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OTL26-23, trip log, Antarctic Peninsula, Discovery and Learning Voyage

by Oceanwide Expeditions


Day 1: Embarkation day, Ushuaia

Embarkation day, Ushuaia
Date: 04.01.2023
Position: 54°48.6’S / 068°17.8’W
Wind: SW 8
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temperature: +6

The day had finally come, it was time to board Ortelius for our expedition trip to the Antarctic Peninsula! Some of us had booked the trip years ago and had plans cancelled due to a certain pandemic (which we will not mention again!) so it was incredibly exciting that the wait was over. It was a beautiful day when we arrived at the port in Ushuaia with the sun shining and a gentle breeze of wind. The Expedition Team and Hotel Staff had helpfully brought our luggage aboard and taken it to our cabins earlier in the day, so all that remained was for us to do was head up the gangway to reception to get our cabin key!

We were warmly welcomed by all the crew and staff who assisted us in finding our cabins. We had a little time to explore the ship and get our bearings prior to the mandatory ship safety briefing from expedition Leader Sara and Chief Officer Mikael. We were given all the information we needed such as moving safely around the ship, the things we could and could not do, and how to put on our emergency life jackets.

After this Hotel Manager Stephen gave a welcome briefing, helping to explain how life would be on the ship over the coming days. It was then time for an abandon ship drill so after hearing the seven short and one long blast of the ship’s horn we went to our cabins, got our lifejackets, and went to our muster stations (either the restaurant or bar). Then we were led to our lifeboats so we would know where to go in case of a real emergency.

It was then time to join Captain Mika Appel in the bar to raise a glass in celebration of the voyage ahead. Cheers everyone! The captain had to excuse himself from the celebration, as it was time to get Ortelius under way and begin our journey along the Beagle Channel. Then it was time for our first evening meal onboard, with a delicious buffet selection provided by Chef Heinz and his galley team served by our friendly dining room staff. After dinner we were given our Muck boots which we would use for going ashore; comfortable but also, very importantly, waterproof for our wet Zodiac landings!

Following dinner, we had time to head out onto the open decks to enjoy the stunning scenery and look out for wildlife. We saw South American Sea Lions, Black-browed Albatrosses, Giant Petrels and South American Terns. After a long day of travel for most of us it was then time for bed to get some rest before the first day of the infamous Drake Passage tomorrow.  We left the shelter of the Beagle Channel as darkness fell and hoped the seas and winds would be kind to us…

Day 2: at sea

at sea
Date: 05.01.2023
Position: 56°03.8’S / 65°50.0’W
Wind: NNE 5
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temperature: +5.5

We woke up to a slightly rocky ship but overall, a very kind sea state for the infamous Drake Passage, and we began our first full sea day on board the Ortelius.

After breakfast Expedition Guide Hazel gave a presentation in the bar all about the spectacular albatross species we could see on our journey over the Drake Passage. These seabirds are true ocean travelers and we learnt that the oldest albatross in the world is 75 years old, a wandering albatross named Wisdom. Pictured is a Black-browed Albatross, one of many seen on this day.

Our activity guides then gave briefings to all the kayakers, divers, and campers in the group about what to expect and prepare for their adventures on the Peninsula. In the afternoon we all watched the IAATO briefing and learnt how we can enjoy and experience the wilderness of Antarctica responsibly.

Then Expedition Guide Jess gave a lecture in the bar about the Cetacean species that we can see in the Southern Ocean and around Antarctica. Shortly after the lecture we had a perfectly timed surprise as a pod of around twenty long-finned pilot whales appeared close to the ship.

We then gathered in the bar for our first daily recap where Christian taught us about the nautical terms such as measuring sea travel with knots, Marco taught us about the earth’s wind patterns, and Bill told us to Look, See, Think, and Do. 

Day 3: at sea

at sea
Date: 06.01.2023
Position: 60°37.2’S / 63°18.8’W
Wind: NW 8
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temperature: +5

All those passengers who went to bed last night apprehensive of what the Drake Passage might bring today were relieved as they stirred in the morning. Relatively gentle motion, no rolling, no enormous waves crashing over the bow. Just Ortelius ploughing steadily on towards our exciting much anticipated destination.

