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Antarctica 2021 - 2022, A Trip of a Lifetime!

Yes, there's a Pandemic, but Traveling is back!

2020 and 2021 have been lean years for Shelly's and my travels. Even though we are fully vaccinated and boostered, we pretty much stayed home. We've managed to continue to go to Ocean City once a month, and worked in a few short trips. When we were traveling, we were very careful, wearing facemasks, eating only outdoors, and keeping a safe distance from others. For people like Shelly and I, who love the experiences of traveling, it's been tough. But things are looking up!

 

In January 2021, Shelly told me she found a great deal on a cruise to Antarctica. Cruise Connections, a company specializing in luxury cruising based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, was promoting a cruise on a new cruise line, Atlas Ocean Voyages. Atlas was offering a 9 day cruise to Antarctica departing from Ushuaia, Argentina. All the cruisers would fly from their gateway airports to Orlando, Florida, then board a chartered flight to Ushuaia, and depart for an exciting 9 days of adventure, beautiful marine life, and gorgeous sea and landscapes.

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Cruise Connections offered roundtrip air and transfers, an overnight stay in Orlando prior to our departure to Argentina, shore excursions, up to $1,000 in onboard credits, plus other amenities. So it was an all-inclusive. All we had to do was to get to and from our gateway airport, Washington Dulles.

Shelly contacted Cruise Connections and spoke to Dianne Maano, a cruise specialist. We learned about Atlas and the ship, World Navigator, travel date options, and the deals that were offered. Shelly and I decided on the spot to book for late December 2021, summer-time in Antarctica. We hoped and prayed that with the vaccine coming out, the pandemic would be under good control by then.


As I said, Atlas Ocean Voyages is promoted as the first new luxury cruise line in two decades. The ship, World Navigator, holds 196 passengers and about 130 crew members, and was completed in August 2021. The first voyages were scheduled for November 2021. Since it's a new cruise line, we expect there will be a few kinks, maybe a disruption or two. Throw Covid in and who knows. We will be flexible and tolerant of delays, and go with the flow.


Fast forward 11 months, and our departure is near. We've been so excited for this time to come. We read all the materials that Dianne and Atlas provided, bought base, mid, and outer layers of clothing, waterproof gloves, rain suits, oxybenzone-free sunscreen, water proof camera case, and waterproof backpack. This is how I imagined I'd look like:

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But this is what I feared I would look like:

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Anyway, we are prepared. Atlas provides waterproof boots, and gives us a parka to wear and take home. We're almost fully packed, and ready to Uber to the airport.


We have been reading Facebook, Instagram, and Cruise Critic posts from those on and returning from the recent cruises. There's definitely been a few glitches, a delay or two, and some lack of communication on Atlas' part, but all reported amazing trip experiences. And that's what Shelly and I are looking for.

We depart Ushuaia and navigate through the Drake Passage, one of the most temperamental sea passage on Earth. We hope the Dramamine will keep us from getting the "Drakie Shakies". We have 4 days for shore excursions, and I believe there are two excursions per day. We take Zodiac boats from the ship to shore. There we should see penguins, seals, and hopefully some whales will turn up on the route. We also should be going to the southern-most post office where we can mail postcards. We're also interested to see what Atlas does on New Years Eve. Here's the itinerary, weather permitting.

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We return through Drake Passage and tour Cape Horn, before arriving back in Ushuaia. We jump back on our charter and fly to Aruba, where we go through U.S. customs (Argentina has not complied with some sort of CDC or State Department regulation, so there are no direct flights from Argentina to the U.S.). From Aruba we jet to Orlando, then home.


The omicron variant is raging now. We've been pretty much quarantining for the last two weeks. A negative PCR test is required to get into Argentina, so we have a test scheduled for Sunday morning. We have to have a negative antigen test to get on the charter flight to Argentina. That's scheduled for Monday afternoon. Then we get tested on the ship 3 days in. So everyone is playing it safe.

Dianne and Cruise Connections have been great; responsive and accommodating. Atlas took a while getting our flight itinerary to us, but they have been very accommodating as well. Both organizations are committed to us having an exciting and enjoyable experience.

We'll be posting on Facebook, Instagram, and on this blog during our trip, but Internet will be limited and likely spotty. Check our Trip Gallery in late January for details, reviews, photos, and videos of the trip. Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to you all!

Antarctica Trip - We made it to Orlando!

Neither Shelly nor I slept much last night. Excitement about the trip, concern about our flight to Orlando being cancelled due to Covid-related staff shortages, and anxiety over our Covid PCR test at 9:30am played roles in the sleeplessness. Since we were both awake early, we decided to head to our PCR test at 8:15am, just to get it over with. We're glad we did as there were dozens and dozens of others doing the same thing. The line to the test stretch hundreds of yards, and I was now concerned whether we could get the test before we had to head to the airport for our flight to Orlando. The cars just sat, only moving when some poor soul decided they'd had enough and pulled out of line. Finally, after about 45 minutes, cars started to move. Another 1 1/2 hours later, we got to the test site and got our nostrils swabbed. That took all of 30 seconds. But we were done with the test and got a promise the results would be sent to us within 24 hours. That is a critical milestone as we have to present a negative PCR test to gain entry to Argentina.

We got back home around 11:00am, loaded the luggage in the SUV, said goodbye to our cats, Lennon and McCartney, and headed to our daughter's house to leave our car and Uber to Washington Dulles airport. The Uber driver flew along Rt. 28 South and along the Dulles Access Road, getting us to the airport in 10 minutes. We checked in at the United Airlines kiosk, checked one bag, and got through TSA Pre-screen in a total of 10 minutes. There were no lines at either point! Another 10 minutes or so and we were at the United Club lounge, which was devoid of people. We were the only ones there! Here's a photo of the empty lounge. Not very interesting, but we were happy that we could easily socially distance.

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We had a few drinks and some snacks, pocketed a few bags of chips, and waited for our flight to board. We boarded our flight around 4:45pm and talked to a very nice woman in our row and a flight attendant about our trip. The flight was only about 2 hours, about seemed longer. We arrived in Orlando around 7:30pm, picked up our suitcase at baggage claim, and checked into the Hyatt Regency Hotel Orlando International Airport. Our hotel room is on the 9th floor and there is an outdoor pool on the 6th floor. We went to the pool, ordered a few drinks, and ate the snacks we pocketed from the United lounge. It was about 65 degrees and refreshing to be outside after being cooped up in most of the day. Here's a photo of the pool. We're going to spend some time here tomorrow morning before we checkout.

