Cruise to Antarctica

18 December 2018

The Silver Explorer and a few of the penguins at Salisbury Plain, South Georgia.

Seventh and my last continent, here I come. But I did not want to cruise this far south and only see Antarctica.

On this voyage, the itinerary of Silversea's small expedition ship also included the famous Falkland Islands and incredible South Georgia.

These two additional destinations turned out to be every bit as extraordinary as Antarctica itself.

The voyage began in Ushuaia, the southernmost city (pop. 60,000) in the world.

Did we rough it? Not quite.

Warm, cozy ship. Handsome cabins. Delicious cuisine. Indefatigable staff. Great expeditions ashore. Good lectures by experts.

Not exactly what Amundsen, Scott, Shackleton and other early explorers had to endure just over a century ago.

In this sheltered cove in South Georgia, going ashore in the zodiacs was easy.

But, we did pay our dues with a stormy, roller-coaster ride to the Falklands and later a turbulent two days out of South Georgia trying to make headway upwind against the fierce circumpolar vortex. Plus a few excursions had to be cancelled because raging winds made our zodiac landings too dangerous.

Incredibly, when we got to Drake Passage, it was calm! We slipped across between two storms and arrived back in Ushuaia twelve hours early. I think we'd already been blasted quite enough so I don't feel deprived at missing the full fury of the infamous crossing.

Out of curiosity, let's see what the winds are doing right now in the region.

On the way to Tierra del Fuego, I had a day in Buenos Aires and saw some new things since my visit in 2007. Here are three favorites:

El Ateneo Grand Splendid is indeed grand and splendid ~ easily the coolest bookstore I've ever seen. When converted from an ornate old theater, the architects carefully retained the frescos, caryatids, and other classic elements. Bravo.

Two massive murals (seven/eight stories high) about the city's passions: tango and football.

Don't care if it is now a tourist trap, I still like La Boca's Caminito.
OK, now it's time to get on Aerolíneas Argentinas and fly down to the tip of South America. Standby for highlights of the Falklands, South Georgia, and Antarctica.