Saturday, January 21, 2023
After drinks in the Gallery Bar and some slots, we went to the main dining room and had another table for two. I chose the carne asada and Chuck had the turkey and dressing.
Afterwards, we played some more slots until Chuck’s poker buddies showed up and I was ready to call it a night. When I got back to the room, I found a gift for Chuck from the Casino – chocolates from the Pinnacle Grill. I thought it was a nice gesture.
My expectations for the weather in the Antarctica peninsula was based on all the brochures I have seen – bright blue, sunny skies with fluffy clouds. Brochures lie. I got up at 7:00 and looked outside – foggy and drizzly. Not sure I was going to be able to see any land. Everything looked grey.
After his very late night, Chuck was not ready to face the morning. I went up for coffee and to breakfast in the Lido. I was surprised that it wasn’t that hard to find a table.
The drizzle soon turned to snow. Everyone was excited. Some of the crew members had never seen snow and rushed outside every chance they got. The Captain said we were getting the “true Antarctic experience.”
The Captain then announced that we were not able to get to Palmer Station because of the conditions but we were now headed into the Lemaire Channel. We were given this information about Palmer Station:
Located on Anvers Island near the Antarctic Peninsula, Palmer Station (64° 46°S, 64° 03°W) is named for Nathaniel B. Palmer, who in 1820 on a sealing expedition in his 47-foot (14-meter) ship the Hero became the first American to record sighting Antarctica. The original station was built in 1965. In 1967, the U.S. Navy began construction of the current larger and more permanent station approximately a mile east of the original site. The first building at the new station, the biology laboratory, opened its doors to science in 1970. Today, two main buildings and several smaller structures make up Palmer Station and provide housing and research facilities for scientists and support personnel. Of the three U.S. Antarctic stations, Palmer is the only one that is accessed routinely during the winter.
Palmer Station has a webcam. Their page also has another camera that is set up to observe an Adelie penguin colony from October through February. Each page refreshes after 15 seconds.
I was taking some landscape photos whenever the fog lifted some. I would have liked to have known how high the mountains were, but they were always shrouded in the clouds.
Then, the Captain announced that there were penguins on land climbing to their colony. The black dots on the white areas are the penguins climbing. The colony was on the rock formation (white dots on the black rocks). Many people were carrying those long camera lenses, so I am sure they got great close-ups. My camera lens is heavy enough. I would not have been able to handle the lenses they had. Thus, I had to make do with dots.
We passed a Quark Expedition ship – The Ocean Adventurer. This cruise line is one that you can book if you want to actually step onto land. This particular ship holds 128 passengers and usually starts its adventure in Buenos Aires, Punta Arenas or Ushuaia. The price I have seen on average for the smallest cabin is $10,000 per person.
We ate lunch in the main dining room today. I splurged and ordered their lobster roll and Cape Cod chips. I flustered the waiter as I guess not many people order it since it has an upcharge. He had to go ask a supervisor about it. I did get it and it was good, not as good as the one I had in Bar Harbor one time, but certainly not as expensive as that one either. However, the chips were regular potato chips – not the thick Cape Cod chips that are typically served with a lobster roll. Of course, I ate them all anyway.
By the afternoon, we were in the Neumayer Channel. I spent the afternoon just like I did the morning – watching the landscape go by, taking photos, and marveling that I was really here.