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So stage 1 to Orlando is a wrap. We're counting on receiving positive news about our PCR test tomorrow morning. With that we will fill out our Argentina Health Declaration and upload our test results. That will get us into Argentina. Then we have a 3:00pm antigen test that is required to get on the charter flight to Argentina. That's another important milestone. Shelly and I have done everything right so far. We quarantined for two weeks prior to today, we're vaccinated and boosted, we've masked up with 5-layer KN95 masks, we've kept our distance as best we could, and we've washed or sanitized our hands often. So it's out of hands now, and time to go to bed. See you tomorrow!

Anxiously Awaiting our PCR Test Results

So our Monday travel day started early. Shelly woke up at 3:00pm to check her phone to see if she got her Covid PCR test results. She saw the text that the results were available, and she couldn’t go back to sleep until she found out negative or positive. Fortunately, she was negative, but she now wondered about my results. By then she was wide awake and decided to have coffee and read the news. I woke up at 6:00am and she anxiously ordered me to check my results. I did and it also was negative. Another critical milestone passed and major stress was relieved!

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Now that we had our negative results, our next task was to complete the Argentina Health Declaration. We had read through the Atlas Ocean Voyages Cruisers Facebook page that the declaration was difficult to complete. I started on mine and got quickly frustrated. There are two steps to complete. The first step was simple; I just entered my name, passport number, destination locations, email, and phone number. Some of the form and drop down lists are in Spanish, for example, I needed to select Estados Unidos de America for United States, Then I was prompted to upload my negative PCR test result and proof of Covid insurance (we paid $98 total to get insurance from AON that provided coverage if we contract Covid during our trip. I submitted my form, and received a message to check for an email to complete step 2.

I received the email and it was in Spanish, but it was pretty obvious to click a link (I forgot to mention that Atlas provided very helpful instructions to help complete the form. Step 2 was much more frustrating. The form and field drop downs were in both Spanish and English. I filled out the first section with some difficulty, for example, despite my entering the departure date of 28/12/2021, the field showed as NAN/NAN/NAN. I restarted the form several times to try to get the date to display correctly, and finally it did. I have no solution as to why it did, it just did. Another example, when I tried to enter Tierra del Fuego in the Province field, I could not find it in the drop down list. Later in the day I learned that “Land of Fire”, which was in the drop down list, is the English translation of Tierra del Fuego! This was not in the Atlas instructions, so I was stumped for 30 minutes or so, and tried starting anew several times. I also learned that Argentina modifies it’s forms and links frequently. I was using a link Atlas provided me on December 9, 2021. Atlas also provided a link on December 26, 2021, and it turns out the links were different. Once I figured out how to use the link in the last email, things worked out. The drop down lists are lengthy, often unsorted, and contain duplicates. You need to hunt to find the correct pick for the field. Atlas did a good job in its instructions identifying the correct picks. After over two hours of starts and restarts, I completed both mine and Shelly’s forms. We received confirmation numbers and entered them in the MyAtlas web portal per instructions.

We went to the Hyatt business center to print out the Argentina Health Declaration confirmation, and our Covid insurance confirmation. The business center at Hyatt costs $6.95 to use the computer for 30 minutes. It also cost $1.00 per page printed. We were now ready to pass (hopefully) through Argentina customs. I advise you to print out all documents required by Argentina, just in case they want paper copies. The next step will be the Atlas check-in.

The Atlas Check-in

We were ready for breakfast, which was included in our trip (up to $25 per person), so we went to the restaurant in the Hyatt. I had pancakes and bacon, and Shelly had pancakes and fried chicken. Both were decent and filling, which was good because we would not eat again until after 4:00pm.

We went back to our room and Shelly decided she wanted some sunshine and warm weather, so she headed for the pool. I was tired, so I layed down to try to sleep. Shelly came back after an hour or so and she decided to nap as well. By noon we were rested and ready to repack our belongings (we’re Hyatt rewards members so we got a 1:30pm check out. I suggest you join Hyatt’s reward program before staying there). At 1:00pm, we headed to the lobby and checked out. We went looking for the ballroom where we were to assemble at 2:00pm and an Atlas staff member asked if we checked in. We asked “checked in to what?”. It turns out we were supposed to check in at the Atlas desk and present our passport, Argentina Health Declaration, negative PCR proof, and Covid insurance proof. I don’t believe this was in any Atlas communication. They gave us a card with check marks on it and a boarding pass group number, and told us that we would be called after 2:00pm to go get our boarding passes. This was not communicated in advance either. They also picked up our luggage that we were checking and took it to what I assumed was the airplane. I think it would serve Atlas’ passengers to have written instructions as to what happens at 2:00pm, maybe a timeline would represent well. We learned a lot of what we had to do because Shelly asked the Atlas staff or we read it on the Atlas Ocean Voyages Cruisers Facebook page.

At around 2:20pm, our boarding group was called and we were escorted to the National Airlines counter in the Orlando International Airport terminal. National was providing the charter flight to Argentina. It was less than a 5 minute walk from the Hyatt. We were reunited with our luggage, checked it in, and got our boarding passes for the flight to Ushuaia, Argentina, scheduled to depart at 8:00pm. We went back to the Hyatt and checked in at the Impact Health desk, and was given a Health Information card. It asks for your name, phone, email, and confirmation of your Covid antigen test they were to give (the negative PCR test was required by Argentina. The Covid antigen test is required by Atlas to board the plane). We got our nostrils swabbed in a ballroom, and waited for about 30 minutes for the results. We were both negative (another milestone passed!) and felt great relief. We then left that ballroom for another ballroom where we would wait for 3-plus hours while everyone got their boarding passes and antigen tests.

A message for future passengers: Because of the Covid pandemic, be prepared for some anxiety while you schedule your tests and wait for your results, and fill out the Argentina Health Declaration (if you experience what Shelly and I experienced with the form, give yourself at least an hour to complete). It’s out of your control, so try to be patient and just breathe.

Atlas made the wait very comfortable. We were given a pair of Atlas pajamas and slippers, and were entertained the entire time by a magician, a violinist, and a Spanish guitarist and flamenco dancer.

