The thing about expeditions is that you rarely stick with plan A. Often, even plans B, C, D, and E are discarded because of Antarctica’s mercurial conditions. Today was one of those days. This morning, we sliced the ship into some of the last fast ice of the season. While it proved too slushy to support humans, we did get a hello from a number of seals and a small gang of penguins taking advantage of the icy refuge. Breakfast had a unique view that even included a humpback meandering along the edge of the fast ice as it enjoyed its own breakfast.

We relocated slightly to enjoy some marvelously scenic kayaking at Dogs Leg Fjord near Pourquois Pas Island. The weather gave us a window to paddle amongst icebergs and take in the grandeur of the mountains and glaciers meeting the sea. Since the weather was holding and we were already a bit wet from splashing our paddles, we figured, “Why Not? Let’s take the Polar Plunge!” More than 70 among us braved the frigid Antarctic waters, but we emerged with smiles and lifelong memories.

But the best part of our day arrived after dinner. We navigated waters freshly sounded and mapped by our intrepid bridge team, making us most likely the first modern vessel to pass through the Narrows. The exploratory achievement was exciting in its own right but imagine our surprise when we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by groups of bubble-net feeding humpback whales in every direction. Shouts of joyful wonder could be heard from everywhere on the ship as we watched the whales do their magical cooperative dance, feasting on a bounty of krill. Turns out, plan F was pretty great.