||64°40.2’ S / 062°37.7’ W
After two long sea days, here comes our first expedition day! The staff got up nice and early to head towards Cuverville Island to set up the site, as the weather was simply stunning. Blue sunshine and quiet waters greeted our arrival, and everybody got ready for disembarkation. The zodiac cruise around the island, close to some big icebergs was incredible, with views of Weddell seals, vast amounts of Gentoo Penguins, Skuas and Antarctic Shags. On land, people had to give way to the gentoo penguins waddling every which way, curious about our belongings, curious about us. The penguins were breeding, and some skuas were fortunate enough to scavenge an egg here and there. Much penguin mating was seen. Everyone could simply indulge in the joy of observing the penguins continue their life unabetted. The kayakers went for a lovely paddle, and the weather continued to be gentle throughout the day. As far as first expeditions go, it was truly a fortunate one. The sunburns were richly distributed, the smiles many, the want to stay ubiquitous. However, we had to move on, so we returned to the ship, wanting to see more.
After a delightful and rich lunch prepared by our head chef Ralph and his team, we went on our way towards Neko Harbour. However, the ice unfortunately blocked our path, making it impossible to reach in time for an activity. Therefore, we deviated the plan and went for a full ship zodiac cruise in Andvord Bay. The zodiacs were widely scattered, and everyone had their own little adventure. Some people saw two resting Humpbacks, others found a lovely Weddell seal on the ice floe, the ice all around gathered and we pushed our way through, the first taste of true sea ice. The weather continued to give, people now wore sunscreen, and despite not terribly many wildlife sightings, everyone just enjoyed the feeling of gently cruising through brash ice, listening to the crunch of solid water underneath our zodiac.
After two hours and a half of cruising, we then returned to the ship, tired, hungry, but incredibly happy for having had the privilege of such a spectacular first day.
After dinner, most people went to have drinks and relax, but for a brave few who put on their gear and went on land for their camping adventure, ready to endure the cold Antarctic night, amidst singing Weddell seals while the sky coloured itself in all available pastel hues, soft reds, sunburst oranges, lovely pastel blues, truly a landscape of Wes Anderson’s favourite colours. What a day, what a way to end. Almost impossible to go to sleep, the mind just wanders, and the feeling of wanting to continue being in this place, in this light, in this moment, made everyone stay on at the price of sleep.
The colours of red, yellow and blue,
Soft and tender, all kinds of hue,
The sky was burning,
And the ship was churning,
In this place accessible to few.