my logbook : SATURDAY 22 NOVEMBER 2008
Favorite thing: Our 2nd day in the Drake-passage, a steady wind is taking us forward and the ship is rolling in the waves, but luckily no more sea-sickness for me today !
On board there are DVDs shown about the local wildlife of Antarctica, but the problem with these movies is that the lounge, where it is shown on quite a large TV-screen is much too small to have enough seats or standingplaces for even half of our 34 passengers
Fondest memory: Who will spot the first iceberg? is the motto of a funny competition that was announced today : put your name on the list and predict at what time we will see the first real iceberg ! The winner will get a bottle of wine !
My logbook : FRIDAY 21 NOVEMBER 2008
Favorite thing: Our first day in the Drake-Passage, the ship is rolling quite heavily, although the waves are not really very high. I am getting seasick, but after womitting 2 times, it is over and I am feeling well again and enjoying the cruise.
There are lots of Wandering Albatrosses and other seabirds around of the ship, obviously following us and from Hans, who works as a tourguide onboard of the Bark Europa we learn that these birds live all of their life just flying around and they would rest only for a few minutes,when swimming a bit and of course, when nesting on an island to breed the eggs.
My day ends with a wonderful sundown.
Fondest memory: Last night the first sailing-watches had started and I was among the ones that had the watch between midnight and 04.00am, but lucky for me and my brother Bernie, there were 2 groups of 2 people on watch, 1 group was on standby and one was totally off at this shift, and it was us, so we could go down to the cabin again and have some sleep instead of hanging around !Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
- Adventure Travel
My logbook : THURSDAY 20 NOVEMBER 2008
Favorite thing: 07.00-09.00am Breakfast in the Lounge
09.00am the pilot came onboard and the ship was cruising to the Bunker-station, where we recieved 6000 litres of Diesel before we did start sailing the Beagle channel at around 10.00am.
After passing by Haberton and Ft. Williams and sailing further on the Beagle-channel the pilot finally left at 04.00pm and we could set all of our sails and sail towards Antarctica.
Fondest memory: With the help of a crewmember I tried to step up into the rigg, but unfortunately my shoes were much too wide to step into the steps, that were getting more narrow by each step that you climb up. Finally there were 3 steps that were too narrow and I did not want to risk anything and steped down again...Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Sailing and Boating
my logbook : WEDNESDAY 19 NOVEMBER 2008
Favorite thing: my logbook for WEDNESDAY 19 NOVEMBER 2008
05.00 pm there was the embarkation onboard of the Bark Europa and a helpful and friedly crew did help us with the luggage and led us to our cabins.
It is a pity that I came quite late so there were only 2 berths left over in our cabin of 5 people in a cabin with 6 berths and I took the one with the lower bed.
Afterwards there was a small party out on deck with a welcome-drink
Fondest memory: It is certainly a great idea to start such a cruise not at the day of embarcation, but the next morning, like it is always done onboard of the Bark Europa.
Fly to Antarctica
Favorite thing: You can fly to Antarctica instead of cruise, and its cheaper. No sea sickness at all. :) I flew with DAP from Punta Arenas to King George Island. You can read my post if you like:
Flying is cheaper than cruising
Favorite thing: I've heard the sea is rough, and I get seasick easy, so I chose to fly. Tt was also the cheapest way to go. I booked with DAP from Punta Arenas to King George Island. You can read my post if you like:
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Flying to Antarctica for a Day
Favorite thing: My husband and I flew to King George Island with DAP.
It is cheapest to schedule with them directly. Their office is in Punta Arenas. If you take a chartered flight it is about $3,000 per ticket and you spend the day, doing what you described. Seeing the penguins and the science centers. They also have one hour layovers there if you luck out and arrive when a cruise ship is getting picked up. I don't think they usually sell these tickets, but if you met them in person, they might be willing to work something out if they have extra seats. I would not go twice in my life, but I would choose to go again the first time, knowing what it is like. Yes. It is a once in a lifetime experience.
