Captain Lemaire answered questions on the bridge tour today.
Guests check out the trip photos that are available for purchase.
Naturalist Chris Srigley (far left) joined passengers in the lounge while everyone compared photos on their laptop computers.
Guests braved the strong winds on deck as Le Boreal entered the Beagle Channel on the way to Ushuaia!
The quaint town of Ushuaia loomed ahead as Le Boreal approached in the late evening on the last night of the cruise.
At Sea, Drake Passage
The Southern Ocean remained kind to us during the night, only a slight wind and swell in existence, just enough to rock us gently back and forth while we slept. Reading a good book with a cup of coffee in the Observation Lounge was a good way to start the day, followed by a full breakfast.
The first enrichment lecture of the day was "Photographing Antarctica: Making a good shot great!", presented by Photo Coach Richard Harker. Richard had many good ideas for how to travel with the many images we now have of our trip to the Antarctic, how to archive them, and how to subtly adjust them.
We headed outside after the lecture to see what seabirds might be out and about, and some of us had the good fortune of seeing a wandering albatross soaring right along the ship's railing. At such a close distance, we could see how incredibly large this bird really is. It was magical to watch the albatross effortlessly soar in these strong winds that are the norm here in the Drake Passage.
We then met with Cruise Director Jannie Cloete for a disembarkation briefing to learn about our travel details once we leave the ship in Ushuaia. After lunch, many of us began the task of packing, or put it off a little longer and substitute in a nap instead.
We roused ourselves just before 1500 to head up to The Theater to hear Historian Bob Burton's talk, "Rescued by penguins: The unsung story of penguins in the Heroic Age." Bob spoke of how the survival of the early explorers in Antarctica was critically tied to the abundance of penguins and other wildlife. In many ways, penguins have saved humans in the Antarctic countless times.
Following afternoon teatime, we joined Cruise Director Jannie Cloete, Expedition Leader Larry Hobbs and the rest of the Expedition Team for an overview of our trip. We participated in a raffle to benefit both the Le Boreal Crew Welfare Fund, as well as the Save the Albatross Fund. Guests who purchased tickets stood the chance of winning a sea chart marked with our route and signed by the senior officers onboard, as well as an original drawing by Ornithologist Patricia Silva. There was excitement in the room as the winning names were announced.
After Larry summarized the exciting journey we had all taken together, we watched a wonderful retrospective slide show of our trip, made up of photos taken by the Expedition Staff and compiled by Naturalist Russ Manning. It featured photos of our various landings, and many people recognized themselves disguised behind red parkas and rubber boots. The photos were amazing, and our experiences in Antarctica seemed both years ago and yesterday at the same time.
Following a program called "The world of Abercrombie and Kent" by A&K VP Business Development Bob Simpson, and a presentation by CNBC producer of "The Eco-capitalist", Andrew McLean, we made sure we had all of our belongings packed before heading out on deck to watch our arrival into Ushuaia. South American tern flocks fished over groups of Magellanic penguins, while groups of blue-eyed shags ushered us in to the pier. It was quite a shock to see civilization after being away in the wilderness for so long.
The final days of this expedition have been dominated by reflection and celebration. We have reached the end of our exploration of Antarctica. This is a special place beyond description, extremely powerful and fragile at the same time. With all that we have experienced and learned, we can return home with a newfound knowledge of how special Antarctica is, and how important it is to protect it for future generations.