Day 5 – Antarctica Here We Come!

With Just The Clothes On Our Back! (And our Fin del Mundo purchases)

DAY FIVE (Feb 20)

We wake and have breakfast and go over our lists of things we still need.  We turn our luggage in to the hotel where the Expedition instructed us to.  Hopefully, these bags make it onto the ship!  It’s 9:30AM and we don’t board the ship until 5:00PM. Another glance out at our Ship awaiting us and we get our day started!

  So off we go into town with our one last bag to try and get the final items.  We check out of our hotel and stroll into town.  We successfully find enough items to make us sure we can board the ship.  A steady drizzle greets us but not so bad that we can’t make our way around town to finish our shopping spree.  We find the last few items we need for the trip and we consign ourselves to the idea that our shopping is done. Never found hand warmers though, it seems they are not welcome products here because they are not discarded properly and are claimed to be toxic to the environment. Oh well, got to move on. We did find the sock liners and other items. Not as fully stocked as we had hoped, but it seems we CAN do this!

It is noon and we stop into “Bodegon Fueguino” Restaurant that has been closed when we have passed it several times in the last couple days.  It was recommended to us by more than one local person.  We get seated and I ask the waitress what dish she would eat if she were ordering and she points out a lamb dish and I order it.  Elee gets Empanadas and Sopas.   Delicious food that again does not disappoint!    Bellies full once again, we head back to our hotel in the steady drizzly rain covered in sweatshirts and newly acquired rain gear.  It seems the longer we stay in Ushuaia, the worse the weather gets.  The rain in town is snow in the local mountains and the views, when we get one, are gorgeous!

On a side note, Ushuaia is the first place in South America that has decent plumbing and you can actually flush toilet paper instead of having to put it in a trash can!  Not the case in Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Central America, Cuba and more.  A pleasant change from what we expected!

We show up at the docks and board the ‘dock bus’ to take us to the gangplank and we walk on.  A bit nervous and queasy about not having the exact things we worked so hard to acquire, we settle into the ships lounge with the other 185 Passengers and 144 Crew Members for the introductory meeting and orientation.  At least they open the bar and we all have intro drinks in hand.  Ah, now things improve!  The Crew tells us what to expect for the next 14 days and everybody is put at ease.  Our Expedition Leader, Lori, introduces us to the crew and each Crew Member tells us a little bit about themselves.  Jokes are shared and the mood is light as each Crew Member has fun at their own expense!

We learn that this trip differs from a normal Cruise in several aspects.  This is an Expedition Ship, not a Cruise Ship.  A Cruise Ship has a set Itinerary and Ports of Call are scheduled and pretty much “Set in Stone”, so to speak.  Also, most Excursions on a Cruise Ship are additional and participation usually costs extra.  An Expedition Ship has an “Expedition Leader” (as opposed to a Cruise Director) that works with the Captain and the trip and Ports are designed Day by Day and are affected by Weather, Wind & Ocean Currents, among other factors.  Excursions are included and no extra expense is incurred to participate.  So our adventure begins and we will be informed as we go of what we will experience!

This Expedition Ship has what is referred to as an “Open Bridge”.  This means that passengers can go into the Bridge at almost any time they wish to.  We are requested to be quiet on the Bridge so as to disturb the Captain and Crew and their navigation of the ship.

We are sailing through the “Beagle Channel”, at the southern tip of Tierra Del Fuego, Patagonia, Argentina.  A Lifeboat Drill is in our immediate future and we are given instructions for this.  Anyone who has ever been on a ship, be it a Cruise Ship or an Excursion Ship, has to attend the Lifeboat Drill where we learn what to do in an emergency and we find our “Muster Stations”.  We are told where to Smoke if we choose to.  Unfortunately, Smoking is allowed on the ship, but only in one place.  I find it interesting that the Smoking location is next to the Fuel Cabinets, what’s up with that???

At dinner, we sit with a group of other passengers that we will get to know better as the trip progresses.  Camera discussions ensue along with anticipated wildlife sightings and life stories are shared.

Okay, so we’re on the ship and still have an internet connection. Slow, but it’s there. So maybe I’ll be able to make random posts. We’re crossing the ominous “Drake Passage”, one of our Bucket List items.  So far, it is much calmer than we anticipated and they are predicting relatively calm seas.  At the moment we’re about 75 nautical miles south of South America with about 500 more to get to Antarctica.  Seas are moderate and care is placed as we walk around the ship.  This is nothing we haven’t experienced before and is milder than we anticipated.  We should finish the Crossing tomorrow night.  We’re seeing random sea birds at the moment.  I’ll post a photo or two if I can.

See you in the morning!!!

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