Thursday 24 January 2013

An Emperor!!!

One of the reasons people come to Antarctica is to see and to experience ice and that was exactly what today was all about.  As we have mentioned several times in this blog, the Weddell Sea has largely been impassable for Expedition Cruise ships this season.  As we pass the zenith of summer, the extent of the ice is diminishing.  We could see on our satellite ice charts that at the very least, we would be able to experience giant tabular icebergs up close and we would be able to patrol the edge of the sea ice pack.

There was lots of blue sky and sunshine early this morning.  And as expected, there was lots of ice!  Instead of doing a landing today we opted to drop the Polar Cirkle boats and go cruising in the heavy sea ice and have a close up view of tabular bergs from sea level.  There is nothing quite like cruising through heavy ice in a small boat.  It is really a fun and thrilling experience.

We were also hoping to be able to find seals lounging on ice floes and as luck would have it we found several Crabeater Seals and two or three Weddell Seals.  Speaking of luck: a few people got to see a juvenile Emperor Penguin!!  The northernmost Emperor Colony is less than 100 kms from where we were cruising but it was still an incredible stroke of luck to see a lone juvenile Emperor Penguin on an ice floe!

We wrapped up the cruising around noon.  Many people said it was there favourite thing to do so far and if given the choice, they would love to do even more Polar Cirkle boat cruising!

The rest of the day was full speed ahead.  We had a lot of miles to cover in order to reach Peterman Island tomorrow morning.  As we headed south the skies quickly closed in, the sea picked up and it began to snow.  What a transformation from our fantastic weather this morning.

In the afternoon the Polhogda and Framheim lecture halls were full as we once again picked up with our lecture series.

At 21:45 we met in the observation Lounge for a fashion show of the merchandise in the onboard gift shop.  And who were the models?  None other than the entire Expedition Team and the officers of the ship!