Antarctica, South Georgia & Falklands: Holiday Voyage Trip Log: December 19, 2022–January 5, 2023
December 21, 2022 | Ushuaia, Argentina
After dramatic flights over glaciers and snow-covered Andean peaks, we arrived in Ushua, a port renowned as the “City at the End of the World.” Excitement was in the air as we gathered for lunch at the Arakur Ushuaia Resort & Spa, our luxurious oasis set high above town. Some of us had just arrived from A&K pre-tour extensions to Iguassu Falls, and the Argentine locals’ excitement following the big World Cup win was a big topic of discussion over lunch.
After lunch, we made our way to the busy port to board our luxury vessel, ‘Le Lyrial,’ where we were warmly welcomed by the crew and staff. We settled into our cabins and refreshed after an eventful day. Being that ours is a holiday cruise, many families with children were onboard.
Afternoon tea and, later, a celebratory glass of Champagne were served. We then attended a requisite safety briefing in the Theater. We were also introduced to our Captain, Julien Duroussy; our Cruise Director, Paul Carter; our Expedition Leader, Marco Favero, an expert on Antarctic seabirds; and our knowledgeable Expedition Team, which hails from all corners of the globe.
Many of us opted to turn in early this evening in preparation of tomorrow’s events — not the least of which is the Earth’s wildest ocean crossing, the Drake Passage.
December 22, 2022 | At Sea
Over an early breakfast of pastries, coffee and tea, we navigated toward the Falklands for a morning ashore in Stanley. Guests participated in a variety of activities onboard, such as a stretch class. Meanwhile, our Expedition Team helped ensure everyone had right-fit parkas, waterproof trousers and bog boots — not to mention connectivity for kid-friendly entertainment.
Our ornithologist, Patri Silva, gave a sparkling presentation on the seabirds populating the Southern Ocean, lending insight into their fascinating adaptations amid cold, seemingly inhospitable conditions. Then, our photo coach, Renato Granieri, demystified the art of composition, the rule of thirds and shutter speeds so we could best-capture the Antarctic landscape.
Mid-afternoon, we gathered for an overview of the islands. Delicate French mille-feuilles accompanied afternoon tea, along with piano music by Uliana Chubun.
Led by storyteller, Rob Caskie, the day’s enrichment program revealed the history of Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, "The Man who took the Prize," beating Captain Robert F. Scott to the South Pole.
After a cocktail hour accompanied by live music, we were officially welcomed aboard by the Captain with a gala dinner.
December 23, 2022 | Stanley & the Falkland Islands
On a beautifully calm morning, we found ourselves in Port Williams, just outside the narrow entrance to Port Stanley. Upon disembarking, guests were whisked to Gypsy Cove, a stunning arc of sand where we witnessed Magellanic penguins and then strolled about Stanley at leisure, perhaps visiting the Dockyard Museum or shopping for curios.
The weather gods certainly were on our side today. Conditions proved positively balmy. By noon we were all safely back on ‘Le Lyrial’ as the wind picked up considerably.
We attended a screening of "Chasing Ice," which chronicles the planet's rapidly melting glaciers. Geologist Dani Mantonioni’s discussion of the Scotia Sea’s geology spanned moving tectonic plates and subduction zones, as well as the landscapes of The Falklands and South Georgia.
This evening, we regrouped for a lively interactive round-up of the day, featuring our expedition’s youngest explorers. After dinner, Cruise Director Paul Carter hosted a rousing game of trivia. As ‘Le Lyrial’ made good speed toward South Georgia, we retired to a restful sleep.
December 24, 2022 | Crossing the Scotia Sea
Overnight, we plied the Scotia Sea, heading toward Shag Rocks and South Georgia. After a relaxing morning, our resident mammal expert, Luciana Motta, discussed the seals and sea lions of the Southern Ocean, sharing the differences between the species, enlightening us on breeding habits and alerting us to the surprising mobility of Antarctic fur seals on land. Luciana also told us how exceptionally cute the weaning Elephant Seal pups on South Georgia are.
After a safety briefing about Zodiacs and the precautions required on land, we watched a short documentary about life on the island. Later, as a festive twist, we watched the remake of the "Miracle on 34th Street.”
Tonight, our Expedition Team sang Christmas carols as we sat down to the most magnificent Christmas Eve dinner.
December 25, 2022 | At Sea
On Christmas morning, we approached Shag Rocks, tiny Andean islands that protrude from the sea. A wide array of birds soared above the ship, including giant petrels, black-browed albatross, wandering albatross, cape petrels, Antarctic prions and the occasional snow petrel. Some blue-eyed shags attempted to land aboard, while humpback whale sightings added to the beautiful scene.
