Continuing our journey South in Part 2 of a personal tale from an Antarctica cruise.
Our cabins were basic, but comfortable, with windows gifting us with wonderful views of everything we would see along the way. When you go to Antarctica, you don’t want to miss a thing.
Even going to sleep is something you want to put off as long as possible…which is easy enough to do, since the sun is up pretty much around the clock during cruising season in the Antarctic.
Eyes wide open
On the way to Antarctica, we saw some amazing things in the ocean.
It started with the whales, many of which would came right up to the ship. We would see them in groups and individually, swimming through the crystal blue waters, sometimes raising their heads up above the waves, and even leaping through the air in a dazzling display of marine acrobatics.
As we got closer to the continent, we began seeing small icebergs and ice floes, and there were often seals lounging on them. The ship’s captain was skilled at getting us just close enough to the ice so that we could see the seals up close without disturbing them or damaging the ship by actually touching the ice.Of course, no trip to Antarctica is complete without penguins!
Appearing in large numbers the closer we got to our destination, they swam happily through the water, lounged on the ice with the seals or formed their own ice-bound kingdoms, and even wandered the shores of the continent.
[su_note note_color=”#e9e9e9″]Find a travel agent specializing in Antarctica to help plan your voyage.[/su_note]
After five days at sea, we finally approached Antarctica.
We could see it in the distance long before we got close to the shore, looming on the horizon like a great prize, waiting to be claimed. It almost felt like discovering a new planet.
As the only continent on earth with no human inhabitants, seeing Antarctica is really like seeing the earth in its purest form.
As we got closer, and finally up against the shoreline, we were stunned by the icy beauty of the vast expanse of snow, pure white and bright, leading far off into the distance and disappearing on the horizon. The mysteries of what lay out there danced through our minds.Going ashore is only allowed in small groups that must stay on pre-approved trails for short periods of time. Cruise ships are equipped with decontamination rooms those going ashore must go through to make sure they aren’t bringing any pollutants to Antarctica.
[su_quote]It is the cleanest place on the planet, and it is the responsibility of everyone who goes there to make sure it stays that way.[/su_quote]
We saw more penguins and seals here, but it was mostly endless, untouched ice and snow, with the never-setting sun casting an ethereal orange glow across the frosty white surface.It wasn’t as cold as I expected, because cruising is only allowed during the Antarctic summer.
Temperatures ranged from the low 30’s to the high 40’s F most of the time, though unpredictable winds that whipped up from time to time sometimes made it colder. Long sleeves, thermal underwear, and a heavy coat were sufficient to keep us comfortable.
We did the trip in reverse, seeing many of the same sights and animals again. It was just as fascinating to see them the second time as the first. Some things just never get old.
By the time we reached the port at Argentina again, we had been at sea for ten days and nine nights. It didn’t seem like that long at all. We were all so mesmerized by what we were seeing, we didn’t have time to think of how much time was passing.
In fact, time seemed to stand still.
Photos by Ralph Grizzle
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