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Day 1 - January 29, 2009 - Ushuaia, Argentina

By Peter Damisch

Noon Position:5448.6’S6818.0’W
Weather: Superb with clearing skies, air temperature + 15o C(48o F), and wind 12 km/hour

Today was mixed with both great joy and a small amount of sadness. Early in the day we regretfully had to say goodbye to many new friends with whom we had shared so many wonderful adventures during our most recent expedition to the Antarctic.

So many strangers had become such close friends during the voyage where we were able to experience the grandeur, beauty and wonder of the Southern Polar regions. We had close and touching encounters with Adelie, Chinstrap and Gentoo Penguins, both adult and down-covered chicks across a wide variety of landing sites. Memories of Zodiac cruises through crystal clear waters teeming with icebergs that gleamed in the sunlight, sparkling like multi-faceted jewels were just some of the foremost thoughts in our minds.

In addition, we also had first-hand observations of Crabeater, Elephant, Leopard, and Weddell Seals lounging about on ice floes and scattered across our landing beaches. We literally had memories of a lifetime and newfound friendships to accompany us during journeys home.

Just a bit later in the day, we were able to welcome new guests on board in bright Southern Hemisphere sunshine. Individuals from more than 12 countries were welcomed on board with famous Silversea style, elegance and grace. Everyone was excited, anticipating the expedition voyage to come, and immediately began to make friends with other guests from locations across oceans and continents.

With the warm sunlight on our faces, we all came out on deck to observe the Prince Albert II depart while marveling at the vista seen: the beautiful city of Ushuaia surrounded by towering, snow capped mountains. Thus our voyage begins down the Beagle Channel, named after Darwin’s ship, another explorer from an earlier time who helped blaze a trail before us.

Next, we all attended the mandatory “Safety at Sea” briefing given by the Expedition Leader under the guidance of our highly experienced Captain, who is one of the most knowledgeable mariners in the world with respect to ice and polar regions. This informative briefing was followed by our first dinner on board presented by Silversea’s highly talented chefs and dining personnel. The food, wine and beverages were, as always, a superb delight to the palate before retiring either for a nightcap and soothing piano music in the Panorama Lounge or off to bed, dreaming of the ice, glaciers, wildlife and stunning images that lay ahead in the remote, pristine and alluring Antarctic.

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