After Renato shared some of his award-winning images and photography tips, Father Christmas arrived onboard to greet guests and hand out candy, much to our Young Explorers' delight. Adding to the festive spirit, the children joined in an impromptu singing session. Next up was an iceberg-spotting competition, for which the winner received a bottle of fine Champagne, compliments of A&K.
By afternoon, Antarctic fur seals and macaroni penguins were spotted swimming around the ship. We gathered as storyteller, Rob Caskie, recounted the history of Shackleton's Endurance Expedition (1914-16).
Upon spotting even more humpback whales, ornithologist, Rich Pagen, explained the significance of Antarctic Convergence and Divergence zones, the marine belt encircling Antarctica. When cold, salty, northward-flowing Antarctic waters meet the relatively warmer waters of the sub-Antarctic, the zones mix and upswell, fostering marine productivity, especially that of Antarctic krill.
As we reflected on a memorable Christmas Day aboard ‘Le Lyrial,’ we anticipated a morning arrival to picturesque Moltke Bay and Gold Harbour.
December 26, 2022 | Moltke Harbour & Gold Harbour
This morning, we made land at Moltke Harbour, named for the Bismarck-class corvette that brought the first scientific research team to South Georgia in 1882.
An incredible array of species populated the beach: Antarctic fur seals, elephant seals, and king and gentoo penguins. Giant petrels, skuas and Antarctic terns also awaited us. While marveling at the lofty peaks and waterfalls beyond the sandy beach, A&K guests observed a nearby gentoo penguin colony.
Returning to ‘Le Lyrial’ for lunch on board, we proceeded to Gold Harbour, where an amphitheater of hanging glaciers and vertical cliffs rise straight from the sea. Owing its name to the presence of fool’s gold, the harbor is a haven for some 100,000 king penguins. Called Oakham Boys, their chicks are covered in fluffy brown plumage and take about two years to mature and take to the sea.
During our visit, a large, curious elephant seal pup came to inspect our survival gear and walking poles. After making a considerable — but very endearing — nuisance of himself, he promptly fell asleep among the Expedition Team, remaining there all afternoon. Meanwhile, guests watched elephant seals jostle on the beach, king penguins walk in proximity and the amusing antics of playful fur seal pups.
Back aboard after an utterly enchanting day, we attended a masterclass on penguin biology and were briefed on tomorrow’s activities.
December 27, 2022 | Grytviken & Stromness Harbour
We began the day at Pot Harbour, disembarking to view Shackleton’s final resting place at Grytviken on South Georgia. Enriching the experience, Rob Caskie, our resident storyteller and historian, chronicled Shackleton’s final hours spent walking from Fortuna Bay to Stromness. Some guests then chose to send mail from the town’s post office.
After lunch aboard ‘Le Lyrial,’ we made our way toward sun-drenched, wind-swept Stromness Whaling Station for a chance to walk in the footsteps of Shackleton amid thousands of fur and elephant seals.
Continuing to Leith Harbour, South Georgia’s largest whaling station, Rob lent further context to the locale, which stands on the northeast coast of the island. It was a fascinating talk on the history of sealing and whaling industries, the eerie evidence of which remains on the island to this day.
December 28, 2022 | Rosita Harbour
Bundling up for the day’s windy, cold conditions, we embarked on a Zodiac tour of Rosita Harbour, the Bay of Isles, encountering abundant fur seal and penguin colonies. Overhead, albatross and petrel effortlessly rode the wind.
Later making our way onward toward Antarctica, Marine Biologist, Rich Pagen, shared a fascinating and humorous talk about animal reproduction in cold regions.
After an outstanding Argentine lunch onboard, some guests returned to their cabins, while others gathered for marine mammal expert, Luciana Motta's presentation on whales of the Southern Ocean. Today’s afternoon tea was enjoyed with live harp music in the main lounge. Then, ornithologist,, Patri Silva, spoke about the evolution and diversity of the enigmatic, tuxedoed penguin.
Having spotted an iceberg larger than our vessel, we learned an ice shelf in the Weddell Sea had calved. Larger than the island of South Georgia, it lies directly on our path to the Antarctic Peninsula — making for a potential, once-in-a-lifetime sighting.
December 29, 2022 | At Sea
Today was an enriching day at sea, with little wind to speak of. Geologist,, Dani Martinioni, kicked off the lecture program, detailing the similarities between the Antarctic Peninsula and Tierra del Fuego.
Next, our marine mammals lecturer, Luciana Motta, talked about the unique adaptations of Antarctic organisms, from lichen to midges and fish. Our naturalists and photographer were on deck to help guests identify birds and capture the landscape.
