Sunrise: 04:25 | Sunset: 21:24
Note: the actual writing of this journal happens onboard Hurtigruten’s MS Midnatsol ship the same day, but published later
If you ever wonder the route of this Antarctic Journey, you can see it in the picture below. The route is clearly mentioned and detailed in every expedition ship’s website and you will know in advance before you make the booking. But, it is absolutely important to notice, that the itinerary may change at any given time depends on the weather, and you will be reminded time and time again by the Captain and the expedition crew (like what i experienced) that the route, the landing spot and the activities may be changed depends on the weather. The printed itinerary that is given every single day is also tentative.
In general, here’s the intended itinerary VS the actual itinerary.
Source: Hurtigruten, This route is given by Hurtigruten post-expedition, along with other actual itinerary, passenger statistics and biography of the expedition crew.
As you can see, there were several stops, but stops are not equal to landing. Landing will be greatly determined by the winds and swell strength. Kudos to the expedition leader who works very hard to make the trip as memorable as they could while maintaining passenger’s safety as number one priority.
Last night i went to bed earlier around 8 pm feeling exhausted of all the activities the day before. Several other factors also played parts, that include the TV in my deck that is located on the same side as my bed makes me unable to watch TV pleasantly, and the other is my disconnect with the outside world (read: wifi lost connections). They were all plotting conspiracy against me.
I woke up around 3 am to a cricketing sound, which turns out was coming from the hangers inside the wardrobe that hitting each other thanks to the strong swell. I immediately felt the wave, strong one that slowly but strongly moved the boat. The feelings made me uneasy and anxious. I never experienced that before.
If there’s anything that i didn’t prepare when sailing to Antarctica is the swell. I don’t usually get a seasick nor afraid of high swell. And this is not my first time on a boat, whether on a short trip across the strait or 7 days leisure trip on a cruise ship. But never once in my life i experience this kind of swell. I stayed awake for a good an hour trying to feel the movement and listening to the sounds inside and outside of my cabin. The cabinet cricketing sounds, the clattering from the neighbouring room, and the crashing sound of the wave in distant as well as the ship machine. I finally fell back to sleep and got up at 6 am to my phone’s alarm i set the night before.
The breakfast time is at 7 am so i took a shower beforehand. The shower experience was challenging. The boat constantly move side to side and circling, and i had to balance myself out of it. If i thought it would get better i was wrong. The walk from my cabin to the restaurant, picking up my meal, and went back to my room were all challenging. And if i thought i am not a seasick type of person i was wrong, again.After i got my breakfast, we had to do several things like follow the IAATO (international association of Antarctica Tourism Agency) briefing, get our boots, retrieve boat group patch, and tender boat safety briefing. All of them are for the preparation before our landing the next day. The picture above details the agenda of that day.
The Mandatory IAATO Briefing
The IAATO and tender boat briefings are in one session, led by a geologist, and contain information about “dos”, and “donts” during the landing. IAATO is an association that regulate any activities/conducts in Antarctica in the hope to protect its habitat, flora and fauna. The briefing contents are:
- What to bring and not to bring during the landing. Foods definitely are not allowed get off the board, except those with medication needs, and requires to tell the crew first.
- Biosecurity vacuuming. In order to prevent any contamination in Antarctica, all outer wears and goods must be vacuumed (later today i vacuumed by waterproof bag, camera, jackets, hand gloves and hats)
- Animal encounters. Unlike in any other part outside Antarctica, penguin will be very curious with us, however it is their decision to approach us, not ours. We have to maintain distance at least 50 meters. There is also penguin highway, a road where the penguins march. We are advised to avoid the highway. And, since the snow will be thick, and we will probably make a hole in it, it is advised to cover the hole back to avoid any penguins stuck inside. They may be able to get out by themselves, but they’ll need more energy to do so.
- Tender boat briefing. Only 100 people are allowed to be in the landing at a time. And therefore, we are divided into several groups, and to debark the ship, we use tender boat, smaller boat like a pontoon, driven by diesel machine.
you can also read the detail guideline for Antarctica visitor here.
After the briefing , i got the sense of how isolated Antarctica is, how importance the area is towards our next generations (as it’s the biggest source of the fresh water on earth), and the importance to preserve all the living creatures out there. All the animals in Antarctica are protected, and for us entering their habitat is to introduce disturbance, and therefore it is very imperative to let them live in their natural habitat undisturbed. It is the most pristine, untouched and pure continent in planet earth, and we want to keep it that way. This new realisation is new to me, and somehow i felt like coming to Antarctica itself is an intrusion. An intrusion that need to be managed.
… here comes the Lunch…
My lunch was uneventful, though i enjoyed the meal very much. But after almost half a day being swayed on the boat, i decided to go straight to my cabin and took a nap. And then i woke up at 4 pm to prepare for 4:30 citizen science program explanation, followed by 6 pm landing briefing, and dinner.
16:30 Citizen Science Program
Citizen science program is basically a non-scientist participation in scientific research conducted in Antarctica. There were currently four programs being introduced, they are
- Happywhale program (web: https://happywhale.com/home)
- Sea lion program,
- Fjordphyto research, and
- Bird research.
For example, the bird research. Its objectives are simple. They want to monitor how many kinds of birds are available during the span of observation and how many are they per kind to observe the distribution patterns. During the briefing, we were introduced what kinds of bird are there to observe, and if we did not know what they are, we can simply note its unique characteristic and consult it with the expert on board later on, or we can take picture of them if we have nice camera.
I involve in the fjordphyto. The objective of this activity is to observe the changing in ecosystem by looking at its microorganisms through sample on the soil and the water. It’s a simple non-scientist participation for a scientific research
Later today, there will also be introductions to the activities during the landing (kayak, snow-shoeing), but since i had my kayak in Perito Moreno, i decided to not involve in activities during the landing (except of course, enjoy my free time during the landing and take as many pictures as i can).
Mock meat as the base for this supposedly “Vegetarian Steak”
Apple pie (i guess ?)
During dinner, i got a chance to meet four incredible fellow passengers. Two of them are from Luxembourg and the other two are from New Delhi. Over the dinner we shared about our flight, trip experience, our life back in our home country, and what motivate us to take a trip to Antarctica. I was so glad to have somebody to share the almost-the-same road and experience that i had towards my journey to Antarctica. It was a great dinner to end the day.But still, seasick 1 – Asana 0