After all the hoops we had to jump to get to Antarctica (in our previous post), here we finally were. Antarctica!
Like, this took a little while for it to sink in.
I remember wanting to visit for like 10 years and then it took lots of planning to finally get to this point and here we were in Antarctica.
I remember thinking to pace myself when I got up in the middle of the night for a pee but all those though went off of the figurative window the minute we opened the literal window.
We saw ourselves surrounded by icebergs.
Suffice to say, there was no need for caffeine that morning. The sun wasn’t shining but it just added all the more to that drama.
Not to mention the spotting of wildlife which had become a lot more frequent now that we were in Antarctica.
Penguins bobbing all around, more seals on icebergs around the ship and the occasional whale in the distance.
We were pretty much bouncing off the walls all morning and then the captain decided to up the ante.
As it turns out, you can go to Antarctica but not get into the Antarctic Circle.
The Antarctic Circle is a lot lower down and very few ships ever make it that far south because of the sea ice.
As you can imagine, the closer it gets to the South Pole, the thicker the sea ice is.
The Ocean Victory ship we took down to Antarctica is actually built to traverse the ice here.
That being said, the sea ice on the journey to the Antarctic Circle is just too densely packed and far too thick for most ships to go through so a lot never make it that far south.
They just don’t bother attempting it.
Our captain however decided that the weather conditions looked great and the sea ice didn’t look too bad so we would turn our whole itinerary on its head and venture far south into the Antarctic Circle.
If we left it a few days more, there’s a chance the weather could change or the sea ice could get thicker and so we just had to make the most of it while the conditions allowed for it.
Turns out, he was right and with that, we were the first sailing of the season to get into the Antarctic Circle!
There were whoops and cheers all around with champagne everywhere to celebrate.
This was a milestone I didn’t even know we needed to meet prior to the sailing but it was amazing. Haha!
To be honest, just going to Antarctica is a big enough win with or without the cherry on the cake that is sailing into the Antarctic Circle.
It was absolutely amazing and such a brilliant way to start the trip.
Plus now we could say we’ve been to the Arctic Circle (we did this a few years ago in Norway) and now the Antarctic Circle.
We spent the rest of the day pretty much in awe of everything we could see around us.
We’d already come across humpback whales, leopard seals, Weddell seals, Adélie penguins (which are harder to spot than Gentoo or chinstrap penguins) and some incredibly humongous icebergs.
Then the head of the expedition team gave us a bit of a surprise announcement by saying that we’d be venturing out on our first zodiac expedition to Antarctica.
I didn’t think it was possible to be even more excited than we already were but turns out, it is very possible indeed.
Remember, when you’re in Antarctica, your plans are subject to change depending on the weather.
So, having great weather to be able to do a zodiac boat tour felt very much like the big deal that it was. This was especially true as this wasn’t a confirmed plan for the day earlier on.
Oh, and by the way, the waters were very calm by this point.
It was calm enough to make us not bother with the sea sickness tablets. Plus, those make you drowsy so it wasn’t something we wanted to take if we didn’t have to.
Saying that though, I did take one at night. I figured the drowsiness wouldn’t matter too much and that would keep any sea sickness away while sailing at night.
That turned out to be a great plan as I found out a few days later when I didn’t take them and started to feel a little seasick while we were sailing around in Antarctica.
Soon enough, we were called to do down to the mud room. Ready to get suited up, booted up and life-jacket up to get on the zodiac boats.
You also have to disinfect your regular clothes before you go so you don’t carry contaminants with you.
It’s not really done for new clothes but for older clothes and shoes, in particular.
They don’t want you bringing invasive species to Antarctica. So, to help with this, your boots are decontaminated before and after you go on the boat (even if you’re going on land).
Your clothes are all done in advance of heading down to the boats and the easiest way to describe this is that it’s essentially like they just vacuum your clothes.
The zodiac boat cruise was incredible.
You can tell how amazing and how huge some of these icebergs are from afar but it doesn’t compare to when you get close to them.
Their sheer size is just mind-boggling; and that colour too!
It’s a shade of blue you’ve never seen elsewhere and won’t forget in a hurry.
And yeah, that’s how we spent our first day in Antarctica.
We finished off with dinner and wine under the Antarctic midnight sun, which to be honest, was behind some clouds but never actually set so it was bright all night long.
Remember it’s summertime in Antarctica when you get to visit then so the sun doesn’t quite set properly then.