After an utterly indescribable sushi meal last evening at Silk Road Restaurant, we woke early to see icebergs not far from the ship. Karen was so excited, she leapt out of bed and promptly got a nosebleed! I have always maintained that nothing can prepare one for your first visit to Antarctica. In glorious sunlight, we stared in awe at icebergs, and ice-clad mountain peaks running off into the distance. Penguins and seals swimming near our vessel, and whales seen blowing fairly regularly.
One woman proclaimed loudly that the one whale spotted could not possibly be a Stinky Minke, as she could not smell the animal! She must have extraordinary faculties, as the whale was 400 yards from the ship with a stiff breeze blowing away from us? For those for whom this is their first trip to the White Continent (vast majority), they could not have asked for finer conditions.
Research personnel from Palmer Station have come on board to share their experiences of being stationed down here. The chef was asked how much food is collected locally. He reminded the audience that IAATO Treaties ban the collection of anything locally. So fishing, collection of penguin eggs or hunting of any sort is strictly verboten. One woman asked what sort of pets penguins make, at which point we moved on.
The afternoon found us enter the gorgeous Neumayer Channel, easily as visually appealing as the famed Lemaire Channel. Seeing Port Lockroy a little way off, with Silversea Explorer visiting that old British Antarctic Survey Station, reminded me of being here on the smaller expedition ships. We then manouevred carefully into the narrow channel entrance, and a quite extraordinary Antarctic landscape. Guests lined the decks, and filled the Palm Court lounge, to savour this unique opportunity.
Today really makes this sojourn southwards completely worthwhile, and yet there is more to come later this evening and tomorrow. Karen and I are having an incredible voyage indeed.