Antarctic Voyage: A rendezvous with Antarctica

Antarctic Voyage: A rendezvous with Antarctica

Antarctic cruise • Icebergs • Weddell seals

from AGE ™ Travel Magazine
Released: Last update on 1,6K Views

Guest on the seventh continent

Experience report Antarctic trip part 1:
To the End of the World (Ushuaia) and Beyond

Experience report Antarctic trip part 2:
The rugged beauty of South Shetland

Experience report Antarctic trip part 3:
A rendezvous with Antarctica

1. Welcome to Antarctica: the destination of our dreams
2. Portal Point: Landing on the Seventh Continent
3. Cruising in Antarctic waters: icebergs ahead
4. Cierva Cove: Zodiac ride in drift ice with leopard seals
5. Sunset in the Ice: Almost too good to be true
5. The Antarctic Sound: Iceberg Avenue
6. Brown Bluff: Walk with Adelie penguins
7. Joinville Island: An animal-rich Zodiac ride

Experience report Antarctic trip part 4:
Among penguins in South Georgia

Antarctic Travel GuideAntarctic tripSouth Shetland & Antarctic Peninsula & South Georgia
Expedition ship Sea Spirit • Field report 1/2/3/4

1. Welcome to Antarctica

At the destination of our dreams

I open my eyes and the first glance out of the window reveals it: Antarctica is ours. We have arrived! We've had them for the last two days rugged beauty of South Shetland admired, now we have reached the next stage of our Antarctic journey: the Antarctic Peninsula lies ahead of us. We're excited, like little kids, because today we're actually going to set foot on the Antarctic continent. Our view from the Sea Spirit has become icy: Snow-covered mountains, ice break edges and snowdrifts characterize the picture. Icebergs are floating by and changing clothes just takes too long for me today. I take the first photo of the day from our balcony while still in my pajamas. Brrr. A rather uncomfortable undertaking, but I just can't let this beautiful iceberg pass by without a photo.

After breakfast we pack ourselves into thick red expedition jackets. We are primed and eager to actually set foot on the Antarctic continent today. With the Sea Spirit we chose a very small expedition ship for our Antarctic voyage. There are only around 100 passengers on board, so luckily we can all go ashore at the same time. Nevertheless, of course not everyone can get into one of the inflatable boats at the same time. So until it's our turn, we continue to marvel from the deck.

The sky is overcast and filled with a deep, heavy grey. I would almost describe him as melancholic, but the snow-covered landscape he touches is far too beautiful for that. And maybe I'm just too happy for melancholy today.

The sea is smooth as glass. Not a breath of wind ripples the waves and in the light of the white wonder world the sea shines in grey-blue-white colors.

The cloud cover descends low over the bay and envelops its icebergs in cool shadows. But next to us, as if we were looking into another world, snow-covered mountains pile up in the gentle sunshine.

As if in greeting, Antarctica shines in front of our eyes and the dwindling streaks of cloud open up a view of a white mountainous dream.

So now it lies before me: Antarctica. Full of untouched, radiant beauty. Symbol of hope and filled with fears for the future. The dream of all adventurers and explorers. A place of natural forces and cold, uncertainty and loneliness. And at the same time a place of eternal longing.

Back to the overview of the experience report

Antarctic Travel GuideAntarctic tripSouth Shetland & Antarctic Peninsula & South Georgia
Expedition ship Sea Spirit • Field report 1/2/3/4

2. Landing at Portal Point on Antarctic Peninsula

Shore leave on the seventh continent

Then the time has come. With the Zodiac we jet towards land and let them Sea Spirit behind us. Beautiful icebergs float next to us, Antarctic terns fly above us and in front of us lies a gleaming white tongue of land with tiny people. A new surge of anticipation grips me. Our Antarctic voyage has reached its destination.

Our skipper searches for a good spot and moors on a flat, rocky shoreline. One by one they swing their legs overboard and then my feet touch the Antarctic continent.

I remain in awe on my rock for a few seconds. I'm actually here. Then I prefer to look for a somewhat drier place and take a few steps away from the waves. After just a few steps, the stone I'm walking on disappears in a deep, fluffy white. Finally. That's exactly how I imagined Antarctica. Icebergs and snowfields as far as the eye can see.

Although almost half of the passengers are already on land, I only see a few people. The expedition team did a great job again and marked out a route with flags that we can explore at our own pace. The guests dispersed surprisingly quickly.

I take my time and enjoy the view: Powdery snow-white and angular gray rocks frame the shimmering turquoise-grey sea. Ice floes and icebergs of all sizes and shapes float in the bay and in the distance snowy mountains are lost on the horizon.

Suddenly I see a Weddell seal in the snow. If that isn't the perfect reception for an Antarctic trip. But as I get closer, I spot a faint trail of blood near her. I hope she isn't hurt? Weddell seals are preyed upon by leopard seals and orcas, but juveniles are usually the main targets. This Weddell seal, on the other hand, looks big, heavy and impressive to me. I treat myself to a photo of the beautiful animal, then I'd rather leave her alone. For safety. Maybe she needs to recover.

