A pristine, peaceful and precious Continent.
We are sailing in Antarctica on the aptly named Seabourn Pursuit, the newest expedition vessel from Seabourn. Her sister, Seabourn Venture, is also cruising these icy waters, each offering guests a magical and mesmerizing experience on the Great White Continent.
We are pursuing memorable sights and scenes amidst the icy wonder of this remarkable place.
At times, it is ethereal, so quiet you can hear the pings of ice in the water or the thrilling blow of a humpback whale nearby. Then there's the loud cacophony of penguins calling to each other for various reasons and sometimes just to show off. We can smell the penguins well before seeing them as we set off in our Zodiacs to make a landing. They greet us, waddling by on their penguin "highways" to and from their breeding grounds to the sea. We are charmed by their endearing behaviour and playful antics. We can't get enough, and everyone is snapping photos, hoping for an award-winning image!
Many chicks are still on the nests; depending on the location and the species, some are as young as four weeks old. They are utterly adorable. In this part of Antarctica, on the peninsula, we have seen Gentoo, Adelies and Chinstraps and know enough now from our excellent daily briefings how to tell them apart.
On most days of this 12-day itinerary round-trip from Ushuaia at the tip of Argentina, we make two stops a day. We are grouped in colours and head ashore at various times in the morning to make a landing, do a hike or stroll by the beaches to see the rookeries, taking great care not to get in the way of those highways. We are to remain 5 metres away from all wildlife, but no one tells the penguins or seals that rule! I was fortunate enough to have one little chap walk right by me and pause to look at the giant in the bright orange parka.
We have seen many fur seals, Weddell seals, a leopard seal (the penguin's arch-enemy,) and a broad array of bird life. In the afternoons, we are taken out in Zodiacs to see the great icescapes, glaciers and stunning peaks and search along the shores for wildlife. Our superb and large expedition team, led by Juan, who is fantastic, is a great fountain of knowledge with specialists in ice, geology, birding, whales, naturalists, and photography. We learn so much and better appreciate this continent and why we must protect it.
We have seen quite a few humpbacks over the last few days, and on Saturday, many of us were fortunate to be in our Zodiacs in a quiet cove watching a mother and her small calf feeding on krill. It was a feeding lesson for the youngster, and at one point, they came in between several of our Zodiacs – it was a remarkable encounter. Many of us have kayaked in the wondrous silence, delighted by penguins who leap in and out of the water around us. Some lucky guests had two whales appear literally right beside their kayaks!
We live in a constant state of awe, inspired by the exquisite beauty surrounding us. We have seen a fascinating graveyard of icebergs, climbed up icy paths to be rewarded by astounding views, heard avalanches and seen more than many will ever have the privilege of viewing. We sail by many massive icebergs, some incredibly close, but we never tire of them.
Our beautiful little ship is a haven of comfort and warmth with a staff focused on one thing – our happiness. They take joy in engaging with us, hearing about our encounters and seeing our faces aglow with the stories of our day – each one so meaningful. We are ensconced in a cozy, delightful vessel that offers the renowned Seabourn service and experiences, now on a smaller and more intimate scale. Our suites are havens of calm, each with a balcony for up close iceberg viewing and a bar, king bed, a warming cupboard for our parkas, hats and gloves (a genius idea), a sitting area and a lovely bathroom with bathtub and shower.
We dine in The Restaurant or the Colonnade, and every evening, there is a Sushi offering in the intimate Club where the scenery is impeccable, as is the service. We play trivia most days, enjoy the musical entertainment, movies on a big screen and the delightful company of our like-minded and interesting fellow guests. A favourite spot is the cozy Discovery Lounge with its faux fireplaces and the gathering spot before we head ashore. All of us are here for the same reason, and the camaraderie onboard is an integral part of our adventure.
We did our second polar plunge with many of our fellow guests on Sunday morning and then proceeded to the hot tubs (of which there are four) for warmth and Champagne. A number have taken the 6-passenger submersible dive, but most of the time, we are above the waves seeking and searching for the unforgettable and fortunately for us – we have found it.
Antarctica is an incomparable place for all Mankind, and it is the pinnacle for me from my travels to seven continents and 107 countries. It is astounding, and I urge you to plan a cruise here for yourselves and your clients in the coming years – you will be rewarded with some of the world's most spectacular and ultimate beauty. As Seabourn says, "This Is Your Moment."