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My trip to Antarctica is one of my all time favourite cruises.
In January 2008 I flew Auckland to Buenos Aires, via Santiago, on Lan Airlines. I met up with the rest of my group and spent a day sightseeing. Highlights included the colourful houses in La Boca and historic landmarks and monuments. The following day our group headed to the airport and boarded a charter flight to Ushuaia. The flight took 3 hours 20 minutes. A short drive took us to Marco Polo, our home away from home for our 16 days Antarctica and Chilean Fjords cruise. This was to be Marco Polo’s last Antarctica cruise as the ship was being sold.
As we headed to sea Captain Aage Hoddevik, Master of Marco Polo, announced over the intercom that we would experience heavy seas during the evening. Sure enough, during the night I heard some of my belongings drop off the sideboard and onto the floor. I felt queasy for the next day until I got my sea-legs.
Spotting my first iceberg at sea was exciting and I always had my camera close at hand as we sailed past icebergs of different shapes, colours and textures.
There was a specialist Ice Master on the Bridge to help safely navigate our way through the icebergs.
Tender rides ashore were my favourite part of the cruise. All landings are strictly controlled under Antarctica protocols. Group numbers and time limits were strictly adhered to on every landing.
Areas are marked off so as to minimise any disturbance to the penguin colonies. If penguins walk towards you then it’s an opportunity to observe their antics.
The weather can turn from brilliant sunshine to grey threatening clouds within minutes and temperatures can change rapidly, so layers of warm clothing are important. Captain Aage Hoddevik said to me “the weather in Antarctica comes quickly and goes quickly.”
As I went ashore on a tender one morning a humpback whale appeared from the deep blue sea and fluked his tail beside our zodiac, just a few meters from the shoreline; it was magical.
Sailing through Le Maire Channel was one of many highlights, as was the Chilean Fjords, which reminded me of Marlborough Sounds.
My journey ended in Santiago where I spent one night before flying back to New Zealand via Easter Islands and Tahiti.
Antarctica is truly amazing!