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All the performers were wonderful. They kept us entertained, and made the atmosphere lively. There was a bar with beer, wine, and soft drinks, wrapped sandwiches, assorted bags of chips, fruit, and Kind bars. We had met Monica, Jonathan, and their daughter Jacqueline while getting our boarding passes. They sat next to us and we chatted the entire time. They are very good people, and we hit it off nicely. At 6:30pm, we got called to board. I have to say Atlas did an excellent job in making the wait more than tolerable. The entertainment was great (although a bit loud), the food was decent, and passengers were in a joyous mood. Here's a photo of the guitarist and dancer.


We were escorted to the TSA screening lines. Shelly and I made it to the kiosk and our passports and boarding passes were checked. This is where our first mishap occurred. It turns out we were given two boarding passes at the National counter, but they were both in my name. Shelly did not have one. The TSA agent told us we needed to get her boarding pass and return to the line. A bit of panic ran through my veins, and Shelly got agitated. When we received the boarding passes, I only glanced at them. My bad, I should have reviewed them thoroughly. So my advice is to verify your boarding passes before leaving the counter.

I told myself to be patient, and that it would work out. Shelly marched us back to the Hyatt ballroom and told several Atlas staff what had occurred. Mike, who we had previously met, escorted us back to the National desk in the terminal and called for assistance. A National representative responded quickly, worked the problem, and got us the correct boarding passes. We walked hurriedly back to TSA check in, and were blessed with an empty line. We also breezed through screening, and jumped on the train to head to our departure gate 94. We arrived at the gate around 7:20pm, with plenty of time to spare. More kudos for Atlas and one for National for managing us and correcting the situation. We were on the plane and ready to go!

Our Flight to Argentina

We were greeted on the plane with friendly faces, champagne, and water. We were also reunited with Monica, Jonathan, and Jacqueline, who were worried about us, and seated 4 rows in front of us. We talked, stretched out, and waited for take off.

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While we waited, we learned that a family of 5 would not be able to take the cruise as one of their party tested positive for Covid. They would have to head home and reschedule their trip. Apparently Atlas was very helpful as they would cover their hotel, help them with the rental car, and allow them to rebook. We heard that there were around 135 people scheduled for the cruise, but only about 108 on the plane. So maybe 25 people tested positive? I’m not certain about this, but regardless of the number, it’s sad that potential new friends would not be able to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The plane departed around 8:30pm. We had a couple beers and sodas, and then ate a meal of beef tenderloin, potatoes, carrots, and a salad. The other option was chicken. The beef was OK, nothing special, but we were full. One other item, the alcohol and mixers didn’t seem to be very well stocked. The beers were limited to an IPA (which Shelly hates), Stella, and Amstel Light, and they didn’t seem to have many of them. We overheard other passengers asking for vodka and tonic, and were told they didn’t have tonic (who doesn’t have tonic water?!?). This is something Atlas and National should investigate. Regardless, I got my Cokes, Shelly enjoyed a couple beers, and here we are. We’re 4 ½ hours into the flight, Shelly is sleeping, and I am writing my blog, relieved to be on the way, and still very excited. I am done for now, and will try to sleep. One other thing, the movies and TV selections are very old and limited. Don’t expect any new releases. If I can’t sleep, I’ll find a movie to watch. Goodnight…Well, I couldn’t sleep so I watched a movie. Shelly was able to get some sleep but hers was pretty restless. The flight was very smooth and on time.

We made it to Ushuaia!

After an 11 ½ hour flight, we arrived in Ushuaia at around 9:30am. The airport and terminal is small, and we went through customs without having to present the PCR test results or proof of Covid insurance. I guess the electronic upload was sufficient, but just in case, have your paperwork ready to present. We collected our luggage and boarded one of four buses where we were told we would be getting, drum roll please, another Covid test! This was a total surprise, but we were getting used to it. The key is to be patient and flexible. We drove about 10 minutes to an indoor sports building and got our nostrils swabbed once more. We waited about 40 minutes until everyone on the bus got their results and left. We’re getting to be old pros at this now.

 

The tour guide gave us a brief history of Ushuaia and told us the itinerary for the day. The ship boarding was not until 3:00pm, so we drove 30km to a quaint little ski-area restaurant in the Andes mountains where we were treated with a lamb and sausage dish and serenaded by a guitarist.

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Neither Shelly nor I are big fans of lamb, but this dish didn’t taste too gamy. Once I had a few bites and got used to the taste, it was pretty good. We were then served delicious, what I believe was, homemade ice cream. After eating, walked around the grounds a bit while everyone else finished up. There was a petting zoo with dogs with a 500-peso entry fee. We didn't enter and instead talked to some of our fellow passengers.

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The time went quickly, but we were ready for our adventure to start!

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Dec 28 to Dec 29 - Day 1 and 2 - Boarding Atlas World Navigator and the first Two Days

We arrived at the ship, climbed up a 25-foot gang-plank, and boarded. We were met with a well-organized and pleasant reception in the Atlas Lounge on deck 4.

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Servers had small sandwiches and drinks for us. Staff took our temperatures, gave us our personal identity card/room key, and provided us Internet access instructions. Each passenger was given 1GB of Internet data transfers for one device. There are three upgrade options: 500MB and one device for $45, 1GB and two devices for $80, and 5GB and three devices for $350. We’re testing out the complimentary 1GB before we upgrade.

Atlas takes safety and health very seriously. Every crew member is masked, and passengers are encouraged to mask up. Hand sanitizer stations are everywhere, and you can get a complimentary mask in multiple locations. Shelly and I feel very comfortable on board.

We were escorted to our cabin 641 and unpacked. We got the Horizon A1 cabin. It does not have a balcony, but has a sitting area with a small couch, two chairs, and a desk with a mini-fridge and a Nespresso coffee maker. There’s a queen-size bed with two side tables, and a bathroom with a reasonable size shower.

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There are electrical outlets all around the room and all but one in the bathroom require Type C adapters. On the right-side table by the bed, there is one USB port for plugging in a charging cable. There is a Juliette window, controlled by switches near the bed, that lowers and raises the upper half of the window so you can get an unobstructed view of the scenery. There is a 50” or so TV on the wall opposite the bed. Lastly, there are two floor-to-ceiling closets opposite the bathroom. The drawers and shelves held all our clothes, and I managed to store both our large and carry-on suitcases in them.

