An Antarctica Adventure on the M/S Expedition

Margaret Maire

20 Feb 2019

NWS client Margaret sails to the Great White Continent

Upon arriving in Buenos Aires, from Miami, we made our way to the taxi area inside the terminal. This is where we made our transfer from the international airport to the domestic airport. NWS helped with the domestic flight reservations and how to manage this transfer. It's important for you to tell the taxi representative where you want to go. You pay them, they have someone escort you to the taxi, then you just enjoy the 1.5-hour drive to the domestic airport… it went very smoothly.

Check-in at the domestic airport gate was easy. When arriving at Ushuaia, an agent met us at the arrival area and were transferred to the Albatross Hotel... very nice. After checking into our hotel room, we walked around downtown and did a bit of shopping. Next morning, it was complimentary breakfast (good) and some more time for shopping before our transfer to the M/S Expedition, our home for the next 10 days. We had a briefing when getting on the bus and then again before dinner, after we had boarded the ship. Lunch and dinner menus were posted every day, and there were choices at dinner. Our suite was very comfortable, and we also had a window and bathroom – small but adequate for our needs. No TV or radio. Wi-Fi was good but costly and didn't included unlimited usage.

Our first two days were spent cruising through the Drake Passage. Make sure to bring and take your sea sickness medication ahead of time! During the passage we were fitted for our parkas and boots, given a lifejacket to use, and told how things would work in the mudroom, where you get on the zodiacs. We were called down by group name as to when to report to the mudroom. This always went smoothly, as the staff are everywhere to help you and to answer questions.

When dropping anchor at Antarctica we were taken by zodiac to land once in the mornings and once in the afternoons, each time about 2+ hours on land. Every day we upped anchor and cruised to another area, sometimes based on what the weather forecast was. Once we were helped out of the zodiac, we were shown the trails we could walk on. Most trails were "made" by the staff who went on land earlier and stomped down the snow to form the paths and put flags in lots of places. This was done to keep us on people trails and not on the penguins’ paths. Then we just followed the paths and enjoyed the penguin colonies.

Oftentimes you would just sit in the snow if you wanted to and watch these silly animals. Or you moved along, enjoying the views and taking pictures or movies. Some trails were quite steep – not dangerous, just difficult for some people to manage – but we always had the choice to not go that high or just turn around and go back. This didn't mean that you wouldn't see the penguins… they're everywhere! You just might not see every colony.

Most people had cameras and/or binoculars. I brought my tripod for long-distance shots but rarely used it for that. I used it a lot as a walking stick on the trails. Taking pictures of the penguins interacting with one another and chasing off the birds who were always trying to steal the penguin eggs... often successful. We also watched the penguins "slide" down the hills, nesting, and nipping at one another's nest, diving in the water, swimming and getting out of the water. They also made a lot of noise. We also saw many whales, especially from the boat (staff made announcements when they were sighted and from what side of the boat). We did a couple of zodiac tours and went around many icebergs and through sea ice, looking for seals. We found them every time!

A few miscellaneous things:

  • Everyone gets a wake-up call in their room.
  • There are announcements regarding briefings and whale sightings.
  • Briefings are held before evening meals (including a recap of what we did that day and what we'll do the next day, as well as additional time for questions and comments from the passengers).
  • Every evening an animal documentary movie played in the lounge – excellent.
  • A buffet lunch was held between morning and afternoon tours – also excellent.
  • Following afternoon tours, there was always coffee, tea, sandwiches, cookies and chocolate bars in the lounge.
  • Get the patch or sea sickness pill!
  • There was a nice little gift shop and library on board.
  • You can visit the captain on the bridge.
  • There is a doctor on board as well as a bird specialist, artist, photographer and kayak coordinator (very expensive but loved by those that participated).
  • I brought hand and foot warmers but seldom used them.
  • Views of the mountains and icebergs from the ship were absolutely magnificent!
  • Lastly, bring a swimsuit if you want to use the sauna or if you decide to do the "Polar Plunge". I did it and was the highlight of my trip!

Overall, the trip was as good as it could get; fabulous animal photography, almost perfect weather, wonderful staff, great food. This is the fourth trip I've booked with NWS. The ability to communicate with staff easily is really important and has brought me back to them for four trips!

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Comments

Arabella @ Natural World Safaris

25/2/2019 12:53 PM

What a great blog Maggie. It looked like you had such a fantastic time and I really enjoyed reading about it and looking at your photos. Here's to many more adventures!

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