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Day 2 - December 13, 2010 - En route from Straits of Lemaire to Falkland Islands

By Peter W. Damisch (Historian, General Naturalist and Cartographer)

Coordinates: 52° 22' S, 060° 10’ W
Weather: Most overcast but very calm seas throughout the day
Air Temperature: +9o C (47° F)
Pressure: 979 Hpa
Wind: 65 Km / hour


Today was a superlative day at sea sailing towards the first landings we have planned for tomorrow. Some people may wonder what there is to do at sea besides simply relaxing, but Silversea offers a full spectrum of activities designed to appeal to virtually everyone.

As for myself, I was up a bit early to take a walk around the upper decks. Deck 6 has a continuous deck around the outside and I spoke with a number of guests who were out to take an early morning stroll in such good weather. In addition, all of us were able to observe a wide variety of sea birds soaring behind the Prince Albert II. The beautiful birds aren’t looking for anything being thrown overboard as we have a zero discharge environmental program. However, the wind currents swirling around the ship provides a wonderful source of energy for the sea birds to use in their flight pattern in addition to having the propellers stir up the phytoplankton, a food source. It’s truly a ‘win-win’ for the birds as well as ourselves on board as we all have the chance to view their magnificent grace around the Prince Albert II. In particular I admire the beauty of the black browed albatross in these waters and am looking forward to observing wandering albatross as we approach South Georgia Island.

After a very pleasant breakfast with several guests from North America I wandered up to our specially designed theatre to provide technical support for our lecture team. It’s truly great to have a dedicated facility for this type of activity. First up today was Victoria, my knowledgeable colleague who provided a wonderful overview regarding the history of the Falkland Islands. Like just about everyone on board, I truly enjoy hearing about untold stories and interesting events of the past.

Soon after I was back in The Theatre to participate in one of my favorite activities: meeting individuals who are new to the Silversea cruising experience. The First Timer’s Reception provides a great opportunity for me to chat with guests who are enthusiastic, inquisitive and eager to see the wondrous sights offered by such a wonderful voyage as ours that visits the ‘big 3’ down south: the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island and Antarctica.

I next spent a bit of time polishing my presentation on Ernest Shackleton, which is likely to be given after the Falklands and before South Georgia. All of us on the Expedition Team are not only ‘polar fanatics’ who are truly dedicated to environmentally sensitive ecotourism, but we also spend a great deal of effort continuously trying to improve our ability to convey information to our guests within a travel program whose foundation is fundamentally based on safety.

I enjoyed lunch with individuals from several different countries, followed by assisting with the issuance of rubber boots. This footwear is needed to support the types of wet landings anticipated in our future. Many guests bring their own boots such that they have the perfect fit. However, the Prince Albert II also has a limited supply of boots to borrow and I was able to help guests get the best fit.

On this busy day I was also able to provide support to Rich, one of our onboard ornithologists and photographer. Rich has a vast amount of experience in the polar regions and gave an outstanding presentation titled ‘Southern Wings’. It offered a wonderful overview covering the primary sea birds that we hope to see over the course of the voyage, some of which could already be observed alongside and behind the Prince Albert II. In addition to bird identification, this excellent review also discussed threats to these birds due to fishing and other human activities.

Very soon it was time for Conrad, our Expedition Leader, to present a destination briefing. This event typically occurs late in the afternoon or early evening of each day. It offers the opportunity to review the plans for the following day, and in this case, possible landings at West Point and Saunders Islands in the Falklands. In this fashion, we can inform our guests regarding our proposed schedule.

The destination review was immediately followed by the only mandatory briefing of the day. This critically important lecture dealt with Zodiac safety and operations. As you might guess, safety is our primary consideration and reviewing Zodiac procedures gives everyone the time to comfortably receive the information and ask questions just before the first day of planned landings. It’s a great system that works really well to prepare our guests for a pleasant experience as the Prince Albert II goes out to explore remote, beautiful and unique locations.

It seems as if this day at sea simply flew by, yet there was still more time to complete just a few more pleasant tasks. One involved assisting guests who wished to further enhance their knowledge to find just the right Antarctic travel books in our well-stocked library. Another task required me to conduct some research as it turns out that one sizeable mountain in South Georgia is named after the father of one of our guests. As the cartographer on board, I started work to specifically identify the exact location of the mountain to determine if it might be seen when the ship approaches the island in a few days time. I hope that we will be able to clearly point out this wonderful legacy to the family.

Closing off this busy day was the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Reception and Dinner. As usual, it was another great chance to chat with guests from the 17 countries represented on this voyage. All the guests that I have met are passionate about travel and excited to be able to participate on such a grand voyage towards the ends of the Earth where so few people have the opportunity to travel. It was a great day!

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