Apr 11 2024

Whalers Bay @ Deception Island

Day 15 – Sunday, Feb 4: South Shetland Islands, 65 nautical miles north of the Antarctic Peninsula

… more pix & videos on Google Maps: Deception Island, & Whalers Bay.

Waking up to a rather overcast skies, I went to the bow and took some spectacular videos. As we’re sailing into Whalers Bay, the scenery is even more beautiful and tranquil. It did perk me up – for more than two weeks on the ship, I was a little weary.

This would be our last landing of the trip.

Deception Island is a small island in the Bransfield Strait, 620 miles / 1,000km south of Ushuaia, Argentina. It is close to Antarctic Peninsula but is in South Shetland Islands. Long video

This island is the caldera of an active volcano, that had ruined the scientific stations in 1967 and 1969. Because of its natural harbor, it was a whaling station in the 20th century, as early as 1906. Argentina and Spain have their research station during the summer months, but it’s administered under the Antarctic Treaty System. Each year, it sees about 15,000 tourists. Walk the beach,  visit the ruins, climb up to Neptune’s window for the vintage view. I saw the cutest seal, playing hide and seek with me.

The group in red outfit is from Brazil. This is the only time that we ‘ve a company. We were the only one at all other landings.

I would love to go kayaking one more time but it was canceled due to the weather. By 10:20am, the wind was picking up, that forced us to return to the ship earlier than planed.


Feb 6 2024

The auction

Day 18: Wednesday, Feb 7

The captain’s farewell reception is cancelled due to the rough sea of Drake Passage. But we’re or they’re able to hold the auction of few ship remnants, such as the flag, the map, etc., plus a few other items, such as a bottle of whisky … etc. The proceed will benefit the crew.  AJ is the auctioneer and the bidding is quite enthusiastic.


3 hours away from the port of Ushuaia, in the corridor of Beagle Channel, is Isla Gable island on the right (to the north). This part of BC is known as the eastern, shared by Argentina to the north and Chile to the south, is used by the Antarctic cruises between Ushuaia and South Shetland Islands. A few photos I took here shown Chile as the location. The western part of Channel is Chile’s entirely.



Feb 3 2024

Day 14, Feb 3: island hopping

If Antarctic were music it would be Mozart. Art, and it would be Michelangelo. Literature, and it would be Shakespeare. And yet it is something even greater; the only place on earth that is still as it should be. May we never tame it.

Andrew Denton (An Aussie adventurer)  

Today is the second Saturday; the last island hopping day.

Count down to Drake Passage … We sail around the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, Weddell Sea in the Southern Ocean. Gearing up toward Whalers Bay, Drake Passage, and eventual return to Ushuaia – bottomed out, you could say.

Continues from D’Urville Island (yesterday), according to my photos’ GPS, and ship’s information board, here is our route:

  1. Joinville Island at 7am (N of Dundee & Paulet), video
  2. Paulet Island by 8, per ship; zodiac begins 8:30, short/long
  3. Heroína Island at 10am (of Danger Islands, to the E) of Danger
  4. Tay Head at 1:30pm, per ship

On the map, from north to south (top down), the locations of these islands are:

  1. they’re all east (NE to SE) of Esperanza Base, the year-round Argentine research station in Hope Bay
  2. D’Urville is the northern most among these islands
  3. followed by Joinville Island
  4. followed by Dundee Island (wiki)
  5. followed by Paulet Island
  6. Heroína Island of Danger Island (wiki) is E of Dundee

Joinville Island (wiki) is the largest island in the Joinville Islands group (wiki). It was discovered during the 1838 French expedition, under Captain Jules Dumont d’Urville (1790-1842), who named it after François d’Orléans, Prince de Joinville (1818–1900), [the third son of Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans (1773-1850)], who was well known for his watercolor paintings and famous for bringing back Napoleon’s remains from Saint Helena.

… on Google Maps

4 minutes after the above video was taken, the next photo’s GPS shows Heroína Island (wiki), part of Danger Island. Ship‘s program indicates Paulet Island. The two islands are adjacent to each other (Paulet to the west) in the Weddell Sea, part of Southern Ocean.

The following two aerial pix are taken by ship’s photographer, of the island and our ship near by. 

Paulet Island is a circular island about 0.93 miles (1.5km) in diameter, 2.8 miles SE of Dundee Island (wiki), off the north-eastern end of the Antarctic Peninsula. It’s composed of lave flows capped by a cinder cone with a small summit crater. Geothermal heat keeps parts of the island ice-free, and youthful morphology of the volcano suggest that it was last active within the last 1,000 years.

