We were all very eager to find one and capture it for our prize.

Before we knew it, the day was almost over and it was time for daily briefing and recap in the Lounge with the rest of the Expedition Team. Another delicious plated dinner was served, and we shared lots of interesting conversations with our ship mates as we continued to get to know each other and form friendships.

After dinner, we were extremely privileged to join Richard ‘Rick’ Stanton from the dive team in the lecture room for an inspiring and impressive talk about his experience as the rescue team of the Thailand cave rescue back in 2018. Rick recounted the rescue efforts with utmost detail and modesty, and hearing firsthand his experience was truly a humbling moment for us all. The room was in tears and applause, and we were so grateful to have had this opportunity and so astounded by Ricks team’s efforts and achievements in successfully rescuing all 13 members of the Thai soccer team.

At times like these, surrounded by so many inspiring stories from both people on board and the brave explorers we hear about in the lectures, we can be reminded by a quote by the famous mountaineer and explorer Sir Edmund Hillary who, along with Tibetan mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, were the first to summit Mt Everest. “People do not decide to be extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.”

Day 11: St Andrews Bay and Godthul, South Georgia

St Andrews Bay and Godthul, South Georgia
Date: 11.02.2024
Position: 54° 17.5’ S / 036° 06.0’ W
Wind: NE- 2
Weather: Sunny
Air Temperature: +10

Finally, after some days at sea we prepared to head for land again! In the morning we arrived at St Andrews Bay, where it was gusting with wind. This was extremely spectacular, as this was by far the most wind we had experienced during the trip. Instead of having a zodiac cruise, we decided for a ship cruise because of these extreme conditions. Clara told us in the morning a little bit more about subantarctic kelp forests in her lecture, and how they can grow up to 30 cm in one day! We got to experience this amazing kelp later in our zodiac cruise that afternoon when the kelp beds were so abundant and thick they became quite the obstacle manoeuvring the zodiacs!

A beautiful green iceberg was spotted, and Jacob, our ice expert on board, explained a little bit more about this in his lecture: ‘Ten things you should know about icebergs’. As we got closer to shore, we could see the white-yellow patch ahead; what was this? A colony of king penguins! To see such a huge amount of them from afar was quite special. It is estimated about 150,00 king penguins are found here!

In the afternoon, we got the opportunity to stretch our legs at Godthul. This was also our very first landing on South Georgia. Godthul means ‘good gove’ in Norwegian and the harbour was probably named by Norwegian sealers and whalers. On the shore, some whaling artefacts were still visible and lots of whale bones from this time remain. We had an encounter with our first king penguins, fur seals and elephant seals up close on the beach. For those who wanted, it was possible to do a little hike up to the lake. Going through up the tussock grass, with every now and then a hidden fur seal, was quite the challenge but it was definitely worth it! Up above we had a beautiful view of the lake, and there was a gentoo penguin colony as well.

We noticed a strange looking cloud as well hovering over one of the mountains, a lenticular cloud! These clouds almost resemble UFO’s and it was so impressive to watch it dissipate, form and reform over and over again during the course of the afternoon.

The other half of the group went for their zodiac cruise in the bay. With these beautiful conditions, warm, almost no wind and certainly no rain, it was very comfortable.

Most of us got quite lucky and saw several macaroni penguins in the water! They are very characteristic with their thicker bill and the crest on their heads, and not hard to spot. There were some sheltered coves where we could get very close to some groups of king penguins and fur seal pups, while manoeuvring through the kelp forests.

All in all, the afternoon was well spent, and everybody got back onboard tired but very happy about our first day in beautiful South Georgia!

Day 12: Husvik Harbour and Grytviken, South Georgia

Husvik Harbour and Grytviken, South Georgia
Date: 12.02.2024
Position: 54° 07.7’ S / 036° 33.0’ W
Wind: E- 4
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +3

The morning started with a 06:45 wake up call to invite everyone to breakfast. After breakfast at 08:15, people were invited to join a zodiac cruise at Husvik Bay! Husvik is a former whaling station, which first started out as an offshore, floating whaling station in 1907. The following year, activities were also brought to land, which we now saw the remnants of! Next to the history station, Husvik Bay offered lots of beautiful waterfalls and hidden caves, which were full of wildlife. Antarctic fur seals, elephant seals, southern giant petrels, gentoo penguins were some of the species we saw. Then, it was time to head back to the ship to warm up!

