MUSIC: (1) "Glassworks: Opening" by Phillip Glass, "Samskeyti" by Sigur Ros, and (3) "Trois Morceaux Après des Hymnes Byzantins II" by Anja Lechner and Vassilis Tsabropoulos
Tuesday, January 18 at 5:30 PM, ship's radar detects... iceberg ahead! (Photo by Polar Star staff.)
We knew it was coming, so everyone inhaled their dinner and then raced out onto the decks.
This iceberg caused great excitement among the passengers... we had arrived!
The photos are very deceiving... it was about the size of a baseball stadium. There had been a contest that morning to guess the precise time of the first sighting of an iceberg. My guess was off by two hours. The correct guess was off by only one minute.
Those little dark spots on the right are penguins.
That was also pretty cool... our first penguins!
...on the move.
Amazingly blue glacier ice.
Note the zodiac, to get an idea of the heights.
The zodiac tours gave us a great perspective of the ice bergs and glaciers.
How did THAT happen?
Our ship hiding behind icebergs.
Glaciers were constantly calving; we could hear the loud rumbling quite often but I only got to see it clearly once: the glacier in this photo. That rounded mound of ice behind the zodiac is the piece that broke off and fell, then bobbed up and rolled over. Some of us were onshore, but a couple of zodiacs were out, and raced to get closer... but not TOO close!
We watched as the face of the glacier plummeted into the sea, then rose up like an enormous white ice whale.
During Thursday evening, January 20, we sailed through Lemaire Channel, seven miles long and about a mile wide. It was truly awe-inspiring.
Icebergs of fantastical, Seussian shapes...
The sun began to set at about 11 PM...
and as the sun settled below the horizon on one side of the channel, the moon rose on the other.
We had all been on deck the entire evening, marveling at the icebergs and landscape, and this was our reward. I was lucky enough to be able to capture what for me was the most beautiful moment of the trip. This photo was taken around midnight; it was the darkest it ever got. The sun was back up and strong by 3 AM.
The Antarctic moon.
Brash ice. Chunky stuff.
More brash ice.
Another good photo of brash ice. This stuff was fun to zip through in the zodiacs... made a very cool noise, like you were riding around in a giant slushy. The crew collected brash ice and chopped it up for our happy hour cocktails. The bartender called it "penguin ice."
"Growlers"... small chunks of floating ice.
"Bergy bits"... small icebergs.
Miles and miles of ice and snow...
...and mountains of it.
Antarctica is the world's highest continent, with an average height of almost 8,000 feet above sea level.