Lindblad Cove & Whaler’s Bay

Dec 24, 2018 - National Geographic Orion


T’was the morning before Christmas, and all through Lindblad Cove, not a creature was stirring, not even a—Hey look! A whale!

After sailing north in the night from our evening stop at Port Lockroy, National Geographic Orion awoke to a wonderfully white Christmas Eve morning in Lindblad Cove. Brash ice drifted around us in the beautifully calm waters as the glacier-covered peaks rose to meet and blend into the white clouds above. Conditions this nice on our last morning on the Antarctic Peninsula could only mean one thing: Christmas Eve kayaking. 

Working together, the staff and crew teams set up our kayak platform off the marina deck at National Geographic Orion’s stern, ready to launch everyone out to explore the beautiful surroundings. Others set out to explore by Zodiac. Gentoo penguins porpoised through the ice floes, and a surprise visit from a playful minke whale quickly made for an exciting morning on the water. 

After lunch, it was time to bid farewell to the peninsula that had given us so many incredible once-in-a-lifetime experiences over the last few days. Cruising north across the Bransfield Strait, we came to spend our afternoon in the south of the South Shetland Islands, at none other than Deception Island. What better way to round out our expedition in Antarctica than with a landing inside a volcano. As we sailed through the narrow passage of Neptune’s Bellows, the clouds parted to shine light on the dramatic cliffs, and the brilliant blue water was a stunning contrast against the black sand beach of Whaler’s Bay. Taking Zodiacs to shore, we explored the remains of an abandoned Norwegian whaling station and the impressive scenery. Although we were blessed with patches of sunshine, the chilly winds were a not so gentle reminder of the tough conditions endured by the whalers here many years ago. To wrap up our time ashore at Deception Island, we had the special chance to encounter chinstrap penguins, the third and final species of brush-tail on our journey to the White Continent. 

As we picked up anchor to end our expedition operations, the excitement back on board was far from waning. A gourmet, seven-course meal was served, with each course name more special than the last. If that wasn’t impressive enough, a massive contingent of our incredible crew performed a one-of-a-kind Christmas carol extravaganza. For many of us,  National Geographic Orion is a home away from home, and we couldn’t feel more grateful to have such a wonderful family to share the holidays with. We certainly drifted off to our cabins feeling merry as we sailed north into the Drake Passage. Without a doubt, this has been an unforgettable night before Christmas. 

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About the Author

Maya Santangelo

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Maya was born and raised in Southern California, where her curiosity for the natural world was encouraged from an early age. Relocating to Sydney, Australia with her family at 11 years old, she learned to scuba dive, eventually becoming a PADI Instructor. Her fascination for the underwater world undoubtedly fueled her interest to study marine biology at James Cook University. Working as a professional guide in some of the world’s top dive destinations, including Palau and Mexico’s Guadalupe Island and Revillagigedo Archipelago, Maya realized a passion for sharing her love for the ocean with others, and the value of citizen science in the dive industry.

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