Leisurely breakfast was followed by a lecture from Expedition Guide Koen about early exploration in Antarctica.  It was hard to imagine what it must have been like to sail into the unknown with no charts, no echo-sounders, no radar, no engines. They were entirely reliant on wind power and subject to the vagaries of the weather. They also endured a restricted diet (certainly not the 3 fantastic meals a day enjoyed by us all on this vessel!) Furthermore, they suffered damp clothing, poor waterproofs, had no lifejackets and leather rather than rubber boots. These early explorers were impressively tough to probe so thoroughly the convoluted coasts of Antarctica; the saying goes that it was an age of wooden boats and iron men.

This was followed at 11:30am by a Photography presentation excellently delivered by Assistant Expedition Leader Christian, which gave tips for all levels of photographers and highlighted the differences between photographs taken to provide a historical documentary of the voyage and those composed for purely creative aesthetic reasons. Buffet lunch had people eagerly queueing again to experience the dining delights conjured up by Head Chef Heinz and his galley team in the kitchen.  Meals are a much talked about highlight of the Oceanwide experience! During the afternoon we were called in groups deck by deck for the mandatory IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) biosecurity check, a pre-requisite to any Antarctic landing for members of this association. Clutching muck-boots, outer garments, gloves and hats, back-packs and camera bags we all filed into the lecture room to have our bundles of clothing rigorously inspected by the eagle-eyed team of Expedition Guides. Minute specks picked from the soles of black rubber boots, fluff removed from Velcro fastenings on Gore-Tex garments and prodded quizzically with extended safety clips to identify their origins and pockets meticulously hoovered. With this concentrated attention to detail, we made sure Antarctica would be safe from the accidental transmission of invasive species. Oceanwide staff and their passengers, as ever, took this biosecurity exercise very seriously.

When the above exercise was completed, divers and kayakers were required to get their kit ready. Divers were laden with their heavy tanks and weights, tubes and gauges, heavy rubber suits and lots of essential looking brightly gleaming metal kit. They shared animated conversations relating to depths, pressure, locations and other details of their former underwater adventures. Kayakers, by comparison, were far less burdened with equipment, quietly picking up their allocated kit and heading off excitedly anticipating an energetic paddle tomorrow.

It was interesting that sea conditions had changed a lot from the morning; Ortelius was lurching confidently through a 4 /5 metre swell and many anti-seasickness patches were distributed by the doctor! As we were travelling downwind speed was a steady 11 to 12 knots. It looked as if we would arrive at Orne Harbour on schedule, perfectly timed for activities the next morning. At 14:30pm Faith Ortins from Blue Green Expeditions gave a photo presentation in the bar about diving in Antarctica. Superb photographs of her previous underwater expeditions clearly illustrated the diversity of life to be seen beneath the surface of Antarctica’s cold waters; you could feel the excitement rising among the divers as they looked forward to experiencing these sights for themselves.

At 16.45 it was our EL Sara ‘s turn to give a lecture. Enthusiastic and knowledgeable, she gave a great talk about penguins, including her fantastic photos from many years of encounters with these brilliant birds. We eagerly awaited our opportunity to spend time with these enchanting, comical and stress- busting creatures?

During recap everyone was encouraged to go to bed early tonight, so they were well rested, ready to wake up early and savor the aesthetic splendors of early morning Antarctica. We dutifully headed to bed, keen to make the most of our first full day exploring the frozen continent. 

Day 4: Gerlache Strait, Orne Harbour

Gerlache Strait, Orne Harbour
Date: 07.01.2023
Position: 64°37.5’S / 62°32.2’W
Wind: NE 5-7
Weather: Heavy rain
Air Temperature: +3

By the time Expedition Leader Sara’s wake-up call came at 7:45am most of us were already awake and out on deck enjoying our first awe-inspiring views of Antarctica. She had encouraged us to be up early, and we certainly were not disappointed! It was a joy to see numerous Humpback Whales as we transited through the Gerlache Strait towards our morning destination of Orne Harbour. These large whales migrate to the Antarctic in the Austral summer to feed on huge quantities of krill; when Antarctica is in the throes of harsh, dark winter the humpback whales we saw are likely to be found in waters off the coasts of Ecuador and Colombia!

