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Antarctica by air #256352 01/05/23 11:18 AM
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Ngaire Online OP
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Ken and I are in Santiago and flying today to Punta Arenas. Overnight there and then flying down to St. George Island in Antarctica.

Back to Antarctica for the 10th time but we want to experience how this works instead of crossing the Drake Passage so we can share this information with our clients. The ship is sold out so it is a popular new way to go to Antarctica.

The hotel in Santiago is the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Very nice, large rooms and just a few blocks from a big mall. Beautiful pool area.

Silversea has three ships checking in on the same day. Silver Endeavour, Silver Cloud and Silver Wind. Lots of Silversea guests and everyone is excited.

Just the two of us on this cruise. Going to miss all our clients and friends for sure.Will post each stage of the trip as it develops for those who may be thinking about visiting Antarctica this way.


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Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256356 01/06/23 02:09 PM
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The flight to Punta Arenas was a standard Latam Flight. We got row 20 which was not too far back and had a seat between us so not cramped. They served mxed nuts, cold smoked salmon and a salad and a berry and custard dessert that was really good.

The Cado de Hornos hotel has a nice lobby and the restaurant area, the rooms are very average as I anticipated. Quite a nice little town, beautiful town square across the street with massive trees and children playing. More interesting than Ushuaia, and extremely clean.

Not one single English Channel on the TV. Dinner was included last night, a buffet that was good. We ordered wines off the wine list and went to pay for them and they said it was all included. Now waiting to leave for the flight to Antarctica.


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Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256357 01/07/23 03:31 PM
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Have a wonderful time !


Marcie

Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256358 01/07/23 05:58 PM
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So the flight to Antarctica and transfer to the ship.

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They said you needed all your gear, boots, wet pants and the parka, hat and gloves when you stepped off the plane. Only luggage you could bring was you Silversea backpack. But a few people had carryons, either they did not listen to the instructions or had things they could not risk losing.

They used three different planes so there was space onboard. Four engine jet plane. It is like a domestic first class seat. Three seats on one side and two seats on the other side. Where a couple were on the three seat side the middle seat was not assigned. Lots of leg room. They do have a Q code you can scan and there are movies and also a safety video. They served two sandwiches, a chicken and salmon sandwich. Not the best sandwiches for sure but they did have mixed fruit that was nice. The flight took 2 hours. The landing strip is gravel little stones were flying up into the air when we landed.

Getting from the plane to bus was very fast. Then a very short 5 minute drive to the beach. Then zodiacs were waiting and a very short zodiac ride to the ship. The conditions were good when we arrived, not that cold and only light wind. So it was a very quick process. The necessity for all the gear has to be in place as it could have been raining and windy which would have made a lot of difference.

At this point it is a toss up for me to either do the Drake Passage or the flight. The positives of the flight are obvious as the Drake Passage has a bad reputation. But having crossed it 18 times we only had one really rough crossing. The negatives are it takes an extra night in a very basic hotel and going through an airport again with all the security and having to have all that Antarctic gear on while flying down or carrying it and changing on the plane.

Personally I think for us we would rather spend that time on a ship in the Drake Passage than the extra overnight in the hotel and moving luggage so much. However, if you get seasick easily then the plane is probably the way to go. Which is best is determined by an individuals worry about the Drake Passage.

First landing was at Half Moon Bay. Not been here before and it was probably the hardest landing we have ever done. In order to get to the Chinstrap nesting area there was a climb with lot of rocks and quite steep in places, and it was light rain, windy, and really muddy and slippery. I found it difficult and took advantage of an expedition team member offer to assist on the steep rocky part. No sense in risking a fall on the first day. However, the best thing was the first Chinstrap chicks of the season were in the colony so a payoff for the trek to get there.

On our way to Deception Bay but the odds are we will not be able to enter the Caldera as we have 60 knot winds right now and the entrance to Deception Island is narrow.

The amazing thing is how stable this ship is with these heavy winds. You would never guess it was that windy. Dennis the photographer who we have sailed with in the past, said it is the most stable ship he has ever been on before.

AN UPDATE, we made it into the Caldera and went far further down than we ever have been before. The landing was a walk around the crater but we were "so comfortable" onboard and the conditions were not great so we did not go.


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Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256361 01/08/23 04:40 PM
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January 8, Cierva Cove
A new area we had not been before. Beautiful zodiac cruise. We saw a penguin colony on an island some of the best icebergs we have ever seen. One extremely large and complex three peak glacier with two perfect round holes. We then moved to the base of a glacier where their more remarkable icebergs, brash ice and incredibly calm water. The sun came out and it was absolutely gorgeous. We were treated to champagne or hot chocolate in the zodiac.
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Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256362 01/09/23 01:57 PM
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January 8: Mikkelsen Harbour
Unfortunately no sun and a little hazy, plus light rain. In the sun this is a beautiful spot but with the weather we had it was not really obvious how delightful a bay this really is at times. Short ride to land and there were Weddell Seals close to where we debarked. The path through the snow was pretty evident and it got a little deep at times. Going uphill was the hardest, but definitely doable. It was fun to watch the Gentoo penguins collecting peebles for their nest and one penguin stealing from another penguin. Some of the seals were making the way down to the sea which was enjoyable to watch.
[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]
[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]
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Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256363 01/09/23 01:59 PM
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January 9: Cuverville Island. Morning
Rain and more rain. I decided not to go I have been here before just not nice conditions. Ken was still going until we went to check out some whale activity and the rain was coming down and he also decided to bail on this landing. This area has a lot of neat icebergs and there was a zodiac ride connected to the landing which would normally be great but with 2 1/2 hours in the rain things just are not the same. If we not been to this landing and not been to Antarctica 9 times before we would have gone.


