Boarding the cruise ship to Antarctica from the Ushuaia port was like being in the movie ‘Titanic’. It was amazing. We were all welcomed into this huge cruise ship with six decks and a terrace pool on top. It had two huge bars serving the best wine, beer and liquor that money could buy. In front of the bar on the second deck was a dancing and music area where different bands or female crooners would entertain the crowd throughout the day especially in the evening. All was tastefully done up in a luxurious setting with relaxing sofas and eye-catching interiors. This was one hell of a wonderful cruise ship.
The liquor was flowing all the time. There were also dance performances. You could learn the Cha-Cha-Cha in the evening and brush up your Samba in the next afternoon. Our cabins were small but very elegantly decorated with a television, a mini bar and wifi facility all the way for the 9-day cruise to and fro Antarctica. It was a luxury.
We were welcomed into our room by bell captains and hostesses but this was only after we got piss drunk with champagne and wine. There were two dining areas on the second and sixth deck. The many balconies and terrace tops gave you a great gigantic view of the waters and icebergs on the way to the white continent. It felt like you were actually amongst it all, right in part of the action and dance of nature that was to unfold as we cruised the high seas into the Drake Passage while enjoying the beauty of the icy rocks of this magnificent continent.
The first day is a bit difficult especially if the sea is rough and choppy which was the case in our journey. Some succumbed to seasickness and some even vomited, but tablets and medical help were provided by trained doctors on the ship. After the first day, we settled into easy and pristine waters. It was smooth sailing from then on. The third deck had a stage and a seating hall. It was here that most of our briefings and presentations about the island of Antarctica were given to us daily. One could smoke on the balcony of the second deck. There was a Captains Dinner where everyone had to dress in a black tuxedo and ladies would be wearing their best gowns. I, as usual, was the odd one out in my casual affair. There were lots of staff on board along with marine scientists and other ecologists who had done detailed studies on the continent. But our first great hurdle was going through the Drake Passage which was a bit choppy at first.
The Drake Passage is where the waters of the three oceans combine – The Atlantic, Pacific and Indian. It started raining as we were going through this but, lucky for me, I did catch a glimpse of the tail of a huge Humpback Whale. This is the body of water between The South American Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands in Antarctica. One could spot many seabirds flying in the air hovering above our cruise as I stood at the edge of the balcony of my room. In awe, I watched the hourglass dolphins taking summer salutes in the ocean. All this and it was only our second day. There were regular announcements on the day’s activity and an activity calendar was given to everyone. Wifi could be bought from the help desk on a per hour basis. If one was feeling a bit off, there was a salon and massage service on the ship. And for those who wanted to shop could buy fancy Antarctica memorabilia from the shop on the second deck.
The journey had well and truly begun. Indeed, this was a Q Experience…