Unprepared for Antarctica

Day 39 – At sea off the coast of Argentina – Find Insignia on CruiseMapper

No, we are not still talking about our packing preparations for cruising around the world. We are talking about how we felt once we reached the bays of the Antarctic peninsula.

We felt unprepared. Unprepared for the immensity and remoteness. Unprepared for the colors and majesty and drama. Unprepared for sitting at dinner and recognizing a parade of humpback whales from the string of spouts they sent up alongside the ship.

Visiting Antarctica left us speechless (yes, even Doris) and daunted by the task of capturing the enormity of it all in a photograph (yes, even Louis).

However, having committed to taking you partout (all over the place) with us around the world, here is the first of the Antarctic editions where we will give it our best.

Glaciated Volcanoes

We were prepared to see glaciers. We were unprepared for glaciated volcanos that produce landscapes so stark Louis’s photos look like black and whites even when he shoots in color.

You know the phrase, “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all?” Not true of glaciated volcanoes. Each mountain of mingled volcanic ash and glacial ice seemed somehow spectacular in a different way and in different weather.

How do you choose a favorite when a jaw-dropping new option soars into sight, and they all take your breath away?

Is it this one, taken under glowering skies in Admiralty Bay?

Or this one where the volcanic soil and glaciers are swirled like a cake batter?

We loved this one for its symmetry.

And this one because of the way the lone and lonely peak sat atop a glacier whose depth we can’t begin to estimate.

These twin peaks in the sunshine reminded us of the killer whales that abounded.

And this glacier thrilled us for the way it seemed to cascade down the mountainside.

Glacier closeups have their own special allure.

While geological layer cakes like these seemed to hold secrets of the land through the ages.

In a Falklands museum after recrossing the Drake Passage and heading back to the rest of the world, we read these words about the surreal continent:

“Antarctica is the most inhospitable place on Earth. It is the coldest, windiest, highest and driest continent. Life in Antarctica is so difficult that, unlike the Arctic, nobody has ever settled there. The extreme conditions test body and mind to the limit, and sometimes beyond. However, Antarctica also has a majestic beauty that captures the hearts of most who experience it.”

You can count us among them.

Another Question Answered

Carolyn asked: “I see several other ships on CruiseMapper! Do you encounter them by sailing past or docking at the same port at the same time? Is this the peak season to go around the Cape?” 

Southern Hemisphere summer is, indeed, the “season” to visit Cape Horn and Antarctica. Heck, temperatures can even get up to 40F.

As we mentioned in our “End of the World” blog, the jumping-off town of Ushuaia hosted the most ships it had ever seen in one day ever while we were in port there: 8. When one of those behemoths that could hold a small city parked across the dock from us, our comment was, “There goes the neighborhood.” (We carry about 600 passengers; our next-door neighbor in Ushuaia carries more than 2,000.)

But there is still a lot of sea around the Antarctic peninsula to absorb them. Bigger ships are confined to the biggest channels. Smaller Insignia was able to navigate much tighter ones, and the “expedition boats” (cruises that include landings on the continent rather than just cruising alongside) are able to navigate even tighter ones. Sometimes, we would see a ship in the distance and, frankly, we thought they looked sort of scenic.

We’ve all seen what happens when “the last best place” gets “discovered” and overrun. There are a lot of international guardrails to prevent that happening in the Antarctic, but our advice would be … if this looks like a voyage you would like to take? Don’t wait.

Coming Soon!

Antarctic Ice Sculptures

Coming Eventually!

Fitness Afloat

Dining at Sea

Comrades in Cruising

3 thoughts on “Unprepared for Antarctica

  1. Amazing pictures! No wonder it took your breath away.
    It gives me goose flesh, watching the photo’s; not only because of their beauty but the cold!


  2. Our niece crewed on a tall ship out of Halifax, met this guy also crewing and since then have been married and two kids. He left in Ushuaia and headed home; she stayed on and sailed a half dozen times to Antarctica. She loved it. She finished off in South Africa and flew home! We got to Ushuaia and golfed the 9 hole course- the most southerly golf course in the world but didn’t go down to Antarctica. Love the pictures! Bon voyage! Cathy


  3. Our neighbors just returned from Antarctica. They say they will have us over when their pictures are done. Can’t wait!


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