Highlights From Our 2019/2020 Antarctic Season
Our guests enjoyed the pristine snow and amazing wildlife as the Southern Hemisphere sprung to life on our first voyage of the season, the always popular ‘Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica’ itinerary. With penguins and seals beginning their mating rituals, landing sites were full of life and energy.
On other itineraries, guests were fortunate to experience several rarely done excursions, including a Zodiac cruise and sea ice landing at Erebus and Terror Gulf and a visit to the Antarctic castaway hut remains on Paulet Island. The Gullet, a narrow channel between Adelaide Island and Graham Land that is often inaccessible, was sailed this season much to the enthusiasm of all on board.
An excursion to the rarely visited Esperanza Base was a special highlight this year, with guests having the opportunity to see a working research station where scientists conduct studies of geology, glaciology and oceanography.
Inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s journey through South Georgia, a team of passengers and staff participated in a stunning 6-kilometer hike that followed the last leg of the famed explorer’s traverse. Guests enjoyed the spectacular scenery as they hiked from Fortuna Bay towards Stromness, a former whaling station.
Wildlife encounters did not disappoint, with a plethora of penguin, seal, seabird and whale sightings a highlight on each voyage. Guests caught a rare glimpse of a leopard seal boldly hunting a group of penguins, while others experienced an extremely rare sighting of both a melanistic King penguin and a leucistic King penguin on the same day. On one particular voyage, guests were thrilled by a memorable encounter with a humpback whale breaching four times just ten meters from their Zodiac.
Shipboard staff thrilled in telling stories of their fantastic wildlife experiences, with epic encounters such as a blue whale surfacing directly beside the ship, spotting a large pod of southern right whale dolphins at sea, and a humpback whale showing off for all the guests. Both ship staff and guests found themselves left with fond memories of music, movie nights, games – even a a snowball fight – that will bring smiles to their faces for years to come.
On the final voyage of the season, the notable Antarctic Whale Safari itinerary, six scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) were able to tag five humpback whales in order to analyze their feeding behavior. This important research is conducted each year and contributes to an ongoing study of these incredible creatures and their habits.
A visit to Antarctica is a life-changing experience, with each voyage being unique in its ever-changing opportunities for guests. We are fortunate to have had one of our best seasons yet and are looking forward to more amazing experiences in our 2020/2021 season.