Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year

We started the last day of the year at the bottom of the planet. The morning greeted us with the beautiful Errara Channel which was filled with majestic ice bergs that had calved from the surrounding glaciers. We had Gentoo penguins modelling for us and welcoming us at the beach on Danco Island. On the top of the hill we had a stunning view over the Errera Channel.
After this great outing we enjoyed yet another sumptuous breakfast in the spacious restaurant.

Neko Harbour penetrates deep into the Antarctic Peninsula and its beautifully surrounded on all sides by the mountains and the alpine glaciers.
This was our first landing on the Antarctic mainland and for some of us it was the last continent to set foot on, what a fantastic feeling.
We hiked up to the penguin rookery and had an amazing view over Andvord Bay.
On the top we created a slide and most of us had a skid down the slope, yelling of excitement, or maybe it was from the snow stuck under our clothes.

In the evening we went back to Danco Island and sat the overnight campers ashore, which was a very special camping indeed. They were to celebrate New Years Eve camping in Antarctica…, what a thing!

After the New Year Eve Buffet on M/S Fram, we all gathered in the Sky lounge to count in the New Year. We danced and cheered until we were all exhausted and when we were all done, it was 2105 already.

                   A Happy New Year to the world!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Halfmoon island and Deception island

From 30th December:
Bright and early we woke up to a new day of expedition and the first landing was Halmoon island. First of was the snowshoers heading for a beautiful mountain top. From there they had a stunning view while enjoying the Antarctic silence.

Next of the kayakers hit the water for a circumnavigation of the whole island. On the far side of the island they could enjoy the singing of a Weddel seal, pure magic. Rest of the group did a landing on the beach and got the pleasure of meeting a lonely Maccaroni penguin among all the Chinstraps and the Wedell seal.

There is little time for rest on an expedition so while eating a lovely lunch the ship steamed ahead with course for Deception Island. “Inside” the  active volcano we did a landing at the old whalers station Whalers bay. On the beach steam is rising from the heat of the volcano covering the black sand in mist. Some of the guests went out with the Polarcircle boats on a geology cruise with the expert Steffen as their guide. 46 brave hikers joined on the demanding hike to Baily Head and the enormous Chinstrap colony there. It’s rare to do this hike with good weather, but on this day we were very lucky. The view was stunning!
Back on the beach many tough guests took the chance to swim in Antarctic water. Another amazing day on what is close to being a perfect voyage.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Going wild at Point Wild

Today we had our 3rd sea day and we were waiting to get onshore after two quite rough days in the Scotia Sea. In the morning there was time for Bridge visits and in the afternoon, Fram would try, to sail as close as possible to Elephant Island, Point Wild, where 22 marooned members of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s fabled Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition spent four and a half months while they awaited rescue. The sea was quite calm, the sun up and shining and we were all out on deck, watching the rough glaciers and the tiny place, where Shackleton’s men lived beneath two overturned lifeboats. 

From far we have seen our first tabular icebergs. And the conditions looked good, it was so tempting and so the Expedition Team went into the Polar Cirkel boats to try a landing at this tiny beach, with quite some swell coming in! But we managed! And everyone who dared the little bit “rougher” landing went ashore and set foot on Elephant Island! What a day! 
The Chinstrap penguins were quite surprised, as they probably don’t very often get visitors at this place! We managed to get everyone safe back into the Polar Cirkel boats and back on board it was a thrilled atmosphere, we landed at Elephant Island and seen the bust from Luis Pardo from close, the brave captain who finally came to pick up the 22 men of Shackleton after four and a half month. 

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Our days at sea

After two days at sea, we are getting closer to the Antarctic Peninsula. On Friday we left the beautiful weather of South Georgia and headed into the wild ocean. On our way to Elephant Island we encountered high wind speeds and waves of up to 10 meter high. These were perfect conditions for some dramatic shots of the forces of nature:

Passengers were able to sign up for activities in Antarctica and attend several lectures on varying topics. We had for example an introduction presentation to Antarctica and one about the geology of the Antarctic.

During these two days the ship was surrounded by many sea birds like the Cape Petrel:

Friday, 26 December 2014

Strømness and fashion show

Strømness is all about two things, history and furseals.

We started the morning with a historic cruise in and around the Strømness bay witnessing the former haydays of whaling. The buildings are not to be entered for safety reasons, but we could get close enough to acquire a sense of what it must have been like.

We made a landing on the long shore of Strømness and it was literally packed with furseals. 

After photographing the absolutely cute pups on the beach, we pointed our nose towards the plain behind and then the waterfall, which Sir Ernest Shackleton and his two companions came down by. It took us about 40-50 min to get there and on the way we past the Gentoo colony up on the hill.
We got up on the slope next to the waterfall, to get a view over the bay and what a view it was, beautiful wrapped with the folded rocks in the background.

Back on the beach again, we watched the furseal bulls fighting and the cows trying to protect the young ones from any possible danger.

After this great landing, it was time to say goodbye to South Georgia and aim for Antarctica. Once back on M/S Fram we ate a well-deserved lunch and the afternoon was spent enjoying the last sceneries of South Georgia from the panorama lounge on deck 7.
Later in the evening we gathered once again on deck 7, but this time to watch the crew fashion show, presenting the clothes and gifts from M/S Frams onboard shop.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas day

This day would be packed with adventures so we got of to an early start with hikers landing at 06.50 in Mayviken. With perfect weather we had a beautiful hike over the mountain and down to Grytviken. In Grytviken there was a ceremony in the 101 year old whalers church to celebrate Christmas. After the ceremony there was plenty of time to explore the old whaling town and get a first meeting with the wildlife of South Georgia. Specially the Fur seals seem to make a big first impression.