After testing out the Internet access, it’s limited. You get a one device, 1GB complimentary account. You are given a paper with an account code you enter when you connect to the network. During peak times, it’s difficult to get texts and emails to your recipients. My attempts have timed out several times. The passengers share the satellite connection with the crew too. If you need to get or send texts or email, or post to social networking sites, I suggest waiting until mealtimes, early morning or late at night. Atlas provides some instructions on how to minimize background processes from using your bandwidth, for example, turning off roaming and automatic cloud backups. A note for passengers in the rear of the boat, WIFI signal is spotty. The best place for a strong WIFI signal is in the Atlas Lounge on deck 4.

We toured the ship and got familiar with each deck. Deck 4 is where most of the action is. It includes reception, the Porto Restaurant where the main meals are located, the Atlas Lounge, an auditorium, and the Seaspa (Shelly booked a 90-minute message for day 2 which is a sea day. I suggest you book your appointments as soon as you can). Deck 7 has the Dome, a lounge and piano bar. Here are two photos of the Dome Lounge:

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I got couple photos of the Andes Mountains and a National Geographic Explorer ship ready to set sail. Note Ushuaia in the background.

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We attended an orientation in the auditorium which was presented by the Expedition Leader. He went through the orientation of the ship, health, and safety protocols, and introduced his team. He said we were not on a cruise, but on an expedition. There was no set-in-stone schedule or ports to visit. The weather would dictate the place and time of the shore excursions. He emphasized the need for patience and flexibility as we were at the mercy of the weather, which is unpredictable.

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Dinner was a Greek buffet, and very good. We dined with Jonathan, Monica, and Jacqueline, and enjoyed the company. Shelly and I were quite tired, as we had little sleep in the past three nights. We headed back to our cabin and crashed. The sea was calm although we rocked a bit. We fell asleep around 10:00pm, looking forward to Day 2 at sea.

Dec 30 - Day 3 - Landing Exploration of Telefon Bay in Deception Island

Today was our first land excursion. Before I get into this, I’ll go over our day.

 

I awoke at 2:00am and could not fall back to sleep. It must have been the Coke’s I had the evening before. Too much caffeine! Also, the ship was rocking a bit more than it had during the day, and I could really feel it in bed. The sun sets around 11:00pm and rises at 3:00am, but between those hours, it never gets dark. It’s like 4 hours of dusk. I got up at 3:00am and went to the Atlas Lounge to write. It was very peaceful, and I just missed the sunrise. I cleaned up my travel blog posts, loaded photos, and published them.

 

At 6:30am, Paula’s Pantry opens on deck 4. It has coffee and assorted muffins, croissants, pastries, and donuts. I began to enjoy my coffee and donut when Shelly approached me. She had not slept well due to the ship rocking and creaking sounds from the rear of the ship. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, we are in cabin 641 which is the last in the stern of the ship. So, we relaxed in the Atlas Lounge until the Porto Restaurant opened for breakfast at 7:30am. This was our first breakfast on the expedition. It’s a buffet with what you would expect and has an omelet station. Breakfast was decent. Related to the overall food experience, several passengers whom I spoke with were disappointed. They commented that if Atlas sees themselves competing with, for example, a Silversea, then they must step up their game. I’ll update you on food in later blog posts.

 

We went back to our cabin for a shower. The shower stall is big with a glass door. It’s got a ceiling shower head, a handheld, and jets that spray from the rear wall. It was a nice experience. We also laid out our base and mid-layers for today’s excursions to Deception Island.

 

There were two lectures in the morning that we did not attend, one on Antarctica rocks, and the other on wildlife watching. I have to say I have really enjoyed the lectures and workshops. They have been professional, pointed, and energetic. The Expedition Team really has a passion for what they do. There is going to be a guest lecturer during the return who will, time permitting, speak on how to travel safely, learning to read body language, and proper digital security. I’m looking forward to them.

 

We met Monica, Jonathan, and Jacqueline for lunch. It’s a buffet and includes hot dogs and hamburgers.

 

Our ship approached Deception Island and we saw the narrow entrance, just 1,640 feet wide, called Neptune's Bellows. Here are a couple photos of us approaching and crossing through Neptune's Bellows:

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The excursion for our group was scheduled for around 2:30pm. All passengers are allocated into 4 groups. Shelly and I are in the Penguin Group. The groups are given specific times to meet in the Atlas Lounge before being called for boarding the Zodiac boats. You go ashore with your group. If you’re traveling with family or friends, or made new friends on the ship, you can request to be in the same group. Atlas’ Expedition Team does their best to place you together. Jonathan, Monica, and Jacqueline requested to join the Penguin Group, and were accommodated.

Around 1:45pm, Shelly and I started to suit up for the excursion. It takes some time to get into your base and mid-layers, rain pants, head-covers, etc., so give yourselves some time. We went to the lounge around 2:15pm and were given instructions on how to board and disembark the Zodiac boats. If you want to be in the same boat with your family and friends, make sure you’re together in the lounge.

We were getting hot in our layers and hadn’t even put our boots and parkas on. We trudged down to the Mud Room on deck 3 and struggled to get geared up. You’re constricted with all the layers, so getting your feet into knee-high boots isn’t easy. You also need to don your bulky parka and life vest. It took 10 to 15 minutes to get all our gear on, and we were really sweating.

It was our turn to board the Zodiac boat. You step through a machine with rotating brushes which does a final cleaning of your boots, then down a short gangway and onto the Zodiac. Expedition Team members are helping all the way, so we felt quite safe.

The Zodiac ride was 5 minutes or so to shore, where we disembarked and set foot on the island. Deception Island is an active volcano that blew its top 10,000 or so years ago. Telefon Bay is in the center and is surrounded by a ring of mountains and glaciers. It reminds me a bit like the Greek island of Santorini. Deception Island is breathtakingly beautiful. And we were greeted onshore by three penguins and 3 seals.

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The weather was great, 35 degrees Fahrenheit with mild wind. I was quite comfortable in my gear, although it was bulky.

 

We took pictures of the wildlife and the surrounding beauty. Then we walked about ½ mile up a gentle hill to a crater where an Expedition Team member told us about the history of the island.

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I estimate that 40 to 50 passengers continued the guided, 2-mile hike along the hills to the left of the crater. It meandered back to the shore. Shelly and I chose not to take this hike. My left knee is bad, and I don’t have the stamina, and Shelly is afraid of heights, so it just wasn’t for us. We headed back to shore, and along the way, Shelly and Jacqueline made some snow angels.

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We walked back to the shore, saw a few more penguins and seals, took photos and boarded the Zodiac to go back to the ship.