Before we could start our lunchtime, we had to do another one of your favorite activities; biosecurity! It is, however, extremely important as we were heading to one of the well-known landing sites; Grytviken! Before we could set foot on land, we had to make sure that all our gear was completely clean. Thanks to our efforts, we had a 100% pass by the Grytviken officer who went onboard to check our gear! To celebrate, we were offered happy hour for everyone!

Then, as we approached the landing site of Grytviken, we were surrounded by many fur seals in the water who welcomed us ashore. There were many fur seals, and many more pups, some of just one-two months old! We saw the adult female fur seals coming on land, and you could see they were listening to the cries of their pup, to find them and feed them. Once we had all gotten on shore, there were many more fur seals and their pups, elephant seals, gentoos, and even molting king penguins for us to see! We also saw many skuas and some South Georgia pintails. Grytviken is truly a magical site; an old whaling station completely deserted where nature has taken over again. It has lots of history attached to it, with the final whales being caught in 1965, after which the station was closed. Now, Grytviken welcomes us to explore their gallery, church, post office and museum, where many of us did not only learn about the site and its history, but also went souvenir shopping!

It was a nice and calm afternoon, and everyone was eager to explore the site to its fullest; we joined the tours at 15:00 and 16:00 o’clock led by the local South Georgia Government staff and to gain more insights and information. When it was time to head back to the ship, we passed the final resting place of the great Antarctic explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton. When we get home, we will be raising a glass of Scotch whiskey in his honor, as this was his favorite!

Once we all had gotten back on the ship, it was time for a short recap, after which we all put our layers back on to get ready for the Antarctic BBQ! Here, food was served outside were we had a lovely and cosy dinner outside of Grytviken in Cumberland Bay. The weather was calm, the food was delicious, and the company was amazing, a fun night for sure! The night ended upon the dancefloor, after which (most of us) were ready for the next day!

Day 13: Leith Harbour and Fortuna Bay, South Georgia

Leith Harbour and Fortuna Bay, South Georgia
Date: 13.02.2024
Position: 54° 07.1’ S / 036° 37.0’ W
Wind: SSE-4
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +4

Yet another big day lay ahead of us today as we pulled into Leith Harbour in the early hours of the morning. There was only little wind and the cloud was low, hugging the mountains surrounding the derelict whaling station, the largest in South Georgia. From distance we could see the huge oil and fuel tanks, the flensing plant, warehouses and other rust-coloured factory buildings. In amongst the rusty tractors and barrels were resting elephant seals and Antarctic fur seals, now the principal habitants of the area.

Just after breakfast we embarked zodiacs that took us ashore, just some hundreds of metres south of the whaling station buildings. The small landing cove was filled with fur seals and penguins, all enjoying their morning activities. As we got off the zodiacs, we could not stop photographing the wildlife that we were so privileged to observe from close distance. The expedition team offered us two hiking options.

First disembarked the long hikers who walked all the way up to the headwalls of the valley. Subsequently arrived the short hikers who spent their time a bit closer to the landing site, but who had more time to admire the daily life of all the amazing creatures that make South Georgia famous for: noisy female elephant seals, curious fur seal pups, and adorable and clumsy king penguins. Everyone had a chance to go to a lake and a lookout point with a perspective over the entire Leith Harbour station. At about 11 AM it was time to get back to Hondius for lunch.

The time had come for our final South Georgia destination – Fortuna Bay. Located on the north shores of the island, Fortuna Bay is surrounded by a rugged, mountainous landscape and covered by rich, green tussock fields. Home to healthy populations of king Penguins, Antarctic fur Seals, elephant seals, brown skuas, giant petrel and Antarctic tern, this scenic bay was named after a co-owned Norwegian and Argentinian whaling ship.

We landed on the shore in two split groups, two-three hours one after another. The beach was just buzzing with king penguins and fur seals, they were just everywhere! We moved very slowly towards the Konig glacier at the head of Fortuna Bay, making stops every few steps to take pictures and videos of the amazing animal behaviours with our red-hot cell phones and cameras.

