Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Antarctica 2023 ✈ Day 7: Paradise Bay • Lemaire Channel

Antarctica had always felt like a distant and unreachable bucket list destination, not just because of its geographical location, but more so because it is so expensive. Honestly, I never thought it'd be possible for me to check off this bucket list item but we decided to make this trip happen and celebrated our 10th anniversary with an extraordinary adventure to the end of the earth - Antarctica! I am so grateful for the opportunity to finally step foot on my 7th continent and to experience this incredible journey with our moms.

13D12N Antarctica Cruise - Oceanwide Basecamp Expedition
2 December 2023: Pleneau & Petermann Island
3 December 2023: Port Lockroy & Damoy Point
4 December 2023: Cuverville Island
5-7 December 2023: Drake Passage & Disembarkation

1 December 2023 (Fri): Day 7 - Paradise Bay & Lemaire Channel

Just as we thought we've seen quite a lot of Antarctica on the first 3 days, this place just keeps getting better. We also celebrated Oceanwide Expeditions' 30th Anniversary on this day.

Buffet breakfast at 7.15am with a view of calm water and reflection

Our activity for this morning was a zodiac cruise around Paradise Bay and its coves

We were surrounded by glaciers and floating ice. The air was crisp with a hint of frost.

Carina was our expedition guide for this morning's zodiac cruise.

Spotted this leopard seal, idly sprawled on a small iceberg. It was posing for us and thought it was kinda cute, but it is usually known as the 'villain' because it preys on penguins, especially young penguins entering water for the first time. They'd wait at the ice edge for penguins to enter the water to feed and then aggressively chase them for a quick meal. Thank goodness we didn't witness this.

Paradise Bay is home to the Argentine Almirante Brown Scientific Station (Base Brown). Gentoo penguins had seized a significant portion of the station and establieshed a colony around it.

We also encountered Weddell seals lounging along the shore. Each one of them lazing off and dozing off on the snow, unbothered by our existence.

Perfect reflection on the calm waters.

Spot the mountaineers and kayakers.

We were surrounded by glaciers, icebergs, and floating ice on this 2-hour zodiac cruise.

Never knew it was possible to take so many videos and photos of ice and!

Took these photos with our ship to show the vastness and scale of the surrounding.

It was a good chillaxing morning with picturesque view.

Returned to the ship at 10.30am.

After few days on the ship, we finally went out on the deck to see how the zodiacs were loaded onto the ship. It was definitely a team effort between the seaman and the expedition team. There were a total of 16 zodiacs on the ship, enough for all guests to be out on the zodiacs at the same time. 

We hadn't been out on the deck much so gotta take more photos while we're out here.

Cool iceberg colors.

Buffet lunch at 12pm. It was Oceanwide's 30th Birthday so they had a menu drawn by Bill, the 79 years old guide) and the bakers made a special "30" bread to celebrate the occasion. 

There was no excursion activity in the afternoon as we were navigating through the famous Lemaire Channel this afternoon. Everyone was invited to get out on the deck at 3.45pm to enjoy the landscapes and scenery as we cross the Lemaire Channel - an exceptionally narrow passage famous for being an absolutely stunning place and one of the highlights of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Cloudy day but glad we had blue skies for the crossing (see video above for timelapse of our crossing).

The crew also had drinks and cakes on the deck to celebrate Oceanwide's 30th birthday. We opted to go to the higher deck for a better view. Thanks MiL for helping to pose for photos...haha!

Bill and Juan were out on the zodiacs taking photos of the ship.

The entire crossing took about 1.5 hours and it was windy and cold standing outside, which explains why we were all bundled up. Took way too many 'same same but different' photos throughout the crossing, and I had a hard time shortlisting few to!

We also took the opportunity to take a group photo with everyone who were checking off their 7th continent on this trip.

What I meant by 'same same but different' photos. I also took a timelapse of the entire crossing.

The captain blasted the ship horn as we officially crossed the channel at about 5.15pm.

After an amazing crossing through the Lemaire Channel, we went back to the lounge for the daily recap by Adam, and it looked like we will have another decent weather day. We have been very lucky with the weather so far without any activities being cancelled due to weather (which is uncommon in Antarctica). We then had dinner at 7pm, followed by a briefing for our kayaking activity and picked up our kayaking gear for the next morning.

We were chilling in our room when mom called asking us to look outside at the sunset. I quickly put on my jacket and went out on the deck and was amazed by the beautiful sunset. 

Perfect reflection of the clouds, calm waters, snow mountains, and stunning sunset....what a view!!

I ended up hanging out on the deck for an hour taking videos and photos of this amazing sunset, which apparently is very hard to come by in Antarctica.

What an amazing way to wrap up another amazing day in Antarctica. Gosh...Antarctica just keeps getting better! 

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