ANTARCTICA

Trip report of the 14 days exploring Antarctica, on board at the Ortelius of Oceanwide Expeditions.

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ANTARCTICA - travel log per day

Day 1 - @14.50 pm - Almost embarking: TO THE COOLEST place on earth!!!!

Track: Boarding the Orteluis at Ushuaia Habor to cruise down... to the south pole

At the moment of writing: One hour and ten minutes Only... and we head down to the port Ushuaia. To embark at the Ortelius.

At 18.00 pm we cruise of - TO THE COOLEST PLACE ON EARTH! ANTARCTICA!!!

Excuse me for the caps locks, it's just that we are really excited to go!!!!
With the good intentions of:

  • Enjoying Every Minute

  • Not to fall off the Zodiacs during excursions

  • and well, if the Drake Passage is so bad as people horror-story tell us here today. I will stay positive and try to perceive it as a crash diet : )

  • Capturing sweet memories for us and others to enjoy as well. However, not gonna experience it as  'solely looking to the lens', prime focus is on living in the moment and indulging it!

  • To stay warm.... 

  • And last but not least- become good friends with all the PENGUINS and Whales over there

... read on ...

Day 1- @ 17.17 pm: Polar Circle, here we come!

Track: Port Ushuaia via the Beagle Canal to open sea to set Southward

After months of joyful anticipation and buying fleeces, thermo-shirts and thermos-leggings, waterproof parka’s:
 

– SURREAL –

We really are off cruising to the South Pole!

 

Walking up the ship, we noticed in the waiting line it is a very mixed group of passengers – in ages and in nationality. There was even one guy in shorts, I wondered if I should inform him- "Hey, we are going to Antarctica... it's Cold there..." 

We settled in our lovely cabin, Jurgen switched his Garmin to 'nautical mode' and off the security briefing we were

... read on ...

Day 2 - Calm sea at the Drake Passage does not equal calm stomach

Track: Open sea, crossing the Drake Passage; part 1

The first night ever on board of a ship - it will take a bit to get used to 24/7 life on board.

Advantage of boat life: no need for alarm clocks. As expedition leader Lynn puts the intercom to good us, waking us up with a cheerful 'Goooood morning everyone!'

Bringing us up to date: 'We are at full sea now, in the calmest version of the Drake Passage I’ve ever seen (this lady has over 17 years of experience to cruise to Antarctica). We are at a cruising speed of 11 knots, nice weather outside with a wind of 8 knots. And breakfast is ready to be enjoyed!"

Time to make up your mind. Who has the best sea legs and the best sea-going stomach? Cissy or Jurgen...      

... read on to find out ...

Day 3- Back on Happy Feet & Hello Policital Antarctica!

Track: Open sea, crossing the Drake Passage; part 2

Antarctica is in many ways an unique place. It is a demilitarized, non-commercial zone that is purely devoted to 'Peace and Science', as stated in the Antarctic treaty. It's signed by 53 nations, representing about 80% of the worlds population.

Popular said: "Antarctica is of Nobody and Everybody". 

Tourism is very limited and strictly regulated. The passengers of the Ortelius are well aware of our privileged opportunity to visit Antarctica. So with a big smile on our faces, we vacuum cleaned our coats, scarfs and camera bags in the bar. What that has to do with setting feet on Antarctica?

... read on ...

Day 4 - Penguins! Penguins!! PENGUINS!!!! Everywhere : ) : ) : )

Track: : landing at Cuverville Island and first feet on the ground at the Antarctic continent at the Argentinean research station ‘Brown’

Penguins, PENGUINS, PENGUINS!!!!

 

Up-close encounters with Gentoo Penguins, who think your camera bag or snow boats are a nice snack…

Gentoo penguins surely love to ‘check out’ these funny looking new visitors and their gear. Trust Yourself- Break Rules, certainly is a motto those Penguins embrace.
... read on ..

Day 5 - One can never see enough penguins! Or Whale Tales!

Track : Southward, second landing on Antarctica soil at Neko harbour and zodiac expedition at Orne Harbour

Striking beautiful sunrise - WOW!!! What a way to start your day!

Then more Gentoo Penguins, Whales waving their Tales and getting acquainted with Ever Smiling Penguins (at the Chinstrap Penguins rookery).  

Feeling hot in Antarctica - it's a good thing one would say. Still, better bother the on-board doctor Jacco to double check...

... read on ...

Day 6 - Whiskey on the Antarctic rocks - Celebration time!

Track : South!!! We crossed the Polar Circle and pushing the waves to go further southwards

High waves and 40 knots of wind – that was the Antarctica we woke up to this morning. That meant: outer decks closed and so today’s plan A changed for plan B. 

One has to be flexible to adapt to weather circumstances on an expedition cruise.To provide some indoor fun – SALES! Sebastian and Sava opened the Oceanwide gift shop.

In the afternoon we were in for a triple treat: Whiskey, Winter Stories and Seals. How that relates to go back to plan A?

... read on ...


Photo credit: thanks Arjen Drost from the Oceanwide expedition team for capturing this special moment!

Day 7 - The W-Ortelius Penguin and the W-factor for Antarctic cuteness

Track : Marguerite Bay and zodiac expedition to Lagoon Island

Antarctica is the ‘White Continent’ and today we got a good taste of that. Waking up the outdoor decks where closed – to high waves, fierce wind and slippery. Mid-morning there was SNOW!!! So the children were let outside to play : ) 

In the afternoon it cleared just enough to do a Zodiac exploration and landing. In the competition spirit of the day, the W-factor for Antarctic animal cuteness was bench marked at Lagoon island. Themes of the day: new penguins that fly, elephants and why a carrot can be so crucial. How so?