Whilst we sat down to breakfast the Expedition Team hopped into zodiacs and went to assess conditions at the proposed landing site at Orne Harbour. A combination of actively calving glaciers and wind direction/force meant the area was totally choked with ice; it would not be possible to drive through this mass of thick, brash ice and bergy bits.  Instead, we would enjoy a zodiac cruise around the area to marvel at the landscape and wildlife there. Not long after guests had embarked the zodiacs two Humpback Whales were seen surfacing nearby! We slowly approached this mother and calf and were treated to fantastic views of these majestic creatures before they headed offshore to continue feeding.

289m high Spigot Peak loomed above us as we observed the Chinstrap Penguins and Gentoo Penguins at their coastal colony. The distinctive Antarctic Cormorants (aka Antarctic Cormorants), with their beautiful blue eye rings, could be seen nesting among the penguins, many with fluffy brown-grey chicks which were almost as large as their parents! Pure white Snowy sheathbills flitted around the colony too, eating whatever they could find. Whilst some of us explored the area and its incredible glaciers and icebergs by boat, others were paddling their way around in kayaks, led by Kayak Guide David. The morning’s weather was best described as wet and windy. Antarctica is known for being the windiest, coldest, and driest continent on earth: well, it certainly wasn’t dry today! By the time our Orne Harbour cruises had ended we were very ready for a hot chocolate and a warm shower. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long until our delicious buffet lunch was served.

Plan A for the afternoon was to go ashore at Orne Islands but by that time it was too wet and windy. Instead, we listened to a fantastic lecture about ice by Expedition Guide Bill. Unfortunately, conditions did not approve so we were unable to go ashore in the afternoon. However, the divers were able to complete their first dive, giving them the opportunity to sort out their buoyancy ready for further dives over the coming days. Thankfully, by the evening weather had improved which meant the campers were able to camp ashore at Orne Islands! We hoped the weather would improve for tomorrow and after experiencing our evening dining pleasures, we headed to bed ready for the next day of Antarctic adventure. 

Day 5: Gerlache Strait, Cuverville Island, Danco Island

Gerlache Strait, Cuverville Island, Danco Island
Date: 08.01.2023
Position: 64°40.5’S / 62°32.5’W
Wind: N 4
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temperature: +3

We woke up early to see the ship sail through the Gerlache straight, a beautiful stretch of water with incredible scenery. It is also a real hotspot for Humpback Whales, and we saw many that have travelled to Antarctica to feed for the summer.

We then arrived at Cuverville Island, a distinctively shaped island that is home to nesting Gentoo Penguins. Whilst enjoying watching the birds nesting behaviour and using their penguin highways to walk to and from the sea, we also saw Humpback Whales fluking offshore amongst the icebergs.

After lunch we headed to the amazing Danco Island where Gentoo Penguins nest right at the top of a steep hill. Many of us hiked up to the top to enjoy an unbelievable 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains, glaciers, and icebergs. Some people took the opportunity to take a quick zodiac cruise to see some Weddell Seals that were hauled out on rocks in the bay before returning to the ship. At the end of the landing some brave people got the chance to do the Polar Plunge on the beach; the water was around 2 degrees but amazingly everyone came out smiling!

After a special first day of landings, we slowly sailed back through the Gerlache Straight.
Many Humpback Whales were spotted again in the run up to the evening recap, but it was during the recap we had a call to say there were some whales very close to the ship. Expedition Leader Sara called an abrupt end to the recap so we could all go and enjoy what turned out to be a truly unforgettable encounter with these beautiful ocean giants. There were three humpbacks close to the bow of the ship lunge feeding and bubble-netting! This is a cooperative feeding behaviour where numerous whales will work together to blow bubbles in a circle around prey, trapping it in the middle, thus driving it up towards the surface where it cannot escape. They then lunge into the prey, taking huge mouthfuls of water, before filtering it out through their baleen plates and swallowing it.