On our way to the lookout point at the end of the set-out route we crossed a small river which was filled by juvenile seals playing in the water. What an incredible chance to watch these little troublemakers close by! Once we reached the final lookout point, it was mesmerizing to watch the huge colony of king penguins gathering in one place. Seeing tens of penguins together is fantastic, but observing and listening to thousands of them was a different level of experience and an unforgettable moment for all of us.

After a couple of last hours spent with the penguins it was time to get back to Hondius. For many it is not easy to say goodbye to this wonderland, but it is not the end of our journey, as we are now setting sail towards the Falkland Islands.

Day 14: At sea, sailing towards the Falkland Islands

At sea, sailing towards the Falkland Islands
Date: 14.02.2024
Position: 53° 11.5’ S / 042° 00.1’ W
Wind: WSW-8
Weather: Overcast/fog
Air Temperature: +4

14th of February - it’s Valentine’s Day! We woke up and enjoyed another breakfast in our Hondius home. Shortly after breakfast Hazel told us everything about humans’ relationship with whales and dolphins. It was very interesting to listen to how these two species share connections and similarities.

After a short break and some coffee, we followed Chris’s life story of how he became a field trainer at Scott Base, New Zealand’s Antarctic research station deep in the Ross Sea. Chris’ role was to teach scientists and other station personnel how to work and survive in the cold, and essential skills for working in remote regions.

It was then time for lunchtime, the food is just too good on the ship, and we are gaining more and more weight, it’s fantastic.

After a short nap for some of us, Jerry and Saskia talked about the amazing race to the South Pole and how the tragedy end from Amundsen who was the first to reach the south pole and Scott who reached it a bit later too but died unfortunately on his way back.

At 4 o’clock it was time for our lovely snack from our bakery onboard. This time we had little cookies in heart shape to celebrate the day of love.

The last lecture of that day was given by Martin, our resident birder on board. He introduced all kinds of birds which we could encounter in the Falklands Islands. Martin was also once the policeman in Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands, so he had a wealth of local knowledge of both the place itself and its wildlife.

Before we headed to dinner, we listened to Chris and the plans for the next day and some more history and wildlife information in the recap by the expedition team. The day ended with a lovely dinner yet again made by the wonderful kitchen staff.

Day 15: At sea, sailing towards the Falkland Islands

At sea, sailing towards the Falkland Islands
Date: 15.02.2024
Position: 52° 17.9’ S / 051° 02.3’ W
Wind: SW-5
Weather: Rain/fog
Air Temperature: +6

We are still on our way to the Falkland/Malvinas Islands. After a very rocky start of the trip, the ocean is giving us a break and the swell has calmed down a little.

The lecture schedule started with Annelou and her talk – ‘Ices cores: Archives of the past’. She explained how to sample ice cores and what kind of information do they provide.

Later in the morning Rose gave a talk called “Whaling History” in Mandarin in the Observation Lounge while Ursula gave a talk called ‘Whaling: the Dark Times’ in the Lecture Room.

After lunch, the movie “Falklands War: The Untold Story” was projected in the Lecture Room with quite the audience.

Later in the afternoon Carina gave her talk about the M/V Hondius in the Observation Lounge, and a special guest joined her- Guntis Dizbite, the Hondius Chief Engineer. They told us all about the technical components of the ship, its size, layout, and things we didn’t even know existed onboard.

In the evening there was recap led by the Expedition Leader Chris where he explained the weather forecast and the plan for the next day. We would be arriving to Stanley in the Falkland Islands where we could go to town and enjoy some” city” vibes. Plated dinner was then served, and the South Georgia Heritage Trust auction was planned for the evening’s entertainment.

But first, Happy Hour! We had the opportunity to enjoy some drinks before the auction, to get us ready to spend some money for a good cause- helping with the maintenance and conservation of South Georgia’s wildlife, heritage, and environment.

Our hosts were Hazel, Rose, and Martin. Chris was the one to ‘model’ the item auctioned to the audience and make sure everyone had a good idea of what was at stake.

There were a few mystery items which were very exciting, these were things such as a zodiac lesson with Jerry, the opportunity of doing the ‘wake up’ call, the chance to get a picture with the expedition guides and the privilege of steering Hondius! Wow! These were amazing prizes! The other prizes went from Shackleton’s whisky to penguin related items. One of the star items was the Oceanwide flag that has been sailing with us at the bow of Hondius since we left Ushuaia!

