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02/25/2008

Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

We converged on the small city of Ushuaia, all of us arriving from distant reaches of the planet for the same reason: to embark on an expedition to experience the magnificent Antarctic continent firsthand. As our flight approached Ushuaia, the majestic clouds parted at times to provide us with striking views of the southern Andes. The glaciers, glacial lakes and towering peaks had to be seen to be believed. When we arrived at “El Fin del Mundo” (as Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, is locally known), we found a growing outpost with plenty of restaurants and shops catering to adventurous travelers.

In the afternoon, we arrived at the dock and were welcomed by the ship’s staff and crew. After settling into our staterooms and getting familiar with the ship a bit, we headed to the Verandah to partake in some welcome champagne and snacks. Following a lifeboat drill given by Captain Giovanni Biasutti, we joined our Cruise Director Jannie Cloete and our Expedition Leader Lou Sanson in the main lounge for an introduction to the ship and her staff. As each member of the Expedition staff gave us a welcome and some background on themselves, it became clear that their passion for Antarctica and their desire to share it with us would make this a grand adventure indeed!

Our day drew to a close over dinner and some live piano music in the Shackleton Lounge. The warm air, magnificent mountains and setting sun lured many of us outside onto the pool deck, which was the idyllic place to contemplate what lies ahead. Rafts of Magellanic penguins drifted past while our first black-browed albatrosses circled in front of the ship. Cameras clicked as the sun set over the last green trees we would see until the end of our journey, and we sailed down the Beagle Channel in fading light on our way to the open ocean.

   

Early morning on the Beagle Channel

Explorer 2 Staff bids a fond farewell to our departing group

Ushuaia Dolphin Gulls congregate on the pier

The interior of one of Ushuaia's popular waterfront cafés

Some Ushuaia penguins are available in the pink stone- Rhodocrosite


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