Probably the luckiest people in the world.........

Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
Trip End Jan 19, 2007

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Flag of Antarctica  ,
Saturday, November 18, 2006

Last night we are told as the conditions are so perfect that we are going to continue south and see how the ice is. We may then get the opportunity to see the miles and miles ice sheets of the Antarctic and even Emperor Penguins.

We set our alarm for 3am for sunrise and stupidly switch it off. Half an hour later Aaron comes over the PA sounding as bright and breezy as ever to tell us all there are Emperor Penguins on the ice outside. Don´t think we have ever got dressed and out so quick.

We leap up on board to a flat white landscape of ice followed by a gigantic iceshelf and mountains of ice in the distance. We really have arrived in Antarctica. And even more importantly there on the ice looking regal we see our first Emperor Penguin standing on the ice. The boat has got as close as it can and is right next to the ice sheet and we are no longer moving so we can all see it as it waddles over the ice. It is truly amazing to watch. Many people get up but not everyone for some reason and many then go back to bed. We stay up as the scenery is amazing and we move on through the channel and see some Adelie penguins on the starboard of the ship. Then we spot another 3 Emperors! A pair together and then another a bit further away. The boat edges towards them, as much as a boat can edge! Dave likened it to us creeping up on them, but reckoned they probably spotted this huge red ship in the middle of the ocean!

We watched them for I dont know how long but we were all mesmerised. They occasionally toboganned on their tummies and posed for our photos. We all wished we had more powerful lenses though. My video camera couldnt really capture any of it sadly. But it was nice just to watch. We eventually dragged ourselves away as they went off into the ocean and stayed up to hope for some more.

Later we found out that they very very rarely see them on these trips as they are so far south and conditions have to be ideal to see them. In fact most people have to pay $15-20,000 on an icebreaker trip to see them. We feel like the luckiest people alive.

A bit later on the film ´March of the Penguins´ about Emperors is being shown. What a great time to watch that film. It was fab! Started to watch the making of it too but was time for our next briefing.........

Kinnes Cove (63 degrees 22´S, 53 degrees 33´W)
Cape which forms the W extremity of Joinville island, off the NE end of Antarctic peninsuila. Named by members of the Dundee Whaling expedition 1892-3 for R Kinnes sponsor of the expedition. Other side of the Antarctic sound to Paulet Island.

We are told to expect more seals as the breeding season has just finished and the pups moult ready for their new silver dappled coat. Apparently there are 800,000 of them and they are 10ft long and are only in Antarctica

On our zodiac voyage we see hundreds more penguins (and yet NEVER get bored of them or taking millions of pics. Wish I had more memory cards!). There is loads of snow on land and big icebergs, possibly from old ice shelves. We see some seals as we climb up a steepish hill (grateful for the exercise though!) and get the most incredible view of the bays and the icebergs out to sea. Was worth the climb in the snow. Is great to get a different perspective on this amazing continent.

After lots more trudging and watching we head back on board for a brief sleep to prepare ourselves for tonigh´s posh evening.

Fortunately this is not a traditional cruise so there is no-one in a tuxedo or ball gown for tonight´s Captain´s dinner. We put on clean t-shirts. This is preceded by a welcome to Antarctica champagne reception and an introduction by the Captain. Is an amusing and friendly chap and looks just like Captain Birdseye. Not sure if I was the only one secretly hoping for fish fingers for dinner. Needless to say that wasnt on the menu but as ever the food and company was great. Later on we broke further into our box of red wine and drank rather more than was entirely necessary. You think we would learn.

Today´s programme had the following quote at the top. Possibly the most apt one of our trip so far:

"An Antarctic expedition is the worst way to have the best time of your life." - Apsley Cherry Garnard

Certainly those that really suffered from seasickness agreed with it!
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