… more pix videos on Google Maps, TA

In 1903 during the Swedish Antarctic Expedition led by Otto Nordenskjöld (1869-1928) his ship Antarctic was crushed and sunk by the ice off the coast of the island. A stone hut built in Feb 1903 by shipwreck survivors, together with the grave of an expedition member, and the cairn built on the highest point of the island to draw the attention of rescuers, have been designated a Historical Site. The shipwrecked crew of the Endurance original plan was to travel to the island and use stores there that were left by the Swedish, but the ice pack that they were stranded on eventually drifted too Far East.

The large penguin colony, with 1.2 to 1.3 million mid-sized Adélie penguins, which only found in Antarctic continent, which was named after the wife of its discoverer Jules Dumont d’Urville (1790-1842). It was a rare endeavor when everything was named after the sponsors – usually their kings or queens.

This island is a popular destination for sightseeing tours.

The Adélie penguins’ diet is mainly krill and fish. The water surrounded the island is pink from their guano, and is smelly.

2 lazy seals and a group of penguins

“Let me see what are here,” one seal says. He looks up at us, “oh another group of clueless tourists,” then goes back to sunbathing.

The second seal to the right, gets restless, “let me to intimidate the little ones,” who then crawls forward. The group agile penguins act as if they’re flustered … “oh we’re so s-c-a-r-e-d.” Ha ha ha …  imposing my little world view onto them -:)

“哦 看看谁来了” 其一说 “一群吃饱了撑的游客” 躺下换个姿势
另外一只说 “让我去搅搅小企鹅们”
右手边的小企鹅们看着心宽体胖的海豹 “哦 我们好害怕哦

他们的乐趣 the longer version

Danger Island is a group of small islands lays east to Joinville and Paulet, nears the tip of Antarctic Peninsular, (comprising Heroína Island, which shows up on my GPS). It’s so named because they’re well hidden among the ice till the ships almost upon it. They were discovered by British expedition under James Clark Ross (1800-62) in 1842.

Again, the tiki champagne bar -:) A little after 11am, as we’re returning to the ship for lunch, the kitchen staff come out with champagne. Unlike the Arctic which they used real stems, this time they use plastic … oh well, thanks anyway -:) … drinking before noon …well, it’s 5pm somewhere -:). OJ is offered too. Renato, the dinning room manager is in yellow jacket, who was on our Arctic cruise too.

Diana sails during lunch, arriving at Tay Head at 1:30. Archive.org has a little information on it, as well as wikipedia. Its name is derived from the Firth of Tay, a coast in Scotland.

Our yellow group is the last one to go on the zodiac, which is 4pm. … and the whale show starts almost immediately. The full version: the aerial photos are from ship’s photographer.

After the whales show, is the polar plunge: yes, I did it again

Feb 2 2024

Day 13, Feb 2, D’Urville Is Elephant Is

Is that the wailing wall? 

Friday, a pretty nasty day: 8am we get to Brown Bluff, pm to d’Urville Monument.

Brown Bluff is a ‘tuya’ which means flat-topped, steep-sided volcano formed in the last 1 million years when lava erupted through an englacial lake. Tuya is rare worldwide, being confirmed to regions which were covered by glaciers and had active volcanism during the same period. The volcano gets its name from its steep slopes and brown to black colored rocks.

It’s a cloudy day. After we landed, snow begins to fall. Many have hiked to the top.

The long march; longer version; more pix n videos on Google Maps.

PM, zodiac only, that takes us to d’Urville Monument. It’s still nasty, part of me wishing to return to the ship asap -:)

D’Urville Monument is a conspicuous conical summit, 1886′ (575m) high, at the south-west end of Joinville Island, off the north-east end of the Antarctic Peninsula. It was discovered by a British expedition under James Clark Ross between 1839 and 1843. It was named by him for Captain Jules Dumont d’Urvlle.

The photo at the end of the video ↓ (zodiac by the pengiusn) is taken by the ship’s photographer.


tomorrow is the last island hopping day

Jan 21 2024

Foods & drinks on Diana

Food and drink on Swan’s ships are always good, till I get bored of it.

Day 2: a bending knife

  1. Wababi prawns – good
  2. French onion soup – without cheese
  3. Mixed garden – good
  4. Lamb chops – dry
  5. Chocolate cheese cake – mousse cake
  6. Strawberry sorbet – good
  7. Wine
    1. Crianza Viña Amézola Rioja 2018
    2. Chateau Grand Moulin Syrah 2016 – better


Buffet for day 1, as usual. The three wines are decent. Cutio for lunch and the other two for dinner, and the skipper with his team in the kitchen.