The whales lunged up to the surface with their mouths open and we could see them expanding their rorqual pleats on their throats to scoop up the krill they were feeding on. One of them even released a bright pink plume of poo at the surface! What an incredible way to end a magical day in Antarctica. 

Day 6: Lemaire Channel, Port Charcot, Yalour Islands

Lemaire Channel, Port Charcot, Yalour Islands
Date: 09.01.2023
Position: 65°04.4’S / 64°02.5’W
Wind: SE 2
Weather: Cloudy and rainy
Air Temperature: +1

‘You must not miss it!’ ‘A highlight of the voyage!’. These were Sara’s words of encouragement the previous evening at recap. She urged us to get up early this morning as we would be transiting the Lemaire Channel. When the wake-up call came at 5:30am we grumbled a little to get out of bed so early, but we were glad we followed her instructions. Arriving out on deck slightly sleepy we were met by the awesome sight of huge walls of glacier covered rock on either side of the channel. Visibility was unfortunately poor because of low cloud and with heavy rain too we needed our waterproofs, but it added to the sense of drama as we gazed skywards at the towering cliffs. Once again, we felt so small and vulnerable in this monochromatic landscape with its ancient rock and ice. Photographs could hardly capture the vastness or scale of our surroundings, nor do justice to what our eyes were seeing.

After breakfast the Expedition Team deployed the zodiacs and landed in the bay at Port Charcot, an important site in Antarctic expedition history as this was where Commandant Jean-Baptiste Charcot and his crew overwintered during the French Antarctic Expedition of 1903 – 1905. A small German yacht lay at anchor next to us, in very deep water close to the shore with a line running astern to boulders. The Expedition Team marked out a circular route which led to the breeding penguin colonies and the stone ruins of the hut constructed for magnetic research by the French Antarctic Expedition.

Just as the first Zodiacs were approaching the shore an Antarctic Minke Whale suddenly appeared! As can be expected nearing the end of the Antarctic season, the snowy slopes were covered by an amazing amount of penguin poo! This was bright pink due to the colour of the prey which makes up much of their diet: Antarctic krill. Speaking of these amazing birds, we saw all three brushtail species: Adèlie, Chinstrap and Gentoo Penguins. Also, some lucky passengers were delighted have a close-up encounter with a Leopard Seal which lunged out of

the water at penguins on the rocks beside the landing site!

When we returned to the ship it was time for lunch, during which the bridge team repositioned Ortelius to the Yalour Islands. Zodiacs were launched again, taking some of us ashore to enjoy wandering around the Adèlie Penguin colonies (where we thrilled to see lots of chicks) whilst the others were taken on a cruise through the maze of rocky outcrops and massive grounded icebergs. This was a superb photo opportunity to capture some stunning views of the intricate shapes and beautiful colours of these enormous masses of ice. One massive berg had a huge archway which the French guests amongst us identified as looking like a frozen version of the Arc De Truimph!  Some Weddell Seals were also spotted, hauled out resting on the rocky islets.

Back on board, we eagerly awaited tomorrow’s adventures on our voyage. We chatted excitedly over dinner, divers, kayakers and all, sharing tales of the wonders we had seen.
The fabulous finale of today was another great sighting of Humpback Whales! 

