This is as far south as we are going to go.

Trip Start Feb 18, 2008
Trip End Mar 07, 2008

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Flag of Antarctica  ,
Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Today we spent the entire day following various courses along the Gerlach Strait. On the way we passed many ice bergs in the narrow channel. We saw a lot of wildlife including humpback and fin whales. We arrived off the Neumayer Channel at around 11 am.  We reached our furthest most souhern point of the cruise at latitude 64 degrees 59.4 degrees south. We were 3898 nautical miles south of the Equator!!! I had wanted to experience sitting in the hottub in Antarctica... I thought that would be the most spectacular experience but I couldn't face the getting out of the hottub part. It was hard enough after leaving Stanley and it was a lot warmer then. There were people that were enjoying the experience I just wasn't one of them. For the rest of the afternoon we retraced our courses along the Gerlach Strait entering into more open water around 8pm. 

As we were standing out on deck members of the crew were taking just a few moments to get a picture or two of the beautiful vistas. Any time that I would see one of them with their camera out I would quickly offer to take a photo with them in it. It wasn't long until one of our waiters from the Capri Dining room was out on the deck with friends trying to get some group shots. I went over and made the offer of taking the picture by Uni insisted that I must be in the photo. It ended up being kinda funny because all of them wanted me in their pictures. For a moment I was feeling famous. Truthfully I think it was just them trying to prove that there was someone on board that was under 80. I laughed even harder when some man came up and handed his camera to one of the crew and stood next to me while they took his picture. His parting words were "my wife is going to kill me." LOL. 

Throughout Antarctica we have seen whales but they are very far in the distance. We have seen their blow holes and sometimes their tails as they dive. It is very hard to spot the wildlife. When on deck we are 10 stories in the air and the wildlife stays well out of the way of a huge ship like ours. Some of the people on board have binoculars but even with those you can't see much. If I had it to do again with the knowledge that I have now I would fly into Ushuaia and take a small ship like the one we saw today Nordnorge. They were pulled into the shore and were able to set foot on the actual continent. Our boat is too large to send tenders ashore. Ships with 500 passengers or less are the only ones that can have excursions like that. 

Video of whales that we spotted while on board

We decided to take advantage of the free champagne and go to the Sink it or drink it competion in Wheel house bar. They set up a little putting course. Well actually it was a straight shot but with a ship that was rocking and a floor that had carpet not turf. The first trip around not a one of us hit the hole. Another couple that golfs but didn't drink gave us their glass. Too funny the minute the champagne hit our blood stream we were all Tiger woods. The second time around all of us got a hole in one and a free glass of  champagne. Cory even bounced his off of one of the columns in the room for a nice rim shot....

While we were inside having our cookies and milk for the day the wonderful woman we had dinner with the second night on board, came over to our table. Linda told us that her husband Campbell was celebrating his birthday today. She had been looking for us all day. She had prepared requested a champagne celebration in the wheelhouse bar. Of all the people on board she wanted us to join them.

Champagne twice in one day. We were so honored that out of all the people on board Linda wanted us to celebrate with them. Linda and Campbell are from Ireland. They are such nice down to earth people and they love to have a good time. They did a very nice set up with finger sandwiches and champagne. Not that we needed anything else to eat. Geez we are eating all of the time. We had a fabulous time with them

At the end of the evening the deck started to clear off a little. With this age group of passenger most of them dine early and go to bed early. We had wandered to the very front of the boat. At this point we were just traveling along passing small icebergs. We were starting to get cold and it was starting to get dark. When the battery on my camera died we decided to go in. We were strolling back from the bow when we noticed something in the water. Cory had caught sight of a couple of penguins swimming in the water. As we videoed them Jeremiah spotted something on one of the bergs. We at first thought that it was a penguin. We got very excited. We hadn't seen much more than a couple of blow holes from whales and petrels flying behind the ship. The excitement built as Cory zoomed in with our video camera and realized it was a seal. As we got closer we were able to see that it was a seal and two penguins on the berg. It was like watching national geographic. The seal would chase the penguins, they would run and when he would stop chasing them they would tease him until he chased them again. We couldn't tell what type of seal that it was or what type of penguin but leopard seals eat penguins in the wild. Of course on land they aren't agile enough so the penguins didn't seem to want to go anywhere. As we reveled in our big find, only the 4 of us and another couple saw them, our excitement turned to pure glee. It started to snow. 

Video of us watching the seal and penguins

One would think that snow in Antarctica isn't that big of a deal since the entire place is covered in snow but it doesn't snow often in Antarctica.  A desert is defined as a region that has less than 254 mm (10 in) of annual rainfall or precipitation. Antarctica can be classified as a desert by this definition. In the interior of the continent the average annual precipitation (in *equivalent of water) is only about 50 mm (about 2 in), less than the Sahara.  Along the coast, this increases, but is still only about 200 mm (8 in) in *equivalent of water. Unlike other deserts, there is little evaporation from Antarctica, so the relatively little snow that does fall, doesn't go away again. Instead it builds up over hundreds and thousands of years into enormously thick ice sheets.

We weren't the only ones that were thrilled with the snow. Our waiters, from the Philippines were all completely distracted by the snow. They kept running to the windows to watch. They were biding their time until they could go out on deck and feel the falling snow on their skins. They were so cute. Most of them were in between 20 and 40 and this was the first time in their lives that they had ever seen snow. Being originally from Missouri I can't imagine what it is like to see snow for the first time. Our head waiter is from Brazil and is 48. He comes running over to our table and tells us to feel his shirt... "Its wet! From the snow!" Their excitement was contagious.

What a wonderful way to end the evening. This has been the best day on board yet.

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