Leaving Chile, we continued to wind our way through the coastal mountain waterways. As we were traveling further south, the possibility of seeing more glaciers rose with each degree of latitude and—wouldn’t you know it?—we found The Avenue of the Glaciers.
How’s this for spending a morning? Wrapped up in coats and scarves, the majority of the passengers were on the top deck, cameras at the ready, still hunting for the ultimate glacier photo. I didn’t get it, but I had a fine time trying.
And then we arrived at Ushuaia, Argentina’s “fin del mundo,” end of the world. Apt. At 56 degrees south latitude it is the equivalent of Prince Rupert in Canada and with the same number of midsummer daylight hours, about 20. As the jumping off spot for Antarctic expeditions, the dock area was an international feast for the eyes with Spanish and Russian vessels across the wharf. The wind was blowing so strongly the deck chairs skittered to the railings, and we rescued the blankets from the couches and piled them in the lounge.
The next day we took a catamaran through the Beagle Channel to a series of small islands home to nesting cormorants and seals. We watched a mother seal and her pup bob up and down and finally find a place to emerge from the choppy waters around this small piece of rock. Pup wanted to climb higher, but mother had a different set of ideas and managed to impress it upon him as he went up and she hauled him down. Finally, on her terms, they climbed up to the top and joined the other seals.
Our day ended with a train trip through the Tierra del Fuego National Park from the Argentine side. This is the southern end of the famed Pan American Highway; its other end is officially in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.
Wild horses, a waterfall, a quaint train station, and lupines as tall as I am marked our journey here.
Returning to our suite that evening after dinner, we noticed several changes. The small makeup mirror was underneath the vanity and the orchid which graced our coffee table was under the desk. Glasses were stowed in the cabinets and the veranda furniture was tucked in the corner. Did this portend a rocky route to the Falkland Islands?
Somebody certainly thought so, so we prepared ourselves for rough night number two, the south Atlantic Ocean not being known for its calm waters.
What a wonderful surprise! Not only for us, I’m sure, but the crew as well. There weren’t any rough seas and so we were able to anchor off of Port Stanley, Falkland Islands. As an entire ship, we were delighted, as rumor had it that in the last seven tries to get into Port Stanley, we were doing it for only the second time. Penguin colony—here we come!
Our excursion was to an area open only to cruise ships, entrepreneurship being alive and well on the Falklands. There were three separate areas of penguin activity and while we were to stay outside the white flags, the penguins had no such restrictions, waddling up to us at will. No fear. It smelled like a barn yard and was very windy and a touch on the cold side until we climbed down below the bluff where there was a café, a restroom, and a museum and gift shop, happy to take your payment in local currency, euros, dollars, or by credit card.
We concluded our visit to the port by touring through the visitor center and walking the main street to the Cathedral. Per our shore excursion director’s advice, we took our photos under the whale bone arch beside the church.
Back onboard, we bid farewell to the Falklands and started our two days at sea, hoping all along that the South Atlantic would be a lady in her dealings with us.