Today I am posting a handful of photos from one of the most memorable voyages of my life, Antarctica on Seabourn Quest.
To be fair, a voyage to Antarctica would rank as one of your most memorable voyages, no matter which cruise line you chose to explore the White Continent. I’ve cruised Antarctica on Silver Explorer, also an awe-inspiring voyage.
Antarctica deserves space and thoughtful reflection. I’m inviting you to breathe in the vast, frozen continent, and I encourage you to stop what you’re doing and put yourself in the photos. I urge you to permit yourself, no matter how hectic your life, to exist in the moment, with the cold, dry Antarctic air against your face, the crunch of snow beneath the soles of your rubber boots, and the sounds (and smells) of penguins all around you.
Picture yourself as one of those people in the gold parkas up on deck. In every direction you look, there are icebergs and snow-capped mountains — and a vast emptiness that humbles you.
The cold dry air passes through your nostrils and into your lungs, invigorating and refreshing. Soon, you’ll tear yourself away to go back inside Seabourn Quest, where an evening of fine dining and entertainment await you. At midnight, you return to your stateroom to retire to your comfortable bed, but before doing so, you step out on your balcony for one last, long look.
It is still light even at this hour during the austral summer. The beauty astounds you and leaves an indelible impression upon your mind.
This is Antarctica the way that I remember it. — Ralph Grizzle
An Unexpected Diversion Causes Us To Chart A New Course
The day after we left Montevideo, Seabourn Quest suffered a loss of a small electrical part that caused a power outage to the ship’s navigation system. Workmen repaired the issue, using a spare part.
The captain deemed it imprudent, however, to continue to Antarctic waters without an additional spare part in case the navigation system failed again. We diverted to Puerto Madryn, Argentina. causing us to lose two days. At stake: a scheduled call in the Falkland Islands and possibly Antarctica itself. The captain, however, saved the day.
We made up for lost time and visited the Falkland Islands and Antarctica. Kudos to Seabourn and Captain Bjarne Larsen.
Perfectly Paired Penguins
Many people are surprised to learn that they will not see large penguins in Antarctica. King penguins, such as the one in this photograph, are found in the Falkland Islands and in South Georgia, so if your goal is to see those, find a good travel agent who can help you book your cruise accordingly.
Preparing To Cross The Drake Passage
“The thing with the Drake Passage and the misconception is that people think it is rough all of the time, and that’s not entirely true,” Seabourn Quest Expedition Team Leader Robin West told me. “The problem is that when it gets rough, it can get really rough.”
‘Iceberg Ahead’ Our First Encounter With The White Continent
The day was proceeding as planned until Expedition Team Leader Robin West announced an iceberg ahead. The excitement was palpable and soon all hands were on deck to view the spectacle of this huge chunk that had broken off the Antarctic ice shelf. Captain Bjarne Larsen slowed Seabourn Quest and circled the iceberg so that guests could see it up close. I was surprised to see that there were a few dozen penguins marching up one of the sides of the iceberg. The floating chunk of ice was beautiful, particularly at the waterline, where it appeared as Windex-blue. It was gorgeous.
From My Balcony, Icebergs
Seabourn Quest boasts more balconies than any other vessel offering Antarctic exploration. The balconies proved to be a valuable feature for guests. The ability to open your stateroom door and “step out into Antarctica” greatly enhanced the Antarctic experience. Wasn’t it cold outside? During the summer months, December through March in the Southern Hemisphere, temperatures typically are around the freezing mark but it’s a dry cold. With the parka that Seabourn provides, battling the elements was no problem at all.
Our First Encounter With Penguins: Antarctica Explored
Seabourn Quest anchored off Half Moon Island, with Chinstrap penguins aplenty.
50 Shades Of Blue, Icebergs
We passed plenty of icebergs on Seabourn Quest, as we made our way through ice-choked channels, but we also were able to get up close to icebergs on Zodiac outings while Seabourn Quest was anchored — our Mother Ship, dispatching us off in search of beauty and adventure.
Shopping On The White Continent, Yes Really
At the González Videla Base, a Chilean Research Station on the Antarctic mainland’s Waterboat Point in Paradise Bay, Chilean researchers invite tourists to admire the penguins and to tour the station, including the researchers’ living quarters.
There’s even a museum and a gift shop, where, yes, you can spend money. I saw one of our fellow guests clutching a bag full of items that she had purchased for Christmas gifts.
I can imagine her back home as her friends and family unwrap their gifts, “You won’t believe where I found this.” And indeed, they would not.
Caviar On Seabourn Quest’s Sun, er, ‘Snow’ Deck
Seabourn is well known for its iconic Caviar In The Surf. The event works like this: Shoreside, staff, some clad in tuxedos, plunge into the water and invite guests to wade in for iced champagne and caviar at a surfboard bar. The lavish affair often includes a barbecue lunch, watersports, music and time to soak up the sun on a white-sandy beach.
The Antarctic waters are far too chilly to have waiters (or guests) wading in the sea water, so what we experienced on Seabourn Quest during one day of our extraordinary voyage to the White Continent was Caviar on The Sun, er, ’Snow’ Deck.
She Inspired All Of Us, Mobility Impaired But No Holds Barred
No Limits! Bound to a wheelchair, a guest from Germany shows her delight as she prepares to tour glaciers by Zodiac. There are actually two wheelchair guests in the Zodiac, and while neither were able to participate in landings (stepping ashore in Antarctica) both were able to observe the beauty of Antarctica up close in Zodiacs.
Humbled By Grandeur, Gigantic Glaciers
Look closely. Can you see the orange parkas against the Windex-blue glacier? They’d be easy to miss, the 10 or so Seabourn Quest guests in the Zodiac, exploring a massive glacier on one day of our voyage to Antarctica. I remember the day well. A group of us were on another Zodiac, far enough away for me to snap this photo with a zoom lens. We were all mesmerized by the magnitude of the place, a vast emptiness, except for mountains of rock, ice and snow all around us.
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