South America/Antarctica Cruise on the HAL Zaandam
1/6/18 to 1/28/18

Due to the length of the review, it is in 6 parts to help with the download time. The links to the other pages are at the top of each page.

Page 1 – Embarkation, Ship
Page 2 -  Dining, Entertainment, Activities, Ports of Call: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Page 3 - Ports of Call: Montevideo, Uruguay; Puerto Madryn, Argentina; Stanley, Falkland Islands; Antarctica Day 1
Page 4 -  Antarctica Day 2; Antarctica Day 3; Antarctica Day 4
Page 5 - Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina; Punta Arenas, Chile; Cruise Chilean Fjords; Puerto Chacabuco, Chile
Page 6 - Ports of Call:  Castro,  Isla Chiloe, Chile; Puerto Montt, Chile; San Antonio (Santiago), Chile

Antarctica – Day 2

The Lido buffet opens at 6:30 AM for a continental breakfast.  The main stations open at 7:00 AM, so while in Antarctica, I would be in the Lido at 6:30 AM to get coffee and something to eat for the morning viewing.  When I got to the Lido that morning, there was a beautiful sight to behold.  We had our gorgeous sunny day in Antarctica!  I had an abbreviated breakfast and headed outside as quickly as possible.  This was just amazing!  I have included a lot of photos from this amazing day.  Carol will want me to cut out a lot of them; but I just can't decide which ones not to inlcude.  Fortunately, with this type of review, it is easy to quickly scroll past the photos, if you want to.

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

We were coming into beautiful Wilhelmena Bay earlier than anticipated.  With the incredibly good weather, the Captain wanted to fit in more places than were on the itinerary.  The beauty is just indescribable.  Photos are just so inadequate to capture magnificence and grandeur of this place.  The volcanic mountains, thick snow pack and numerous sculptured icebergs were just overpowering. 

   

   

   

   

   

As we cruised further into the bay, there was almost no wind.  The temperature was a balmy 37 degrees, with a warm sun shining down.  I had to open up my jackets part of the day, to cool down.  I actually got a minor sunburn on my uncovered face that day.  The water was so smooth, that it was almost like a mirror reflecting the incredible backdrop.

   

   

   

   

I was having a problem taking photos of some petrols, since I was focusing on the mirror image of the birds, rather than the birds themselves. 

At the Leonardo Glacier, the announcer pointed out the unusual layer and cracking formation.

I went up to deck nine to get different angles.  With the reflections being so good, they would be even better from higher up.  And they were.

   

   

   

In one of the talks by our lecturers, they had discussed the different types of ice we would see.  Icebergs are primarily fresh water.  We passed by some sheet ice, that is frozen sea water.

All of a sudden, there were oohs and aahs as whales were spotted.  They were pretty far away; but everyone was excited.  A pair of whales were just floating on top of the water.  During this cruise, I saw so many whales, I didn’t even bother taking photos if they weren’t reasonably close.  There were so many whale announcements, people almost didn’t even bother going to the side they were on.

We saw our first crab eater seal floating on sheet ice.  Then a group of seven of them on another sheet.  We would see a lot of seals in the bay.

   

I got a kick out of one large iceberg that looked like a turtle lifting its head out of the water

I was taking photos of many people while in this gorgeous place.  One person asked if I wanted my photo, so I agreed.  I’m glad I did. 

While we were in the bay, there was a lot of ice in the water.    I was worried that it might slow down our ability to see other areas.

   

This cruise was more for Hans and me, rather than Carol and Barbara.  The girls would watch the scenery from their cabin windows, interior public areas or their preferred Crow’s Nest.  Hans and I wanted to experience it without dirty windows in front of it, so we spent most of our time outside.

During a break, I noticed that there were some Antarctic souvenirs and special drinks available.  They were most tempting; but I did manage to resist.  I think it had more to do with not wanting to add more weight to our luggage, than resisting temptation;

   

After lunch, we were cruising the Gerlach Strait.  There was still lots of beauty all around us. 

   

   

   

Everyone loved to watch the penguins.  They were so funny.  They would try to get up on icebergs and then rush to slide down them back into the water.

   

We came across a couple sail boats going through the bay.  I can’t imagine the challenges of bringing a sail boat from South America all the way to Antarctica.  The speaker said that it would take them 10 days to get back there.  On that day, it was probably most enjoyable to be sailing on the calm seas; but that was the exception.

We saw more whales, this time they showed their tails before going down to the ocean depths.

 

And there were more penguins, lots of them on large icebergs.  They looked so funny just standing around.

   

We did see several expedition ships while in Antarctica, most at a good distance away.  The Hanse Explorer was close enough where I could get a nice shot of it.   One night at dinner, the National Geographic Orient expedition ship looked like it was heading right at us.  Since we were near the back of the ship, it looked more treacherous than it was; but they did cross through our wake not that far from the Zaandam.

At one of the penguin rookeries, we could see them taking a well-worn path to a different area.

When we got to Cuverville, we saw the very large penguin colony.  There were so many there.

   

We also saw lots of penguins in the water.  I loved watching them traveling through the water, jumping up in one spot and then coming back up pretty far away.  It was surprising how far they went with one jump.  Although slow on land, they move swiftly through the water.

With the weather changing to less desirable, the Captain headed back to open sea for the evening.  It had been just an amazing day.  We could not have asked for more beautiful weather for Antarctic sightseeing. 

