+27 (0)82 4000 470 rob@robcaskie.com

After writing daily blogs for 5 weeks, I took a two day break. Certainly don’t wish to bore readers, nor do I wish to “pad” the blog content.
Our crossing of the Drake Passage on 4/5 January was uneventful – rough as we approached the mainland, but certainly what we would rate as a calm crossing. On 6 January, we disembarked all passengers by 8.30am. It was drizzling hard so they did not waste time between the ship and the buses transporting them to their charter flight. The only pier/quayside in Ushuaia was very busy indeed. A fishing trawler, container ship, and 4 expedition ships (A&K, Oceanwide, Hapag-Lloyd and Viking), with 2 more waiting to come alongside (Swan Helenic’s Minerva11 and Plancius). Our Captain wisely decided that nobody be allowed to leave the ship for Covid reasons.

Turning ship around and re-provisioning before 3pm (6 hours) is a crazy choreography. Food, liquor plus 120 000 litres of diesel. Black water and waste off, along with recycling. Boots, parkas, waterproof pants delivered, which we then distribute by size to each cabin. Distribute luggage to all the cabins. Clean the ship and ourselves. Be ready, smartly dressed for incoming guests at 3.30pm, hopefully making them believe this is our first cruise of season and vessel is shipshape for them. Did I mention that I moved cabins again?

We have had a number of last-minute cancellations due to Covid, and the figures in the USA are alarming. Our incoming guests were tested in Buenos Aires, and re-tested before lunch in Ushuaia, whilst we all waited anxiously for results. Having been together onboard since 28 November, we have heard the world chaos created by Omicron. It has been very worrying indeed. Many cruises have been cancelled, and some ships are at anchor with Covid cases onboard. There are almost no hotels in Ushuaia who will accept Covid cases/have Covid isolation rooms. Having said all this, and having left SA 24 hours before the Covid Omicron news broke on 24 November, if we had been offered 3 clear cruises, and an uncertain 4th, we would have all taken it! Despite our anxiety, tests revealed a 100% negative result. We were/are ecstatic. Table settings have been spread out and other protocols established for first 3 or 4 days onboard, that we can be sure all guests remain free of Omicron Covid. It has been fantastic living in a Covid-free bubble since 28 November, and weekly tests across the board. Breathing the cleanest air on the planet also helps…

Jason Hicks, our eccentric geologist from Denver, Colorado, was entrusted with A&K gifts for the Expedition Team, along with chocolates for the ship for Christmas. Not a good idea since Jason is completely addicted to chocolate. The bags containing these goods disappeared into an American Airlines black hole in Dallas, Texas. The black hole has subsequently been cleared and the bags arrived with our guests yesterday. So we are having another “Christmas” later today with said items.
My memo also arrived from home regarding not too much chocolate! (PS The Arcteryx jacket and chocolates are fantastic, thank you A&K).

Rainfall figures over much of South Africa and present dams levels are impressive. Storms back home over Pietermaritzburg and the Midlands seem to have been violent. Their origins perhaps less mysterious than July looting and Parliament fires?
Despite both being British Overseas Territories, the Falklands will not have any visitors, but the unoccupied South Georgia will. Our itineraries have been changed accordingly, and we are sailing once again with the wind and current to South Georgia first. A 3-day crossing, then 3 days in South Georgia. We will then head south into the Antarctic Peninsula (a 2-day crossing) for 3 days, and back to Ushuaia (2-day crossing). Given the 7 sea days involved on a 13-day trip, we lecturers will be doing plenty of singing for our supper. As before, I still strongly recommend anyone coming to Antarctica, to choose an itinerary that includes South Georgia. On last cruise I gave 6 x 45 minute lectures, plus 2 x 45 minute storytelling to Young Explorers and 5 Recaps sessions.

Subscribe To OurBlog

Subscribe To OurBlog

Join our mailing list to receive the latest blog posts and updates from Rob Caskie.

You have Successfully Subscribed!