Astrolabe Island, Antarctic Peninsula

63 degrees 17.77 minutes South 58 degrees 38.70 minutes West

Temperature 33 degrees Farehnheight with 16mph winds.

January 26, 2022 Morning Activity

This morning our landing on Astrolabe was cancelled due to sea conditions. Instead we had a zodiac cruise around the island and into the primary and alternate landing sites to see the wildlife and learn about the features of this island. We were cruising in the zodiac for a little over an hour with two naturalists explaining what we were seeing.

Penguin Colony – Brown Bluff

63 degrees 30.80 minutes South, 56 degrees 52.47 minutes West

25 January 2022

At first this was going to be a post about our Antarctic Continental Landing at Brown Bluff. Then as we were going through our pictures we thought it would be best to share our wildlife photos and our landscape photos in two different posts.

We have five cameras between us. Joe is using his Canon Rebel T3i with a Sigma 150 to 600mm zoom lens. Katie is using her Nikon D5500 with a 12 to 24 mm wide angle lens. Mac is using a Olympus point and shoot waterproof camera. Joe and Katie are also using their iPhones for pictures and video.

We were in the early zodiac group this morning disembarking the ship at 7:30am for the short zodiac ride to the landing beach. We spent an hour on the continent watching the penguin colonies before returning to the ship. We are rapidly learning what layers are needed on our landings. There were two species of penguins here, gentoo and adelie.

Deception Island

24 January 2022

We left Half Moon Island and continued along the Shetland Islands to Deception Island. This island is an active volcano and the ship sailed into the caldera through an opening called Neptune’s Bellows. Deception Island is of particular interest to geologists and volcanologists because the caldera was formed as the magma below the volcano retreated and the earth’s crust sank back into the void left behind. Researchers have found that the caldera floor is rising at a rate of about 1 foot per year. Deception Island is an active volcano that is likely to erupt at some point in the future. Scientists are studying to determine when it may erupt. It lies along the pacific tectonic plate and is a part of the “Ring of Fire”.

This trip has been an adventure and today’s weather was no exception. We had a wonderful morning at Half Moon Island while Deception Island was a completely different experience. If we had to pick one photo that captures everything about our time at Deception Island this is it!

Mac and Katie are the two people closes to the blue barrels.

Mac and I ventured toward Neptune’s Window, a rock formation that you can climb. As we headed that way the beach is a grainy volcanic black sand with a high water table that each time we stepped our feet sunk in. It was raining with a bit of sleet and snow mixed in that we decided to turn back and meet back up with Grandpa.

We found a spot where sulfur was bubbling from the earth onto the beach. The smell of sulfur filled the air at this landing and added a sensory level to this adventure.

Sulfur Bubbles!

We were able to visit Whalers Bay a historical whaling station. We also touched the water and the ground which was about 60 degrees compared to the air temperature of around 37 degrees. When using our boots to disturb the sand on the beach we were able to create water table puddles that were even hotter to touch. We added an Antarctic Fur Seal to our wildlife spotting at this site.

Half Moon Island

24 January 2022 – South Shetland Islands, Antarctica

62 degrees 35.24 minutes South

Expeditions require nightly preparation and early mornings! We woke up at 3:30am this morning to watch the sunrise today. At first we thought our clocks were wrong, it looked as if the sun had already risen. We realized that what we were seeing was most likely a reflection of the sun off the clouds. The temperature was 24 degrees just after sunrise the ship passed through the English Channel.

We anchored at 7am off the coast of Half Moon Island. There are hundreds of penguins visible from our balcony. We have been watching them swim in the water. The expected daytime temperature is between 37 to 43 degrees Fahrenheit. Our landing today was a “Wet” landing we needed to step out of the Zodiac in 10cm of Antarctic water.

Each passenger is allowed up to 2 activities per day, today’s activities are two landings in the South Shetland Islands. We have opted against the Sea Kayaking activity as it would take away one of our activities for that day and Mac is not old enough to participate.

Everyone on the ship has been divided into Zodaik/Activity groups. We are in the green group. At 9:10am our group was called to embark the zodiacs and head to the landing beach on Half Moon Island. We carry our parkas, waterproof pants and boots with us to the main lounge wearing only slippers or slides inside the ship over our wool socks. We leave our slippers/slides outside the lounge and proceed inside to finish getting dressed. Our amazing Butler helped Mac with her boots and outer layer while the adults got themselves ready. When we arrived on the beach we were given a return time 60 minutes later to come back to the beach and board the Zodiac back to the ship.

Half Moon Island is home to a chinstrap penguin rookery and there were Fur and Weddel seals on the other side of the Island. Mac spotted a Gentoo penguin among the Chinstraps. She noticed only one penguin with an orange beak and orange feet compared to the chinstraps black beaks.

