Antarctica – Crossing the Circle at 66′ 33′ S

Wandering about Ushuaia feeling excited about boarding the M/S Expedition to cross to Antarctica, I bought some Lemon, Cointreau and Whiskey flavoured chocolate and decided to save it for later when onboard.

I walked down to the docks and found Rudy and Pete sat on a bench on the sea front, the M/S Expedition ship was there at the dockside waiting, it had been there all day and the previous evening.

We watched members of this new much larger group as they appeared and gathered nearby the coach pickup, I wished it could have stayed as just us three as it worked so well, but of course this would not be possible on this next part of the trip.

A large coach arrived and we were all checked on via our passports and tickets with the trip code on, we were driven the short distance to the gangway leading up to the M/S Expedition. Walking up the plank onto the ship was so exciting.

I noticed a man with lots of camera equipment taking pictures of everything he passed, I had been doing the same and was glad it was not just me, I said so to him and we both laughed at our unfailing devotion to the camera. He turned out to be one of the main photographers for National Geographic.

The crew onboard were a mixture of seamen mostly with outrageously long beards who included: the ships captain, some Russian Ice Navigators, lecturers, Biologists, Naturalists, Historians, Ornothologists, Glaciologists, Marine and Crustation Experts and cooks.

I was shown to my cabin, it was spacious enough with a large porthole which had some waves splashing up against it and a picture of an Adelie Penguin and chick on the wall, I liked it. Just then my room mate came into the cabin, I smiled and said hello, however she was not overly forthcoming on friendliness so I would just have to try my best to get on with her.

We were given a welcome pack of information, there was a ‘no lock’ door policy as they have never had anything stolen and felt that it was far better to not lock doors and maintain that trust.

We were given a lecture and introduced to all of the staff, there was a small gym, a library and amazingly two computers, though of course getting a signal would depend on where we were.

We were instructed to put on life jackets and did a practice drill for life safety that involved going to the designated area and quickly getting in and out of the life boat when ordered to do so to get used to the drill.

The M/S Explorer sank in 2006 and the M/S Expedition is its replacement.

On board we got a wake up call every morning, announcements of landings (you had to be kitted up and ready for these) or any sightings of Whales, penguins or seals out at sea. All of these announcements are piped into every cabin and all over the ship to ensure you do not miss anything.