To the Seventh Continent, Antarctica

After a long’n’tiring research, we found a way to continue our trip. Here our adventures on an epic journey further to the south. From Ushuaia to the South Shetland Islands and to Antarctica. For the very 1st time on a kind of a cruise.

Ushuaia 2 South Shetland Islands

Ushuaia, 12th December

Maybe you’re slightly astonished to see another post. So, to say, a post-Ushuaia post.

It’s true, we urgently have to work out an alternative to x-mas with auntie Julie. It’s a real emergency. With another bottle of Malbec, we find it.

Just to get everything clear: we know for Prado there’s definitely no road going further south. For us, there’s a way to go a little more toward Australia’s south coast. And for that, we have to look for a ship. As everybody knows, approaching Australia is exactly what these famous cruise ships do when sailing a few days toward the South Pole,

Of course, we even don’t think about buying these regular passages. The 1s at the prize of a small car – per person. Thus, we visit 1 of these travel agencies in Ushuaia selling last-minute cruises. There are quite some offers available. Quickly we identify the perfect 1. A 16-days cruise to South Shetland Islands, Antarctica, and South Georgia Islands on a brand-new all-inclusive luxury ship. Not bad, for about the same price as all the other offers. They sell with a significant reduction to the initial price. Not bad as well. We decide on this offer within 10′,  fill out a few papers, and most important make sure we can pay it with our CC. Finally, we also get 1 of these insurances even paying repatriation should you be eaten by a penguin on an Antarctic icefield.

Drakes Passage, 16th December

In the afternoon of 14th December, we finally embark on our ship to Antarctica. Our very 1st cruise. Of course, we’re a little bit afraid of that. Especially, after having read all these strange issues discussed in certain fb groups. And after having heard all these stories about life on board of a cruise ship – worse than an all-inclusive beach resort, or Mallorca’s Ballermann. Well, let’s see how crazy everybody is.

Not to mention, we’re pretty impressed with the luxury on this ship. The infinity pool on an upper deck where you may probably swim together with some penguins and sea lions. The cabins – slightly resemble a room in a business hotel. Still, what a difference to Navimag’s super cold cabins.

And we are happy to see our Navimag friends, Cornelia and Simon, on board as well.

Later we’re informed on how to behave in case we get into a Titanic-like situation. Well, they say it wouldn’t happen.

By 9 pm we leave the port of Ushuaia. We nearly miss it. We’re so busy drinking wine in the lounge and telling stories we never experienced.

Now we’re crossing the famous Drake Passage for 2 days. Said to be an area with waves bigger than Mount Everest, and winds stronger than the worst hurricane. Let’s see what to expect. Anyway, we bought plenty of Dramamine tablets to avoid sea-sickness.

Next morning. The 1st day on sea. It’s foggy, but the sea is pretty calm. Nevertheless, many people don’t feel extremely well. Surely, it’s not due to the rough sea. Remains the theory that the last glass of wine yesterday night was not good. Hopefully, they complain to the barkeeper.

Whatever. Today we have to learn how to enter and leave a Zodiac. You know, these dinghies we’ll need to land at Antarctic islands. Even in stormy weather.

Then we also need to know how to behave amongst all those animals and we get an introduction to IAATO.

The night: slightly bumpy. Next morning heading for breakfast – just very few people having the same idea. What the hell is going on? – All victims of sea sickness? How knows, they’ll never tell us.

We spend another day on open sea. The guys on the ship try to entertain everybody with lectures on penguins, whales, and other animals sneaking or swimming in this area.

Alternatively, you might go for fog or bird watching.

South Shetland Islands, 17th December

Finally, this morning we reach the South Shetland Islands. During the night we’ve crossed the Antarctic convergence. Air temperature drops considerably. The sea is around 0°. The wind: just icy.

We approach 1 of the islands. The ships anchors just outside a bay called Yankee Harbor. Time to show that we remember all they’ve told us about Zodiacs.

Quickly we have to get into our waterproof trousers and anoraks, into heavy boots – and we’re ready to be driven to land. In the spray of the boats and then in the rain on the island.

A short drive – and we’re at the beach of Yankee Harbor. In the middle of a penguin colony. What a smell. 

Astonishingly, the penguins just ignore us. They simply go on breeding, quarreling, and stealing stones from the neighbor’s nest to improve their own, etc.

And us – sneaking on these slippery stones on the beach – next to all these guys.

Suddenly a huge agitation. A raptor approaches the breeding penguins. Trying to get some eggs for lunch. But without any success.

Later we even discover some penguin chicks. Just out of their eggs. 

Finally, a look at these lazy guys – elephant seals, sleeping on the shore.

