A day and a half after leaving Ushuaia, it at last started to become smoother sailing. Sea sickness patches had kicked in, nausea abated while most passengers had finally made it up to the observation deck. With that, the Drakes Passage was renamed ‘Vomits Passage’. There were still sea sickness bags hanging from all the railings throughout the ship, just in case somebody experienced an unfortunate relapse and couldn’t make it to the bathroom on time. To be honest, that made me feel even worse. It was a constant reminder of the nauseating journey that we had only just emerged from. We quickly discovered that the food on board was very good, much like in a restaurant or on board any other cruise ship. It turned out that a few of our team members were vegetarian and weren’t too impressed with the cuisine, but vegetarianism aside, it was delicious. Once we all had one or two proper meals down the hatchet, we were feeling much better and had at last found our sea legs.
Until such time that we arrived in Antarctica, it was just a matter of keeping ourselves busy. We soon learnt that all the staff members on board were also experts in their respective fields, from geology right through to bird life, and they kept us occupied by imparting their invaluable knowledge to us. It was incredibly interesting to learn about the animal and bird wildlife in Antarctica as well as the land and movement of the ice bergs and sheets, and that’s not forgetting the incredible history of Antarctica together with it’s explorers.
On the late afternoon of our second day of sailing, a very exciting announcement was made from the captain on the bridge. He said, “Ladies and gentlemen, if you go out onto the deck of the ship and look into the distance, you will see the very first iceberg appearing on the horizon…welcome to Antarctica everybody!’
With that, everybody leapt to their feet. People were frantically grabbing for their jackets, hats and gloves and while throwing them on, made a mad dash for the door leading to the front outside deck. This was my first time actually being outside in the open in Antarctica and it was frigidly cold. What I noticed immediately afterwards was how crystal clean the air was. It was like lung nectar or breathing in the best champagne in the world. Taking some deep breaths, I savored my surroundings while jostling with everybody else for a front row seat to catch site of that much coveted iceberg. It was a beautiful day with very clear and bright blue skies. The air was so clean and without any pollution that even though the iceberg was still quite a way away, we could see it clearly as small as it was in the beginning. We all stood out there and from the start there was so much elation and excitement at the prospect of the first iceberg, that there was much chatting and laughing between everyone, but about 45 minutes later as we drew closer and closer to it, there was profound silence. All that could be heard was the constant clicking from the shutters of everybody’s cameras as a record amount of photo’s were being taken. Drawing up to it and sailing past it, you could’ve heard a pin drop. Shivers went down my spine as I stood there and admired this incredible sculpture that mother nature had created. With it’s unique shape and stunning array of shades of blue, it sparkled as though there were millions of diamonds on the surface of it as the suns rays hit it from all angles. I was so in awe of the beauty before me that I felt like I could never open my eyes wide enough…be present enough to truly appreciate the majesty of it all.
After all the excitement had subsided and we had passed yet a few more icebergs, we all gathered in the dining room for a hearty supper and then retired to get a good nights sleep. Dream land proved elusive for me however as I was so excited for the next day and the great surprises that it would undoubtedly bring along with it.