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01/19/2010

At Sea, en route to Ushuaia

The swell had picked up during the night, and we awoke with the power of the Southern Ocean very evident around us. Many of us had long since acquired our sea legs, but there was still an anticipation of reaching the lee of the South American continent and the calmer seas we would encounter there.

After breakfast, Captain John Moulds announced (via the ubiquitous ‘ding-dong’) that we were nearing Cape Horn. On this particular day, the infamous Horn looked less fearsome than its reputation suggests. But we had frequently experienced on this trip how quickly the weather can deteriorate in this part of the world, and so looked on these famous waters with great respect.

We then joined Photo Enrichment Coach David Salmanowitz for his final lecture entitled, “I’ve got the shot: Now what do I do?”. David 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. Following the lecture, we ventured out on the pool deck, which was the perfect place to sit and soak in the glorious sunshine. Groups of sooty shearwaters poured past the ship, quite abundant in these waters as they nest on many of the nearby islands.

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. This was followed by a sneak preview of the second half of the expedition DVD produced by the onboard photo team. The footage was amazing, and our experiences in the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica seemed both years ago and yesterday at the same time.

After lunch, we spent a leisurely afternoon taking in the scenery of Tierra del Fuego, interspersed with some preliminary packing. During Gourmet Galley Afternoon Tea, we had the opportunity to walk through the galley itself and ask questions of the chefs. After being so well fed over the past sixteen days, it was fascinating to get an inside look at the operation of the restaurant.

We then gathered in the Darwin Lounge for an overview of our trip. Expedition Leader Marco Favero summarized the exciting journey we had all taken together, and then we watched a wonderful retrospective slide show of our trip compiled by the Expedition staff. There were some incredible images and we were stunned when we realized how much we had seen and done on this amazing voyage.

The final days of this expedition have been dominated by reflection and celebration. We have reached the end of our exploration of Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica. These are special places beyond description, extremely powerful and fragile at the same time. With all that we have experienced and learned, we can return home with a new found knowledge of how special this part of the world is, and how important it is to protect it for future generations.
 

   

Despite the rainy, chilly conditions in the morning, passengers were out on deck to watch as we passed the notorious Cape Horn.

Assistant cruise director Oliver Buehler demonstrates the correct folding of the expedition parka as Cruise Director Jannie Cloete gives the disembarkation briefing.

Two young passengers who are traveling around the world with their parents gave a presentation on their trip to a small audience as part of their school work.

A group of Victor Emanuel Nature Tours (VENT) birdwatchers gather together for a final photo as we sail through the Beagle Channel.

The charming town of Ushuaia, where the Minerva departed from 16 days ago, is a welcoming port for all ships!


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