After lunch, naturalist, Geraldine Massyn, spoke about the remote Seychelles archipelago — and even proposed a future A&K trip there. Then, storyteller, Rob Caskie, shared insight into Captain Robert F. Scott’s fateful journey to the South Pole.
After dinner, a fun karaoke session was enjoyed in the main lounge, where guests were abuzz about tomorrow’s chance to view Iceberg A-76, a behemoth measuring some 100 miles long and 25 miles wide.
December 30, 2022 | At Sea
At 3:30 am, it was announced we were alongside A-76, the massive tabular iceberg that broke from the Ronne Iceshelf in the Weddell Sea. The world’s largest iceberg, A-76 is larger than South Georgia or Long Island, New York. With only 20% of its mass appearing above the water line, it’s almost impossible to imagine its magnificence — truly a once-in-a-lifetime sighting.
Continuing the day, Rob Caskie spoke about the “Backstage Boys,” individuals who deserve more recognition for their roles in Polar exploration. Dani Martinioni followed with a talk on glacial ice.
After lunch, a screening of “The Endurance” was shown, with original footage from Frank Hurley. This tied in beautifully with Rob Caskie's talks about Shackleton as we make our way toward Elephant Island.
In exquisite light afforded by bright sunshine and high clouds, we neared the spot where Shackleton left Frank Wild in charge of 21 men for four months and one week, before rescuing them on August 30, 1916.
Back aboard, Russ Manning spoke about the late naturalist, Bob Burton, lending insight into the cove and glacier named after him. Guests then lined the decks to view a bust of Captain Luis Pardo Villalón and see the two upturned lifeboats that lent the men meagre shelter.
The day marked an amazing window into to Antarctica, a treasured experience for us A&K guests and a fitting way to round out 2022.
December 31, 2022 | Penguin & Deception Islands
Our morning outing to Penguin Island was sublime. Beautiful blue skies greeted us as we took to the Zodiacs. Despite there being no wind to speak of, the swells and brash ice made for an exhilarating ride. Upon disembarking at the boulder-strewn beach, we saw a breeding Chinstrap penguin colony and took a two-mile hike up Deacon Peak’s summit, an old volcanic crater. Witnessing the beach littered with whale bones, we also observed skua, tern and giant petrel nesting sites. The tremendous vistas over vast snowfields had us all awestruck.
Back aboard, Luciana Motta shared a brilliant mid-afternoon presentation detailed Antarctica as the highest driest, coldest, windiest continent on Earth, along with an impressive list of other superlatives.
At 6:30pm, we threaded the needle of Neptune's Bellows into Deception Island's sunken caldera. This horseshoe-shaped wonder was created more than 10,000 years ago by the largest known eruption in the Antarctic area. Officially discovered by Captain William Smith in 1820, the sheltered anchorage was long used by sealers and whalers.
Tonight, a magnificent New Year's Eve gala dinner was served, followed by a lively evening of dance and revelry.
January 1, 2023 | Wilhelmina Bay & Danco Island
Last night’s New Year’s Eve celebration aside, we departed early by Zodiac to scenic Wilhelmina Bay. We were met with blue skies and ultra-white snow fields in all directions as the icebergs bobbed along in clear, calm seas. As our naturalists lent further insight into the beauty at hand, we toasted over Champagne in true A&K style. It was a quite spectacular start to 2023.
Back aboard, ‘Le Lyrial’ then proceeded to Danco Island, situated within the beautiful Errera Channel between Rongé Island and the west coast of Graham Land. Making land, guests walked up the slope to view nesting gentoo penguin before sliding or walking back down to the landing site. Of course, the youngsters enjoyed the slides most of all. Even the Captain and several crew members took advantage of the unusually warm conditions to come ashore. The temperatures were so mild, that many guests shed their parkas at the beach.
This evening, our photo enrichment coach, Renato, shared drone footage of Penguin Island and Deacon Peak, leaving us in awe. Ornithologist, Rich Pagen, followed with entertaining information and videos about the Antarctica’s winged wonders. After dinner, calm water set the tone for frequent whale sightings in Dallman Bay.
January 2, 2023 | Neko Harbour & Paradise Bay
The day began at Neko Harbour amid expansive vistas, cobalt skies and calm conditions. Once ashore, we encountered a gentoo penguin that investigated our walking poles in great detail. Meanwhile, our fellow travellers posed for photos holding a “seven” sign, commemorating their visit to the seventh continent.
Over a barbecue lunch on the deck of ‘Le Lyrial,’ we passed impressive icebergs, their reflections visible on the calm, clear water as we approached Brown Station, an Argentine Antarctic Base and scientific research station named after Admiral William Brown. Here, icebergs, mountains and glaciers painted a dramatic scene.
