Cruise to Antarctica.

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by latrobe, Mar 5, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. latrobe
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    The bucket list chase continues.now comes a cruise to Antarctica-but from New Zealand not Ushuaia as most do.we had stayed in Dunedin the night before the cruise at Bluestone on George-can thoroughly reccomend it.So Tuesday night in Dunedin it rained heavily all night.The highway from Christchurch was cut.The rain continued in the morning.Checkout was 1000 and couldn't be extended as by 0900 there were several couples who had disembarked from the Orion waiting to check in.Had a giggle reading the local paper-the Otago cricket team had had their 20/20 match washed out-in fact a first class game in dunedin hadn't been completed in 2 years due to the weather.
    Just after midday the rain eased so we walked down to the CBD.We had noticed a Vietnamese restaurant that had a sign saying reopening 27/12 but when we got there it was still closed.ended up having some reasonable sushi.A little retail therapy for mrsdrron then back to the motel and got a taxi down to the Orion~1430.
    No problems boarding and after a couple of champagnes felt quite relaxed.1700 and finally we are on our way.first the magnificent passenger facilities aptly named Harbour Cold-
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    Latrobe in pensive mood-
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    goodbye Dunedin and hopefully the grey clouds.A magnificent harbour-
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    And where cruise ships normally dock-
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    We are farewelled by a rainbow-
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    Next rock and rolling down the NZ coast.
     
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  2. latrobe
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    We rounded the tip of the Otago Peninsula-
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    Immediately we are followed by seabirds-
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    The Dusky dolphins then accompany us-unfortunately all my pics of these merely show ripples!They were just out there-
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    As you can see out of the harbour the swell increased.later that night as the ship passed the protection of the NZ coast the swell increased to 5 Metres and we were heading straight into it.Fortunately dinner is served before the swell gets too bad.I start with the pasta with tomato,spinach and gruyere cheese followed by the roast duck breast with crispy parsnip,turnip and onions then the coconut pannacotta.mrsdrron has the beetroot,asparagus and goat cheese salad with pistachios,red emperor and the pannacotta.washed down with the oyster bay SB.
    Dinner was shared with a couple from Melbourne who were in the next cabin,ice master Bob from Christchurch and Captain Kirke and american on the expedition team on Linblad.We learnt a lot.Captain Bob was one of life's gentlemen-unassuming but with an interesting set of life experiences.
    Unfortunately also on board were some celebs I will refer to as RB,GL and the 3 OKs as well as a travel writer from the Independent in the UK from here referred to as SSB and his partner IP.The celebs were on a freeby and it was rumoured so was the travel writer.Both lots were on our deck.After 3 days of saying Hello or good morning without a response i gave up.
    I retired early and started my ginger pills-not 1 second of sea sickness.However little sleep as the ship was going up and down and from side to side all night.The next morning about a third of the pax did not make it to brekkie.Others looked quite green.
    Next-to Enderby Island and some hookers.​
     
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  3. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    Well the first full day at sea and it was my birthday.Started with a shower-quite an art when the ship is rolling.Enjoyed breakfast and the morning lectures and briefings.Before lunch 6 dolphins put on a show for about 10 minutes right outside our window.So for any one who asks I say I spent my birthday tied in bed watching dolphins!
    Unfortunately due to the swell we missed our stop at the Snares Island.This disappointment was overcome when for the first time I was kissed by a Lieut commander-and she really was a beautiful and talented woman.
    That night the meal again was great.We both started with the mushroom risotto-
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    I then had the angus beef tenderloin with oxtail confit-
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    Mrsdrron had the swordfish-
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    Then a birthday cake was produced and the crew sang happy birthday-
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  4. latrobe
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    Once again it was a rough night with little sleep.When we awoke we were anchored at Enderby island-one of the Auckland Islands.After breakfast it was off to see the yellow eyed penguins and the Hooker sea lions-no there weren't any other hookers.The day was grey and raining but we were glad to get off the ship and walk.The wildlife were amazing-
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    As well as the sea lions and penguins there was an amazing variety of bird life and surprisingly flowers including a terrestial orchid.We walked across the island then sat and watched the albatross,petrels and cormorants flying off the cliffs-so majestic.Also there is a survival hut there in case of shipwrecks.There were 3 NZ researchers living on the Island-half way through their 6 week stint.They really appreciated being invited on board for a hot shower and lunch.
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  5. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    By the time we got to return to the ship it was blue sky and sunshine.One layer of thermals was all I needed to be toasty warm.A buffet lunch as usual and then a zodiac cruise around the cliffs.This island has the world's rarest duck,penguin and shag.We saw them all.It was a great day.
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    After that all that was to be done was enjoy dinner.​
     
