At Sea, the Falklands and Beyond

Mar 18, 2020 - National Geographic Orion


After leaving South America behind and traveling for a day to the Falklands, we awoke off the islands feeling some uncertainty, much like the rest of the world. What would our future hold?  We were all healthy onboard and in good spirits, so when the news came that we couldn’t disembark immediately, it was met with mixed reactions. It was determined that we would need to wait a few days (about five) until we reached a safe quarantine since our last contact with new people. At first, this seemed harsh. But in reality, it was probably better for everyone involved. We wanted to know we were all healthy, and we didn’t want to spread anything as we dispersed. And, being on board a healthy ship is a great thing. We not only had endless food, drink (wine!), and TOILET PAPER! We were onboard National Geographic Orion! The crew were ready to spoil us like always, and the staff were ready to step up with a series of presentations and activities.

For the first few days, we were cruising back and forth on the calm, leeward side of the islands. Albatross and other seabirds surrounded the ship continuously and Peale’s dolphins repeatedly came in to bow ride.   We even encountered a pod of killer whales and spent quality time with these top predators. Our sister ship, National Geographic Explorer, also provided a fun interlude. After disembarking their guests, they were able to make a supply run to us for essentials. They passed off some fruits and vegetables, some technical engine equipment, and an entire Zodiac of TOILET PAPER! I’m not sure if it was necessary or a great joke, but something we all still talk about!

Yes, we were isolating ourselves from the rest of the world, but not from each other. We could still do whatever we wanted, just onboard. Many became “Nolanites,” circling the upper deck getting exercise while enjoying some fine weather. Full gourmet dinners continued, cocktail hour was even more popular, and many guests formed their own groups doing various things they love. We then anchored for a few days in a sheltered bay and had many presentations to entertain ourselves and learn even more about the region.

As our time passed, Lindblad Expeditions was constantly updating us and planning. We were ready, our time had come, and then the weather threw us a curveball. Heavy winds were coming, and the Falklands closed the airport for a day. The office scrambled again, rebooking not only charter flights, but flights for every guest and staff to their homes. And then, finally, it came together.  A charter flight to Santiago, Chile, where we said goodbye to some of our fellow shipmates from South America. Then onto a Boeing 767 Dreamliner, chartered back to Miami. It was a shock to all of us, who were used to socializing in fun, close groups onboard, to reach the ghostly airport of Miami where no one was approaching anyone. From there, we dispersed and headed home.

We left behind National Geographic Orion. The crew are still there. They will be there for awhile, navigating in this new uncertainty. My thoughts are with them. They showed us all much love and great hospitality. I know that myself and quite a few others certainly considered staying onboard. Destination…unknown?  But, being National Geographic Orion, I am sure they are having fun right now and enjoying themselves very much.

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About the Author

Mike Greenfelder

Undersea Specialist

Mike learned early on that the best way to escape Ohio was to become a marine biologist.  During college at Wittenberg University he attended a semester at Duke University's Marine Lab — that time only confirmed his love for all things oceanic and maritime.  After graduation, Mike promptly moved to Catalina Island in California where he taught marine biology to school kids.  Since 1999, Mike has been working and traveling chasing his three loves: marine critters, photography, and birds.

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