Dec 25, 2017 - National Geographic Explorer
Christmas morning’s weather turned out to be perfect for all the day’s activities that our expedition leader had planned for us. The National Geographic Explorer was positioned just off the northwest corner Paulet Island, home to more than 40,000 pairs of nesting Adélie penguins and the site of historic hut remains left by shipwrecked sailors of Otto Nordenskjold’s 1901-04 Swedish Antarctic Expedition. Shortly after breakfast the group of about 40 long-hikers were landed first on the cobble beach of the island’s north shore and were soon followed by those who preferred medium and shorter walks. Long-hikers headed up a slope to a small crater lake and on to where they could see the rock walls of the hut’s remains. Meanwhile back aboard the National Geographic Explorer the first round of about 30 kayaks was being deployed for an hour of paddling among ice floes and porpoising penguins between the ship and Paulet Island’s shoreline. Halfway through the morning the hikers and kayakers returned to the ship and switched activities.
When everyone was back aboard, the kayak platform was repurposed to become a swim platform for our “polar plungers.” An amazing number of our guests chose to participate in this bizarre emersion into the subzero Antarctic waters. In fact several even jumped in a second time!
From Paulet Island we began our transit northward, back toward the Drake Passage, Cape Horn and home. This took us through an area known for its many spectacular icebergs called iceberg alley. After our evening recap and Christmas dinner the National Geographic Explorer’s own five-piece band entertained us in the lounge well into the night. A fitting end to a wonderful Christmas day.
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