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Cruise Diary: Antarctica and Elephant Island

Dutch TV host and adventure seeker Charlotte Squarcy is on board for segment of Amsterdam’s Grand World Voyage, and she is chronicling her journey. Enjoy!


I had no idea that once we traveled below the 60-degree latitude line we qualified as an expedition! Our voyage is under the treaty for these waters and we must file an environmental impact statement and prepare to be boarded at any time for inspection by any of the claimants to the zones of influence here at the bottom of the world.

I met the ice pilot, Captain Dick Taylor, who previously had a Coast Guard career in the Pacific Northwest and the Great Lakes. We had quite a lot in common as he was familiar with the waters around my childhood summer home near Mackinac Island, MI. He was also familiar with the steel company nearby that ships iron ore and we figured we both had passed by the site of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sinking during a storm on Lake Superior. We are in good hands!

I awoke to find that we were passing Elephant Island — site of the extraordinary survival story of Ernest Shackleton’s crew. Twenty-one men spent four winter months on the island waiting for rescue, while Shackleton traveled 800 miles to South Georgia in one of the most incredible feats in the history of sailing. Shackleton returned to the island in a borrowed ship four and half months later and rescued all of the men. Although I could clearly see on the room’s flat screen TV that we were approaching the island on the right side, I saw an island to our left (what turned out to be Clarence Island), put on my bathrobe, went out to take a picture and then back to bed sleepily. Guess I will have to return to see the site. He and his exploits are such a moving story; he is a hero of mine for sure.

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