Day 7: Foyn Harbour

Foyn Harbour
Date: 10.01.2023
Position: 65°04.4’S / 64°02.3’W
Wind: W6-8
Weather: Clear skies and sunny
Air Temperature: +2

After our 6am wake-up call we headed for breakfast whilst the Expedition Team launched zodiacs and went to assess conditions for our scheduled morning landing at Portal Point. Unfortunately, they found that increasingly strong winds and challenging ice conditions resulting in a drive of over 3km from ship to shore meant conditions were not suitable for safe operations in the zodiacs. So, regretfully, our landing at Portal Point was cancelled. Shortly afterwards winds increased to over 50 knots, further confirming this was the right decision as this is far exceeding safe operational limits. To keep us entertained whilst we remained on boar, Expedition Guide Bill gave us a peek behind the scenes of the MV Ortelius with his lecture regarding the ship’s engine room and kitchen/galley. We were fascinated to learn about the mechanical side of the ship, alongside food storage and preparation, in addition to getting some insight into the lives of the incredibly hardworking engine and dining staff.

The bridge team began repositioning the ship towards our plan A for the afternoon,
Foyn Harbour. Along the way many the Expedition Team were up in the bridge and out on the open decks looking for whales for everyone to enjoy. Numerous Humpback Whales were spotted, some of which were quite close to the ship and were observed peacefully resting at the surface. This is sometimes called ‘logging’ as resting whales can look a lot like logs.

With no trees in Antarctica though there is little room for confusion, thankfully!

After enjoying some whale watching it was time for our lunch buffet.

The afternoon activity was a zodiac cruise in beautiful Foyn Harbour, the site where the shipwreck of the Governoren lays at rest, mainly submerged and but with some of the ship visible above the surface. Seeing this provides a very different experience to the sites we had visited previously; we were in awe of this wreck and the beautiful surrounding area. Antarctic Terns had claimed the rusting vessel as their own, perching on and flying around it. Whilst we enjoyed seeing it from the water’s surface, the divers descended beneath to see it underwater. Other wildlife highlights of the afternoon included Leopard Seal, Weddell Seal,
Antarctic Shags and South Polar Skua, all with a backdrop of stunning Antarctic scenery of towering snow cloaked mountains and colossal icebergs.

Back on-board, dinner was due to be a BBQ but due to the high winds this was offered indoors. That didn’t dampen anyone’s party spirits though; there upbeat music and dancing in the aisles of the restaurant! The perfect finale to the day was a Humpback Whale seen breaching right out of the water on the Starboard side of the ship!

Day 8: Deception Island

Deception Island
Date: 11.01.2023
Position: 62°58.8’S / 60°33.8’W
Wind: NW 6
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temperature: +3

Once again in response to more urging from Sara we were up before 6:30am, this time to view the approach to Deception Island. We could see how truly deceptive it was: the view that confronted us on the Starboard bow was a long, rugged looking volcanic coastline with a gap just wide enough for ships to pass through! This a narrow break in the caldera’s wall is the infamous Neptune’s Bellows. Ortelius slipped carefully through, expertly manoeuvred by Captain Mika and the bridge team, into an enormous expanse of water stretching out for several kilometres within this gigantic volcano’s caldera. Our landing destination was Whaler’s Bay, so called because of the whaling history of the island. Massive rusting oil tanks, complex decaying machinery, collapsing wooden buildings and an enormous former aircraft hanger all formed part of the scene. Forgotten remnants of the human activities telling stories of the history of this island.

Zodiacs were deployed and passengers ferried to the beach, a long stretch of dark, fine gravel, covered with bleached whale bones, barrel staves and half buried former water boats. Relics sinking slowly into the mass of fine volcanic debris. Expedition Guide Bill had been landed at the far end of the shore and walked up to stand guard at the wind-swept position of Neptune’s Window, a huge u-shaped gap in the mountainside overlooking the whole expanse of the flooded interior of the island. It was a dramatic drop to the ocean below with white surf rolling onto the black gravel beach far below at the base of the cliff. Passengers slowly and carefully made their way up to this superb vantage point. The clicks of camera shutters were faintly heard against the sound of the wind. Others chose to walk in the opposite direction to photograph the rusty ruins and puzzle out the mass of complicated machinery left from the historic days of both whaling and research. The Expedition Guides told tales of the place and brought it alive. The divers meanwhile had immersed themselves in their sport and only reappeared towards the end of the landing whilst the kayakers enjoyed a short but enjoyable paddle. Wildlife highlights of the morning included Chinstrap Penguins, Skuas, Kelp Gulls (which had young, fluffy chicks) and a lone Southern Elephant Seal snoozing on the beach.