 

 

Antarctica – Day 3

We started off the morning picking up seven people from the US Antarctic Program team working at the Palmer Station.  They came tightly packed on a zodiac with three other people that took the zodiac back to the station.  Wallis had told me that the first thing they normally do is visit the spa for haircuts, manicures, etc. that they can’t get at the station.  They also thoroughly enjoyed eating fresh fruits and vegetables at the buffet.  Real treats when living where little grows.

   

The team gave presentations in the theater at 9:00 AM and 10:30 AM, since there was no way everyone could fit into one show.  It was interesting to hear about their lives at the station and some of the programs they are working on.

   

For the morning, we were cruising through the Bismark Strait, on the way to the Lemaire Strait.  The weather wasn’t as nice as the previous day; but we did have some sun in the morning.  We also had some low hanging clouds, that gave an eerie look to the environment.  We were experiencing it all.

   

   

   

   

We saw so many whales that day.  A couple even came right up to the side of the Zaandam.

   

   

 As we approached the Lemaire Strait, the visibility was getting worse.  We could also see in the distance that there was a lot of ice in front of the channel.  So, we had to give up on going through it.

   

   

We needed to return the visitors back to Palmer Station, so we headed back. The weather improved considerably, and the sightseeing was great.

   

   

In the morning, I couldn’t see the Palmer Station; but as we approached it, I was able to get photos of it.  Only 45 people work there.  On the largest US Antarctic station, McMurdo, 1,100 people work there in the summer.  Palmer is a small station.

As the team readied to head back, they filled the small zodiac with lots of supplies.  It really didn’t look like they would have room for people; but they did.  They must have been sitting on the boxes of supplies.  When they left, everyone waved and yelled good wishes to the team.  They were having a jolly good time on the zodiac.

   

Our next destination was to cruise the Neumayer Channel, down the west side of the Wiencke Island in the Gerlache Strait.  Once again, the weather was just perfect for taking photos; but the temperature was only 33 degrees and the winds were 40 mph, plus the ship speed.  I was glad I was dressed for cold weather.  This was just a gorgeous area. 

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

At one point the speaker pointed out a small group of buildings that was known as the Penguin Post Office.  It was highlighted in a documentary movie.  A ship was anchored nearby.  People from the ship were visiting the spot from a zodiac.

It appeared that we were running into a dead end.  As we got closer, I could see that we would be taking a 90-degree left turn into the channel. 

Even though we had some clouds, it made the terrain look even prettier in some places.  I loved how the clouds crawled over the mountain tops.

   

I could see a pyramid shaped mound up ahead, that was surrounded by clouds.  Since we would be continuing through the channel past the mound, I decided that it was time to call it a day.  The combination of cold and wind, with the expectation of poor visibility ahead made it an easy decision.  We still had another day of Antarctic sightseeing ahead of us.

   

 

Antarctica – Day 4

Once again, I was out early to make sure that I didn’t miss anything.  The weather was rather strange, in that there were low clouds; but there were large areas with bright sunlight shining on them.  It really made the environment look lovely.  Plus, most importantly, we had very little wind and the temperature was 36 degrees.  A heat wave!

   

We of course had plenty of blue icebergs and lots of penguins doing their thing.

   

   

   

I really like this photo with a lonely looking penguin on the small iceberg.

I was fascinated with one iceberg that was covered with fine vertical slits all over it.

Our destination for the morning was Paradise Bay.  With the low clouds, we wouldn’t be able to see the tall mountain peaks; but it was still most enjoyable.

   

We saw some penguin rookeries along the way.  But they were a pretty far away.  If you didn’t have good binoculars or a long telephoto lens, it was difficult to even see the penguins.

   

 I had been wanting to see an iceberg with a pool on top of it.  Finally, on the last day, one came by.  It was a small pool; but it was good enough.

We were once again seeing many whales.  We even saw their pectoral fins. 

   

We were also enjoying the beautiful surroundings.

   

   

   

   

As we left Paradise Bay, we passed by the Chilean Station, which is in the center of a Gentoo penguin rookery.  We were told that the starboard side of the ship would get the closest look at any of the penguin colonies we had seen on the cruise.  He was right about that.  We were very close.  Fortunately, the slight wind was in the right direction, so that we didn’t get to smell the penguins too.

   

   

Some of the station workers were outside watching the Zaandam pass by.  They were waving at us and the passengers did the same to them.

Not far away, I was able to get the best photos of the penguins swimming in a group.  It looked like they were having a lot of fun; but in the harsh environment, they were just surviving.

   

With this being our last day in beautiful Antarctica, I stayed on deck most of the time taking in all I could.  This would be my last chance to see this type of gorgeous scenery.

   

   

   

   

While continuing our cruise through Gerlach Strait, the ship had their traditional Penguin Plunge.  I was surprised at how many people wanted to jump into the near freezing Lido Pool.  Nathan helped to make the plunge even more authentic by adding buckets of ice cubes.  I will never understand what compels people to want to do something like this; but it did make them happy.

   

   

While in Dallman Bay, we saw the first Killer Whales we had seen during the cruise.  We were told they rarely see them, so it was a treat.  There were a couple of pods of them.

   

Not long afterwards, we saw a whale spinning around waving their pectoral fins in the air.  It looked rather strange, since they kept rolling over and waving their fins.

   

We continued through Dallman Bay, seeing the last of the Antarctic beauty. 

   

   

   

It had been an awesome four days in an amazing continent!

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