Luxury Expedition Ship
When reminiscing about my trip to Antarctica, I like to recollect the sounds first: the fanatical clucking of hundreds of penguins, the drip of massive icebergs, and the soundless peace that only a place at the end of the earth could reverberate. The images in my mind are so stunningly beautiful that it’s hard to believe they originated from my personal experience and not a photo-shopped picture or over-dramatized scene from a movie.
Onboard, I was in one of the ship’s amazingly spacious and handsome cabins, with a first-class view out of the cabin window. We were surrounded by monotones – bleached out icebergs, the dark expanse of the ocean, pencil gray clouds, and even the occasional, tuxedoed penguin bobbing through the sea or basking on a stray piece of ice.
The good weather throughout our trip meant we were lucky enough to have twelve shore landings. The smell of the penguin colonies is something my nose will not allow me to forget, but the curiosity and playfulness of these adorable creatures made visiting them well worth the offense endured by my nose. One of my most beloved memories is just sitting and observing these audacious and flirty birds. Watching them mischievously chase after one another amidst furious squawking, curiously inspect their new human visitors, or sleep lazily in the mid-morning sun was an unexpectedly satisfying form of entertainment. Our wildlife experiences also included close encounters with seals, whales, and sub-Antarctic birds of many varieties.
On our first day of landings, I and a few other brave passengers donned our bathing suits to challenge the icy waters off Deception Island. I was not just observing Antarctica’s vast and beautiful landscape and unforgettable wildlife as one would view a photo or video; I was one of the lucky few to experience it with all my senses.
Every outing on our cruise brought a new and equally entertaining experience to be enjoyed, from hiking up small, snow-covered peaks for a view of impressive glaciers to taking in the amazing ice sculptures carved by Mother Nature on a zodiac cruise. We even made a visit to the southernmost bar in the world, located at a Ukrainian research station.
There were also wonderful adventures to be had onboard the ship. Some of my favorite recollections of my Antarctic experience involve the people that I met. I will cherish my memories with the wonderful restaurant staff, who made me feel at home as soon as I stepped foot in their dining room, the guides, who were always more than willing to share their stories and knowledge, and my fellow travelers who had their own amazing adventures to recount. Our experience together culminated in a karaoke turned dance party on the last night through the Drake Passage, where staff and passengers alike twirled and bopped on the lecture floor together like old friends. As awe-inspiring and life-changing as my experiences on the continent had been, I was equally swept off my feet by the gracious and remarkable people that I spent time with on the ship.
Saying goodbye to Antarctica, and my new friends came all too quickly. But now that the voyage is over, I take comfort in remembering the small, sensory experiences; memories that cannot be obtained from a beautiful picture or a well-authored story. All I have to do is close my eyes, think of the sounds, and I am back on the frozen continent, seeing, feeling, smelling, and tasting that wonderful adventure that was my reality for twelve unbelievable days.