We were up at 2.50am to leave for Almirante Brown at 3.30. We went with Robin Aiello and had a dry landing on to steps.
There was thick snow for our second and last landing on the Antarctic Peninsula. It was alternating between rain and snow and there was a steep hill to climb, after which we could come sliding down on our bottoms.
The Prince Albert II at anchor at Almirante Brown.
Some of us decided not to do that and chose instead to go on a Zodiac cruise with Rob. We saw some penguins and also pure white snowy sheathbills. We were joined in the Zodiac by Jim, some Italians and one or two Americans. We passed by nesting and flying blue-eyed shags or cormorants and then went through splendid scenery with glaciers, icebergs, bergy bits and small pieces of ice we either hit or went round.
It was magical, especially went it started to snow heavily - it felt like real Antarctica! I sat at the front of the Zodiac most of the time, so I could look to both sides. Some people saw a leopard seal, but we didn't from our boat. However, the shapes and colours of the ice, the reflections in the water and the fabulous swimming gentoos made it very special. A group of about 20 penguins were feeding, but seemed to follow us and then approach the Zodiac when we stopped. We could see krill swimming about and this was what they were eating.
We saw very few other Zodiacs and Rob switched off the engine several times so that we could experience the peace and stillness. It was a truly memorable cruise. We were nearly 2 hours in the Zodiac and the cold really got to us, but we still didn't want it to end. Finally, we had to go back on board ship and it was a relief to take off our wet clothes and to dry our cameras. We were desperately cold and wet, but it had all been worthwhile. We had one more Zodiac outing to come, once again on a cruise. It was still only 6.30am! We had a light breakfast in the Observation Lounge, then went into the restaurant when it opened for something more substantial. A minke whale was spotted and we all rushed out on deck, but it was gone. Some people saw it spouting.
We headed towards the Lemaire Channel, which is a very beautiful location, but today, low cloud prevented us from seeing as much as we would have liked. There was thick ice to break through and the Captain did it superbly.
We stayed up on the front deck to watch and were very cold. There were Antarctic terns, blue-eyed shags and snow petrels flying about and many penguins swimming in the sea. We anchored at Pleneau Island and took our final Zodiac cruise with Juan, in tandem with Rob and his group. We went into the "Iceberg Graveyard" where there was so much ice, in the form of glaciers, icebergs and bergy bits. It was another really magical place.
We spent an hour there and had to break through the ice, sometimes getting stuck. We saw gentoos, a Weddell seal and a crabeater seal close up, which is quite rare.
We had another quiet time of reflection, listening to the silence. We returned to the ship and had lunch with the Lowrys. We had some wine to celebrate, but we were sorry to have to leave Antarctica. It's been very special. There was thick snow falling when, in the distance, we saw a humpback whale. We had a much-needed rest before a special dinner to celebrate Thanksgiving, when we were joined by Mary and Steve. The turkey was fine, but not quite as good as home-cooked. It is impossible in this part of the world to provision the ship and they have done very well. Most of our meals have been excellent. Pauline and some of the others were feeling seasick as there was a lot of movement from the ship. This was worse in the restaurant and soon Tim began to feel ill. He went down to the cabin and I ate with Mary and Steve. There was quite a swell, but it was still light when I went to bed at 10.45.