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Cliffs of Moher

The morning of the 15th of May broke with perfect, cloud-free blue skies and a stunning sunrise. The chilly northeast breeze did not deter the guests as they were out on deck in droves admiring the sun rising over the Irish coastline. The first of the fingers of the Cliffs of Moher were visible, with the distinctive Napoleonic watchtowers breaking the skyline atop the cliffs. The air was filled with the busy comings and goings of the gangs of guillemots, razorbills, and gannets. In amongst it all were the smaller and plumper Atlantic puffins, busily flapping their wings to get to their destination. One lucky observer spotted a minke whale from the dining room while eating breakfast! The morning outing was a Zodiac landing at Aran Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands and home to the Aran Sweater. Read More>

May 15, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in British & Irish Isles

Skelligs & Dingle, Co Kerry, Ireland

We awoke to a thick sea-mist, not at all sure that it would burn off in time for our scheduled cruise around the Lesser and Greater Skellig, two rocky outliers of County Kerry in the far west of Ireland. The former is one of the largest gannetries off the coast of Britain and Ireland ; the latter has the spectacular remains of a sixth-century Celtic monastic site, in continuous occupation from A.D. 588 to 1222. On the bridge, we heard our underwater specialist being carefully guided through the mist to her dive-site, so we would at least be sure to see, at a future date, what lay here beneath the surface of the ocean. Even as our expedition leader was at work on some creative re-scheduling of the morning’s activities, however, the mist miraculously cleared and Skellig Michael, the alternative name for the Greater Skellig, was revealed in all its glory, its cluster of corbelled bee-hive huts, garden terraces, and steep pathways clear to view. Christianity came to this part of the world at a remarkably early date. Read More>

May 14, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in British & Irish Isles

Scilly Isles

One of the most memorable aspects of this British and Irish Isles expedition is how much the places we visit vary. Yesterday we were sailing into the narrow entrance of Fowey harbor in a shroud of early morning fog, and yet today we hopped into the Zodiacs and speeded toward Tresco Island in the Scilly Isles–all the while bathed in sunshine and with a backdrop of beaches more akin to a Caribbean postcard than a British Isles experience. The Scilly Isles lie off the southwest of the British coastline. Read More>

May 13, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in British & Irish Isles

Fowey, Cornwall VIDEO

Through the night the Bridge officers of National Geographic Explorer kept us heading further westward along the southern coast of England. However, heavy fog all along the course required expert navigation since the area is a heavily used route for shipping through the English Channel. But as the skies lightened and a light drizzly rain washed the ship, we approached the small hamlet of Fowey perched along the river mouth of the same name indenting the Cornish coastline. A local pilot boarded the ship and during breakfast the ship “squeezed” into the entrance of the river where a tug helped secure the ship to moorings inside the river proper. Surrounding us were the wooded slopes of the river valley and the picturesque villages of Fowey and Polruan. For the morning, the outing would be to a unique project in the countryside. Read More>

May 12, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in British & Irish Isles

Portsmouth, England

Last night was an extraordinary beginning to our expedition: Sailing down the River Thames, under the Tower Bridge, crossing the prime meridian (taking us into the Eastern Hemisphere), and passing through the Thames Barrier. Entering the Strait of Dover and, eventually, the English Channel, we enjoyed smooth seas as we made our way towards Portsmouth. Fog and gentle rain greet us this morning on our approach to Portsmouth harbor, the Isle of Wight off of our port side, Portsmouth off of our starboard. Read More>

May 11, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in British & Irish Isles

At Sea en route to Funchal, Madeira

The last day of our Epic journey together! It is in many ways a day filled with mixed emotions, for it seems eons ago that we departed Ushuaia, at 54°48’S and 068°17’W, and that tomorrow we will sail into Funchal, Madeira at 32°43’N and 016°17’W, where our expedition will come to an end. Yes, it is nowhere near the 108° originally intended*, but none of us are particularly bothered with that for we have a tale or two to tell when we return home. We will have traveled 87°31’ of latitude and 52°00’of longitude, and covered a distance of approximately 6573.86 nautical miles by the time we sail into Funchal tomorrow. We have once again all witnessed expedition cruising at its very best these past 24 days; seabirds galore, thousands of dolphins, beaked whales, Sargassum. We also visited islands and cities with opportunities to meet their inhabitants and become a little more acquainted with some of their customs and culture.  It is important to mention that whilst most of us will disembark in Funchal, Madeira, there are a few of us who will continue with the ship all the way to Bremerhaven in Germany. Read More>

Apr 15, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Atlantic Crossing

At Sea

It’s hard to believe how the time has flown by. It seems like yesterday when we were meeting each other in Buenos Aires, making new friends, and preparing for the trip of a lifetime. It’s funny now that none of the talk seems to be centered on the mishaps of the trip, but rather the camaraderie and excitement that only a classic sea voyage such as this can bring. Conversations center around the highlights of the last few days, and as you would expect at this point, the inevitability of home (and land), returning from adventure.  The trip has offered wonderful wildlife viewing the entire voyage, and today was no different. Read More>

Apr 14, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Atlantic Crossing

At Sea

As we sail northward from the Cape Verde archipelago towards our final destination of Madeira, a cooling of both sea and air temperatures remind us that we will very soon be out of the tropical waters we entered back at Rio de Janeiro. We are also heading towards Europe from Africa; having begun our voyage in South America that means we have experienced three continents in one voyage, with many guests beginning their travel in a fourth. It has been a voyage of connections and nowhere more so than in Cape Verde. Recalling the warm welcome and rich experiences of Fogo yesterday, many were struck by the cosmopolitan feel of these economically poor communities. Read More>

Apr 13, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Atlantic Crossing

Fogo, Cape Verde VIDEO

The morning dawned sunny and clear, with a hazy island in the distance. Fogo, fourth largest in terms of area and among the southern group of Cape Verde islands, was both alluring and patient as the ship cleared customs and everyone prepared for their time ashore. The island of Fogo erupted from the sea a few hundred thousand years ago, shaping a steep volcanic island that continues to be active; the most recent lava flows occurred in 2014 with significant impact to nearby communities. Independent from Portugal in 1975, the Cape Verde islands are a unique nation located off the coast of Mauritania featuring a fusion culture of both Portuguese and African influence. Many of our group enjoyed a drive up and around the island, following switchbacks on narrow roads to reach altitudes over 1800m and explore the 9-kilometer diameter ancient caldera of the original volcano. Read More>

Apr 12, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Atlantic Crossing

At Sea

Today was a busy day at sea as we approach the Cape Verde Island of Fogo, which we will visit tomorrow. We continued to learn more about our oceanic surroundings with presentations about: -“Hot Spots and Oceanic Islands” by Jim Kelley -“The Atlantic Slave Trade” by David Barnes -“British Character” by Roddy Bray -Jim also completed his popular navigation workshop series with the “Electronic Aids to Navigation. Read More>

Apr 11, 2016 National Geographic Explorer in Atlantic Crossing

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