Welcome to the “End of the World”
January 24/20 – Cape Horn, Chile
It was a spectacular morning at Cape Horn.
As I write, Cape Horn – the tip of South America is viewable in the distance – its almost 7am. In a matter of minutes we’ll sail around this famous point. I’ve been lucky to have sailed around the tip of South America a number of times but I’ve never experienced seas as calm and skies as clear as today. There is barely a ripple in the water! Often visiting here is a “hold on to the railing” experience. We are fortunate for sure. Even our naturalist announced that today offered us the most perfect Cape Horn weather conditions she has ever experienced.
Our stay at the horn was 45 minutes. The Captain was gracious allowing equal time to view from the Starboard and Port side of the Celebrity Eclipse. From our balcony staterooms we had a front row seat. There was no reason to venture to the deck.
Remember in this part of the world one has to take the attitude that there is no poor weather – just poor clothing choices…..
Winds, the Drake Passage, currents along with Antarctica icebergs makes this “the end of the world” adventure a challenging one. In the past many mariners lost their lives in these waters.
Prior to the completion of the Panama Canal all trade ships were forced to sail around Cape Horn. Now there is little cargo traffic but Cape Horn provides a thrill for the most adventurous tourist traveler.
At Cape Horn its important to look at the sea and not just the land as there are a wide variety of whales, albatross and other birds to see.
The lighthouse at Cape Horn is manned in 6 month rotations.
Unlike many sailors from years ago, how fortunate we are to experience these waters in a safe, luxurious vessel.
After our wonderful visit our Eclipse Captain turned the ship south to Antarctica and we said our farewells to the souls of many “Cape Horn” mariners.
As luck would have it the Drake Passage waters were unusually smooth – there was barely a ripple in the water. There is often more motion in the Caribbean Sea than what we experienced during our Drake crossing. The notorious Drake Shake didn’t even attempt to make an appearance.
We all gathered for lunch in the dining room and my passengers were asking me when the seas were going to get rough…. some cruise passengers will be disappointed that we didn’t experience the Drake Shake but my passengers are lovin this smooth sailing experience.
January 25/20 – Schollart Channel/Paradise Bay ANTARCTICA
Welcome to the bottom of the world – “Antarctica” – also known the loneliest place on earth.
The Grandeur of Antarctica makes it an intriguing destination for all and we are finally here!
Antarctica is a “one of a kind” amazing destination that few will have the opportunity to experience. Even though I have luckily visited here a few times, this experience always brings me and many of my passengers to tears – happy ones. The world is an amazing place with many spectacular destinations but Antarctica is one of those “I just can’t believe I am here” places. Antarctica is also our cruise directors favourite destination.
Celebrity only has two sailings a year visiting Antarctica – who sails these waters is very restricted. We are making history today as the Eclipse is the LARGEST cruise ship that has ever sailed through these waters.
Antarctica is the coldest and windiest continent on earth. This journey is during their “summer” but the weather is more severe than our Canadian “winter”! We can’t imagine what their winter brings.
During the Morning we sailed Schollart Channel. In these waters we spotted many Humpbacks and Orca whales – one has to be aware as their colour blends into the steel coloured Antarctica waters.
We passed many massive natural sculptures called “icebergs” – all shapes and sizes – ice covers 98% of Antarctica. Above the water we see just 1/10 of the iceberg and 90% is under the water.
Just like a snowflake no iceberg is the same. Glacier icebergs are made from fresh water – hundreds or possibly thousands years of annual snowfall becomes very compressed and the bluer the iceberg the purer the water. An iceberg is 4 times more dense than the ice cubes in your freezer at home.
Antartica attracts the largest number of whales in the world. They navigate here because there is plenty of food which of course is most important for their survival – they eat a half ton in 22 hours and then take an eating break for 2 hours….
During the afternoon we visited famous, Paradise Bay. While the name may sound akin to some tropical getaway, this shimmering inlet is actually carved out of Antarctica’s mainland. It’s water a bit chilly unless you are a penguin or seal. This bay is home to a pair of naval bases.
The Captain allowed us extended views of this beautiful place. He made sure that those on both the port and starboard side of the Eclipse experienced wonderful views.
Today the penguins were not very sociable but the whales were plentiful.
Our Antarctica day was remarkable.
Today we continued to explore Antartica – Elephant Island.
One of the striking features about Elephant Island is that it’s glaciers are always on the move. This island is home to the biggest collection of glaciers that I have ever seen. As we approached the island we were welcomed by many penguins. It was very easy to grab pictures of them and they entertained us during our entire stay,
The fog was thick as we approached Elephant Island but it soon vanished on our arrival – how lucky!
After another wonderful Antarctica day it was tragic to learn about the passing of Kobe Bryan. I heard the first breaking news report on Fox News. Of course his passing was the topic of discussion throughout the ship.
On this cruise I’ve enjoyed my conversations with an acupuncturist from California. We discussed the Kobe Bryant tragedy shortly after we both heard the news. He explained that Buddhists believe that one needs to experience sorrow in order to know the feeling of happiness….. The world is big so we should see as much of it until it’s dark.
A day at sea – choppy seas this morning but calm seas and sunny skies arrived in the afternoon.
My passengers and I enjoyed a private tour of the ships galley lead by the head chef. His in-depth tour was appreciated by all- my passengers said it was the finest galley tour they have ever experienced.
We all gathered for lunch in the dining room.
Later we returned for a “Le Petit Chef” culinary dinner experience. My passengers enjoyed last weeks “Le Petit Chef” experience so much my they wanted to return. This weeks 3D show and menu was a totally new experience. Once again we all loved it.
NOTE – Pictures will follow when wifi access improves