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Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256365 01/09/23 04:41 PM
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Just arrived in Neko Harbour.
It was a stunning transit, glacier after glacier. Penguins proposing in the water. Sun light breaking through at times. The water is perfectly calm and only four knots of wind. We have been here at least twice before and it is really a good landing. This is where Ken took his best penguin chick pictures. Polar plunge is scheduled for today after the landings.

WE ARE HAVING PROBLEMS POSTING PICTURES. WE HAVE SENT PICTURES TO TAYLOR TO POST HOPEFULLY SHE CAN GET THOSE SHOTS POSTED ON LCT.

We landed at the same landing sight. Two options one shorter and one longer. There were no chicks like there were last time but we here earlier than before. Lots of nest making with pebbles by the penguins. Such glorious day, no rain and no wind. If the Sun had been shining it would have been perfection. After the landing there was a. Zodiac ride. The water was like glass and great icebergs. Highlight was seeing a Minke whale from the zodiac about 50 yards away. Ken got a good shot. We will send pictures to Taylor.

The POLAR PLUNGE never seen so many people participating before. Good sight lines for pictures.

Everything was delayed due to the polar plunge so we skipped the recap and had dinner at 7.00 pm in the grill. This used to be called the solarium when Crystal had the ship. All glass around the sides and roof and stunning views. When we arrived a Minke whale welcomed us and the scenery was spectacular during dinner. No one else arrived until about 8.00 pm, we eating our mains. A combination of lobster tails and a veal chop. I was in heaven.

Below are some of Ken's pictures, but it is impossible to do justice to Neko Harbour which is so spectacular.

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Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256366 01/09/23 05:52 PM
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Happy that all is GOOD with you. How do you know a penguin is proposing to another penguin ? Continue having a great cruise.


Marcie

Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256367 01/09/23 06:11 PM
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Marcie can you see the pictures. I cannot from here but it may be the internet here will not load them.


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Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256369 01/09/23 10:21 PM
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I can see the pictures, if that helps.


Karen

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Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256370 01/09/23 10:23 PM
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Yes, I see photos on my laptop.....no clue what their idea of a proposal is (?) Guess only they know, haha.


Marcie

Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256371 01/09/23 11:46 PM
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Great, Taylor said they were showing but not here on the ship. The graphics must be blocked. Happy our solution to getting pictures up is working.


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Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256373 01/10/23 04:55 AM
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Great photos! Thanks for posting. Please say hi to Denis for us.


Kim
Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256374 01/10/23 01:37 PM
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Will do Kim. He came up to us when left the plane on arrival and we were in the zodiac going to the ship. He is a super nice guy.

So this morning conditions are all over the place. Lovely blue sky and sunlight shining on the icebergs but 40+ knot winds. So we could not do the landing this morning. Huge swells and this ship is so stable there is no movement. It is like sailing on calm water. Incredible stability. Must be some creative stabilizers and systems. Crossing the Drake on this ship would be a piece of cake.

We have the best female lecturer called Alex. She did a lecture on Antarctica, the Arctic Treaty and the politics involved in that process. Plus general information on Antarctica, the wild life and seasons. Great story teller.

As we could not do a landing she gave a lecture today on Shackleton. I have heard this story many times but her presentation was the best we have ever heard. You could hear a pin drop in the room. Actually glad we could not land would have hated to miss this lecture.

Because there are no sea days we have two landings per day and no lectures. Normal Antarctic trips have days at sea where there are lectures. Usually I am not a lecture person but in this case, she talks I listen.

We are sailing to a bay and planning on going in further than they ever have before as the deeper into a bay the less wind. Hoping for a landing or zodiac cruise when we get there.


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Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256375 01/10/23 01:50 PM
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Well the proposing part is over. She sits on the egg and the male is out shopping for the best stones for the nest. We saw one penguin with a stone so large must had a sore beak after delivering that stone.


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Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256377 01/10/23 02:02 PM
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We are now in the bay and the sun is shining brightly, blue sky overhead and the sea is very calm. So good chance of a zodiac cruise after lunch. Yahoo!!!


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Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256379 01/10/23 03:05 PM
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Really interesting write up. I am not able to see the pictures. At any rate, we have been to Punta Arenas and stayed at that hotel before. Pretty basic and the only Spanish tv was an issue for George, but the food was good. Agree that Punta Arenas is nicer than Ushuaia though one of our favorite restaurants in the world is in Ushuaia.

I sort of feel like crossing the Drake Passage is part of the Antarctica experience though. We aren't bothered by rough seas. I do know that some people won't go to Antarctica due to the Drake, so this is a good option for them I suppose.

Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256380 01/10/23 04:30 PM
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Happy you're having sunny skies and calm seas. Enjoy this wonderful journey.


Marcie

Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256383 01/10/23 08:28 PM
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Taylor here! I have edited some of Ngaire's posts on this thread to include Ken's photos since they were not working on the ship. Enjoy!

Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256384 01/12/23 08:47 AM
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Last day was not great weather but we were still able to have two super landings. Yankee Harbour ( had chicks) and Hannah Point. Places we have been before. Both teeming with wild life, gentoo and chinstrap penguins and elephant seals. Overcast but not raining but a little colder than usual.

We had two landings every day. Only exception was when there were 50 knot winds we missed the morning. But they sailed deep into a bay and we had a landing in the afternoon.

Big farewell last night with it seemed every crew member in attendance. Great expedition team and Alex was a fantastic speaker. One of the best expedition teams and the female expedition leader was outstanding.

I do love this ship. Cabins are brilliant, staff exceptional, ship sails so smoothly with huge winds and swells, quite amazing. Fastest elevators ever with zero noise.


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Re: Antarctica by air [Re: Ngaire] #256385 01/14/23 06:26 PM
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I can now see pictures—yea!


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