... read on ...

Day 8 - Pourqoui-Pas: 'Why Not' as exploring motto and the ¿No? Penguin complaint

Track : Reaching the furthest southernmost point of our Antarctica expedition

In the morning we went to the deserted British research base HorseShoe. Funny name, no horses or shoes to be found.  Nor penguins, as at the briefing about the expedition, Lynn prepared us: ‘no penguins to be expected here’.  

Landing on the island, we were welcomed by Lynn and a surprise Penguin welcome committee. No Penguins? Well, we surely are not gonna file a complaint about the extra welcome surprise committee: Adélie Penguins!!! 

 

Why not?  Pourquoui-Pas, the motto of the French explorer Charcot, who pushed to discover the south part of Antarctica. Sometimes a ’ Why Not’ is clear: Like sailing  through a pass almost fully frozen over with sea-ice. Still, our great captain and wonderful expedition leader Lynn ingeniously put together a plan B; exploring further south.. How far south? 

... read on ...
 

Day 9 - Open Sea Waters: 'One hand for the ship, one hand for yourself' time!

Track : Working our way up North to Bellingshausen sea

We are newbies at cruise-travel life. So our reference was a floating airbed in a swimming pool on a sunny day. We figured that sleeping on board of a ship would be similar. 

Well, for an Antarctic cruise on open sea, think more along the lines of 'Adventure Theme Park' - Roller Coaster section.

Indoor fun only today, as the outer decks were closed. Adapting to the wild seas - it is possible to play chess without the chess pieces falling of the board. You just need a Brett! 

... read on ...

Day 10 - Morning Exercise turned into: This is Not an exercise : ( : (

Track : Pléneau Island, Lemaire and Neumayer Channel

At the top of the hills on Pléneau Island, one has a spectacular view on the bay.  Worth to do some walking exercise for. So up we went, and indeed, amazing views! On top, a simple turn to admire to other side had severe consequences for unlucky Jurgen.

<< Snap >> and the nice sunny excursion went for him into ‘This is Not an Exercise’-mission. It’s no fun at all to need the joint efforts of a team of five well trained professionals to get you back on board. Oeps. Auw, really auwww and Hooray for Check Mate Chocolates.
   

... read on ...

Day 11 - Penguin Kisses and Polar Plunges

Track : Danco Beach and Gerlache Street heading up North

​'It's 2,5 degrees Celcius outside, and  not snowing. So for those who have the urge to swim in Antarctic Waters- today is the day!" as the cheerful expedition leader announced at 7.15 am.  

Well,  Jurgen's slipped disk in his back was a reason for both of us to skip the polar plunge.  He has to stay flat in bed -  however, insisted Cissy should go, and hug the penguins for both of us. That mission was very succesful, I even brought back Penguin kiss! Do you want to be kissed by a Penguin too?  Go and catch
You(r)Tube-Penguin Kiss! 

What more surprises the penguins for us? 

... read on ...

Day 12 - Drake Shake: TWO hands for the ship today!

Track : Drake Passage

The Drake Passage was in a jolly good mood: it was throwing us a party with strong winds, high waves causing funny surprise twists of the ship. 
 

So all outer decks are closed, as well as the shutters of two windows in the cabin. Jurgen had to stay flat-in-bed, Cissy decided to show some solidarity and stay in bed as well. Or had this to do with easily getting sea sick?


A full day's indoor life at cabin 454 was certainly entertaining. Zapping through the six channels, often the best quality movie was The Ortelius bow camera. So why we watched nine other movies? 

... read on ...

Day 13 - Drake Passage Theme Party - VIP tickets for all Ortelius passengers

Track : Drake Passage

The Ortelius is still having a Rock & Roll Ball at the Drake Passage, and all the passengers were invited.

Party theme at day time:  Drake Shake
Stay indoors, two hands for the ship, and for Brett: Yellow polo with blue, white, red stripes is appropriate wear for the occasion. 

Party theme for the night: Let's Go Rock & Roll!
Towards the evening the party vibe changed, from a Drake Shake to a Wild Rock & Roll Party.
What happens at the Ortelius, stays at the Ortelius, so the iron window shutters of the cabins stayed locked down.  VIP guest should not have to stumble their way down to a restaurant. So keeping it classy - our evening meal was 'Cabin-Room-Service' delivered. By cheerful well sea-legged expedition and hospitality team crew members. 

.... read on ...

Day 14 - Drake Shake: mr Seven back to play Chess on deck 7

Track : Drake Passage

Settling accounts can be quite unsettling....

During the trip, all expenses at the bar are noted down on our cabin number 454. But today it is pay-day, and on the detailed invoice it makes some things painfully clear.

Cissy's the attempt to stop drinking Cola Light hopelessly ... failed.  Like big time failed. Oh, well, good new intentions is made 'Once off the boat I will stop'. Well, the super hospitality staff of the Ortelius had an other plan in mind.  

... read on ...

Day 15 - Back on solid ground

Track : Beagle channel and disembarking at Ushuaia Harbour

WOW! wow! Wow! Completely overwhelmed with so many dear memories we felt spaced out, catapulted suddenly back into 'real life' when we returned.

It's like, one blink of the eye and already the Ushuaia harbor is in sight. At the same time, 14 days at the Ortelius and  we feel like we have been away for 5 months: so many, many different impressions and experiences!!! 


It has been a Totally Overwhelming experience. Our overall feeling is one of being Extremely Privileged and Grateful, for many reasons:
 ... read on ...

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