Another of the star items was our Expedition Leader Chris’ book “The Boy from Gorge River” and the opportunity to have dinner with him and get him to tell a few more adventures from his days in Scott Base, Antarctica. A beautiful hand decorated chart was also a desired prize illustrated by our talented Expedition Guides Annelou and Chloe.

The hosts did a fantastic job with the bidding. The night went very well with some good bidding fights over the fantastic prizes. At the end of the night ~4,300 GBP were raised for this good cause.

Thank you to all participants and for raising so much money for the South Georgia Heritage!

Day 16: Stanley, The Falkland Islands

Stanley, The Falkland Islands
Date: 16.02.2024
Position: 51° 40.0’ S / 057° 48.9’ W
Wind: NNE-4
Weather: Sunny
Air Temperature: +10

The sky was light blue, the sun bright and the sea quite calm this morning when we the wake-up call sounded over the PA system. Although surrounded by the open ocean, we knew we were going to see land later in the morning when the Falkland Islands will raise out from the horizon.

After breakfast, Martin shared insights about his time living and working in Stanley. He first showed us the police station and the adjacent prison. His stories showed how much he enjoyed his time there thousands of kilometres away from the UK.

Later in the morning the silhouette of the island to the east appeared on the horizon and getting closer, numerous large blows rose into the sky. Most likely of sei whales, the smaller cousins of the fin whales we had seen in Antarctica. During lunch the Hondius passed the ‘Narrows’ and got to its anchor place not far from the pier.

Although the winds blew strong from the south, the offshore island sheltered us well. Soon the zodiacs were lowered to shuttle us to the pier where an impressive South American sea lion was napping, and a vulture circled above.

At first it took a bit of extra attention to get used to the range rovers driving on the wrong side of the street. It didn’t take long and all of us had walked away in various directions to visit souvenir shops and little cafés while some were much more drawn to the unique gin distillery, beer brewery and the pub farther up the streets.

Nobody however missed to take photos of the church with the impressive monument made of four gigantic blue whale jaws. Past the police station another must was to be visited. The Historic Dockyard Museum were countless objects presented the Islanders’ lives some decades ago. Being so far from any settlement demanded hard work, modesty, great manual skills, and creativity well presented in the houses of the press and the blacksmith.

There was so much to see that time passed fast. Loaded with various gifts and filled with unique impressions we returned home late in the afternoon. When all were back on board and Martin’s return was also confirmed, the crew lifted anchor. Slowly we passed through the Narrows again taking course northeast to sail around the east coast.

After having spent more than two weeks at sea and stepping foot on the most remote places, today’s visit of civilisation was quite a strong contrast. We all were happy to know that we were going to have two more days to land at remote places in the west to visit albatross and penguins.

Day 17: Carcass Island, The Falkland Islands

Carcass Island, The Falkland Islands
Date: 17.02.2024
Position: 51° 18.4’ S / 060° 33.3’ W
Wind: NW-4
Weather: Rain/overcast
Air Temperature: +11

Chris had told us we needed to make the most out of the day, so we started with an early, 06:15, wake-up call and at 6:30 breakfast was ready in the dining room. It was our first landing in the Falklands, so we were all very eager to start the day at Carcass Island.

At 7:45, as usual, we were all dressed in full waterproofs, and board the firsts zodiacs heading to Leopard Beach were lots of Magellanic penguins were waiting for us, and this was our 6th species of penguin on this trip, WOW!

We started our long hike from Leopard Beach, along the shore, to the settlement of about 2.5 miles (4km). During our walk, we could see lots of kelp forests on the shore and enjoyed the landscape… as we could! We experienced typical Falkland Islands’ weather: the wind was blowing, clouds were low, and, for some moments, it was pouring rain and we could even hear some thunder in the distance. Nevertheless, the walk was beautiful.

The second group was dropped directly at the settlement, a beautiful little cottage surrounded by cypress trees and curious striated caracaras (‘johnny rooks’) where we were all invited for the traditional ‘smoko’ (tea, coffee and cookies) that was served in the main house from about 10 o’clock.