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  6. latrobe
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    Dinner as usual was very good.We both started with the crab linguine then i had the pork loin and cheeseboard.mrslatrobe had the lamb shank and berry cheese cake.After this a better nights sleep.
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    Over the next 4 days steaming on to Antarctica we got to know several of our fellow pax and there are some pretty interesting people.though we were not surprised as more and more expressed their dislike of the presence of RB.The oldest woman on the cruise was 86 and came on board using her Zimmer frame.She still was able to go on all excursions and later made it into Mawson's hut.She came up with a classic when a slightly haughty pax was rationalising why she was reading Wilbur Smith when our 86 year old interjected-"well when i stayed with Wilbur and his first wife several years ago..."What a great way to end an argument.Then there was Ice Master Bob who first went to the Antarctic in 1973 and had first hand knowledge of the tactics of the Japanese whalers.
    Then there was the NZ Dept Of Conservation rep Harry who we didn't find out until nearly the end was an Officer in the Order Of NZ.He was in the recovery party when NZ had the close encounter with Mt.Erebus.Another of Nature's gentlemen.
    Then Don an engineer with an extraordinary list of acheivements and inventions including the building of Patrol Boats for the Navy.He also was able to end an argument about whether a particular ship was compliant with Lloyds register-when asked how he could be sure the reply was-"I am on the Australian board of the Lloyds register."Fascinating how he now is designing surgical instruments particularly in the field of Orthopaedics.
    Another of the pax was legally blind but again did all the excursions and turned out to be a great bush poet.Also in a demonstration of this being a small world there was another couple from Caloundra and a woman whose Cardiologist is my Ex-partner.You really do have to be on your best behaviour.
    next NYE.​
     
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  7. latrobe
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    New Years Eve.The swell had risen again and several people missing for lunch.It was an Asian theme buffet.Really good sushi,sashimi,Chinese dishes and a great Vietnamese style steak sandwhich.Several lectures during the day but really glad we invested in Kindles for our Chrissy presents.They come in very useful.
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    With the rough weather at least our alcohol bill is being kept to reasonable amounts-only 1 bottle bought in 3 days-though there have been a couple of open bars as well.After lunch I go up to the Galaxy lounge-Deck 6 at the front,an occasional wave breaking over the windows-start to think-What am I doing here?However we get invited to the Captains table for the NYE Degustation dinner.Captain Mike is a real entertainer.After this cruise he has 3 months off and then is switching to the Orion 2.

    The dinner-Blue Swimmer crab Samosa on coriander-tomato raita yogurt and mint chutney.
    Compote of salmon with cauliflower cream
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    Savoy Cabbage soup with truffle oil.
    Mixed garden greens with grilled pear and prosciutto,walnut oil vinaigrette,gorganzola dressing.
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    Sparkling lemon and lime Sorbet.
    Tenderloin of veal,celeriac puree,carrot mousse,broccolini,pommery mustard sauce.
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    White chocolate Creme Brulee,fresh fruit ratatouille.
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    And finished off with a selection of NZ cheeses and fruit.
    Magnificent.
    Next NYE continued.​
     
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  8. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    Mrslatrobe felt really tired after dinner and went back to the cabin.I sat at the bar and had a talk with captain Mike.He was the captain when we did the Kimberley cruise on Orion in 2009.I had noted it now goes via Jaso island at the north east tip of Timor rather than direct Broome to Darwin.Apparently one of Orion's competitors kept complaining to the Government about a foreign ship(Orion is registered in the Bahamas but is Australian owned) doing coastal voyages.The Howard Govt did nothing but PM Rudd was taken to do something so now Orion's Broome-Darwin cruise is in fact 2 overseas cruises back to back.The result-the Commonwealth now doesn't get GST on the cruise fares,fuel and supplies taken on in Australia-a loss in excess of $1 million in a year.However Orion passengers now get a helicopter trip over the Bungle bungles thrown in at no extra cost.Good one Krudd.
    I waited until the New Year watching captain mike proclaim the arrival of 2011 and then off to bed i went.
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    New Years day was much calmer but fog all day.The fog and cloud at night meant we didn't get to see the Southern Lights on this cruise.The "highlight"of the day was launching a weather buoy for the NZ Met Service.The most exercise I got was walking up and down the stairs to the restaurant.The Kindle certainly came in handy.We did however see lots of birds-
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    Which everyone tried to take a photo of-
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    And yes that is melting snow on the lens.
    But mainly this is what we saw-
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    Dinner again superb starting with salt and pepper squid.i then had the venison loin,
    whilst mrsdrron had the pork schnitzel.We both finished off with lemon and passionfruit delicious.
    Next-a mob of Virgins.
     
