Guests aboard National Geographic Explorer woke up to stunning, 360-degree views of the glacial overload that makes up Cierva Cove. Ahead of the ship, we spotted Breguet and Gregory Glaciers. These glaciers constantly change the landscape by adding fresh icebergs to the horizon. Before the wake-up call even sounded, humpbacks were spotted off the bow. Much to the delight of the early risers on the bow and bridge, a friendly minke seemed to be circling the vessel.
Guests who boarded the first Zodiacs found that their lenses were too big to focus on the minke whale that seemed interested in chasing bubbles from the Zodiacs’ motors. Highlights from our cruises include the following observations: gentoo penguins coming to and from their nests on the shores above Primavera Base; humpback whales; our first leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx); and magnificent icebergs of all shapes and sizes bobbing up and down with the swell. The talented crew of National Geographic Explorer maneuvered the ship closer to the glacier faces to watch for calving events which added even more ice to the already heavily iced cove.
The warmth of the day combined with calm seas led to a last-minute change in plans for the afternoon...the time had come to take to the water in kayaks off Sprightly Island. Kayakers enjoyed being eye level with icebergs and time to enjoy the peace and quiet as they floated amongst the frozen waters of Antarctica. For many, this was just a prelude to the post-kayaking Polar Plunge into those same frigid waters. 99 guests aboard National Geographic Explorer chose to take the plunge, a record for this season. Plungers were rewarded with a sugary hot lemon with an optional shot of rum for those that needed an extra kick to warm up.
Staff and guests wound up the day happy and tired. All will sleep well as we await the joys that tomorrow will bring!