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03/09/2007

Sadly, today was our last day on board the 'Explorer II'. Yesterday we paid a bit of what Jannie likes to call the 'Drake Tax' as we rocked and rolled bit but today we are enjoying a Drake Lake with wonderfully calm seas. In the morning we joined Jannie and Sally for a disembarkation briefing to learn about our travel details.

In the mid-morning we heard David Wilson's lecture 'Murder in the Land of Fire: Savagery, Darwin and the Tale of Jemmy Button.' It was an interesting tale of history and intrigue at the end of the world.

After lunch we spent some time on deck with the naturalists or finished our packing. It was wonderful to be out in the warm sunshine as we saw lots of black-browed albatrosses following the ship.

For our last tea time, Maitre d' Dmitar Potkonjak prepared a delicious Crepe Suzettes. It has been wonderful to sample all the savory treats prepared for us throughout the cruise.

Our last formal activity of the day was an Expedition Overview. Expedition Leader Ignacio Rojas thanked all the guests for sailing with us and talked about all of the highlights we had experienced. Russ introduced a slide show that featured photos of our various landings and many people recognized themselves disguised in their red parka. There were some incredible images and we were stunned when we realized how lucky we had been with the weather most of the time in Antarctica and the wildlife we had encountered. Finally, we enjoyed a preview of a DVD of the second half of the voyage to Antarctica presented by the photo staff.

We also raffled tickets to benefit the 'Save the Albatross' campaign, the Antarctic Humpback Whale Catalogue and the 'Explorer II' welfare fund. Guests who purchased tickets stood the chance of winning a sea chart with our route and signed by the senior officers onboard, one of Patricia Silva's ink drawings or a singed print of the whales of the southern ocean. There was excitement in the room as the winning numbers were announced.

These final days of this expedition have been dominated by reflection and celebration. Guests gathered together for lunch, dinner or an evening cocktail to commemorate the wonderful time that we've all shared together in Antarctica.

   

After breakfast, David Wilson gives us a presentation on the early history of the area around Cape Horn

The calm seas encourage a leg stretch around the Promenade Deck

Romel Palillo's beautiful hand-illustrated chart is on display for this afternoon's raffle for the crew welfare fund

Wildlife watch is still very much in effect as we round Isla Nueva and head into the Beagle Channel


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