Day 17 |
Mar 08, 2010

At Sea; Arrival In Ushuaia

By Juan Mazar Barnett, General Naturalist/Ornithologist

Co-ordinates: Longitude S 54, 48’ 75”, Latitude 68, 17’ 57”

Weather: mostly sunny

Seas: very calm

Temperature: -1C

This was the last sailing day of Voyage 7005 on board the Prince Albert II. Too bad it was coming to an end! The day was very long, however, and again full of activities. In fact, it started at midnight (though it was just a continuation of the previous evening) with a karaoke party at the Panorama Lounge! I got there somewhat late and found a lively bunch of guests who were dancing and singing, joined by Uta, our Maitre d’Hôtel, and some of the Bar Staff. I was promptly provided with a microphone and joined in.

It was truly a lot of fun, and it continued till quite late... I woke up a few hours later and went straight to breakfast at The Restaurant. The Drake Passage was really mild and we all felt it was a well-deserved rest from the strong swells of some of our previous sailing days.

This morning we had two great lectures by Stefan Kredel on Climate Change and by Kara Weller on animal adaptations to the cold. By this time we could already spot some land in the distance, it was part of the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego! The Captain had been able to maintain a very good speed throughout the night and that morning thanks to the benign sea conditions.

The sea in this area was teeming with Black-browed Albatrosses and groups of Sooty Shearwaters. There were a lot of these birds sitting in the water, because there was simply not enough wind for them to fly comfortably. During lunch in The Restaurant we noticed how we were turning west and into the Beagle Channel, around the Isla Nueva. We were definitely closer to our final destination, and ahead of schedule.

One of the highlights of today was the show given by Malindi, who showed the video she prepared for our Voyage. It was a great way to remember all our activities during these wonderful two weeks, from landings to boot cleaning, including the lectures and the visit to Ernest Shackleton’s grave! (The other highlight, for me, was to find out that The Secret in Their Eyes, a fantastic Argentine film, had won the Academy Award for best foreign language film!)

Once the video show was over, a lot of us wandered to the deck to indulge in the fantastic sunny afternoon along a very peaceful Beagle Channel. Here we were followed by a friendly group of Peale’s Dolphins. What a great way to finish off a great day! But not quite! A couple of hours later we all joined at The Theatre for a Farewell Cocktail Party. A great party indeed. All the guests had the chance to see many of the Crew and the Staff up on the stage.

After that, and a lot of lively chatting among the guests, all made our way slowly to The Restaurant to the Captain’s Farewell Dinner, during which the ship was masterfully turned around to dock at the port of Ushuaia. One last great dinner and many of the guests made their way to Ushuaia for some town fun. A smaller bunch of guests and I went up to the Panorama Lounge for final drinks on board. When I returned to my stateroom, all the corridors were already laden with suitcases, a clear sign that the voyage was just about to come to its end. Only the goodbye greetings are now left to be looked forward to, in what will be the closure of this voyage.