Our cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula departed from Ushuaia, Argentina. We only spent one day there. I wanted to make sure that we had enough time to make the ship's departure, even if there were flight delays. You can't catch up with ships headed south from Ushuaia.
Ushuaia is a small city, the southern-most city in the world. They market it as "the end of the world", and it certainly feels remote. Most people go there to hike, take day cruises, or for the train that goes up to a glacier. We simply hung out around town, went to the small but worthwhile Museo del Fin del Mundo (Museum of the End of the World). If you do go to Ushuaia, you should first read Evolution's Captain by Peter Nichols. It's the story of the captain of the ship The Beagle, which is the ship that Charles Darwin was on when he studied the wildlife of the region. His studies ultimately resulted in the publication of the theory of evolution. Ironically, the captain of the Beagle was a deeply religious man who was devastated that so much of his life's work helped to further Darwin's research. Having this background made the trip to the museum, and other places in Ushuaia, really interesting. If I hadn't read the book, I think the museums would have been boring.
After we departed Ushuaia, we sailed down the Beagle Channel. As we left civilization behind, the scenery was beautiful. My pictures don't do it justice. It is so remote, and so pristine. It was late so we went to bed before we left the Beagle Channel.
We woke up the next day in the Drake Passage. The crew said that we were having really good weather, and we were only having 10-15 foot swells. Even though I used a patch for anti-nausea medicine, I really couldn't be upright for very long, maybe 30 minutes at a time. I felt fine as long as I was laying in bed. While crossing the Drake, there were a variety of lectures on board, like identifying different types of birds, how to get the most out of your digital camera, lectures on ice, and others. Plus—there was bird watching, as the ship was escorted by a number of different kinds of birds. I only made it to the one on using your camera, but the other lectures all got good reviews from people who did go.
I never got the sense from Brad (who does not get seasick) that anyone got the least bit bored during the crossing because there always seemed to be stuff to do. We brought a bunch of books to read and DVDs to watch, but I don't think we even unpacked them. I did bring my laptop so we could download the pictures from the camera and start each day with a blank disc. Good thing we did because in total we took about 1400 pictures, and I would have been really mad when I filled up the camera if I didn't have an extra card.
After two days at sea, the water smoothed out and I could venture out of the cabin. The afternoon of the second day we spotted land—the South Shetland Islands. Everyone was out on deck to get their first glimpse of Antarctica in person. Sounds silly, but it was really exciting and everyone had on huge grins.