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02/14/2008

Drake Passage and Beagle Channel to Ushuaia

Happy Valentine’s Day from the high seas! Explorer II rocked a bit as we encountered shorter swells that later in the day stretched out for a smoother ride. Richard presented his final lecture, “I’ve Got the Shot: now what do I do?”. Richard had many good ideas about how to safely travel with the numerous photographs we had taken, how to archive them, and how to subtly manipulate them. Out on deck there were few birds to be seen though we did enjoy watching a northern royal albatross following behind the ship.

Cruise Director Jannie Cloete gave us a disembarkation briefing in the Main Lounge. Nathalie presented us with a sneak preview of the lovely DVD she has produced that chronicles the second half of our voyage. The Captain brought the ship close to Cape Horn. The sun was out and the scene of the historical site was impressive. John Dudeney presented “Why Antarctica?”. In his lecture John told us that Antarctica offers scientists a treasure trove of research possibilities. Many of the issues investigated have relevance to the planet as well as humanity as a whole. Among the most important fields of study are global climate change, the ozone hole, life at extremes, astronomy, and cosmology. John informed us that Antarctica is exemplary in the world as a place of conservation and management.

Maitre d’ Dimitar Potkonjak invited us to a special teatime of Cherries Jubilee for Valentine’s Day.
In the late afternoon we gathered in the Main Lounge for “On Expedition!”, a look back at our journey. Jannie announced the raffle winner for the chart of our voyage illustrated by crew member Jayson Raymundo, with all proceeds going to the Crew Welfare Fund. Sarah, with some photographs from other staff members, presented a gorgeous retrospective slide show of our trip. Suzana thanked all of the passengers for coming along on the journey and for participating in the photo contest. The winning images were displayed throughout the day at the Reception area. She also thanked all of the ship’s personnel who worked together for their hard work. A special thank you went out to Nigel Clayton for all of his work in making the journey a success.

A Beagle Channel pilot joined us for the final leg of our journey. After dinner Chantal Sanders played piano and the Explorer II Quartet played songs to dance to. Later in the evening we watched a special Valentine’s Day Crew Show. What a great extravaganza of singing and dancing and hidden talents by the crew of the Explorer II. In the very early hours of the morning Explorer II arrived to Ushuaia, tied up alongside the dock, and our journey of some 3,089 nautical miles (5,721 km) had come to an end. It had been a fabulous voyage and we would be on our way tomorrow with fond memories of our journey to the Falklands, South Georgia Island, Elephant Island and the great white continent.

   

Our Chief and Assistant Maitre'd's, Dimitar and Andre, treat us to Cherries Jubilee at teatime for a special Valentine's Day treat.

Our breakfast chef, Junior, prepares eggs to order.

Hermoine shows us her lovely watercolor landscapes she's created during our voyage.

This voyage's brilliant photo contest winners are on display at Reception.

Captain Biasutti brings the Exporer 2 as close to Cape Horn as is allowed by the Chileans.


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