Fondest memory: I loved seeing the sign with all the arrows and city names pointing in every direction.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
Machu Picchu and Antarctica
Favorite thing: We went to Machu Picchu in December of 2011. It was very rainy. Take a poncho. The ones they sell are worthless. Having my own made things so much more comfy and helped protect my camera. We flew to Antarctica, so high seas were not a problem.
Cookouts, Antarctic style
Favorite thing: For one of our on-board lunches, the crew of the Ushuaia chose to fire up outside grills and have a (what they called) Antarctic Barbecue. The weather was clear and sunny - albeit it a bit cooler than your standard outdoor barbecue. And, the plan was never to EAT outside, given the coolness. But, a lot of folks hung around outdoors drinking Quilmes (Argentine beer) and enjoying the delightful smells coming from the giant cookers.
The menu included barbecued chicken, beefsteak, and several different kinds of sausages - including chorizo and blood sausages. When it was time to eat, we assembled in the dining room, and they brought plate after plate of barbecue to us. One member of our table (the intrepid and clinically insane - ha ha - Samantha Browning of Perth, Australia) chose to try one of the blood sausages. I couldn't imagine why, they didn't really look like anything I wanted to try and besides - I spent 30+ working in a clinical lab. I know what happens when you heat large volumes of blood - it coagulates and gets pretty gross. But try it Samantha did, and she pronounced it "not so great" and mentioned that it had little "lumpy" parts of unknown origin. (My guess would be they were roasted blood clots... yech.)
OK, the blood sausage wasn't a great idea, but everything else was very good, and it really hit the spot on a clear and breezy afternoon near Port Charcot.
Fondest memory: Samantha's face when she tried that blood sausage. Even my sweet daughter Sara - who will eat darn near ANYTHING - passed on the bloodies. Samantha, dear.... what WERE you thinking?
Make friends with the bartender
Favorite thing: Do I really need to write this tip? Is anyone out there stupid enough to get on a cruise ship and pay no attention to "becoming friends" with the bartender?
Let's list a few reasons to be good friend with your bartender...
He'll notice YOU quickly when everyone wants a drink.
He'll set aside the last bottle of a pretty decent little cabernet and deliver it to your dinner table later, fibbing to everyone else and telling them that he's sold the last bottle.
He'll make sure that you get an EXTRA COLD can of Quilmes, the very drinkable Argentine brew of choice on board.
He'll find you some snacks when you need them.
And on our boat, he was in charge of selling t-shirts and stuff, so he'll dig though his entire supply in his spare time to find the last one of the size and color you really, really wanted. Thanks, Alvaro.
Our terrific bartender on the Ushuaia was the enigmatic and gregarious Alvaro Fierro. I know that's an interesting combo of descriptive words, but let's just say that Alvaro is a very special cocktail himself. Good guy.
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Antarctica synchonized swimming, a la Penguin
Favorite thing: I'd seen many many penguins in zoos, and I felt like I had a pretty good idea of what they were like. I figured the trip to Antarctica would show me penguins in their native habitat and in unimaginable numbers. But, I was surprised and delighted to see them SWIM.
They generally will go for little swims in groups, and they really do look like "little porpoises", zipping along and hopping up into the air along the way. They actually seem to synchronize the hops a bit, because it seemed to me that groups of 8 or 10 penguins would almost always be out of the water at the same time.
My pictures probably don't do it justice, but if you look at several of them, you'll maybe get the idea. Seeing these little guys on a synchronized swim just brings a smile to your face.
Fondest memory: Seeing my first penguin swim show, and at first thinking they were porpoises or some other type of sleek swimming water mammal or fish. They do things so very TOGETHER.
Get your passport stamped!
Favorite thing: Antarctica really isn't a country or sovereign nation. They have no foreign ministry, passport offices or customs officers. In general, the interests of the continent are a world concern, and the area is overseen in the interest of all the world by a group of treaty-signing nations. There ARE nations who have territorial "claims" on Antarctica, including Argentina. However, that notion seems to be a thought of past centuries. It seems that, for the foreseeable future, the treasure and unique place that is Antarctica will be protected by a large group of concerned and committed governments and their citizenry.
