Day 1 |
Jan 25, 2011

 Ushuaia, Argentina 

By by Christian Walter, Historian


Co-ordinates: 54° 49’ S, 68° 15’ W
Weather: windy, overcast with occasional rain
Air Temperature: 6,9° C at 17:30
Pressure: 1004 hPa
Wind: 36-46 kph

After a second voyage to Antarctica this year, the Prince Albert II was made ready for a new cruise – this time to include the Falkland/Malvinas Islands and South Georgia, as well. The hotel department was busy cleaning the suites and setting everything up for the new guests.

The Panorama Lounge was prepared for check-in. The luggage had been delivered in time and the first guests arrived shortly before three o’clock. Within an hour and a half all guests were registered, had received their suite cards, and had their pictures taken. The only thing missing for our departure was some information by the harbor master.

At 17:30 the lines were cast and we were on our way to explore the Sub-Antarctic islands and part of the Antarctic Peninsula. Captain Alexander Golubev sounded the horn three and a half times, and we passed two interesting yet totally different ships at anchor before getting into the Beagle Channel: on portside was the German training vessel Gorch Fock –she had partaken in many tall ship races – and on starboard the private yacht Octopus, owned by a famous internet entrepreneur.

The wind was blowing up to 25 knots and made the 6,9°C feel much colder. Up front a small group took pictures of the mountains and islands ahead, while the Observation Deck aft had a group of some 30 fellow travelers enjoying a drink, contemplating the view of Ushuaia disappearing under a cloud of rain.

Soon it was time for the mandatory “Safety at Sea” instructions. While Robin West, our EL (short for Expedition Leader) gave the information required by international law, Juan (“the Juan and only”), our onboard geologist, was asked to show how to don the life-vest.

Then came the less formal introduction of the mid-level staff onboard: Marcelo, the Italian Maitre d’, Xavier, the Uruguayan Sommelier, Rudi, the Austrian Chef, Barbara, the Hungarian Head-Butler(ess), Perry, our Philippine Musician, Adriana, our Brazilian Shop Manageress, Anna, the Danish Spa Manageress, and Teri, the British Massage Therapist. Finally, Robin then called on his team to introduce themselves. Jarda, the Dutch Assistant Expedition Leader, Nicki, the Bavarian Staff Assistant, Robin Aiello, the American/Australian Marine Biologist (called “Aiello”, or ‘Auntie Moo’, so as not to be confounded with Robin, our EL), Claudia, the South African Climatologist, Ken, the Canadian newbie, as our Birder, Uli, the German Marine Biologist, Luke, the Irish Fisheries Expert, Juan, the Colombian Rock Star, i.e. Geologist, and Rapa Nui, yours truly, as the Historian from Easter Island.

Since it had been a long day – either getting up early in Buenos Aires for the flight down to Ushuaia or getting ready for the disembarkation of our former cruise - Robin wished everyone a wonderful evening, promising that this voyage would make any other cruise look boring.

The first of many dining experiences could begin, and the Panorama Lounge was awaiting any traveler willing to wait for sunset – with one or the other drink(s), listening to Perry’s music, getting into the mood for an unusual voyage.