The thumbnails in the gallery below can be clicked to enlarge.

Le Lyrial

We are sailing onboard Ponant’s Le Lyrial. She is one of four identical sisterships. She has 6 decks of which passenger cabins are on decks 3 through 6. We are sailing in Cabin 614. This cabin was a free upgrade when Ponant moved us from the L’Austral onto the Le Lyrial. She has about 150 crew members and 150 passengers for our sailing.

Mac is the only child onboard and dad has found crew members that speak Tagalog making his trip complete. We weren’t quite sure what to expect on a small ship and are absolutely loving our experience.

Southern Ocean!

Sunday 23 January 2022

At 4pm Argentina Time (2pm Eastern Time) we crossed 60 degrees latitude south that defines the Southern Ocean, the Antarctic Treaty Region and is the approximate location of the Antarctic convergence. We are officially sailing the Southern Ocean!

The water is an an amazing clear blue and the temperature has dropped to 37 degrees. Sunrise at this location tonight is at 9:58pm and sunrise tomorrow is at 4:58am.

The End of the World

Friday 21 January 2022

Ushuaia, Argentina is the southern most terminus of the world reachable by road. Once we departed the hotel in Buenos Aires we entered into the European COVID-19 bubble system. We are required to stay with our travel companions in the designated point for lunch and are welcome to explore the forest around the restaurant. We may not leave the group or travel to other locations via Taxi or to interact with others outside of our tour busses.

Our photos do not adequately capture the beauty and magnificence of this area of the world! The Andes Mountains in the background, the Beagle Channel (Named by Darwin after his ship the HMS Beagle), a distinct alpine line above which vegetation does not grown as well as glaciers with snow and ice during the peak of South American winter.

Travel and a day in Buenos Aires

Catching the blog up on the whirlwind of the week that we have had, Here is a summary and some pictures from Tuesday through Thursday of this week!

We were booked to travel on the Le Lyrial on Monday, 17 January 2022. We received confirmation of booking on Tuesday 18 January 2022. We started traveling on Wednesday 19 January 2022. It was a very early morning heading to the airport by 4am. The first leg of our flight left at 6:50 am arriving in Miami.

We then had a day to spend in Miami before leaving later that night. We were scheduled to depart Miami at 7:35pm. Unfortunately due to a medical emergency in the boarding area we were delayed in boarding. Once we boarded, then a family decided they would not be making the trip and we needed to wait for both families luggage to be removed from the airplane. We finally took off for Buenos Aires at 9:45pm and arrived at 8:30am the next morning Argentina Time (6:30am Eastern Time). We gathered our luggage and were cleared by Argentine immigration and customs.

Once we arrived at the hotel arranged by Ponant, the Sofitel Buenos Aires we received our COVID-19 PCR testing for the cruise ship (Mid-turbinate and throat swabs), checked into our room and had the day to ourselves. Dinner was provided at the hotel bt the cruise line and we prepared for another early day of travel on Friday 21 January 2022 with a 3am wake up call, 3:30am breakfast and be onboard the buses bound for EZE Buenos Aires International Airport for our flight to Ushuaia.

Sensory Travel

January 18. 2022

Author: Mac

There has been a lot of sudden changes over the past few weeks and especially this weekend. I don’t do well with lots of change. I’ve been feeling excited, anxious and nervous.

Here are my tips for calming down while traveling.

I hung out in my sensory sock. It’s comfy and cozy. It stretches and is fun!

It is also light weight and easy to pack!

Coloring is also calming. I worked on making my own time lapse videos of coloring plusheen. Check out my coloring and ROYGBIV pattern!

Third Time’s the Charm!

On Friday evening, January 14, 2022 we received word that our Ponant cruise to Antartica onboard the L’Austral was cancelled, our ship is required to quarantine. It has been an emotionally charged weekend at our house.

The cruise line is a French company which means they are closed on weekends and holidays. There are two other sailings to Antarctica leaving this week but we may not know until Tuesday if we can be moved to those sailings.

Little statistics joke, we definitely are not using replacement as each cancelled cruise is definitely off the table. Yesterday, we completed packing our checked luggage and cold weather layers. Today, we will finish packing on carry-on items.

We are going somewhere. Hopefully this week, we just don’t know where yet! We’ve moved our COVID testing to Tuesday to ensure that we are ready to travel for either of the options available.

Departure DateSail DateEmbarkation LocationCruise NameShip
21 January 202223 January 2022Ushuaia, ArgentinaThe White ContinentL’Austral
19 January 202221 January 2022Ushuaia, ArgentinaEmblematic AntarcticaLe Lyrial
20 January
22 January 2022Punta Arenas, ChileThe Weddell Sea and Larsen Ice Shelf AntarcticaLe Commandant Charcot

We will keep everyone posted! Fingers crossed we can get on to one of these sailings.