At the same time the divers were enjoying the diversity of the subantarctic kelp forest, just around the corner! Water temperature was 11°C, 20 divers in the water, nobody wanted to miss the first Falkland dive! Diversity was amazing- octopuses, spider crabs, sea stars, painted shrimps, sponges, amphipods, lots of egg sacs attached to the kelp and red algae. Dives lasted between 45 to 60min, a nice water temperature and so much to see, nobody wanted to come up!

Once we were back on the Hondius, we changed our wet clothes and went for lunch that our head chef Gaurav Bawa and all the gally team had kindly prepared for us. Shortly after lunch, Chris invited us to an early recap on activities for the afternoon and plans for tomorrow. Sadly, our afternoon visit to Saunders Island was cancelled due to wind (up to 45kn) and swell conditions. We knew this could happen, due to the forecast that our EL gave us, therefore we were ready for an exploration afternoon, and these types of things can happen during exploration.

At 16:30 Udo Engelhardt (one of the guests) gave a talk on climate change - ‘One world, one climate, one (last) chance’. Udo is the Chief Scientist of the Climate Task Force, and his lecture really alerted us on the urgence of thinking and pursuing systematic solutions for reverting climate change.

After Udo´s talk, plated dinner was served in the Dining Room, and to wrap up this brilliant day, Richard Stanton (another guest) told us about his cave diving experiences before the rescue in Thailand. What a mysterious world, that of caves!

“The greatest adventure of all is life itself” - Bertrand Piccard.

Day 18: West Point Island, The Falkland Islands

West Point Island, The Falkland Islands
Date: 18.02.2024
Position: 51° 20.7’ S / 060° 40.0’ W
Wind: N-4
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +10

This morning many of us were up and about before the wake-up call from Chris. The brightness shining through the curtains had got us to the windows and portholes and a stunning sunrise was the reason. In stark contrast to yesterday, the skies had cleared, and the sun was rising above the horizon. As usual the wake-up call came exactly on time with another sumptuous breakfast just a few minutes later.

It was then time to get ready for our morning at Westpoint Island. The zodiacs were waiting at the shell doors to take us the short distance to the sheltered bay where we would see the jetty in front of the small settlement at Westpoint Island. Westpoint, as well as being the home to several species of birds, is a working sheep farm. There are 200 sheep on Westpoint and today was the day when they would get sheared. Once safely on shore we walked the 2.2 kilometres across the Island towards the highlight of the morning, the black-browed albatross colony. The first part of the walk was uphill, which some found a little steep, but once on to it was fairly flat for the majority of the time.

We followed the flags through gates and fields, empty of the sheep that had been taken in for shearing towards our destination. For the few people on board that were struggling, a Landrover was available to assist on the journey to the albatross.

At the farthest point we were greeted with the sight of many beautiful, fluffy chicks sitting on their ‘pots’ otherwise known as nests! The chicks could be described as fluffy slippers as they sat with their heads down resting and digesting their last meal of squid. The adults were flying all around us; we could hear the wind in their wings as the birds flew so closely above our heads as they swooped around the colony. It was a truly memorable time. We could really appreciate just how big these birds were! It was not only the albatrosses that were the stars, because they live side by side with rockhopper penguins. The rockhopper is one of the smaller penguins but it makes up for this with its large character and flamboyant yellow eyebrows or tufts.

Sadly, this was to be our last landing and all too quickly it was time to head back along the track (all downhill) back to the farm and the jetty and the zodiac back to Hondius. On the way back the sun shone, the birds were flying around the gorse bushes, and it had turned into a beautiful, sunny, Falkland Islands summer morning. As we returned to the ship it was time for another fantastic lunch and then an afternoon of relaxing as we set sail on the way home back to Ushuaia.

Day 19: At sea, sailing towards Ushuaia

At sea, sailing towards Ushuaia
Date: 19.02.2024
Position: 54° 33.6’ S / 064° 43.7’ W
Wind: NNW-3
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +8

Our last day at sea! The time has flown by so quickly, yet it feels like forever ago that we crossed the Drake Passage. Luckily this crossing back to Ushuaia via The Falklands wasn’t too bad, with most of us by now gained our impressive sea legs! The day was full to the brim of course with lots of education and entertainment on the agenda.

