Day 1 |
Jan 05, 2011

 Ushuaia, Argentina 

By by Peter W. Damisch, Historian, General Naturalist & Cartographer


Co-ordinates: 54o 49’ S, 068o 18’ W
Weather: Clear and calm in the morning with clouds moving in throughout the afternoon
Air Temperature: 14o C/58 o F
Pressure: 965 HPa
Wind: 50 km/hour

Today was a day to regretfully say good-bye to new friends developed during our prior voyage to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island and the Antarctic Peninsula. Many guests had said what an outstanding time they had had during their holiday and that our expedition was even more wonderful than they had ever imagined. Everyone was so enthusiastic regarding the sights and sounds that they had seen from nesting penguins to little chicks, to whales rolling about on the surface of the ocean just off the bow of the ship, to huge, tabular icebergs that were so much larger than even city blocks.

Everyone on board the Prince Albert II must now prepare for our new group of guests flying in from Buenos Aires and other cities across the globe. I spent a bit of ‘free time’ continuing my research into the whaling history of the Southern Ocean, a topic that I have worked on for almost 10 years. I’m always trying to improve the content of my presentations such that they can provide some fun while also offering the chance for our guests to ask questions and possibly learn something new.

Soon the transportation arrived with our new guests visiting from countries across all 6 other continents beyond Antarctica. As usual the ship is fully booked with many individuals indicating that they had scheduled their holiday over one year before! After a brief check-in process, everyone had the chance to relax for a bit of time after being escorted to their suites by Prince Albert II’s large staff of butlers.

Of course all sea voyages require participation in a mandatory safety and lifeboat briefing, which was held in The Theatre. Just one of the reasons that I personally enjoy working on board the Prince Albert II is that we have a dedicated facility with multiple screens and audio/visual equipment that can effectively support such an activity with both technology and comfort.

Our Expedition Leader, Robin West, then introduced several key members of the ship’s staff. Myself and the other members of the Expedition Team followed up by introducing ourselves and our area of expertise. The overview was concluded by a short discussion on the Prince Albert II’s new and revolutionary water system on board which provides each guest with reusable containers and does away with literally thousands of plastic bottles previously used for each voyage. This spectacular system has just recently come into operation and has been such a success that Silversea intends to ‘roll it out’ to the remainder of their fleet in the near future.

Turnaround day is often thought to be a fairly quiet day, but behind the scenes there are in fact a great deal of important activities that need to be accomplished before we depart Ushuaia, cruise down the Beagle Channel and head out into the Drake Passage en route to that magical destination of Antarctica, a land of wonder and beauty.