Then back to the ship. To dry ourselves. And even more important our cameras soaked in the rain.

We sail along South Shetland’s islands. To reach Barrientos in the afternoon. Never heard of Barrientos? Nor did we.

The same exercise again: into the Zodiac, a short drive to the island, and we’re visiting some more penguins. 

Barrientos even has a hill to climb. To get an overview of the numerous penguin colonies. There are 2 different species of penguins. Those black’n’white guys with the orange beak (the Gentoos) and the real black’n’white ones without any other color (the Chinstrap). Again many breeding, or with chicks.

Back to the ship. Again, trying to dry everything.

Antarctica, 19th December

Another day, another adventure. The day we’ll reach mainland Antarctica. Then probably still a few km to sneak until we’ll reach the South Pole. 

But let’s start where it starts: weather is surprisingly good. No rain, no snow, little wind, and pretty calm sea. We’re still sailing along the islands of South Shetland. Now, they’re all snow’n’ice covered. Today we’ll reach the southernmost point of the cruise. A little more than 64° south – not really much if you compare to similar places in the northern hemisphere.



We’re on the way to Cuverville Island. Please don’t feel too depressed if you never heard of it.

Later in the morning, we reach the island. The opportunity to climb up a ridge. And of course, to admire more penguins. Well, even some whales.

Back to the Zodiacs. A short tour thru the icebergs. Then to the ship. By noon weather deteriorates considerably.

In the afternoon we’re on our way to Antarctica’s mainland. It’s snowing, very windy, and pretty cold. Initially, they planned to visit 1 of the famous places on the peninsula. Where you can climb up a hill to see far to the south. 

Just wind is too strong to land. Anyway, the sight would be more or less 0.

Instead, we head to a place called Portal Point. They hope that conditions improve until we reach it that we can land.

Thus, we have time to watch quite a lot of whales passing by. And to count snowflakes.

Late afternoon we’re on the way to Portal Point. The wind has dropped, and the sea is pretty calm.

A short drive thru icebergs, then we reach mainland Antarctica. The place definitely has not too much to offer. Just snow, ice and a few penguins. And of course, the opportunity to sneak directly to the South Pole should you intend to spend a little more time here. 

After 1h we’re already on our way back. True, it was a short 1st trip to Antarctica’s mainland. And maybe not the most spectacular 1 we could imagine.

Still, you have to know a cruise has a tight schedule. A little bit like a minibus on a backpacky tour. If they have to sail slower due to weather, they simply need to compensate for somewhere else. Like a backpacky tour bus on a road full of potholes compensating for toilet stops.

At least we have time to watch all the whales hanging around the ship.

After a stormy night, we’re heading towards Mikkelson Harbor – our 2nd landing on the mainland. As we’re told the only area along the Antarctica Peninsula with reasonable weather conditions. Well, let’s hope it’s true.

Arriving there – heavy snowfall. Apart from this, weather really improved.

Some Weddell Seals – born to sleep. And penguins turning white in the snowfall.

On the other side of the bay, we even discover an Argentinian research station. No idea if it’s still in use. Nobody responds to us.

2h later we’re already on the way back to the ship. Just before we look all white like the penguins during snowfall.

Weather does definitely not improve. We sail further to the north. The crew thinks there might eventually be a spot where we may go for a Zodiac cruise. 

Late afternoon we reach Lindblad Cove. Our very last visit along the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Weather is still pretty rough. But wind has dropped. So, there’s a chance to drive along the coastline and thru the icebergs with Zodiacs. And most important, sometimes we can even see some sunshine.

After 1 1/2h we’re back on the ship. Sailing again northwards. Towards the South Shetland Islands. 

So, that was the very last visit to Antarctica. At least for the time being.

You wouldn’t believe it – weather clears up even more in the evening. No more snowfall, but bright sunshine. And a lot of icebergs passing by.

Then it’s time for dinner. They predict a pretty rough passage tonight to South Shetland Islands. 

Fortunately, we had a few glasses of wine to fight seasickness.

South Shetland Islands, 20th December

True, the night is pretty rough. The day as well. For some time, there’s such a strong wind that they even put some strange notices at all doors.

Late afternoon we reach Elephant Island, in the eastern part of South Shetland Islands.

And exactly at that time, the wonder happens: the wind speed reduces considerably, and all the clouds are about to disappear.

Nevertheless, the masters of the game still claim too heavy wind and too big waves to land with the Zodiacs.

Thus, we can only admire the Island from the deck.  

So, that’s it for this post. Surely you’re freezing in the meantime. We know everybody starts freezing when looking at that icy pics. Best, go to your bar, choose a nice drink to bring you back to normal temperature, and be incredible jealousy. That’s all we wish.

In the meantime



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