Antarctica

Location: Schollaert Channel & Paradise Bay, Antarctica

Today was the big day we’ve been waiting for for two years: our visit to the great white continent Antarctica. We set our alarm for just before sunrise this morning in the hopes that we could get some great sunrise pictures over the ice. Sadly we still weren’t near ice at around sunrise. In fact it would be nearly 3 hours before we would see ice floating in the water, and another 15 minutes before we saw anything big enough to be called a proper iceberg.

By 10:00, we had entered the Schollaert Channel. We finally made it! It was cloudy but there was no fog, wind or precipitation. For the next four hours we sailed past beautiful landscapes of snow and ice covered mountainous islands. This was virgin untouched land, the last great wilderness. Within the channel we saw rafts of penguins, small penguin and Antartica fur seal colonies, cormorants, whales and dolphins.

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Penguins!
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A pod of orcas.
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If you look closely, you can see penquins and seals on the rocks.
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View of the icy mountains from the sun deck.

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We entered Paradise Bay at 2:00 PM. The ship came to a full stop and we spent the next hour observing the bay. The ship spun very slowly so that everyone, regardless of location could see all of the bay’s beauty. It was so quiet that we could hear the whales spouting from nearly a quater mile away. There was no wind and the water was as flat as glass.

After about 45 minutes a fog started to roll in in the distance and we could see ripples in the water from the wind. By 2:55 we discovered that the fog wasn’t fog at all but a snowstorm. By 3:00 the Infinity was leaving Paradise Bay in a hurry. We left an hour early. It was easy to understand why. Not far from the entrance to the bay, the sea began to freeze. Not enough to give a ship of any size cause for immediate concern, but certainly a warning to start moving out. By 3:30 we were in the beginning of a snow storm and with the winds blowing as hard as they are, it might technicall be a blizzard. Our scenic cruise through the Gerlach Strait sadly just became a non-scenic cruise with occasional banking to evade icebergs.

Rachel went to the casino and Ryan took a nap during this non-scenic time. Before the show we went up to the sun deck to observe a few inches of snow covering everything. Some people even made a snow-penguin. We had a brief snowball fight.

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Snowball fight!

The show tonight was of the very talented singer Laura Broad. She was a semi-finalist on Britain’s Got Talent.  She was spctacular and expertly sang many songs of different genres, including jazz, classical, and pop.  We really enjoyed it, well at least Rachel did.
Tomorrow we have one more day in the Antarctic and we sail by Elephant Island.

Today’s Weather: cloudy/snow, High 41F (although we greatly doubt this), Low 26F.
Sea Temperature: 34F and dropping
Sunrise 6:10AM, Sunset 8:43PM
Penguin species observed: 2, Gentoo and Chinstrap
Cetacean species: 2, Sperm (Southern Right) Whale and (type C) orcas. Others on the ship saw a humpback, but we aren’t sure that we observed it.
Snowball fights: 1
Farthest point south: Paradise Bay 64.5S

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Enjoying frosty-fruity beverages in Paradise Bay, Antarctica.
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