First up was Clara in the Lecture Room giving us a fascinating talk about plankton, ‘Tiny but mighty’. And these microscopic organisms were sure mighty! We learnt that plankton can come in both the ‘animal’ form- zooplankton, and the ‘plant’ form- phytoplankton. And that even larger animals like Antarctic krill (which can reach up to 7cm in length!), to small fishes, are also classified as plankton when they are in their larval and juvenile stages! An organism is basically considered plankton if it is carried by the currents in the water and cannot swim well enough on its own. Some plankton drift through the water column for their entire life cycle!

Next up was some more of the Expedition Team presenting a ‘wildlife medley’ which included tidbits and fun facts about numerous Antarctic and subantarctic species. After yet another delicious lunch, we joined Chris for his talk about other destinations Oceanwide travels too. I know some of us have well and truly caught the ‘polar bug’ and are now considering exploring the Arctic!

The afternoon included a Hondius Pub Quiz (Part II!) to further test our knowledge (and memories). Hosted by Joyce and Chloe, we were tested on not only how well we paid attention to the lectures and recaps about Antarctic wildlife and history, but how well we have been paying attention to our home of the last 20 days – the ship! We had a series of pictures and audio clips of random sounds, textures, and objects from around the ship which we had to name, and it was a laugh hearing the iconic ‘toilet flush’ and ‘cabin key card scanner’. It was a great way to finish off the day at sea, and we could sense just how close we were getting to dry land now as the sea was very calm, and trees were becoming in sight.

At 18:15 we joined the Captain and Expedition Team in the lounge for a farewell toast to the voyage and a viewing of the slideshow that Elizabeth impressively put together. What a wonderful memento to take home with us and show our families.

After dinner, the evening carried on with celebratory drinks, more card games and lots of exchanging of contact details. For the past 20 days, a lot of us became great friends and we started to organize when we may visit each other in each other’s corners of the world again. This trip was amazing not only for the incredible scenery, landscapes, and wildlife, but the people.

Day 20: Ushuaia, Argentina

Ushuaia, Argentina
Date: 20.02.2024
Position: 54° 51.8 ’S / 068° 01.9 ’W
Wind: S-4
Weather: Overcast
Air Temperature: +6

We arrived in Ushuaia late last night, and it was a real surprise to wake up to the sounds of civilization! Oh how we miss the quiet yet noisy sounds of remote South Georgia, the crackling of ice of Antarctica, and the howling wind spindrifting over the water in the Falklands. But alas, it is time to head home.

Our bags were packed, our minds full of memories, and our bellies full with our last sumptuous breakfast in the dining room. We were ready to disembark the Hondius for the last time. It was bittersweet; a mixture of sadness that our journey to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctica had come to an end, but also a feeling of completeness, and accomplishment, that we made it to this incredibly remote region of the world and experienced so much.

We waved goodbye to the crew and staff and then scattered into the city, off to the airport, or some for a much-needed hike among the first in the national parks of Tierra Del Fuego. Over the last 20 days we have experienced some of the planet’s most untouched and pristine land and seascapes. We have observed thousands of species thriving in their natural environments, some of whom were hunted to the brink of extinction less than a century ago, yet now their numbers have recovered immensely due to the great efforts of conservation, policy, and research. We have learnt inspiring new things about the polar environment and our precious oceans, and we must protect them for a sustainable future for all.

We will have many, many memories that will live forever in our minds. Hopefully many of us will think of these untouched landscapes, abundant species colonies, and pristine environments for years to come and endeavour to protect and conserve wildlife and their habitats for not only the future generation, but for the future of our planet’s biodiversity.

With that in mind, here is a quote from the British naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough - ‘’It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.’’

Total distance sailed on our voyage: 3, 743.2 nautical miles

Farthest point south: 64° 49 ’ 43.70” S / 063° 30’ 25.11”W

Your Expedition Team!

On behalf of Oceanwide Expeditions, Captain Artur Lakovlev, Expedition Leader Christan Long, and his team, Hotel Manager William Barnes, and all the crew and staff of M/V Hondius, it has been a pleasure travelling with you!


Tripcode: HDS28-24
Dates: 1 Feb - 20 Feb, 2024
Duration: 19 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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