Admiralty Bay | Paradise Bay | Half Moon Island
Welcome back to Antarctica; something we never thought was possible, three visits this Summer!
It had only been a few months since we last set foot, kayaked and sailed through Antarctica (pics below from 1st visit). To have the opportunity to cruise through the last unspoilt and southernmost continent another two times on our 110-day voyage with Oceania Cruises was a dream come true (again and again).
A brief journal of our second visit through the stunning Antarctic Peninsula and loads of videos and photos for us all to reminisce about the beautiful collection of moments.
Wilhelmina Bay (January 2023)
Antarctica, you have continued to provide a mystical environment. This morning, as we woke in Wilhelmina Bay (the same place we navigated the icebergs in zodiacs feeling the full brunt of the snow and rain as Summer was approaching Antarctica in November), Antarctica has filled our hearts and all senses with pure joy!
Oceania, you have genuinely brought Antarctica's breathtaking and moody beauty to our balcony, the magnificent raw nature, and the incredible marine life of this world's wonder in all its glory to us.
We were grateful for the dulcet tones of Dr Peter Carey, the Antarctic Zoologist, at 7 am to introduce our surroundings and all the wildlife sightings they have been experiencing this morning.
We showered immediately and were on the top deck to immerse ourselves in the serene waters and magical Antarctic scenery, as we recalled, but even more awe-inspiring this time.
In November, we were too early for the whales, but low and beheld late January, all these majestic creatures surrounded us; there were humpback whales bubble feeding, listening to them as they alert us to their presence with their blowholes, watching their graceful moves through the water was another moment we would keep with us forever, the moody skies were a perfect backdrop as the whales nourished themselves around the ship and followed us, we were all mesmerised.
We returned to our room later in the morning to enjoy passing by the enormous icebergs enveloped by the continent's mainland, passing Orne Harbour and cruising Curverville Island, more whale sightings and rafts of penguins porpoising along. It was pure joy, and it wasn't even lunchtime.
Lunchtime, we were spoilt with more of the majestic white wonder landscapes, with the sun filtering through, Gentoo and Chinstrap penguin colonies and more whales passing by over yet another delightful meal as we made our way to Paradise Bay for the evening.
Antarctic Sound & Deception Island (January 2023)
Antarctica shows us her true colours once again today. The skies opened up, and snow blessed us all with her presence. We couldn't be more thrilled; you don't come to the South Pole and not experience the white magic glitter!
Just a little on last night, we enjoyed the most fabulous dinner in Polo Grill on the best table at the Bow with incredible evening views and more delicious culinary dishes accompanied by a mouthwatering Italian red and beautiful service from our dear cruise staff and friends.
To close the evening, dusk time shared more moments of pure beauty as she spotlighted the scenery and spoilt us with a rare but beautiful sunset at 11 pm (with whales passing) over the bergs as darkness was upon us!
As we entered Antarctic Sounds, we pulled the drapes open early. The atmosphere was moody and overcast, yet the sun was fighting through to shine on the gigantic icebergs scattered around us.
The iceberg display provided us with a beautiful morning entertainment show as the ship sailed around these sparkling and colourful pieces of ice whilst enjoying the narrative from Dr Peter Carey on all the deets on the bergs!
Later in the morning, we headed westward towards Deception Island to catch a glimpse of the active volcanic island, also home to a vast penguin colony and other sea life. With two visits, we were able to experience it under very different weather conditions.
Over our slow lunch, we enjoyed more delicious bites in the grand dining room, where Antarctica came out to play and made sure we were fully aware of her as the snow joined us.
It continued to get stronger and heavier as we approached Deception Island, hindering the view. Fortunately, the captain was an expert and using his skills and expertise, he held us in a stationary position, and it cleared up just enough so we could all catch a glimpse or two of the thousands and thousands of penguins and fur seals decorating the volcanic earth on the water's edge. Even better glimpses if you had super-powered binoculars, which we are fortunate to have in our little hot hands.
Deception Island is home to 140,000 pairs of chinstrap penguins. Penguins are always counted in pairs. It was quite the sight, and we were all buzzing with joy.
The snow and wind were picking up, so the ocean showed us who was boss, so it was time to forge our way to the Drake Passage. Wish us luck over the next 36 hours as we cross the great Drake Shake, or will we be blessed with the Drake Lake? I will let you work out which one it was this night...
A fun fact: Antarctica has the highest average elevations in the world; it's a place where the mountains are dripping with glaciers, breathtaking landscapes, gigantic icebergs and a nesting pot of marine and bird life that will keep you mesmerised for days on end.
You can spend hours watching the dramatic splashes on the bergs, the waves breaking over it, the ice calvings whilst the ship navigates through the calm (and suddenly not so calm) waters and all the bergie bits, as you are joined by Wilson's storm petrel dancing and gliding around the ship. To top it off, you have rafts of penguins porpoising alongside seals and whales feeding in the icy cold waters, too! Pure joy!
Let's not forget the Drake Passage. The Drake Passage is the body of water between South America's Cape Horn, Chile, Argentina and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica, 1000 km wide, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans between Cape Horn. Three visits to Antarctica this Summer means six sailings of the Drake Passage; some would say we are a glutton for punishment; surprisingly, three of the four on these past two sailings were a Drake Lake, and only one Drake Shake with 6-7m waves, it was a rough night, but thrilling all the same.
The weather is always unpredictable, with icy cold wintery days in the depths of Antarctica, followed by glass-like waters and sunshine the following day, or rapidly changing winds accompanied by snow. There is something unique about being in Antarctica and experiencing snowfall; we were all like kids in a fun park when it happened whilst sailing through. We loved seeing it change over the three months from November to February, the change of scenery, and the snow disappearing on some of the mountains.