Welcome to Paradise! Today’s adventures started bright and early with a Zodiac cruise in Paradise Harbour, where glassy waters reflected the high mountains and numerous icebergs surrounding Brown Station. Weddell seals lounged on the ice, blue-eyed shags nested in rock cliffs framed on every side by lichens, and the waters were occasionally disturbed by the feeding of a minke whale and the porpoising of penguins. To everyone’s surprise, a Viking boat appeared from behind a cliff with menacing cries and ambushed the Zodiacs before they could escape. Fortunately, however, the Vikings were simply staff members offering gifts of hot chocolate rather than raiding unsuspecting ships.
After this unexpected encounter, we went northward to Foyn Harbour, where the divers explored the wreck of the Guvernøren, a whaling factory vessel. While divers enjoyed the view from under the water, the ship travelled at a leisurely pace around the bay, taking in the magnificent scenery and observing the humpback whales that rose to breathe, including one active specimen thrashing and slapping its flukes.
The late afternoon saw us turn towards the Drake Passage, making our way northward once more. As we approached open waters, John Pachuta gave a talk on the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration, highlighting figures such as Shackleton, Amundsen, and Nordenskjӧld, as well as many others. Though admiration for their feats was unanimous, so was the feeling of relief at living in much more comfortable conditions than they endured. Tommy Heinreich, National Geographic photographer, gave a lecture on the North Pole. He was joined by special guest lecturer Jamling Tenzing Norgay for a lecture on Everest.
Evening found everyone enjoying a recap and evening cocktails. Although saying farewell to Antarctica is always hard, we had a beautiful last look at the mountains and islands of ice before heading out into open water.