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We were on land for a little more than an hour. You will get wet in the Zodiac, especially your gloves, so bring an extra pair. The drivers are great, but spray is inevitable. And it’s colder in the boat than on land. So, make sure you’re zipped up, and have your hood and gloves on. And protect your camera.


The Zodiac pulled up alongside the gangway and we disembarked. It took us 10 minutes to get out of our boots, parka, and life vest. The space is tight so be patient. You are then greeted by team members and given a cup of hot chocolate.

 

We went back to our cabin, stripped down, and got into nice, dry clothes. We then met friends at the Dome Lounge on deck 7 to watch the other passengers return to the boat, and just generally marvel at the scenes.


At 6:30pm we went to a recap briefing and learned about tomorrow’s excursions. As usual, the Expedition Team was professional, passionate, and fun.


We then went to dinner with Monica, Jonathan, and Jacqueline, and celebrated my 61st birthday. Monica and Jonathan were so kind as to bring a bottle of champagne to share. The restaurant staff brought me a chocolate cake with a candle and sang happy birthday. I also received a signed birthday card from the hotel manager, which was a nice touch. I had a wonderful birthday celebration with Shelly and friends, and in Antarctica. What more could I ask for?


We had a few problems with our cabin steward's performance. Our mini fridge was not being restocked, and we ran out of toilet paper. Minor problems in the scheme of things, but when you’re paying as much as we did for this trip, you want minor problems managed and resolved. Shelly spoke with Butler Manager Ricardo and told him what was happening. He managed and resolved our problems, so thanks and kudos to Ricardo.


The sun broke through and winds cleared out most of the clouds. We went to the Dome to watch the sunset at 11:10pm. Some low clouds blocked the sun a bit, but it was still beautiful. We then turned in, looking forward to tomorrow’s adventure at Kinnes Cove and Madder Cliffs in the Antarctic sound.

Dec 31 - Day 4 - Excursion to Kinnes Cove and Madder Cliffs

After yesterday's great excursion in Deception Island, I could not wait for what we would see today. We were to make a shore excursion, but the landing site was overrun with penguins. So the plan for the day was a Zodiac cruise of Kinnes Cove and Madder Cliffs.

 

We started the day having breakfast with Monica, Jonathan, and Jacqueline. Shelly kept asking our servers, in fact, she asked any staff she saw, what the plans were for New Year's Eve. The only thing they would say is there would be a party in the Dome lounge. We were excited to start off to celebrate New Year's in Antarctica!

 

We approached Kinnes Cove. The sunshine was bright and warm, the sky blue, and the water various shades of blue. Icebergs dotted the horizon. What a fabulous day! Here's a few photos of our approach taken from deck 7.

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It was time for our Zodiac cruise. We were promised there was a lot of penguins to see on Madder Cliffs. Henry, the Expedition Team Lead said it is colder in the Zodiacs, so we should consider an extra layer. But since the sun was shining bright and the wind was calm, Shelly and I stuck with the single base and mid-layers. We finished dressing, headed to the Atlas Lounge, and waited to be called. It was Penguins turn to tour, so we went to the Mud Room to get our boots and parkas on. Since this was our second excursion, it was easier getting fully dressed.

We boarded our Zodiac and was excited that Chris, the Expedition Team Assistant Lead, was our driver and guide. We had met Chris on deck 4 and chatted a bit, and he was confident, knowledgeable, and humorous. He guided us on an amazing journey of Kinnes Cove. First, we went to an area where a humpback whale was spotted. We saw the spout expelling water and headed a bit closer. One's back broke the surface, and I got a few photos.

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We then steered near a gorgeous iceberg, beautiful blue-green water, and a view of Madder Cliffs. Here's some photos:

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We began making our way to Madder Cliffs. As we approached, we saw the cliffs dotted with hundreds of penguins. As we got closer, the smell of penguin poop hit me for the first time. It's very strong, but you get used to it quickly. We also spotted penguins swimming to the cliffs. Here's some photos:

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We drove right up to the cliffs, and I was able to get close-ups of the little guys.

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We left the cliffs and headed back to the ship. We saw some beautiful scenes.

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Here's Chris, our Zodiac driver and guide. Great job Chris!

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Here's a couple photos of Shelly and Ken enjoying their ride!

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Here's Shelly and Monica.

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I would say this Zodiac tour was the highlight of my trip. Rarely have I ever seen such beauty. Our afternoon excursion to Brown Bluff promises tens of thousands of penguins!

Dec 31 – Day 4 – Excursion to Brown Bluff to see Thousands of Penguins!

We thought we saw penguins on Madder Cliff, but oh, were we in for a surprise! Our second excursion of the day was a landing on Brown Bluff. As it is Adélie penguin breeding season, we expected to see tens of thousands of them. The weather was gorgeous. Partly sunny in the mid-30's and little wind.

 

The Expedition Team boarded their Zodiacs and prepared the landing site. They put orange traffic cones along the route we could walk. Meanwhile, we readied as usual in our base and mid-layers. We pulled out our second pair of gloves since the pair we wore earlier on the Zodiac cruise of Kinnes Cove were soaked. We also wore silk glove liners, which are essential to keep your hand warm if you take your glove off to work your camera. We were also becoming pros at putting on our boots, parka, and life vest now. We were ready to board the Zodiac.

We boarded the Zodiac and sped to shore. As we approached, we could see thousands of penguins. It was like a penguin Woodstock festival! We landed and disembarked, and there were penguins all around us. You’re supposed to stay at least 15 feet away from penguins, but they were waddling around within a few feet of us. We gingerly stepped to our orange-cone walkway and began watching and taking photos. I took a picture of our feet to show our first steps in Antarctica (our first excursion to Deception Island was in the South Shetland Islands and part of South America).

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We walked along the path and marveled at the momma penguins in their nest with their young. We watched them waddling on the “penguin highway” as they make their way to and from the water. Penguins eat krill, so they go to the water, eat krill, return to their nest, then regurgitate it into the mouths of their young.

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The Expedition Team estimated there was over 100,000 penguins on Brown Bluff. That number doesn’t surprise me, as they were everywhere. Here are some photos of Shelly and me, and of course, penguins.

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The penguins are obviously used to humans. Here's a photo of a fearless, flightless, waterfowl waddling past Jonathan.

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Here's some photos of the island, ship, and kayakers.

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It was time to head back to the ship, so we made our way back to the Zodiac and boarded. On the way to the ship, I took this photo of a bunch of penguins on an iceberg.

