Our last day in Antarctica dawned misty and foggy. Kind of perfect for a voyage to a place known as Deception Island. Deception is actually an active volcano, and we sailed straight into the caldera, to a place known as ‘Whaler’s Bay’. It was particularly creepy as a lot of the old whaling paraphernalia still stands on the island, including the ominous blubber ovens.
For me, it was like something out of the old computer game Myst. Does anyone else remember that? Great sea stacks rising out of the mist, turquoisy-green water pounding at the rocks, the lithe forms of seals slipping in and out of the waves. From our zodiacs, we waved at the few souls who had dared to climb up to ‘Neptune’s Window’, a vast gap in the rock. It was pretty out of the world.
Less other-earthy and more why-on-earth-are-we-doing-this? Was the Polar plunge! Finally, the day had arrived that most of the ship had been talking about. Yep, a dip in the Antarctic ocean. Why not? (or more to the question why???!!!!) But it had to be done. I stripped down to a bikini in temperatures just slightly above freezing and dove into water that was just slightly below freezing. Getting in actually wasn’t so bad! It was getting out that was the problem! Although they had towels waiting for us, we still had to get back into all our gear. Brrrrrr. I thought my toes would never warm up!
Thankfully, back on board the boat there was a sauna! And a shot of whiskey. I’m not sure which worked first, but not long after I was toasty warm again and ready for our last port of call.
Our final stop was Half Moon Island and, wouldn’t you know it, but the sun came out again. Thanks Antarctica! We also got to see our final species of the cruise – a lonely Macaroni penguin. What a sweet little guy.
And then that was it for us and Antarctica! We’d managed five whole days of stops, which was one more day than we expected, so we were feeling lucky. Of course, we still had the infamous Drake passage ahead… and boy, did it live up to its other nickname, the Drake Shake, this time around! We had Force 10 winds (just for the record – that’s STRONG) and at one point I almost came flying out of bed (along with the rest of my cabinmates). Thankfully I didn’t get seasick, but the Drake laid probably half the boat out to rest. For those of us still surviving, we got to listen to some fascinating lectures and, of course, watch Happy Feet.
I haven’t really talked much about the Expedition itself, and it’s worth a mention. The ship was really well appointed, with a fully stocked reference library (let’s face it . . . I spent a lot of time in there), internet on board (for a price, but some ships don’t even offer it!), a great bar (the Polar Bear Pub), live music entertainment, unlimited tea, coffee and hot chocolate (that’s like my idea of heaven), afternoon tea every day, three extravagant meals and lots and lots of fun. Because it is such a small ship (well, relatively – about 130 guests on board), you really got to know people. I should have brought more books with me because I probably could have made a few sales! That aside, everyone who was on the ship really wanted to be there, and that feeling was palpable. We were all determined to make the most of every moment, and it was truly a joy to be on board, even as someone on their own. I was always made to feel welcome.
We arrived into the Beagle channel a day early, and anchored down. It’s nice to have this time to reflect on the journey before I jump back on the Oasis truck again. This experience has, for me, been life-changing. A chance to see a part of the world I never dreamed I would. And now, all I can think about is how I can get back here, and take as many people that I love with me as possible.
Any openings at G Adventures?