That being said, you DO want to have evidence and bragging rights to visiting such an incredible destination - a place that very few people EVER get to see. So, at several of the research and weather stations on the continent, they'll stamp your passport with local information. In our case, we were stamped at both Vernadsky Station (by the Ukrainian residents), and at Port Lockery (in the name of the British Antarctic Trust). I don't think there's a charge for doing so, but you may have to ask. (In our case, our expedition leader just asked up front if anyone did NOT want a passport stamp, and to my knowledge everyone wanted one.)
Get your stamp and then go home and brag. :)
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Love your head waiter and waitresses
Favorite thing: Seating on the Ushuaia - and to my knowledge on most of the smaller expedition ships - is quite informal and open. In theory, you can sit anywhere you want to anytime. That being said, people are creatures of habit. It seemed to me that everyone pretty much kept sitting with the same little group all the time. We were no exception, and a special thanks for the fun to our table mates, Andrew Povah and Rachael Best (who are "kind of" a married couple... from Britain but now living in Sydney, Oz) and the Browning family of Perth, Australia - Steve, Samantha and Jasmine. Add the three Chamlis travelers, and you had table one.
Our two waitresses - Nicole and Veronica, and our head waiter Hector took excellent care of us... and quite honestly, they really seemed to "like" us. I guess we did a good job of showing our appreciation for their help and kindness. There's something very comforting when they KNOW how you take your coffee, when you'd like to have your dessert, if you'd maybe like seconds on entrees and such. Within a very short period of time, they could anticipate every need.
We also appreciate the time they took to help our Sara get her morning breakfast buffet selections to the table during heavier seas. Keep that breakfast bacon coming, guys. :) And yes, we'd like another go of coffee....kaffee negro for Bonnie and con leche for Sara and I.
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Make friends with your cabin steward
Favorite thing: We were so very blessed on our Antarctic cruise. Our cabin steward was a wonderful fellow, Fernando Otero. Fernando took great care of our rooms and always had a smile for us. Suffice to say and especially on a small expedition ship, being "in good" with your cabin steward is a good thing. The kindness that Fernancdo showed us was varied and constant. We particular appreciated his "sharing" the staff dryer with us. The ship officially doesn't have laundry services for passengers, but of course they have laundry - they have to clean sheets, etc. Anyway, Fernando would notice us making special setups in our room to position parkas and waterproof pants to get them dry between landings. He just took them away to the "staff area" and put them in the dryer. He did this for us and for the folks in the cabin across the hall.
He also was very creative in making little shapes out of towels and such in the cabin, and he always set up my daughter's beloved stuffed animal travel companions in a very special way after making the bed. It's the little things that show you that Fernando enjoys his job and does it well. We were so fortunate to have him taking care of us for our 12 days on board.
Thanks so much, Fernando. You're the best, amigo.
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Ancient ice - frozen history
Favorite thing: One afternoon, as our zodiac was heading back to the Ushuaia, our driver spotted something in the distance and immediately headed that way. He said something about "ice" and that confused us.... heck, we had ice all around us, nothing special about THAT. But when we got there, I have to admit that it was truly amazing. We were looking into the past.
There is an item that they call "ancient ice" in Antarctica, and basically it's floating ice that has BEEN ice so very long that it's literally become crystal clear. And whatever is frozen in the ice.... a leaf, a small fish, etc. may well have been frozen in that ice for thousands and thousands of years. I was told later by our expedition leader that we were very fortunate to have seen this rarity.
Take a look at the accompanying photos, and imagine the thrill of staring through this crystal clear ice into the earth's distant past. When this chunk of ice originally formed, it could have been thousands of years before Christ, maybe before the zenith of Athens as a city-state. Heck, it may have been far enough in the past where mankind was just really getting used to buying shoes. (Just kidding, my joke way of saying man had just rally begun walking upright)
Amazing. Just another thing that you see an Antarctica and basically nowhere else. Just another answer to the silly question you get sometimes from people back home.... why would you want to go to Antarctica?
NOTE, three of the photos below are pretty much the same shot. But one is up much closer.
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