Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field

  • Spert Island & Charlotte Bay

    Early in the morning National Geographic Orion slowly approached Spert Island from the north. This is a beautiful and rugged island that is adjacent to the much larger Trinity Island situated on the north end of the Gerlache Strait. Under almost perfect conditions, we were able to do Zodiac cruises through the small channels and islets on the west side of this scenic island. Later, steaming south for about four hours, the ship entered Charlotte Bay, on the Antarctic Peninsula, where we encountered beautiful icebergs, and several feeding humpback whales. Dropping our Zodiacs again, we were able to watch these magnificent cetaceans from water level, as they deployed rings of bubbles, and engulfed their favorite food: krill! Another amazing day exploring this incredible wilderness!

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  • Portal Point & Brabant Island

    It was our final day on the Antarctic Peninsula, and we had a whole range of activities planned. We awoke to calm seas and a spectacular ice pack in Charlotte Bay. It wasn’t long before we witnessed one of nature’s most wonderful sights—dozens of humpback whales bubble-net feeding. It doesn’t get much better than that!

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  • Brown Bluff

    Waking well before breakfast to peer through fog, we started this third day of Antarctic exploration observing an immature emperor penguin quietly occupying an expanse of sea ice. It gave us a few over-the-shoulder looks before tobogganing in the opposite direction; our chilly photographers went for another cup of coffee. All morning, National Geographic Orion worked her way northeast through lines of sea ice and bergs in Erebus and Terror Gulf, part of the Weddell Sea.

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  • Trinity Island

    Today, National Geographic Explorer explored the northern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. We stopped to get a look at the magnificent Astrolabe Island, where steep black rocks jutted out of the ocean in the fog. Throughout the morning, we continued to cruise through icebergs of every size and shape. We visited Lindblad Cove, where we saw amazing blue icebergs. At one point, several guests looked over the bow to watch the icebergs go by the ship.

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  • Vega Island and Devil Island

    Today was a windless day in the Weddell Sea. It was incredible. We traveled south along Vega Island and launched Zodiacs in the ice. We were immediately greeted by two very curious humpbacks. We sat rafted together against the brash ice with our engines off, just listening and watching. Eventually, after their curiosity had been satiated, they moved on. We continued to push through the ice and eventually found more humpbacks and then, an emperor penguin! It was a chick from this year that still had remnants of downy feathers.

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  • Paulet Island & Exploring the Weddell

    What a spectacular day in the Weddell Sea. Guests awoke as the ship navigated through the ice flows of Antarctic Sound into the Weddell Sea. There were few icebergs not covered by Adelie Penguins and everyone was keen to get off the ship and see more of this charismatic species. Ashore guests were able to observe the huge colony of 100,000 pairs whilst others Zodiac cruised the ice flows in search of penguins and seals. The afternoon was just as packed with Zodiac cruising alongside tens of humpbacks among tabulars making the perfect appetizer for an emperor penguin and the polar plunge.

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  • Half Moon Island

    Today we finished crossing the Drake Passage and arrived in the South Shetland Islands! We made our first landfall on Half Moon Island. While all of the guests and most of the staff were ashore viewing chinstrap penguins, our two divers took to the water to document the underwater life found there. They encountered numerous invertebrates, swimming penguins, and a water temperature just above freezing. Undersea specialist Peter Webster filmed it all, in order to share with guests during a future recap of the day.

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  • Danger Islands, Iceberg Alley, Paulette Island

    Waking up to fog is always concerning on an expedition—you depend on clear skies not only to see what you hope to see, but to search for what you hope to see. But this is an expedition, and patience and perseverance are often rewarded. Today was no exception to this positive outlook.

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  • Antarctic Sound

    Nothing about Antarctica is predictable or “normal.” Our first landing yesterday was flat and calm, with only a light overcast. This morning was an example of how weather can change rapidly. The morning was all but calm as winds blew across Bransfield Strait. Clouds rolled across the high mountain peaks of the Trinity Peninsula, which marks the end of the mainland Antarctic Peninsula. To the north of Trinity Peninsula were a few large islands that created a wide channel leading to the western side of the Weddell Sea.

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  • At Sea in the Drake Passage

    Departing Ushuaia and South America, National Geographic Orion sailed south-southeast en route to our first landing: extraordinary numbers of charismatic wildlife, breathtaking scenery of incomprehensible scale. Before arriving at the Antarctic Peninsula, however, we must cross the Drake Passage and officially enter the Southern Ocean.

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