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We boarded the ship all safe and sound, got into dry clothes, and prepared for dinner. What a fabulous excursion! We were looking forward to seeing in the new year in Antarctica!

Dec 31 - Day 4 - New Year’s Eve!

We had a great day, and now prepared for a wonderful evening. We started out at dinner by celebrating my 61st birthday (my actual birthday was the week before) with Monica, Jonathan, and Jacqueline. They were kind enough to bring and share a bottle of champagne. We shared a toast to me, to travels, and to great, new friends. For dessert, the restaurant servers gathered around and sang happy birthday. The servers gave me a birthday card signed by the Hotel Manager, and a small, chocolate cake, for each of us to share. It was a great birthday celebration!

 

After dinner, we went to The Dome lounge on deck 7 and were entertained by Piano Paul and Andy the classical guitarist. They performed a variety of songs from the 60’s through today. There not great singers, but we had music to help us ring in the new year. Shelly and I danced a few times, and we chatted with friends. The lounge was packed with people, most of them unmasked.


Here's the last photo of Shelly and me in 2021!

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As the new year countdown was approaching, we all sang “Sweet Caroline”, then “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Happy New Year!!!”. It was 2022, and we were in Antarctica! Here are some photos and videos.

Here's the first photos of Shelly and me in 2022!

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We had a wonderful time, but it turned out that this celebration was a Covid super-spreader event, as 7 passengers and two crew would test positive a few days later.

Jan 1 - Day 5 - Shelly does the Polar Plunge!

January 1, 2022 was the big day! The day Shelly and 70+ others would jump off a platform into 29-degree seawater (seawater freezes at 28.4 degrees!). I think it’s kind of crazy, but Shelly seemed excited. Or at least nonplused. Here's a photo of her waiting to be called to the plunge.

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The ship anchored and the crew lowered the gangway and platform. Shelly and her fellow plungers got into their bathing suits and bathrobes, and headed to the Mud Room, where songs of encouragement were playing. “Ice, Ice, Baby”, “Stayin’ Alive”, and other thematic tunes blared over the speakers and livened up the crowd.

 

I found a spot in front of a window on deck 4 that had a great view of the platform. I’d be able to get some pictures, albeit through a slightly dirty window. Pia, the ship photographer, was in a Zodiac boat to the left of the platform ready to take photos of the plungers.

 

I saw two people jump from the platform into the freezing water, then saw friend Jonathan take the plunge, so I knew Shelly would be up soon. Monica, then Jacqueline plunged, and I figured Shelly was up next. Sure enough, Shelly carefully stepped down the gangway to the platform, a harness tied around her waist, and a rope attached to the harness. She readied herself and jumped into the air, arms outstretched, and thumbs pointed to the sky. I snapped 4 to 5 photos. She plunged into the freezing water, quickly resurfaced, and scampered up the ladder. She was quickly given a towel and her bathrobe. Here's 4 photos I took from deck 4 through the window, and one Ship Photographer, Pia, took from the Zodiac.

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When I saw her come up to deck 4, she had a shot glass of vodka in her hand, and already seemed warm. She shared her experience with me and other “chickens” who didn’t plunge. It was very cold and shocking, but she was very glad she did it. It makes me cold just looking at the photos!

Jan 1 – Day 5 – Zodiac Excursion of Icebergs in Prince Gustav Channel

Atlas planned for a ship navigation of the Prince Gustav Channel, providing us views from ship. But the weather was moderate, and it was announced that we would be doing an amazing Zodiac excursion for about 90 minutes.


We got our base and mid-layers on and huddled up with our fellow Penguins in the Atlas Lounge, waiting for our turn to board the Zodiac. By now, getting our boots and parkas on was a snap, and we loaded the boat. As this was a Zodiac tour, I decided to leave my DSLR camera in the cabin, and instead would use my Pentax waterproof camera. It has a decent zoom and takes a nice picture.

 

The temperature was cold, around 31 degrees, and the wind was around 10 mph. But our guide kept the Zodiac at a slow pace and there was little water spray. We were comfortable in our layers and warm parka and stayed dry.

 

We got close enough to a huge iceberg, which our guide estimated to be 1500 to 2000 feet long, to get great photos.

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We spent 15 minutes circling the iceberg. Unfortunately, my back was to the iceberg, and it was difficult to get a good shot. It had a large crack at the end, and it looked as if it would break off and topple into the water.

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A bird flew over and alongside the boat for about 10 seconds, and I got a fair picture of it. Then it landed on some sea ice and watched us while we watched it.

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We saw an iceberg partly covered in sea algae, giving it a greenish tint at and below the water line.

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It was time to head in, and I caught a photo of our ship behind the iceberg.

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It was a mighty nice tour!

Jan 2 – Day 6 – An Amazing Excursion to Paulet Island and Rumors about Covid!

Shelly and I thought we saw a lot of penguins on Brown Bluff, and we did. 100,000 or more. But on Brown Bluff we had room to walk. On Paulet Island, there was no room for anything. It was wall-to-wall penguins! Upwards of 400,000! We couldn't wait to see them!

 

As usual, the Expedition Team arrived on the island first to find a landing zone and placed orange cones along a walkway for us. The temperature was around 32 degrees, and mild winds. We had been lucky with the weather, especially the winds. It was foggy though.

 

We geared up and took the Zodiac to shore. We saw what could have been a mile or more of penguins on a hillside. We disembarked and had to climb up a steep embankment to get to the walking path. One of the Expedition Team members gave Shelly a walking stick and she used it to climb the hill. Walking was treacherous, with loose sand, wet mud, and penguin poop covering the cobblestone rocks. My foot slipped on a rock with every step.

 

Just along the walking path, there were hundreds of penguins nesting with their young. There were penguins waddling left, right, up, down, and all around. Penguins diving into and jumping out of the water, and penguins nesting with their young, feeding them krill.

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I was unsure of my footing and did not take that many photos. I thought I had gotten photos of the density of the penguins, but I can’t find any. So, you’ll have to rely on my assertion that penguins were shoulder-to-shoulder for hundreds and hundreds of yards.

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We walked up the hill about 50 yards, but were concerned about slipping and turning an ankle, so we headed back to the Zodiac. This was by far the toughest walk we had on the cruise. While we were waiting to board, a seal popped its head up right near the Zodiac, but I was too slow to get a picture. I did get a picture of our ship cast in the fog.