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  9. latrobe
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    January 2 and again a grey misty day but again seas much calmer.More lectures.Just after 1100 we cross 60 degrees south so all the Antarctic virgins are assembled on the back deck to get a hosing.a long time since I have been referred to as a virgin.
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    Very invigorating.
    Just as this concludes the first Mincke whales cross our path.Several more in the next hour.We are getting closer.
    Of course it was now time for lunch-another really good buffet.After this the fog moved in and the swell became larger,but direction changed to behind us so not too bad.Then it was dinner.I had the asaparagus with anchovy and caper dressing,mrsdrron had the tagliatelle with pumpkin,walnuts and herbs.We both then had the Entrecote with Bearnaise sauce and veggies and finished of with the crepes Suzette.
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    During dinner the conversation turned to FF schemes.A couple from Perth who had booked late recounted their problems with NGCI on QF.Her bag she said weighed 23.1kg and was rejected-she a Bronze.his bag was 24.2 kg but he is Silver-his was also rejected.So despite reassurances from our QF reps on tolerance this does not seem the case.
    Next-more whales and at last ice.​
     
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  10. latrobe
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    January 3.fog again this morning.Interesting lectures.A lunch of ribs-great.A nanny nap after and when I awake the birdlife is incredible-putting on a show just outside our window.There were a few distant whale sightings.
    Dinner has a German theme.I start with the seafood sausage on leeks with langoustine essence,then lamb loin in potato crust with heirloom carrots,snow peas and port wine sauce.Mrslatrobe starts with the Orechiette pasta then the braised beef shoulder,raisin sauce,german bread dumplings and greens and both finish with the stewed berries with vanilla sauce and chocolate shavings.
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    After dinner there were some more distant whale sightings but at 2200 a humpback comes across the bow about 50 metres away with another 3 about 300 metres off.
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    Would come up behind the ice!
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  11. latrobe
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    Just before midnight we see our first iceberg.Progress is much slower now as we have met the pack ice.
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    We have a good sleep and wake at 0700 for the official crossing into the Antarctic Circle.Magnificent-lots of ice with penguins swimming beside the ship or resting on the ice and an occasional seal.We are then all encouraged to go out on the forecastle for a group photo.Numerous penguins swimming alongside all sqawking at us.

    Some ice photos from mrslatrobe-
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  12. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    And more-
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  13. latrobe
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    Next we arrive at Cape Denison.​
     
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  14. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    We are getting very close to Antarctica but of course lunch is first.Share a table with a couple from Melbourne who are both QP life but now only rarely fly QF.Travel mainly to Europe and use EK.As we are finishing lunch we get our first sighting of the continent.
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    The anticipation is growing and i don my thermal gear doing a Mawson impersonation.
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    Mid Afternoon and we finally step ashore-we will be the second group through Mawson's hut.At this time the number of people through here is just less than 1000-in comparison 1800 have stood on the summit of Mt.Everest.When you enter it is like going into a time capsule-you can literally smell the history.Just amazing-here are several photos but really dont do it justice.To think it is 99 years since it was built.
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  15. latrobe
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    Mawson's hut,first some of my pics-
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  16. latrobe
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    And more-
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  17. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    Now mrslatrobe's pics-
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  18. latrobe
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    Frank Hurley's dark room.
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    Mawson's room
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  19. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    And a few more assorted pics-

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    Unrecognisable in my layers.​
     
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  20. latrobe
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    Time for the penguins-never ceased to fascinate me.Sit down or lie down and they would often walk right up to you wondering what the heck you were doing there.You are meant to observe a 5 metre rule with wildlife but the penguins just hadn't heard about it.At one point whilst I was walking down the hill from the memorial cross for Mertz and Ninniss I was following a penguin-if it stopped I stopped-it would then turn around and watch me.The ones coming from behind though would continue on often stopping beside me and looking up.Truly fantastic so you will have to put it on your bucket list.
    So now prepare to be bored with penguin pics.
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    latrobe's queue.
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  21. latrobe
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    One of the rookeries at Cape Denison-these are Adelie penguins.
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    Monument hill.
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    The Orion in the distance.​
     
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  22. latrobe
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    looking towards the South Pole.
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    Penguins as far as you can see.
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    Looking down on Mawson's hut from Monument Hill.
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  23. latrobe
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    Then there were the chicks-
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    And now for mrslatrobe's pics,first how latrobe got his closeups-
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    Then she caught this one,an Isabelline penguin,not an albino as it has some pigment.looks like a shadow or a ghost penguin-
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  24. latrobe
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    As we left to go back for dinner we saw Mrslatrobe's little friend again-
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  25. latrobe
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    And plenty of friends on the way back-
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    And looking back-
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    And our reception committee-
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    We left at about 1930-zodiacs continued to shuttle until 1am-no darkness.However we were tired,knees aching after walking on snow so it was dinner and off to bed.Dinner again great with a mixed seafood entree,osso buco and a warm chocolate pudding.
    Next cruising the pack ice.
     
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