With sun shining from blue skies and the most beautiful nature on earth to explore there was no time for rest this Christmas day. After a nice lunch back on the ship we were soon ready for landing number two: Fortuna Bay. In Fortuna Bay the guests got to hike up to a huge King penguin rookery. Here they could spend time watching the busy life of the penguin family. Is there anything cuter than a penguin baby? I think not…

For 26 brave guests the afternoon would be spent walking in the footsteps of Shackleton himself. From Worsley we made our way up to Crean Lake and continued over the mountain pass following the exact same route as Shackleton and his men did. From the top we got an amazing view down to the whaling station in Strømnes. After an exiting descent into Shackleton valley we were soon back on the Fram in time for dinner. All in all a perfect Christmas day. 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Eve is coming

After another great day at the Falklands, we had two sea days ahead of us, sailing towards South Georgia. But the arrival in South Georgia demands some preparations: IAATO briefings and vacuum cleaning our outergear & clothing, Kajak briefings, hiking briefings, pre-landing briefings and so on. Beside all this practical information, they were also lectures taking place, all kind of topics were covered, from Shackeltons adventures until seabirds in Antarctica.

BUT, of course it was also the days before Christmas Eve! All the days now, we could see here and there a bit more Christmas decoration on MV Fram and on the evening of the 23rd, it was time, to decorate the Christmas tree – with our own handmade decoration, everyone who felt like, created in the Cafeteria the days before  hangers and ornaments, Christmas tree balls, ribbons, stars, hearts – there was no limits for creativity.

And while Myles played Christmas songs on the piano, we all on board MV Fram decorated and sang around the tree. What a lovely evening. And then, finally Christmas Eve arrived. Up in the Panorama Lounge – with our own and unique Christmas tree, we sang Christmas songs, listened to the story of Betlehem and guess who arrived on MV Fram? Yes, Santa Claus was coming! And he brought a huge bag with him. He delivered the gifts to young and old, guests, staff and crew. It was a joyful, heart-warming atmosphere up in the Panorama lounge, and even when we all were actually far away from home, this evening we felt the Christmas spirit around us, happy to be on this very special voyage. 

Monday, 22 December 2014


After two very successful landings on New Island and Carcass Island, our passengers enjoyed a day in Stanley. We were once again lucky with the weather and only had 10 minutes of rain. Like they say here in the Falklands, “if you don´t like the weather, just wait a few minutes”. 
Passengers were able to hop on free shuttle buses that drove to the city centre and back every 30 minutes. They were able to enjoy the landmarks and museums and went for some shopping. Even our crew went on a last Christmas gift hunt.

Besides the normal landing, our guests were able to join excursions to experience Stanley and the surrounding areas even further. They were able to choose amongst the following:

-                      The Falkland Nature Walk:

This (approx.) 3 hour walk was a great success. About 20 people joined the excursion that took them on a beautiful nature path through the stunning landscapes of the nature surrounding Stanley. Peter and Louise (the local guides) kept telling us this was the perfect moment to do this walk as the many plants were flowering. We saw at least 5 of the 17 endemic flowers that call the Falklands Home and got to taste some of the legendary plants like the Scurvy Grass that is high in Vitamin C and prevented people from getting scurvy. We also saw the famous Diddle-dee, the Devil Strawberry and the Tea Berry. The wildlife was very abundant as well. We saw many flightless Steamer Ducks, Crested Caracaras and Magellanic Penguins in their nesting holes and on the beach at Gypsy Cove.

-                      Stanley Highlight Tour:

The tour allowed participants to see all the highlights Stanley has to offer and see these extra things you wouldn´t see when you visit on your own. It was the perfect way to get a good inside view and knowledge of what this city really has to offer and experience the rich history this place has.

-                      Scenic Air Tour:

Four of the passengers joined a (approx.) 45 minutes flying excursion over Stanley in a twin engine Britten-Norman Islander aircraft with war pilots. We were able to get unique views of Stanley and its surrounding areas and learn a lot about the town. We got a real taste of the mountainous terrain, wild landscapes and natural coastal beauty. During the flight we got to see places like Gypsy Cove, Cape Pembroke, the lighthouse,  Lady Elizabeth shipwreck, Kidney Cove, Port Louise, Mount Tumbledown, Longdon, Two sisters and Harriet, Stone Runs, Fitzroy Farm and Bluff Cove Lagoon.

–             Bluff Cove Lagoon:

This beautiful privately-owned farm with a pristine white wilderness beach is home to over 3000 Gentoo Penguins, and a small growing colony of King Penguins. We were only able to reach the site by four-wheel drive vehicles on a very exciting (in a bumpy way) safari! We did this with small groups of 4 people per car.  We were greeted by the rangers who quickly informed us about the site and took us to see a very rare Leucistic (partial albino) Gentoo penguin.
After tea/coffee/hot chocolate and over 15 sorts of home-made cookies and cakes with Diddle Dee, we were ready for the wild ride back to the ship or the town, depending on the guest's wishes.

                    Bird Watching in Falkland Islands:

This (approx.) 3 hours walk aloud the passengers to witness the beautiful nature and spot birds with the help of local guides. On this excursion they got to see the following birds:

- Rufous-chested Dotterel
- Magellanic Snipe
- Blackish Oyster Catcher
- Turkey Vultures
- Upland Goose
- Flightless Steamer Ducks
- Southern Giant Petrel
- Rock Shags (cormorants)
- Ruddy-headed goose
- Long-tailed Meadowlark
- Correndera Pipit

We left Stanley at around 4 PM and got to see a few nice beaches with penguins on the way out. Once on sea, our ship was surrounded by many birds like the Wandering Albatross. A great start to our journey towards South Georgia!