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We returned to the ship, changed out of our gear, and met Jonathan, Monica, and Jacqueline in the lounge to play some Yahtzee.

We began hearing rumors about some passengers testing positive for Covid and being in quarantine. Shelly was talking to the crew to try to get some information on what was going on. The rumor was two members of a family had tested positive and they and those who had been in close contact with them were in quarantine. We were supposed to receive an antigen test sometime on the ship, but we did not know when that would take place.


We had met a very nice couple, Debbie and Barry, earlier on the cruise and began talking to them more frequently. After hearing about the positive Covid tests, we decided to form a bubble with Jacqueline, Monica, Jonathan, Barry, and Debbie. Here's a photo of our crew.

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We had been wearing masks all around the ship but taking them off when we were at a lounge or dining. Now we kept them on unless we were drinking or eating. The last thing we wanted was to test positive and possibly be quarantined in Ushuaia.

Jan 3 - Day 7 - Deception Island - Whaler’s Bay and a Covid Outbreak!

We had an excursion planned for 11:00am. We woke up around 8:00am and headed to breakfast. Covid was the lead topic of conversation. Who was missing from breakfast? Who has it? How will it affect our planned departure on Thursday? Would Ushuaia let us off the ship? Would Argentina shut down cruising for the rest of the season? Would we be next? We all had a bit of anxiety.

 

Shelly and Monica were listening in on Expedition Team conversations to hear about the Covid situation. The latest count was 8 passengers and two crew testing positive for Covid, and over 50 passengers quarantined. That’s half of all the passengers! It was feeling like a private cruise to us. The Atlas Lounge was empty, and the Porto Restaurant was sparse with passengers.


Excursion time was approaching. We left the Antarctic Peninsula early, I assume because of the Covid outbreak, and headed back to the South Shetland Islands. Specifically, we were going to Deception Island again, but this time we’d land in Whaler’s Bay. I was thinking I wouldn’t do this excursion as we’d been to Deception Island on our first excursion. I’m glad I went as I would take my first video of penguins and a seal.

 

We geared up in the Mud Room, it was getting easy to put on our boots and parkas. There were only 4 Zodiac boat landings with about 40 passengers. We embarked our Zodiac on Whaler’s Bay and headed to shore. The water was very calm, there was little wind, and the temperature was around 40 degrees.

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We disembarked and walked around what remained of a whaling operation from the 1930’s. There were three large, rusted silos that were used to store whale oil, the remains of buildings that housed the rendering operation, an airplane hangar, and lots of whale bones.

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We walked to the right and down the shore and spotted a group of 6 or 7 penguins. I took pictures and videos of them waddling around.

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I spotted a seal that was basking on shore and took a video of it.


At the end of the shore, there was a hill with a gap. It was a steep walk to a ridge that overlooked the ocean. I decided I wouldn’t try but Shelly, Jonathan, Monica, and Jacqueline trekked up and got a nice view and some photos.


Here are the last photos we took on our last excursion. We were headed back to Ushuaia early, so goodbye to Antarctica and the South Shetland Islands.

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We headed back toward the Zodiacs. Jacqueline and I had had enough trudging in the deep sand, so we got in the Zodiac and Jonathan accompanied us. Shelly and Monica walked to the end of the other end of the shoreline to see the airplane hangar. They returned to the ship about 20 minutes later.

I was sad that this was our last excursion, so we took our parkas to our cabin and folded them up. Although they are bulky, they fold up amazingly small. When we packed on our last day, we were able to get them into our suitcase. Our next adventure would be crossing the Drake Passage. Let's hope it would be calm.

Jan 4 and 5 – Day 8 and 9 – Cruising Drake Passage back to Ushuaia, and Covid Update

As I mentioned in the previous post, we departed the Antarctic Peninsula early and were cruising at a high rate of speed, I assumed so we could get to Ushuaia as early as possible. Waves were splashing above the windows on deck 4. The ship was rocking, and we were unsteady on our feet. We sat in the Atlas Lounge with Monica, Jonathan, Jacqueline, Barry, and Debbie chatting, enjoying drinks, playing Yahtzee, putting together a 2000-piece puzzle, and watching the waves. It was so rocky that at lunch, plates and drinks were sliding off the dining tables. In fact, Barry caught his glass of iced tea in mid-air as it slid off the table, spilling only a few drops. The guests in the restaurant applauded!


There were several lectures, and I attended two given by guest lecturer, Peter Lasorsa. The first was on how to travel safely. He provided great tips and tricks on how not to look like a tourist (carry a local newspaper with you), how to secure your belongings (for example, put your paper currency in an empty lip balm container) from theft and pickpockets, and how to avoid being kidnapped (for example, don’t get into a car at an airport just because someone holds a sign up with you name on it. Instead, provide a password to the driving service so you don't get into the wrong car).

 

Peter’s second lecture was on how to read body language. It was very interesting and included tips on how to convey power in an interaction, how to show interest or disinterest, and how not to convey the wrong message during an interview or negotiation. Now I’m finding myself examining people’s body language rather than just paying attention to the verbal exchange!

 

It was kind of spooky with how few people were in the dining room and lounges. I didn’t document the number of cases we heard at the time, but it was around 8 positive cases with guests and still over 50 quarantined. In addition, at least two crew members tested positive, with an unknown number quarantined. There were crew members out of commission, as servers in the lounge had disappeared. Here’s a photo of Shelly sitting in an empty Atlas Lounge.

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We saw Ricardo, the head butler, carrying tray after tray of food and drinks to the quarantined guests. Eventually, the ship had to enlist Expedition Team members to prepare and carry trays. We were told that 30 quarantined cabins received room service. Although I cannot tell you from first-hand experience, I believe the Atlas crew did their absolute best to serve and care for the quarantined guests. Here’s a photo of Shelly and Ricardo.

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We heard that we would be getting to Ushuaia around noon on January 5th and spending the day and night in port. We would not be touring Cape Horn, Chile as stated in the itinerary. We also learned we would be ushered off the ship at 7:00am on January 6th and taken to a hotel ballroom where we would receive an antigen test, spend the day and evening, before heading to the airport for our return flight to Orlando. We were supposed to tour Ushuaia on our last day. The itinerary mentions touring either the wild forest of Parque Yatana or Martial Glacier, or shopping on Ushuaia’s main streets. We were both disappointed and angry that we would lose another tour opportunity and be cooped up in a hotel all day. This is not what we expected nor what we paid for. Shelly called Atlas’ Vice President of Guest Relations to inquire as to why the itinerary was changing. She left a message and we have yet to receive a response.


