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01/01/2009

Cuverville Island and Neko Harbor

Happy New Year!

We celebrated the first day of the year in a spectacular way as we were treated to fantastic weather throughout the day. In the morning we went ashore on Cuverville Island. The island was named by Adrien de Gerlache after a vice-admiral in the French navy. We landed on a cobble stone beach and had our first good look at gentoo penguins. Russ and Simon set off to blaze a trail through the snow for a hike the steep hill to get a view over the iceberg-scattered sea to the mountains and glaciers beyond. It was a trudge through the snow and quite the workout but we were rewarded with stunning views of the Errera channel!

The non-hikers enjoyed the chance to see the Gentoo penguin colony and to sit quietly in such a beautiful place. There was a short zodiac cruise on the way back to the ship and we found a massive arched iceberg.

At lunch there was a delicious BBQ burger bar and it was so warm the pool deck was full of people enjoying lunch out on the deck. A few hardy souls took a dip in the heated pool too.

In the afternoon we had our last landing of the journey in Neko Harbor. After a short drive through brash ice we landed in front of a gentoo colony with an amazing glacier as a backdrop. Some of us choose to sit in the sunshine and savor the last chance to watch the penguins. Others trudged through the snow for a final hike up the hill with an amazing view and then one more fun snow slide. When it was finally time to head back to the ship there was one more surprise, the hotel department had set up a floating bar boat amongst the ice. We toasted in the New Year with champagne in one of the Peninsula’s most remarkable days.

Because of the incredible weather, Captain Moulds decided to slowly cruise back along the jaw dropping Neumayer Channel during dinner. Again people were out on deck and just after dinner, the Captain announced another sighting of killer whales. This time the whales swam right next to the ship and we saw several females with calves. What incredible whales we have seen this trip!

The Minerva slowly made her way north up through Dalman Bay where we continued to spot humpback whales and watched a beautiful sunset as we left the Antarctic.



   

An enormous iceberg with a completely enclosed archway was in the bay at Cuverville Island.

Guests pose in front of an incredible natural ice sculpture while on a zodiac tour at Cuverville Island.

Gentoo penguins rest atop an ice floe in Neko Harbor.

The Gentoo penguin colony at Neko Harbor was full of newly hatched chicks like this one with it's protective parent.

To the delight of all the guests and staff, a pod of Killer Whales came quite close to the Minerva as we sailed thought the spectacular Neumayer Channel!


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