Time and again we have been in the right place at the right time on this expedition. We have encountered more whales than we can count, more penguins than most people ever imagined, and the most awe-inspiring mountains and tabular icebergs that were true wonders to behold. Our morning in Flanders Bay was another lovely memory. Entire inlets were filled with icebergs, bergy bits, and brash ice. Snow petrels flew overhead, and humpback whales swam gracefully through the cold, white maze on the surface.

Later that afternoon we enjoyed more stunning vistas with a cruise through the Lemaire Channel. Towering rock faces encouraged everyone to stare up into the clouds as we sailed through what some call the most scenic location on the Western Antarctic peninsula.

And finally, it was bittersweet arriving to our final landing at Pleneau Island. We trekked across fresh snow that was only tread upon by penguins before us. So much snow had fallen that many adult birds were tending their nests under over a foot of it. As the sun shone down on this gorgeous island engulfed in ice, we tried to memorize the movements and calls of Gentoo penguins and took those last few moments to be alone in the snow.

Fortunately, Antarctica is a place and a feeling that never really leaves you once you have experienced it. Visiting such an extreme and beautiful place on this planet seems to stick with you and leaves you forever changed.