So, we made it through the "Drake Shakes", through the Beagle Channel, and docked in Ushuaia. We spent the day similarly to the previous day, bubbling with our crew, talking, and enjoying drinks from the bar.

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After dinner, we got word from someone that the next cruise scheduled for tomorrow, was cancelled by Argentina authorities. We heard the guests scheduled to board the charter flight in Orlando were told 15 to 30 minutes before boarding that they would not be leaving. We were sad that the next group would not be able to enjoy the marvels of Antarctica as planned.

 

Our bubble was talking about the cancellation, and tomorrow’s departure at 7:00am, and we thought, if the next cruise is cancelled, maybe we don’t need to leave the ship and spend the day at a hotel. Perhaps we could stay on the ship until it was time to depart for the airport charter. Shelly went to guest relations to inquire about this and was told by the purser that Atlas could not accommodate it. Shelly asked for the hotel manager, was told he was off duty, so she left a message. She reported back to our bubble, and we were all kind of fuming. Why would they need to boot us off at 7:00am now, unless they didn’t want any more responsibility for us. If we were off the ship, no new guests to test positive, and no more Covid to deal with. Since there was no communication from Atlas, this is the kind of speculation that goes around.

 

We had dinner, packed our luggage, left it outside our cabin for pickup, and went to bed. After an amazing expedition, we now had a bit of a sour taste in our mouths.

Jan 6 to 7 - Days 10 and 11 – A Difficult 36 Hours

Yesterday we learned that we would not be touring Ushuaia on our last day, rather we would depart the ship at 7:00am, get bussed to a hotel, and spend 12 hours sitting in a hotel ballroom. Atlas already cut our cruise by one day, now we would lose a tour. Shelly and I were not happy about this at all. We went to breakfast at 6:00am and ate as much as we could for that early hour. We watched as Ricardo, the head butler, and the Expedition Team prepared and carted off trays of food and drink to those quarantined. We said goodbye to our servers, Bodiono and Nares, and went to the lounge to wait to be called for our debarkation.

 

We boarded the bus to find Atlas had no staff on the bus, rather they outsourced the logistics to a local tour company. Our guide was very nice and gave us a briefing of what the day would be like. We arrived at La Hayas Hotel, billed as a 5-star hotel. It’s not. It does have a beautiful view of the Beagle Channel and the Andes Mountains, but it is old and worn, and has not been updated in years.

 

We were ushered to our ballroom by 8:00am and sat with Jonathan, Monica, Jacqueline, and Debbie and Barry. It was cold and cavernous. We sat at a round table, and the chairs weren't very comfortable. We were to get a mid-morning snack, lunch, and dinner. Guests hunted down electrical outlets to charge their phones. We tried to make the best of the situation.

 

We needed a negative antigen test to enter the U.S. so the testing started almost immediately. Shelly and I got our nostrils swabbed and went back to the ballroom to await our fate. 20 minutes past, then 30. After an hour without hearing anything, we were confident we were negative. Not so for a dozen others. A tour operator would walk into the ballroom and call someone’s name. They would talk briefly, then the guest collected their luggage and was escorted out of the ballroom. They had tested positive and would have to quarantine in Ushuaia for 7 days. They wouldn’t be traveling home with the rest of us, and Shelly and I felt so sad.

 

Guests that tested positive were ushered to a separate room. The hotel refused to provide them the same breakfast, lunch, and dinner we received, as they said they would not provide food on plates with utensils. Instead, they got water, a peach, and a sandwich. This was totally unacceptable. We complained to the local tour guide but there was nothing they could do. We and others smuggled some food into them.

 

The guests who tested positive also learned that most of the hotels in Ushuaia were full. It wasn’t until 6:30pm that some learned of a hotel with a vacancy. They gathered their luggage and taxied off. One family of 5 managed to rent an Airbnb for the week. We kept in touch with one family via text, and they made it to the hotel, their next adventure just beginning.


At 7:15pm, we departed for the airport. We checked in, checked our bags, went through customs (they did not ask to see the Argentina Health Declaration form or proof of the negative Covid test), and sat at the gate until 10:30pm when we took off. An hour or so before we took off, our negative antigen test paperwork arrived, and the tour operators handed them out. The first flight to Aruba was 10+ hours. While I was not able to sleep, I did get some writing done, while Shelly managed to sleep. The food on the charter flight was bad. It’s best if you bring your own snacks aboard.

 

I’m sad that the mess of the past 36 hours has dampened my trip experience. Atlas was very cavalier about returning to Ushuaia a day early (costing us one to two land excursions), having us disembark at 7:00am on our last day, and not providing a tour of Ushuaia. I believe they did all of this to get us off the ship early so they could sanitize and get the new passengers on board. As it turns out, the next cruise was cancelled 30 minutes prior to the passengers in Orlando boarding the charter flight. But I do know my wonderful memories of Antarctica will far outlast the glitches we experienced.

 

Upon disembarking, Atlas should have sent a staff member to spend the day with us at the hotel and accompany us to the airport. They could have ensured passengers who tested positive were properly treated, fed, and lodged. The tour operators that stayed with us did their best, but Atlas should have taken charge and responsibility.


We made it to Aruba, collected our luggage, and went through customs. It took maybe 90 minutes and things went smoothly. However, had there been problems, there was no one from Atlas there to help us deal with it. I think Atlas needs to have a Guest Advocate accompany the guests from Orlando to boarding the ship, and disembarkation to Orlando.

 

We boarded our charter flight for the 2 ½ hour flight to Orlando. It went quickly, we deplaned, and headed to baggage claim where we saw Debbie and Barry, the couple we bubbled with. We saw 5 to 6 Atlas staff members guiding us to the correct carousel. Once there, we waited, and waited, and waited. Almost 90 minutes waiting for our luggage, but we finally got it. We said goodbye to Debbie and Barry and headed to the United Club Lounge near the departure gate for our final flight to Washington Dulles.

 

Our 7:00pm flight to Washington Dulles departed Orlando and arrived on time. We collected our luggage and drove home. It was great to be home and see our cats Lennon and McCartney greeting us at the front door. The trip experience was phenomenal. We salute the wonderous continent of Antarctica, the icebergs, the penguins, the seals, the seabirds, and the new friends we made on this trip. Shelly and I are thankful we were able to add this to our collection of experiences!

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