It is fascinating how different a Weddell seal lying on land looks when compared to a Weddell seal swimming. If I didn't know better, I would say they are two different animals. The fur, the colour, even its shape looks different: on land it is plush, strikingly patterned, somehow oversized and pitifully clumsy when moving. Yet in the water she is sleek, drab grey, perfectly proportioned and surprisingly agile.

On board we have already learned a few interesting facts about the impressive marine mammals: Weddell seals can dive up to 600 meters deep. The lecture impressed me, but it is even more impressive to see this animal live. to stand next to him. On Antarctica.

The route takes me away from the coast, through the snow and finally a bit up the hill. One fantastic view follows the next.

We would like to run even further ahead, directly to the icy edge and look down into the sea, but that would be far too dangerous. You never know where a piece of ice will suddenly break off, explains our expedition leader. That's why the crossed flags that the expedition team put up for us are over. They mark the area that we are allowed to explore and warn of danger zones.

Once at the top, we let ourselves fall into the snow and enjoy the perfect Antarctic panorama: a lonely, white expanse encloses the bay in which our small cruise ship is anchored between icebergs.

Everyone can use their time on land as they wish. Photographers find an endless choice of photo opportunities, two documentary filmmakers start shooting, a few guests sit in the snow and just enjoy the moment and by far the youngest participants of this Antarctic trip, two Dutch boys aged 6 and 8 spontaneously start one snowball fight.

Between the icebergs we see the kayakers paddling. The small group pays extra and is allowed to tour with the kayaks. You will join us later for a short shore leave. Some guests are enthusiastic about being photographed by the expedition team with signs in hand. "Antarctic Expedition" or "On the Seventh Continent" can be read on it. We're not much for selfies and prefer to enjoy the scenery instead.

One of the Zodiacs is already on its way back to the Sea Spirit, bringing a few passengers back on board. Maybe your bladder is tight, you've gotten cold or the walk through the snow was too strenuous. After all, there are also many older ladies and gentlemen on the Antarctic journey. For me, however, it is clear: I will not go back a second earlier than is absolutely necessary.

We lie in the snow, take pictures, try different angles and admire every single iceberg. And there are plenty of them: Large and small, angular and rounded, distant and near icebergs. Most are bright white and some are reflected in the most beautiful turquoise blue in the sea. I could sit here forever. I look spellbound into the distance and breathe in the Antarctic. We have arrived.

Back to the overview of the experience report

Antarctic Travel GuideAntarctic tripSouth Shetland & Antarctic Peninsula & South Georgia
Expedition ship Sea Spirit • Field report 1/2/3/4

3. Cruising in Antarctic waters

Icebergs in the Southern Ocean

After this wonderful first landing on the Antarctic continent, the Antarctic journey continues with the Sea Spirit further. A Zodiac ride in Cierva Cove is planned for noon today, but on the way there one photo opportunity follows the next. We pass huge icebergs, in the distance the fins and tail fins of migrating humpback whales appear, ice floes float in the water, a few penguins swim by and once we even discover a Gentoo penguin on drift ice.

Gradually the dark clouds of the morning disappear and the sky changes to a radiant blue. The sun is shining and the white mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula are beginning to be reflected in the sea. We enjoy the view, the sea air and the sun's rays with a cup of steaming tea on our balcony. What a journey. What a life.

Back to the overview of the experience report

Antarctic Travel GuideAntarctic tripSouth Shetland & Antarctic Peninsula & South Georgia
Expedition ship Sea Spirit • Field report 1/2/3/4

4. Cierva Cove on Antarctic Peninsula

Zodiac ride through drift ice with leopard seals

In the afternoon we reach Cierva Cove, our second destination for the day. On the rocky shore, the small red houses of a research station shine towards us, but the icy bay interests me much more. The sight is breathtaking as the entire bay is filled with icebergs and drift ice.

Some of the ice came directly from the glaciers at Cierva Cove, while the rest was blown into the bay by the westerly winds, a team member at the Sea Spirit. A landing is not allowed here, instead a Zodiac ride is planned. What could be better than cruising between drift ice and icebergs on an Antarctic voyage?

Of course: you can also observe penguins, Weddell seals and leopard seals. Cierva Cove is not only known for great icebergs and glaciers, but also for frequent leopard seal sightings.

We are also lucky and can spot several leopard seals on ice floes from the inflatable boat. They look adorable asleep and often they just seem to be smiling happily. But appearances are deceptive. Next to the orcas, this seal species is the most dangerous hunter in Antarctica. As well as eating krill and fish, they regularly hunt penguins and even attack Weddell seals. So it's better to leave your hands in the dinghy.

In the distance we discover an old acquaintance: a chinstrap penguin is enthroned on the rock and is a model for us in front of the snow masses of the Antarctic Peninsula. On Halfmoon Island we were able to experience a whole colony of this cute penguin species. Then our trip through the drift ice continues, because our skipper has already discovered the next animal species: this time a Weddell seal blinks at us from the ice floe.

