The adventures have continued on our journey into the last continent on our bucket list. We enjoyed the time cruising through the islands of Antarctica, icebergs bobbing gently in the waves as we watched the scenery. The beginning and end of the last four days started quietly with us cruising at sea and finding our rhythm and living the shipboard life. As usual the day started out in the gym after a leisurely breakfast, followed by some onboard entertainment: a game of Yahtzee, and some dominos/cards. This was followed by more laps around the decks which usually rounds out our days at sea. We have had an enjoyable time getting to know many of our shipmates and have enjoyed interacting with Barbara from CA. We find her easy-going, fun nature a good complement to Dave’s constant wise cracking. Another interesting person we have made friends with is Cosmin Birsan who sells jewelry on the ship. Even though we declined to purchase the $180,000 ring he tried to sell to us, we have made friends with this large, but affable Romanian gentleman who won a Bronze Medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2012 Athens Olympics. After much consternation, Dave had to admit that Cosmin could probably take him in a fight (if you call bending someone in half and snapping them like a twig a “fight”.) He gave us some good tips on places to visit in Romania and his cell number in case he is back home if we get to visit his country.
The first day inside the Antarctic Circle had Kathy wide awake at 4 am in anticipation of the first sightings of the area. Expecting to arrive at Snow Island at 06:30, she wanted to make sure she was fed, showered, and bundled up in order to claim her spot on the promenade deck. This was where we would watch the penguins, birds, and whales on the outer islands which were expected to show up. While Snow Island lived up to its name with a lot of snow, we figured out why it was not called Penguin, Bird, or Whale Island. Oh well, maybe the next stop. The next stop was Deception Island where it did not deceive us at ALL!! We saw “porpoising” penguins frolicking in the ocean, a finback whale, a mom and baby humpback whale, and oh, and did we mention lots of penguins, and lots of lots of birds?? Success!! It was amazing seeing colonies of penguins nesting on land along with the multitudes of them swimming in the ocean. The afternoon saw us playing Yahtzee with Barbara, Kyle, and Henry where Kathy won both games. Next stop was Admiralty Bay where we saw some of the research stations, a glimpse of another whale, and some more penguins and birds. An interesting explanation of the glaciers in the area and the difference between glaciers in Alaska and Antarctica capped off a great day. Our last stop was dinner, where again the waiters hovered over Kathy to make sure no shellfish contaminated her meal. Insistent, they asked her to pre-order tomorrow’s dinner so that they could prepare her meal in advance and make sure there was no cross contamination. Kathy was presented with the next day’s menu, she ordered her meal, and they quickly adapted it and gave her a little something special. It is nice being special, thought Kathy, although she was not willing to voice it out loud to the group in case Dave had a quip to add to quotation marks to “special”. Of course, telling Dave later gave him ample opportunity to add his own comments!
The second day in the Antarctica was Odin’s birthday and boy did we get some presents! Not so much for Odin, though! The presents given to us as we passed Elephant Island included tons and tons of fin whales! The whales not only weigh a ton as they are the second largest whale in the world, but the numbers of them were so high we lost count and we saw the l’ennui (boredom) increase as people started trickling into the ship from the promenade deck. (*Yawn* Oh, another whale…) One fin whale surfaced so close to the ship that Kathy and Dave got sprayed by his blow hole! Along with the large fin whales we were treated to more birds, including Antarctic shags, several types of petrels, terns and albatrosses, and some more Chinstrap, Adelie, and Gentoo penguins. We saw the beach in which Captain Shackelford shipwrecked and was subsequently rescued four months later and now named after him. As we were freezing on deck and feeling the cold wind and snow (while completely bundled up since it was about 31 degrees and windy) one has to wonder how the crew and captain survived in such an inhospitable land. The last evening in Antarctica was capped off by a lovely meal and brief acoustic guitar concert. A hasty retreat to our room came next where we chilled out and watched TV. It was a great way to round out a nice day. Tomorrow is a full day at sea, where we will follow a tried and true rhythm of workouts, strolls, and interacting with the variety of guests from around the world.
The sad end to this three day posting is that that Dave is no longer undefeated in air hockey. It had been decades since he was last beaten. Unfortunately, he was thoroughly trounced by the 15-year old Christopher, from exit 93 in New Jersey who had already beaten Dave at basketball. Not only was he bested and injured in basketball, but has lost in air hockey and in a video car race game. Dave went to bed that night feeling his age! But, he valiantly passed the torch to a new generation.