Diary of an Antarctic Cruise





I am up early this morning, impatient to see what the new day has in store for us. Our ship is cruising off a wide expanse of pristine ice. The sun has just risen, producing a marvellous pink-orangey glow in the sky. Multiple reflections of light off the ice create an extraordinary palette of whites and blues. I see our team of naturalistguides leaving for a reconnaissance. There is a muffled silence, the day promises to be fine.


After a hearty breakfast, we gather in the big Ispahan lounge around our team of naturalists who are opening our eyes to the wonders of this “White Continent”. all the passengers are busy checking their equipment and getting their cameras, videos and binoculars ready. like real explorers, dressed up in our red parkas, we are taken to our Zodiac®.


We’re here, ready to leave, and board in small groups. For over an hour we head out to see our first icebergs and immediately fall under the spell of these blue-tinted giants. On the shore, Weddell seals lazily watch a colony of adult Gentoo Penguins with their young chicks. Suddenly there is a shout from the Zodiac® in front: a leopard seal is frolicking in the waves put up by the propeller!


On our return to the ship we are welcomed by delicious cups of hot chocolate and cinnamon tea served in the Panoramic lounge, which has large bay windows providing an excellent view of the majestic white scenery outside. We gather round a chart to share our impressions and images of the morning’s adventures.


After a gourmet lunch, it is time to go to the theatre on deck 4 where our guides await us. This is where we have our briefings and lectures and is where nicolas, alain or raphaël tell us about the next day’s programme. We are now crossing the Weddell Sea, also known as the “Iceberg Corridor”. Many polar animals seek refuge here.


No sooner have we left the theatre, I hear the Captain’s voice resonating in the corridors – “Whales portside!” From the bridge, he invites us to gather on the outside decks. a huge humpback whale is crossing our path with her calf and seems to be almost flirting with the ship – a magical moment! It is such an impressive animal yet is giving us a real spectacle of acrobatics just metres from the ship. I have hardly recovered my emotions, when it is time to prepare for our second expedition.


We join the Zodiacs®. accompanied by our guide, we head out to Paulet Island. The driver weaves his way through blocks of drifting ice before we finally land. after a few minutes walking we come across a colony of adelie Penguins who have decided to make their home on this miniscule piece of land, composed only of volcanic rock. Over 100,000 couples live here and we are quickly surrounded by these small, oh so familiar and very curious animals. We then return to our ship, past impressive tabular icebergs, gigantic platforms of ice drifting towards the Straits of antarctica. a small group of black and white birds fly over our Zodiac® . raphaël, our guide, says they are Snow Petrels.


Return to the ship. The pastry chef has surpassed himself again and cakes, madeleines and exquisite little tarts await us in the Ispahan lounge, accompanied by hot drinks: delicious and perfect for warming us up. We take this opportunity to share our impressions. I think today will forever be engraved on all our memories. 6pm as we can do almost every day, those who wish join the speakers in the theatre. Didier shares his experiences as a District Manager of the French Southern Territories and José talks a great deal about the marine mammals in the Southern Ocean. Our friends decided to relax and enjoy a treatment in the Spa. We are on our way to the Gerlache Strait. lE BOrÉal moves through a surreal landscape, escorted by several groups of whales.


The day ends with a delicious cocktail set out on the outdoor decks. Our Captain Etienne Garcia uncorks a bottle of champagne with a sword! as the sun sinks slowly over the horizon, it is time to go in for dinner. later, some passengers gather to listen to a piano recital in the main lounge, but most of us have already given in to the desire for a well-earned sleep!

from Philippe D., 5 February 2011, aboard LE BORÉAL



February 2012

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