Tuesday, January 24, 2023
When we I came back to the room, I discovered that our room steward had delivered our Mariner Delft tile (gift given to HAL cruisers). In the past, we have received these tiles at an appreciation luncheon. I assume there will be no appreciation luncheon on this cruise. I don’t know if HAL has done away with these luncheons or there are just not enough sea days in this cruise to have one.
We went to the Gallery Bar for a drink before we arrived at the Pinnacle Grill for our meal. This restaurant is the HAL steakhouse and is an upcharge. Our meal was included in our booking promotion. For the price, you get an appetizer, entree, sides, and a dessert. In the past, you could get multiple appetizers, but HAL recently implemented an extra charge for more than one appetizer. I heard some grumbling, but I didn’t think the upcharge was that bad and it saves on food waste.
While we were waiting for our food, we talked to a couple at the next table. Found out they were also signed up for the same 2024 Alaska cruise that we are. Small world.
I ordered the shrimp cocktail, lobster, asparagus, and key lime pie (tasted more like cheesecake), and coffee.
Chuck ordered the crab cakes, filet mignon and lobster tail, mashed potatoes, and a cheese plate.
Chuck had to help me eat my key lime pie and he ended up boxing up his cheese plate to bring back to the room. I’m glad we didn’t order an extra appetizer. We would have been way too full.
Because of the strong coffee, I was able to stay up instead of going face down in a food coma. Since we had seen the mainstage show “Off the Charts” more than once, we just went to the Rolling Stone Lounge for their last two sets before saying good night.
I did not fall asleep right away like I expected. I guess the strong coffee that allowed me to go to the Rolling Stone Lounge ended up keeping me awake until well after midnight. Even when I went to sleep, it was a restless sleep.
I woke up at 7:00 and thought we would be in another calm bay with icebergs. Instead, we were in open rough seas, and it was very foggy.
The Captain announced that it would be about 1:00 before we arrived at Elephant Island. According to Wikipedia, Elephant Island is an ice-covered, mountainous island in the outer reaches of the South Shetland Islands, in the Southern Ocean. It got its name either because of the number of elephant seals found there or because some say its shape is that of an elephant head.
We were going there because of its historical aspect regarding Ernest Shackleton. According to Wikipedia, Shackleton and his crew were lost at sea when their ship the HMS Endurance went down and they spent months in lifeboats. They all eventually arrived at Elephant Island. Shackleton realized that they had little chance of being discovered by a passing ship, so he took a small crew in a lifeboat for help. Miraculously, four and a half months later, Shackleton and crew returned with a ship and rescued all 22 men.
The Captain wanted to circle the Island so we could see how stark it was and get an appreciation of what the crew had to endure.
We were in the Lido just finishing lunch when we arrived at Elephant Island. I went back to the room and got my winter gear on and my camera. I went to the Promenade deck on the starboard side and tried to go out the door to the deck. The wind on the starboard side was so strong that I couldn’t push the door open. Another guest said to try the port side as the wind wasn’t holding the door closed on that side of the ship.
I was able to open the portside door and step out on the deck intending to walk around to the starboard side for some photos. Just as I took my first step, a wind gust pushed me back a few steps before I could brace myself. Okay, that’s not good. Then, a big spray from the waves came over the railing and hit me full in the face. Okay, Mother Nature, I got the message. I’m going back inside.
I went back to the room to get out of the wet coat and cap and dry my face, hair, and camera. I wasn’t in the room long before the Captain announced that due to worsening conditions, we would be heading away from Elephant Island. I never did get a photo.
We were now headed to the Falkland Islands. Kind of an inauspicious way to end our amazing time in Antarctica but as the Captain reiterated as we sailed away “we got the true Antarctic experience.” Yes, we definitely did.
Now that I was warm and dry, I debated whether to download my photos or take a nap. The nap won.
Antarctica is bigger than Europe and almost double the size of Australia.
Because it experiences such little rain, Antarctica is considered a desert.
Antarctica is home to several volcanoes and two of them are active.
In 1978 Emilio Palma became the first document child to have been born in Antarctica.
Researchers have estimated that 40-50 million years ago, temperatures in Antarctica reached up to 63 degrees. Scientists have also found fossils showing that Antarctica was once covered with verdant green forests and inhabited by dinosaurs.
Hiding under the Antarctic ice is an entire lake: Lake Vostok is a pristine freshwater lake buried beneath 2.5 miles of solid ice. It is about the size of Lake Ontario and is the largest of the 200 liquid lakes strewn around the continent under the ice.
Antarctica has a peculiar group of fish called the ice fish. These have no red pigment – hemoglobin – in their blood to carry oxygen around. They get by without it because the temperature is so low and oxygen dissolves better in cold temperatures. They just have a larger volume of clear blood instead and this gives them an unusually ghostly white color, particularly their gills.
Antarctica’s geography and climate means it gets a special kind of wind called katabatics. These are winds that are formed when air moves down a slope. In Antarctica, the mountain range paired against large, flat expanses makes for a dramatic wind combination. Some of the highest wind speeds in history have been recorded on the southern continent.
To be called an iceberg the chunk of ice must reach at least 16.5 feet above the water. Smaller floating ice pieces are called bergy bits (3 to 16 feet), growlers (less than 3 feet) or brash ice (small pieces that crackle as they melt and ancient air escapes).