Upon making land, many of us climbed a snow-covered hill and gleefully slid down, while others chose to sit and absorb Antarctica at her best. Several whales were spotted throughout the afternoon.
The Zodiac ride back to the ship was magical — complete with sightings of whales, swimming penguins and a leopard seals sat atop the ice floe. It was a still, hot afternoon by Antarctic standards and guests did not want the outdoor activities to end. As dinner began, we spotted a pod of orca, including youngsters and two large males.
As the evening drew to a close, our Captain announced favorable conditions in the Drake Passage for our return to Ushuaia.
January 3, 2023 | Crossing the Drake Passage
As our boots, waterproof trousers and life jackets were collected, the reality struck that this exquisite adventure was almost over. After refueling at Port Williams in Chile, we expect to arrive back in Ushuaia late tomorrow evening.
As we spent the day at sea, Marco and Patri Silva presented an impactful talk on seabird conservation efforts. Guests then asked Rob Caskie to lend insight into the Anglo-Zulu War, fought between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa.
As we crossed the calm Drake Passage, first traversed by Belgian Willem Schouten in 1616, we reflected on its nautical impact throughout history. Tonight, many donned formal attire to attend a gala dinner and swap stories about our journey of a lifetime. Live music followed in the observatory lounge, including a performance by classical pianist, Uliana Chubun.
January 4, 2023 | Crossing the Drake Passage
After a late night of celebrating, the ship was quiet this morning. Later, Russ Manning gave a lively presentation on life at a British Antarctic station, having commanded Signy Research Station for two successive winters.
Yet again, I found myself impressed with quality of the Expedition Team, who crafted a perfect Antarctica experience given their combined 391 years of local experience.
After we went over disembarkation procedures, Rob Caskie piqued the interest of the Young Explorers with stories about the likes of Harry Wolhuter, Kruger National Park’s first ranger.
After lunch we viewed "Around Cape Horn,” affording a marvelous opportunity to learn of its history. Rob Caskie later spoke about the psychology of survivors, highlighting Jean-Baptiste Charcot and Otto Nordenskjold. Geologist Dany Martinioni joined Rob on stage to assist with questions regarding geological samples, dinosaur discoveries and the like.
At our final recap session, we watched Geraldine Massyn’s beautiful video highlighting our trip. Then, the winners of the charts for the Crew Welfare Fund, and Association for the Conservation of Albatrosses and Penguins were announced.
During the evening, ‘Le Lyrial’ refueled at Puerto Williams on the southern side of the Beagle Channel, then pressed onward to Ushuaia for tomorrow's morning disembarkation.
January 5, 2023 | Ushuaia
We arrived in Ushuaia this morning. Bidding farewell to ‘Le Lyrial,’ her crew, the Expedition Team and our fellow travellers, we disembarked with a newfound appreciation for this special place and a wealth of family memories we would treasure forever.
Wildlife Sightings on This Journey
- King Penguin
- Gentoo Penguin
- Adelie Penguin
- Chinstrap Penguin
- Macaroni Penguin
- Magellanic Penguin
- Southern Royal Albatross
- Wandering Albatross
- Black-browed Albatross
- Grey-headed Albatross
- Light-mantled Albatross
- Southern Giant Petrel
- Northern Giant Petrel
- Soft-plumaged Petrel
- White-chinned Petrel
- Cape (Pintado) Petrel
- Snow Petrel
- Antarctic Petrel
- Southern Fulmar
- Great Shearwater
- Sooty shearwater
- Blue Petrel
- Prion sp.
- Antarctic Prion
- Black-bellied Storm-petrel
- Wilson's Storm-petrel
- Blue eyed-shag
- Rock Shag
- Chilean Skua
- Brown Skua
- South Polar Skua
- South American Tern
- Antarctic Tern
- Dolphin Gull
- Kelp Gull
- Kelp Goose
- Upland Goose
- Flightless Steamer-duck
- Patagonian Crested Duck
- South Georgia Pintail
- Turkey vulture
- Red-backed buzzard
- Black-crowned Night-heron
- Blackish Oystercatcher
- Magellanic Oystercatcher
- Snowy Sheathbill
- Correndera Pipit
- South Georgia Pipit
- Dark-faced Ground-tyrant
- Austral Thrush
- Long-tailed Meadowlark
- Black-throated Finch
- Fin Whale
- Minke Whale
- Humpback Whale
- Killer Whale (Orca)
- Peale's Dolphin
- Hourglass Dolphin
- Weddell Seal
- Leopard Seal
- Southern Elephant Seal
- Antarctic fur seal
- Southern sea lion
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