This Zodiac cruise has everything you could want from an Antarctic voyage: seals and penguins, drift ice and icebergs, snowy shores in the sunshine, and even time - time to enjoy it all. For three hours we cruise off the Antarctic Peninsula. It's a good thing that we're all dressed warmly, otherwise we'd freeze pretty quickly if we didn't move. Because of the sun it is surprisingly warm today: -2°C can be read later in the logbook.

The small group of our kayakers has a little more exercise and certainly has a lot of fun in this dreamlike setting. With the Zodiacs we can venture a little further into the drift ice. Some icebergs look like sculptures, another even forms a narrow bridge. The cameras are running hot.

Suddenly a group of gentoo penguins appears and jumps hop, hop, hop across the water and past us. They are unbelievably fast and it is only in the wide angle that I manage to capture the moment before they finally disappear from my field of vision.

In some places I can hardly see the water surface because of the ice. More and more drift ice is pushing into the bay. The view from the Zodiac, which brings us almost to the same height as the ice floes themselves and the feeling of floating in the middle of the ice is indescribable. Finally, the chunks of ice enclose our dinghy and bounce off the Zodiac's taut air tube with a soft, dull click as the small dinghy slowly pushes forward. It's beautiful and for a moment I touch one of the chunks of ice next to me.

Eventually, one of the zodiacs lost its engine. We're in the area right now and we're giving start-up help. Then the two boats slowly glide together again out of the intimate embrace of the icy Southern Ocean. Enough ice for today. Finally, we make a short detour towards the coast. We discover lots of penguins on the snow-free rocks: gentoo penguins and chinstrap penguins stand together in harmony. But suddenly there is movement in the water. A sea lion swims to the surface. We didn't see how, but must have just captured a penguin.

Again and again the hunter's head appears above the water surface. It bangs its head wildly and hurls its prey left and right. Maybe it's a good thing that we can hardly tell now that it used to be a penguin. A meaty thing hangs in its mouth, is shaken, released and snapped again. He's skinning the penguin, our naturalist guide explains. Then he can eat it better. Petrels circle above the leopard seal and are happy about a few meat rams that fall for them. Life in Antarctica is rough and not without its dangers, even for a penguin.

After this spectacular finale, we return on board, but not without enjoying the fantastic reflections that greet us on the way back to the Sea Spirit accompanied:

Back to the overview of the experience report

Antarctic Travel GuideAntarctic tripSouth Shetland & Antarctic Peninsula & South Georgia
Expedition ship Sea Spirit • Field report 1/2/3/4

Curious to see how our Antarctic journey continues?

There will be more photos & texts soon: This article is still being edited

Tourists can also discover Antarctica on an expedition ship, for example on the Sea Spirit.
Explore the lonely kingdom of the cold with the AGE™ Antarctic Travel Guide.

Antarctic Travel GuideAntarctic tripSouth Shetland & Antarctic Peninsula & South Georgia
Expedition ship Sea Spirit • Field report 1/2/3/4

Enjoy the AGE™ Picture Gallery: Antarctic Voyage when dreams come true

(For a relaxed slide show in full format, simply click on one of the photos)

Antarctic Travel GuideAntarctic tripSouth Shetland & Antarctic Peninsula & South Georgia
Expedition ship Sea Spirit • Field report 1/2/3/4
This editorial contribution received external support
Disclosure: AGE™ were given discounted or gratuitous services from Poseidon Expeditions as part of the report. The content of the contribution remains unaffected. The press code applies.
Copyrights and Copyright
Texts and photos are protected by copyright. The copyright for this article in words and images lies entirely with AGE ™. All rights are reserved. Content for print / online media can be licensed on request.
The experiences presented in the field report are based exclusively on true events. However, since nature cannot be planned, a similar experience cannot be guaranteed on a subsequent trip. Not even if you travel with the same provider (Poseidon Expeditions). If our experience does not match your personal experience, we assume no liability. The content of the article has been carefully researched and is based on personal experience. However, if information is misleading or incorrect, we assume no liability. Furthermore, circumstances can change. AGE™ does not guarantee topicality or completeness.
Source reference for text research
Information on site as well as personal experiences at a Expedition cruise on the Sea Spirit from Ushuaia via the South Shetland Islands, Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and Falklands to Buenos Aires in March 2022. AGE™ stayed in a cabin with balcony on the sports deck.
Poseidon Expeditions (1999-2022), Home page of Poseidon Expeditions. Traveling to Antarctica [online] Retrieved 04.05.2022-XNUMX-XNUMX, from URL:

More AGE ™ reports

This website uses cookies: You can of course delete these cookies and deactivate the function at any time. We use cookies in order to be able to present the contents of the homepage to you in the best possible way and to be able to offer functions for social media as well as to be able to analyze the access to our website. In principle, information about your use of our website can be passed on to our partners for social media and analysis. Our partners can combine this information with other data that you have provided to them or that they have collected as part of your use of the services. Agree More information