9 March 2012
The day of my cruise departure to Antarctica was a little like waiting for Christmas or your birthday as a kid. No matter what you do to fill the time, it seems to go slowly!
We were due to be on a bus to the boat at 4pm and thus had the whole day in Ushuaia. As I had spent a few days in the town, I had already walked the main street several times, along with going to the main sites – Tierra del Fuego National Park and the Beagle Channel. There wasn’t a lot to do with just a half day. So after a little time on the Internet, and a visit to the prison museum, I decided to have lunch at a cafe recommended by some fellow cruise passengers – el Ramos Generales. Such a cute place – it was like stepping into a museum in itself – and had a lot more atmosphere than the cafes on the main street!
They also had the cutest penguin meringues pictured above : )
Finally the hours ticked by and we arrived at the port for the first glimpse of the boat we would be boarding (above). Still just believing it – my dream for the last 6 years was coming true!
We were taken by bus out to the ship and welcomed on board. After checking into our rooms, like at any hotel, we had a safety briefing in the lounge and met the crew and expedition team. The emergency drill followed (with us all hoping that we would never need it in real life) – and I am a little sad that I had left the camera in my room as it was the only time I hope I ever see the inside of a ship’s life raft which had room for 50 people and food on board for several days.
After all the formalities were finished, room’s swapped so that we could share with the people we had met in Ushuaia, introductions made and everyone was settled, the boat departed at about 6pm and we all went on deck to wave farewell to Ushuaia.
Up on deck as the boat sailed from port I must admit there was a sense of this is it – 12 days on board this boat. A mix of apprehension, excitement and sheer happiness passed through me and the grin on my face could not be wiped off. I felt like a kid at Christmas and as I chatted to other passengers – realised many of us felt the same.
As we went back inside for a few more briefings about life on board, the location of the 24 hour hot chocolate, tea and coffee and dining room (very important); and the gym (not quite so interesting); and seasick precautions (my patch was already on), we started to get to know fellow passengers.
Our first meal on board was a sign of things to come – four courses (which we then had for every dinner if we wished), and then an early night – we all wanted to get to sleep before 11 – the forecasted time we would hit the Drake). We were on our way!