Serenity At Neko Harbor, A Place That Connects With The Spirit & Soul

© 2014 Ralph Grizzle
A penguin’s ‘ecstatic display’ trumpets a gorgeous day in Neko Harbor. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

There is serenity in this world — and I am sure that we could all use a small dose of it. I found mine, as did others, at Neko Harbor.

On a bright Thursday morning, under a blue sky streaked with wispy clouds, Seabourn Quest held her position in ice-strewn Andvord Bay. The sea was as smooth as glass, and with such good conditions, the ship’s expedition leaders launched both a landing and a Zodiac cruise, with activities continuing for the better part of the day.

My across-the-corridor neighbor raved about the fact that she would be going on a Zodiac tour, something that may not seem so remarkable until you discover that she is bound to a wheelchair. To see the joy in her eyes as she was lifted into the flat-bottomed boat nearly brought tears to mine.

© 2014 Ralph Grizzle
Bound to a wheelchair, my across-the-corridor neighbor prepares to be lifted into a Zodiac for scenic cruising in Neko Harbor. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
Should you ever need reminding about how joy feels, bookmark this photo and save it. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
Mission accomplished! © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

Neko Harbor is such a special place that a few years ago, Seabourn Quest’s Expedition Team Leader Robin West proposed matrimony  to the woman who is now his wife and mother of their first child. Theirs is a marriage bonded by beauty.

© 2014 Ralph Grizzle
A Weddell seal soaking up the sun. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

We zipped to shore in a Zodiac and spent 30 minutes near the shoreline photographing penguins and seals. Next, we trudged along a trail that had been marked by the expedition leaders to a peak overlooking the beautiful harbor.

To the right of us, glaciers groaned and crackled and occasionally exploded like canons as sheets of ice calved off into the undisturbed sea below. No one spoke during moments like these, and all that we could hear was the rippling of the waves on the shoreline (caused by the calving of glaciers) and the off-key songs of the penguins.

Mountains rose from the horizon in every direction we looked. Covered in ice and snow from base to peak, the ranges were immensely beautiful. It was our last full day in Antarctica, though we’d have another morning and part of the afternoon the following day before setting sail across the mighty Drake Passage.

When it was all said and done, we would spend six days in Antarctica, with seven “off the ship” activities that ranged from Zodiac cruises to landings to visits to research stations. Plus, there were days of scenic cruising through channels choked with icebergs, and whale-watching, including one afternoon when it seemed as though everyone on the ship ran on cue from one side to the other to spot pods of killer whales and their babies.

Seabourn Quest had given us a healthy helping of the vast continent, and after each outing, our good ship welcomed us back on board to its luxury trappings — lavish accommodations, multiple gourmet dining venues and a staff that seemed to anticipate our needs. It was as if we had the world’s finest hotel floating along with us as we explored Antarctica.

Antarctica is a place that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. The continent’s untoched beauty alone is reason enough to make the journey. I wish everyone the good fortune I have had in being able to visit a place still pristine, a continent that connects with the spirit and soul — and reminds us that there is such a thing as serenity is this busy and bustling world.

© 2014 Ralph Grizzle
A Southern Elephant Seal. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
© 2014 Ralph Grizzle
A Southern Elephant Seal’s flipper. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
© 2014 Ralph Grizzle
The welcoming committee. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
© 2014 Ralph Grizzle
Intrepid explorers from Seabourn Quest hike along flagged trails. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
© 2014 Ralph Grizzle
The icy realms of the earth. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
© 2014 Ralph Grizzle
Seabourn Quest in Neko Harbor. Note the dots in the snow: guests from the ship climbing to the top of the mountain where I snapped this photo. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
© 2014 Ralph Grizzle
Total serenity. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

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  • From your traveling companion’s joy to the Southern Elephant
    Seal’s nicely manicured flipper to the booms of the powerful ice, your
    description makes me feel like I’m standing alongside you on deck, frozen
    breeze in my face and sparkles in my eyes. Thank you for taking us on
    this exquisite experience, Ralph. — Jodi Lien

  • My husband and I are sitting here three days before we head off for our own Quest Antarctic cruise, and just found your blog. We are truly wired and even more excited about what will be a spectacular trip. Thank you for the great stories, pictures and videos. We can’t wait for our chance to play with the penguins!


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