|Position:||54° 48’ South, 068° 18’ West|
Ushuaia marks the end of the road in Argentine Tierra del Fuego, but it is also the beginning – the beginning of our once-in-a-lifetime adventure. During the summer this rapidly growing frontier town of 55,000 bustles with adventurous travellers.
The duty-free port flourishes with tourism but also thrives on a sizeable crab fishery and a burgeoning electronics industry. Ushuaia (lit. “bay that penetrates to the west” in the indigenous Yaghan tongue) clearly benefits from its magnificent, yet remote setting. The rugged spine of the South American Andes ends here, where two oceans meet.
We were greeted in the warm sunshine by members of our expedition staff who sorted our luggage and sent us on board to meet our Hotel and Restaurant Managers, Andre and Lilian. We were then shown to our cabins by members of our hard-working hotel crew. A little while after boarding we convened in the lounge on deck five to meet Expedition Leader Rinie, who welcomed us on board the ship. Andre, our Hotel Manager, then took over the microphone and gave us a general overview of the ship. Soon our Chief Officer led us through the SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) safety and lifeboat drill, assisted by the crew and staff. On hearing the alarm we reconvened for the mandatory safety briefing and abandon ship drill, donning our huge orange life jackets for the first (and last we hoped!) time.
A short while later we were able to watch as the lines were thrown and Plancius made her way out into the Beagle Channel - our Atlantic Odyssey had begun! Later on we went to the lounge again to meet our Captain, Alexey Nazarov, our Expedition Leader, Rinie and the rest of the expedition team to toast our voyage to Antarctica and the Atlantic islands. This first evening on board was occupied with more exploration of the ship, adjusting to her movements, and settling into our cabins, for in the early hours of the morning we would be out into the open waters of the notorious Drake Passage!