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After a day and a half crossing the Drake Passage, which separates South America from Antarctica, your Holland America ship will arrive at the White Continent. On your Antarctic Expedition you will sail through the bays and islands of the Palmer Archipelago, off the northern tip of the long Antarctic Peninsula, which reaches out toward South America. Encircled in a landscape of snow and ice in every direction, your ship will slowly navigate the iceberg-dotted waters. The surroundings are hauntingly quiet as well, an aspect of the continent that comes as a surprise to many first-time visitors. Along the way, the ship's naturalists will point out the birds—terns, petrels, and gulls—found on the coast and on small islets at stops like Dallmann Bay. As you pass dark, rocky Cuverville Island, you’ll see some of the 6,500 pairs of gentoo penguins that make their home there, the largest known colony in the world. Continuing on to Paradise Harbor, you'll have a chance to observe not only gentoo and chinstrap penguins but possibly humans as well: Both Argentina and Chile have manned research stations here.