Ortelius emerged through Neptune’s Bellows into the open ocean and set steady course for Half Moon Island some four hours away while three staff lectured in the bar.  Marco delivered a lecture on the geological origins of Deception Island, Martin talked about the birds of the island and Koen gave a talk about salp, an intriguing ocean invertebrate we had seen washed up on the shore at Deception Island.

In the afternoon, as we approached Half Moon Island, the weather was not in our favour. Ortelius manoeuvred into position about a kilometre off the proposed landing area. Expedition Guides, fully kitted out and ready to go ashore, assembled on aft deck four to assess conditions. Furrowed brows indicated concern: the wind was gusting strongly at
45 – 50 knots and the sea state looked as if the transfer would be wet and uncomfortable for passengers.  Captain Mika, supremely skilled and ever helpful, attempted to create a lee but even with this it became clear we would not be able to operate safely. Sara, our highly experienced Expedition Leader, decided to cancel the landing. A sensible decision: we had enjoyed a long run of excellent landings and it was best to end on a high with the last being Deception Island.

So, Ortelius began heading North towards the Drake Passage and we enjoyed a very relaxing afternoon on board with everyone editing and sorting their hundreds of photographs! After recap and dinner, we headed to our cabins to rest or spent some time in the bar, reflecting on the magnificent memories we now had to cherish from our time in Antarctica whilst sharing a drink with friends, old and newly made. 

Day 9: at sea, Drake Passage

at sea, Drake Passage
Date: 12.01.2023
Position: 60°09.2’S / 62°22.1’W
Wind: NNE 7
Weather: Cloudy with rain
Air Temperature: +4

After many action-packed days with early wake-up calls in Antarctica we were happy to have a later start to the day as we began the first of our two sea days to sail back to Ushuaia. Conditions were pretty good for the Drake Passage and began with a 3m swell, but the wind did pick up throughout the day and things did get a little bumpy!

Expedition Guide Jess started off the lectures in the morning with a talk about the importance of whales and how they can help us tackle climate change simply by migrating, pooing, and even dying. Then Expedition Guide Hazel gave a krilliant lecture about, you guessed it, krill! She did a great job at enthusing us about these not so little creatures that are a keystone species in the Antarctic food web. She told us the story of a captive krill named Alan that lived for ten years before being lost down a drain and persuaded many of us to champion krill on our return to our own homes.

After lunch Expedition Guide Koen gave a fascinating lecture about the evolution of penguins and how they came to be the birds we know and love. The divers had a recap of their own to look over their memories and different experiences from the trip. Shortly after tea and cake time in the bar Expedition Leader Sara and Expedition Guide Hazel gave a joint presentation about the human impacts on the pristine landscapes of Antarctica and the wildlife that lives there.

In between lectures we began our packing for our onward journeys and continued to watch for wildlife on the bridge and outside decks, until finally the infamous Drake Passage winds picked up and we had to remain inside. Throughout the day birds such as the Southern Royal Albatross, Antarctic Prion and Antarctic Petrel were seen.

At our penultimate recap, Assistant Expedition Leader Christian told us about Roald Amundsen’s tent which was designated as a historic monument, even though we are not sure it still exists, and he told us about the efforts to find it. Expedition Guide Koen gave us a summary of how whales evolved to be huge marine megafauna from small land-dwelling house cat sized hoofed animals in just 50 million years and Expedition Leader Sara showed us the unbelievable wing spans of some of the seabirds we have encountered on our journey.

Day 10: at sea

at sea
Date: 13.01.2023
Position: 57°10.2’S / 65°19.8’W
Wind: NW 10
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temperature: +7

This morning we awoke to typical Drake Passage conditions: rocking and rolling in rough seas! This 500 mile stretch of water between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula is renowned for experiencing high winds and swell and it certainly lived up to the reputation today. Outside decks remained closed for much of the day for our safety, but we enjoyed a varied interesting and educational lecture programme in the bar.

