Antarctica Journals

A Walk on Antarctica

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A February 2000 trip to Antarctica by jemery

Close Ashore Photo, More Photos
Quote: We cruised alongside massive icebergs, a foot above water level, in a glorified rubber raft. We sat on a rock amidst hundreds of penguins. We explored the world’s least-understood continent using landings first mapped by Shackleton and other famous adventurers. Here’s what it’s like to visit Antarctica.

A Walk on Antarctica

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Overview

The Zodiac Photo,
Quote:
In brief: Incredible ice formations, Incredible wildlife. Incredible experience. Clipper Cruise Lines greeted us in Buenos Aires with a city tour, tango show and welcoming banquet, then flew us to Ushuaia, Argentina to join the 122-passenger Clipper Adventurer for the dreaded crossing of the Drake Passage, The Drake Passage has the roughest seas in the world, and was unkind to many of our passengers, but on the third morning all was calm again. We saw our first icebergs and our first whales and, by afternoon, were preparing for our first onshore expedition. Two mornings and several island landings later, we found ourselves in a long, narrow strait with many ice floes...Read More

Ushuaia and the Drake Passage

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Attraction

Twilight Tranquility Photo,
Quote:
Ushuaia, Argentina, is the southernmost city in the world. It’s on the island of Tierra del Fuego -- the Land of Fire --- a volcanic island appendage on the far southern tip of South America. It’s a smallish, friendly, rather quaint city with the souvenir shops and other tourist attractions you’d expect of a popular cruise-ship port. We had a few hours to tour here while ‘Clipper Adventurer’ was being cleaned and resupplied. After a safety orientation, lifeboat drill and dinner, we set off down the Beagle Channel, an attractive, relatively narrow waterway that would take us to Cape Horn and the open sea. And, like it or not, the Drake Passage. The Drake Passage, between 40 and 50 degr...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 12, 2001

Island-Hopping Southward

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Attraction

Penguin's Paradise Photo,
Quote:
It’s morning four. We’re approaching what looks like a typical island --- but it’s not. Deception Island resembles a doughnut with a bite taken out of it, a volcano that had literally blown itself apart. The ‘bite’ was a narrow opening called ‘Neptune’s Bellows’; we sailed through it into the volcano’s caldera --- a submerged crater that’s now a huge circular lagoon --- and anchored in Whaler’s Bay. On shore were weathered shells of buildings, rusted tanks and machinery, and what was once an airstrip. Volcanic ash covered much of the wreckage. A Norwegian whaling station and British research station that used to be here were nearly wiped out in a 1969 eruption --- and the volcano is...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 12, 2001

Mainland!

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Attraction

Between the Bergs Photo,
Quote:
It’s mid-morning. We’ve left the relatively open water and are negotiating a channel, called Errera, that gets narrower and narrower the further we go. As we penetrate it, we find ourselves dodging ice floes. (Our ice-reinforced bow crushes the smaller ones, but we must still avoid the larger chunks.) The bridge calls our attention to a pair of whales, just off the port bow, that appear to be escorting us through the channel. The weather’s foul, but the clouds glow with quicksilver-like luminosity. As we progress, the channel widens, the overcast lightens, and, as the sun emerges, we turn into a photo-perfect bay. The Captain announces that passengers, who aren’t normally allowed in the...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 12, 2001

A Bay Called 'Paradise'

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Attraction

Snooze Time! Photo,
Quote:
Landing on the Antarctic mainland is probably the experience I’ll brag about the most, but for sheer visual impact I’d have to choose our water-level expedition through Paradise Bay. Another Guide, who publIshed his journal before mine, called Paradise Bay one of his most memorable experiences. YES! We’d had our passports stamped at the Argentine government post office at Port Lockroy, then anchored for our second mainland landing, at Argentina’s Almirante Brown Research Station. To keep from overcrowding the small site, only half of us would go ashore at one time. The rest would take an hour-long Zodiac cruise. What a wonderland of ice sculpture! The sun popped in and out of ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 12, 2001

How to book ...

Story/Tip

Quote:
Clipper Cruise Lines, operator of my Antarctic experience, specializes in small-ship (120-140 passenger) cruises that travel waterways that larger ships can’t navigate. For information, contact their parent company, INTRAV, Inc. at 7711 Bonhomme Ave., St. Louis, MO 63105-1956. Phone: (800) - 325-0010 Internet: www.clippercruise.com Antarctic cruises are expensive. The cost depends on the time of year you travel, whether you’re single or sharing a cabin, and whether there’s a special credit-card promotion going on. Expect to pay at least $7,000 if you’re single. But it’s an experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Fares are commissiona...Read More