Jan 16 2024

Antarctic 南极

This Antarctic trip is long and exciting. We see more wildlife than I anticipated. The kayaking @ St. Andrew’s Bay & Cobblers Cove, and paddle boarding at Copacabana Beach are simply wonderful.

The duration is from Tuesday January 16 to Wednesday February 14, visiting Buenos Aires, Ushuaia, and Rio de Janeiro. The cruise to the Antarctic is on board Swan Hellenic‘s Diana for 18 days, Jan 21 to Feb 7: In Shackleton‘s Footsteps.

A few reading materials:

My itinerary

  1. Buenos Aires
  2. UshuaiaDiana
    1. Falkland: West Point, Saunders Island – South Sandwich Islands wiki; Port Stanley
    2. South Georgia
    3. Antarctic Peninsula
  3. Rio de Janeiro

Because of the three round trips, we used the airport lounges a few times. At our last layover in Atlanta, we get to visit newly opened (that morning) Amex Centurion @ ATL.

  1. US↔Buenos Aires on Delta
  2. BAUshuaia on chartered Aerolineas
  3. BARio on British Air

A few geographical terms (hope I got it right): Antarctic 南极, Antarctica 南极洲,  Antarctic Peninsula 南极半岛 & Antarctic Circle 南极圈

  1. Antarctic is an area, includes Antarctica.
  2. Antarctica is one of 7 continents, sits almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle.
  3. Antarctic Peninsula, the continent Antarctica’s mainland.
  4. Antarctic Circle, is the most southerly of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of Earth, per wiki.

Unlike our Arctic trip where we saw more humans than animals, this trip we saw plenty animals and very few humans. Kayaking at St. Andrews Bay and Cove, paddle boarding at Copacabana Beach and polar plunge are some memorable activities.

The trip is wildlife overdose: goming to Antarctica is to see the penguins, seals and more wildlife. (Arctic, on the other hand, we saw more humans …)

The first circumnavigation of Antartica was done Nov 1996 to Jan 1997.

Jan 10 2024

Endurance: Shackleton; 1959

Antarctic book Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, 1959 by Alfred Lansing (1921-75, an American journalist).

Sir Ernest Shackleton (🇬🇧1874–1922) was one of the main pioneers during Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration – in the race to conquer the most remote land on earth Antarctica. Among his many adventures, the journey in 1914-7 to Antarctic was the most famous. And Lansing made his mark or fame with this book. Before this book, Shackleton felt into obscurity, far lesser known than Captain Robert Scott (1868-1912) – Shackleton’s first polar expedition was on Scott’s Discovery (1901-4), as the 3rd officer.

Shackleton’s Endurance sank in the Weddell Sea off Antarctica on Nov 21 in 1915. He died in 1922 in Grytviken, a hamlet on South Georgia. The ship wreck of Endurance was located by Endurance22 on March 5th, 2022, merely 4 miles from the spot where it sank, 9,869 feet deep. On January 8th, 2024, there are 10 Antarctic cruise ships, including Diana, docked at Ushuaia.

他多次探险征途中以”Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition”, 1914-7“帝国横贯南极探险” 最著名. 他死后大致默默无闻 直到Lansing这本书. The audio form is perhaps done in 2015 (?) 关于沙克尔顿的书有很多本 这本是公认最经典的. 作者以此书著名. (我看过的另外一本Going South 2017 确实没有这本好).
Endurance 坚忍号 在1915年11月21日在南极洲附近的威德尔海沉没. 残骸于2022年3月5日被发现.
今日的上天下海 一切一切 要感恩这些不同领域的先锋们.

Feb 26 2023

Nathaniel Palmer, 1799-1877 

Unknown author, fm Wiki

Nathaniel Brown Palmer (August 8, 1799 – June 21, 1877) was an American seal hunter and ship designer, among a few other things he did well.

He was born and raised in Stonington CT, a descendant of Walter Palmer (1585-1661), one of the town’s founders, who also was the founder of Charlestown (the oldest neighborhood in Boston).

One of his adventures was to explore Antarctic in 1820, in his 47′ long sloop Hero. For vision comparison, my kayak is 12’6″ long.

Palmer Land (wiki) in Antarctica, is named after him.

Capt. Palmer was a major clipper ship designer and China trader, selling seal skin which was favored by the Chinese.

We visited his house in Stonington in 2021.

There is Stonington Island in Antarctic, named after him when he saw the Antarctic Peninsula, the northernmost part of mainland Antarctica on 1820.11.17 on his sloop 单桅帆船 Hero. That area would be known as Palmer Land nowadays (wiki: Graham Land in UK, O’Higgins Land in Chile and Tierra de San Martín in Argentina). Stonington Island (wiki) was used as the site for the East Base of US Antarctic Service Expedition (1939-41).