Day 2 Antarctic Peninsula

Wow does not describe sufficiently our emotions!

The captain had said that IF there was not too much ice (he really is a bit of a chicken…) we would be going in to the Antarctic sound on the northern tip of the antarctic peninsula as far in as Hope Bay… depending on how many bergy-bits (large chips from the massive bergs). Being that the air temperature and water temp are 32 degrees, the bergy-bits can easily meld together and freeze a vessel in, like i’m sure you’ve all been hearing about on the news. He said IF we got it we would be there between 8-9am. Not wanting to miss anything, we set our alarm for 6am, as I figured that his 8-9am would be the time when he would be the deepest in. 
Of course, the alarm was easy to set as all we had to do was walk to our verandah and take a look out.
Sunrise is posted at 2:45am where we are.
I got up at 3:30 and the horizon was yellow-orange already. Back to bed. 
Something woke me at 6… not the alarm… and I panicked as I thought we missed the alarm. Leaping to the verandah door and looking out, I couldn’t help but continue outside unprepared for the cold as it was the most incredible scene.


Massive schools of penguins were “porpoising” below our verandah next to the ship. Porpoising means that the penguins dive and swim just like porpoises. I really did think it was a massive school of porpoises.
Schools of porposing penguins
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Blue-white magnificent icebergs like sculptures in the cold blue sea.


And then whales spouts and pods of whales all in front of us to greet us.

Rummaging around in our drawers for our long underwear and clothing as fast as we could so we wouldn’t miss a single moment must have been a pretty funny sight, had it been filmed. Which, thank heavens, it was not!
Joe bundled up

Binocular straps, tangling with camera straps, and scarves as we tried to capture every “wow” moment. After about an hour our need for caffeine called and we bundled up and grabbed 2 steaming “to-go” cups from the aft lido cafe and went forward for more viewing. There were hardly any people out. Maybe 15, max 20. 
We saw loads of penguins and also Antarctic Minke Whales.
Minnie whales at dawn
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Joe’s camera was clicking and his SD card filling until I looked down and saw this giant white shape in the water off the bow directly below us. OMG, it surfaced directly in front of us! A giant humpback whale, wait no two together! I was in such a state of awe that I forgot to take a movie of it but Joe must have taken so many shots that we’ll be able to put them all together for a movie. They must have swum, and surfaced and circled us for maybe 10 minutes. And there were maybe 20-30 people who saw them.  

Crystal Cruises has a no announcement policy on their cruises. Only the captains reports and emergency announcements. No bingo, or bridge announcements in 7 different languages blaring all day. 
The Antarctic lecturer got on the announcement speaker this morning and said that the Antarctic Sound area is home to 125,000 PAIRS of Adelie penguins. We also saw many Weddell seals on the bergs sunning themselves with little groups of Adelie penguins. 

Oh just another iceberg  floating by my verandah.

Ho, hum just another iceberg
floating by my verandah.

The captain maneuvered the ship around the bay for about another hour before heading out in to the Bransfield straight where we will cruise over to Deception Island by 5:30pm this afternoon, home to the largest chinstrap penguin colony in Antarctica. 

Gosh, more whale, penguin and iceberg watching and photographing in store for us. Hopefully we have enough empty space on the laptop to store all the photos and videos. 

This evening we’ll move slowly to be in the Gerlache Straight in the morning to the Bismark Straight to Palmer Island. The ice captain would love for us to go in to the lemeer Channel … it’s fjord like, but it closes over in ice too quickly and the captain has said a big “NO” to there. All else the ice captain has proposed has been met with “maybe” except for the Lemeer Channel.

The ship will be picking up US Scientists from the Palmer Island research station who will be coming aboard to give us a lecture on what they’re doing. The ice captain joked that they’re anxious to come onboard for a scalding hot shower and to stuff themselves with great food. Hum, wonder who gets the better deal here.

After they depart, we’ll round Anvers Island and head out across the Drakes Passage to head for Cape Horn arriving in Ushaiha late New Years Eve. We will celebrate the New Year at truly the end of the earth.

Anyway, that’s the morning report for Day 2.

Internet has been cut off periodically so I’ll keep checking and send this and SOME photos and videos as I can today.

Your Antarctic explorers…

The afternoon of Day 2 in Antarctica we made our way to Deception Island.

Deception Island as we departWe passed very close to a beach and hillside that was covered with the largest colony of chinstrap penguins in Antarctica. Chinstrap penguins are distinguished by the little black line that runs under their chins. Making them look similar to the British policemen.

The colony was smaller than the first one we saw but hey, at 100,000 PAIRS who’s counting!

The show was pretty much over for day 2.