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Postcards from Antarctica

For every avid traveler — and for this who just love adventure — a trip to Antarctica truly is a once-in-a-lifetime journey. Antarctica is one of the most remote parts of the world, so it takes time and extensive planning to get there.

Fortunately for cruise fans, Holland America Line has several options to take you to the end of the world.

Most visitors say that photos don’t do the unparallelled beauty justice, but by these images, we disagree. The waters look crystalline, the glaciers appear imposing and the the region looks simply pristine.

During her current Grand South America and Antarctica Voyage on Prinsendam, guest Sharon Johnson was lucky to have an ideal exploration of the world’s most remote continent.

DAY 1:

Words can not adequately describe Antarctica. This continent is so beautiful that even photos can’t capture the beauty of this unique place on planet Earth. Everyone on this Grand Voyage was lucky to see Antarctica at its best. We arrived around 8 a.m. in the Bismarck Strait off Anvers Island where U.S. Palmer Research Station is located. We eagerly awaited the arrival of the Palmer Station staff who were traveling in a zodiac five miles across icy waters to rendezvous with the Prinsendam. The passengers who had early dinner seating would attend a talk given by the Palmer Station Manager and scientific personnel as soon as they were aboard.

Around 11 a.m., Captain Timothy Roberts planned to take Prinsendam on a scenic cruise into the Lemaire Channel that has had so many photos taken of it that it is called “Kodak Gap.” The ice that usually blocks the passage through the channel was open so the captain and the ice pilots safely guided the Prinsendam through the loose brash ice in the Lemaire Channel and sailed completely around Booth Island. To be able to scenic cruise completely through the Lemaire Channel is so unusual that the lecture for those having late dinner seating was delayed so that everyone could enjoy this rare event. The expedition team from New Zealand and Australia told us that they had been to Antarctica almost 30 times and only been through the Lemaire Channel on three occasions.

Lemaire Channel.

Lemaire Channel.

Around 4 p.m. we finally brought the Palmer Station staff back to Anvers Island to await their zodiac that would return them to the research station. After seeing them off, the captain told us that we would cruise through the Neumeyer Channel in the Gerlach Strait and then around the eastern shore of Anvers Island into the open ocean for the night.

Sharon and Al in Gerlach Strait.

Sharon and Al in Gerlach Strait.

Neumeyer Channel.

Neumeyer Channel.

DAY 2:

The plan for scenic cruising during our second day in Antarctic was to visit Paradise Harbor, sail past the Argentine and Chilean Research Stations on the Antarctic Peninsula, go through the Errera Channel and visit Wilhelmina Bay before heading into the open ocean during the night.

Staff at the Gonzales Videla Chilean Research Station waving a Chilean flag to passengers on Prinsendam.

Staff at the Gonzales Videla Chilean Research Station waving a Chilean flag to passengers on Prinsendam.

Prinsendam at Paradise Bay, left, and Wilhelmina Bay.

Prinsendam at Paradise Bay, left, and Wilhelmina Bay.

What an extremely gorgeous day to visit Paradise Harbor, so named by the whalers for the beauty of this particular part of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The Errera Channel.

The Errera Channel.

We sailed past Crabeater seals and penguins on floating icebergs. We spotted plenty of whales, especially in Wilhelmina Bay, where our expedition leader counted 15 whales.

The Crabeater seals, humpback whales and pengiuns of Antarctica.

The Crabeater seals, humpback whales and penguins of Antarctica.

The water was so still that we had wonderful reflections in the water of the ice-covered scenery. Captain Roberts and our Antarctic expedition leader, Lou Sanson, both agreed that it doesn’t get any better than what we were lucky to experience.

Day 3:

During the night the Prinsendam traveled in the open ocean towards the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The plan was to cruise the scenic Hope Bay and see the Argentine Research Station. Today we weren’t so lucky. Hope Bay was full of ice and icebergs. The Captain and the Ice Pilots decided to take the Prinsendam to see Brown Bluff on the opposite shore of Antarctic Sound, but good photos were still hard to get. So finally, Captain Roberts gave us a tour of a huge tabular iceberg that had broken off from the Antarctic Ice Shelf in the Weddell Sea and had floated into the Antarctic Sound. This flat-topped iceberg was 1300 meters long, or approximately 14 football fields in length. It was so huge that it was hard to get a photo of the whole iceberg.

Tabular

TabularCollage

After circling the iceberg, it was finally time to leave this incredible continent and sail to our next port of call. Everyone aboard felt that we were fortunate to have had such a beautiful adventure at the bottom of our world.

Prinsendam’s Hotel Director Cees Tesselaar also sent in a few photos from the cruise down to Antarctica.

Cees1

Cees2

Cees3

Do these photos make you want to pack your bags and join Holland America Line on a cruise to Antarctica? What would you most want to see – the glaciers or wildlife?

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