November 15, 2013 — This coming Friday, I was supposed to be boarding a jet bound for Ecuador, where I would board the new Silver Galapagos. However, about two weeks ago, Silversea Cruises presented me with an offer that I could not refuse: Would I consider cruising instead to Antarctica on Silver Explorer?
I’d look forward to an opportunity like this one for as long as I can remember. Galapagos could wait. Antarctica was calling. It took me all of two seconds to say yes.
The backstory. After some wrangling, Silversea’s public relations department had managed to accomplish the unthinkable: convince the company’s controllers to open space for media. Understandably, Silversea wants as many revenue guests on its sailings as possible, so giving up coveted space for journalists wasn’t high on the priority list for the number-crunchers. To this day, in fact, no journalist has ever been invited on Silver Explorer’s always-full Antarctica sailings.
Two slots were granted for the December 2 sailing, Voyage 7326. I couldn’t make that one because of a commitment to A-ROSA and what promises to be an enjoyable Christmas Markets Cruise on the Rhine River. So instead of being the first journalist to sail to Antarctica on Silver Explorer, I’ll be the second when Voyage 7327 begins on December 12.
I’m reading lots about Antarctica and gearing up for an exciting adventure. I hope you’ll join me here beginning December 12 for a spectacular voyage to the ends of the earth, Antarctica on Silver Explorer.
|December 12||Ushuaia, Argentina||Charter flight from Buenos Aires; Embark Silver Explorer||5:00 PM|
|December 13||Sailing The Drake Passage|
|December 14||Crossing The Drake, Day 2|
|December 15||Cruise & Explore the Antarctic Peninsula|
|December 16||Cruise & Explore the Antarctic Peninsula|
|December 17||Cruise & Explore the Antarctic Peninsula|
|December 18||Cruise & Explore the Antarctic Peninsula|
|December 19||Cruise & Explore the Antarctic Peninsula|
|December 20||Sailing the Drake Passage, Redux|
|December 21||Sailing the Drake Passage|
|December 22||Ushuaia, Argentina||8:00 AM||Disembark Silver Explorer; return charter flight to Buenos Aires.|
Day 1 — Ushuaia, Argentina
Departing from Buenos Aires, fly to Ushuaia and transfer to the port. Embark Silver Explorer and bid farewell to Tierra del Fuego, the “Land at the End of the World.” This evening, after settling in and setting sail, you will be introduced to your Expedition Team.
Days 2–3 — Drake Passage
The Drake Passage has a notorious reputation for its turbulent seas due to the Antarctic Convergence, a natural boundary where cold polar water flows northward and warmer equatorial water moves southward. When they meet, nutrients are pushed to the surface, often attracting a multitude of seabirds and whales. Spend some time on deck watching the horizon and the variety of seabirds that glide in the air currents of our ship’s wake such as the black-browed albatross, sooty shearwaters and white-chinned petrels. Have your camera ready to capture the magical color of a midnight sunset.
As we set sail on our initial transit, familiarize yourself with the elegant Silver Explorer and the friendly Expedition Team members. Attend wildlife, geography and history discussions hosted by our expert naturalists and guest lecturers that will prepare you for the exciting adventures that lie ahead. When available, visit the Bridge and meet our Captain and officers; information will be posted in the daily onboard newsletter.
Days 4–8 — Antarctic Peninsula
While sailing to Antarctica, every turn can reveal a new and breathtaking adventure. As the pack ice becomes thicker, it’s apparent to everyone that we are moving closer into Antarctica’s vast white wilderness. Remote and otherworldly, Antarctica is irresistible for its spectacular iceberg sculptures and calving glaciers, and for the possibility of up-close encounters with marine mammals. Watch for seals sunbathing on slow-moving ice floes and for humpback, Minke, and orca whales to surface from below the frigid waters. Each day we will attempt Zodiac departures, and, if conditions permit, we will cruise among colorful icebergs or step ashore to visit a variety of penguin rookeries and perhaps scientific research stations on complimentary excursions led by our team of natural history experts.
A flexible itinerary allows us to take advantage of favorable sea and weather conditions. In the true spirit of expedition cruising, each day the Expedition Leader and Captain will determine our best course depending on weather, ice conditions and wildlife we may encounter. Here are some of the places we may visit:
Aitcho Islands, South Shetland Islands (just off the Antarctic Peninsula at the entrance to the English Strait)
Brown Bluff, Tabarin Peninsula (a 2,200-foot bluff on the Antarctic continent)
Cuverville Island, Errera Channel
Paradise Bay (on the Antarctic peninsula)
Petermann Island, Wilhelm Archipelago
Pleneau Island, Wilhelm Archipelago
Port Foster, Whalers Bay (Deception Island)
Port Lockroy, Goudier Island
Days 9–10 — Drake Passage Return
Navigating our return through the Drake Passage, we will watch for seabirds and wildlife we may have missed on the first trip. Take this opportunity to attend additional presentations offered by the Expedition Team lecturers and to swap photos with new friends as we travel toward Ushuaia.
Day 11 — Ushuaia, Argentina
After breakfast, disembark Silver Explorer and transfer to Ushuaia International Airport for your return flight to Buenos Aires.