After breakfast, the first lecture of the day took place in the bar with Expedition Guide Bill giving his insightful talk regarding portrayals of the sea in art. As an ex-art teacher, and life-long seafarer, this talk combined two of his great passions in life and this showed in his enthusiastic, engaging delivery.

Expedition Leader Sara and Guide Hazel gave a combined talk later in the morning discussing the threats to wildlife in the polar regions and beyond. This hard-hitting but essential talk shed some light on issues such as plastic pollution in the polar regions and entanglement of wildlife in fishing nets. We learned about the impact these problems have on wildlife and how we can all do our bit to reduce these threats, such as minimising single us plastic and making careful choices as a consumer.

After lunch buffet, Faith Ortins presented photographs from the divers and gave us all an insight in the things they had seen on their dives during this trip. It was fascinating for those of us who had remained above the surface to learn about what lies beneath. The divers all enjoyed sharing their photos and reliving their experiences with us. Some guests undoubtedly left this talk feeling inspired to take an interest in this activity in the future. As our last full day of the trip drew towards a close, we all reflected on how privileged we had been to experience the fragile Antarctic environment for ourselves. It was impossible not to leave feeling inspired to care for this incredible place and its wildlife; we have been urged to become ambassadors for Antarctica and to do our best to spread awareness about this region to our friends and families when we get home.

Before dinner it was time for Captain’s Cocktails, raising a glass of bubbles with Captain Mika and the Expedition Team as we entered the Beagle Channel, on the home straight towards Ushuaia. The finale to this was the fantastic end of trip photo slideshow which had been skilfully put together by Expedition Guide Martin as a wonderful keepsake. We headed to the restaurant for our final delicious dinner on board Ortelius and just after dessert was served, we had the opportunity to show our thanks to the staff from the housekeeping and hotel department. We applauded these hardworking men and women as they walked around the dining room, showing our appreciation for their role in making our trip a fantastic success. From cooking our meals to doing our laundry, cleaning our cabins to serving us drinks in the bar, every staff member played an important part in ensuring we had the trip of a lifetime.

Day 11: disembarkation day, Ushuaia

disembarkation day, Ushuaia
Date: 14.01.2023
Position: 54°48.6’S / 068°17.8’W
Wind: Var 1-2
Weather: Partially cloudy
Air Temperature: +6

We arrived in Ushuaia early this morning, bringing our wonderful Antarctic Peninsula trip to a close. As we headed to the restaurant for our final breakfast on board, the expedition team and crew gathered everyone’s luggage from outside their cabins, carried it down the gangway and set the bags and cases down on the dock. After saying goodbye to the lovely dining room staff who we had come to know and love during our trip we disembarked. The Expedition Team were waiting to say farewell to us as we identified our luggage and gave instruction regarding it being taken to the nearby storage unit or taken straight to the airport.

Sadly, it was time to begin the journey home and head back to reality! After ten days together we had gotten to know each other well and learned about each other’s lives and families back home. This meant it was a little sad to say goodbye, but we had shared an awesome, life changing experience together and we left with memories and friendships that will last forever!

Thank you all for travelling with us on this voyage, for your enthusiasm, support, and good company. We very much hope to see you again in the future, wherever that might be!

Total distance sailed on our voyage: 1,695 nautical miles
Southernmost position: 65°14.3’S, 64°10.5’W

On behalf of Oceanwide Expeditions, Captain Mika Appel, Expedition Leader Sara Jenner, Hotel Manager Stephen Bell and all the crew and staff of M/V Ortelius, it has been a pleasure travelling with you.


Tripcode: OTL26-23
Dates: 4 Jan - 14 Jan, 2023
Duration: 10 nights
Ship: m/v Ortelius
Embark: Ushuaia
Disembark: Ushuaia

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Aboard m/v Ortelius

The ice-strengthened Ortelius is thoroughly outfitted for polar exploration and, when necessary, helicopter flights.

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