Monday, 15 December 2014

A busy day at Cuverville and Almirante Brown

Monday was a very successful day. Cuverville offered us the perfect conditions for a beautiful landing and activities around the island. The Expedition Team went ashore in the morning to prepare the routes that led passengers to several viewing points with stunning views over (amongst others) “Iceberg Alley”. On the way, people were able to see several Gentoo penguin rookeries. They were particularly active, building nests to incubate and walking back and forth to the water to take a bath. It's very entertaining to watch and one could do this for hours. One of the paths led to the top of a big hill where people were able to go down a snow slide. Our Chinese passengers were by far the best at doing this!
The conditions were also perfect for kayaking. Our Expedition team members Tessa and TJ took our passengers on a beautiful trip around the area and were therefore able to see remote parts of the island and icebergs from a unique perspective. An other activity passengers could join were the polar circle boat cruises that took them on a jaw dropping 2 hour tour of the area with our team member and bird-expert John. This very eventful morning was definitely one of the best experiences we had on the cruise and everybody went back on board with a smile from ear to ear.

In the afternoon, we were able to visit the Argentinian Almirante Brown Station on the Antarctic continent in Paradise Harbour. Gentoo penguins were once again present and activities like boat cruising were available. Those joining the cruises were able to see Cormorants nesting on the cliffs. Right next to the base is a very steep peak that passengers were able to climb to get amazing views over the bay and the surrounding glaciers and snow-covered mountain tops. Since the snow sliding was such a success in the morning, Expedition Team trainee Tom was in charge of making a slide for everyone to come down once they made it to the top of the hill. Many brave passengers and crew members dared to tackle the wild descent and several went for a second or third time! Once everybody was back on board, we continued sailing towards Damoy Point where 18 lucky passengers camped outside on the snow near the penguins. They all carried their own equipment and belongings to a flat area where they set up their camp and got their tents ready. After a nice hike around the island with the beautiful midnight sun, it was time to go to bed. A unique experience, according to those who got to spend the night in the pristine nature of Antarctica! Except for the campers, we had three very lucky passengers. A couple from Germany and one other passenger were enjoying the views outside when suddenly they spotted an Emperor Penguin swimming amongst the ice! Even though we guaranty penguins on this cruise, a swimming Emperor Penguin in the Antarctic Peninsula remains a rare sight. These are the largest of all penguins and mainly have their colonies in places rarely visited by cruises/expeditions.  One of the three passengers managed to take a picture of the penguin that you can see down below. All credit for the picture goes to Kristina Klug and we thank her for letting us put it on the blog!

Picture by Kristina klug