Blue skies! After successfully chasing small but rewarding weather pockets around the peninsula all week, the skies opened up today to reveal the loveliest blue-atop-white-atop-blue. As we arrived in Neko Harbour during breakfast, the bright white continent of Antarctica glowed brilliantly in the full sunshine above clear, calm, blue waters. The sea reflected the skies, and gentoo penguins went about their business. Although several avalanches from on high in the white cliffs caught our attention, none were close enough to pose a danger. The bright sun and clear water got the better of over half of our expedition group, and they decided to take the polar plunge! Amid the perfect weather, one guest after another quickly leapt in the 31F/-1C degree seawater. This rite of passage is as venerable as crossing the Drake Passage was seven days ago.
Refreshed and ready for one final off-ship adventure, the ship headed towards Paradise Harbour, a suitably named place given today’s lovely weather! Along the way, we encountered humpback whales fluking and gallivanting in our path. Always a treat to encounter, these whales showed off their Antarctic acrobatics before heading along their way. Upon arrival to Paradise, we observed the Videla Chilean Research Station. The station was receiving supplies by ship and by helicopter, which is important business here in Antarctica. Farther in, we found the Argentina Research Station also receiving supplies. Massive tidewater glaciers tumbled into the sea around Brown Station and Paradise Harbour. Our Zodiac tours revealed ice sculptures, penguins, and lounging crabeater seals in the high-cliffed white amphitheater.
After yet another incredible dinner at both of the ship’s delectable venues, the crew and guests gathered in the Ice Lounge for a lively evening of music, dancing, and the best good cheer to be found on these cold seas. As we wrapped up another day of our incredible journey to the Antarctic Peninsula, we reflected on the creatures, memories, new friends, and awe of the past eight days.