This was on my husband's bucket list, not mine. I was afraid of the Drake Passage and didn't really want to go. It turned out to be the best adventure of our lives! We started in Santiago, Chile with the pre-cruise wine tasting tour. This included a trip around Santiago the first day, three vineyards over the next two days, a lunch we cooked at one vineyard, and two gourmet dinners in Santiago. Matt was our guide for this part and he was absolutely wonderful, taking care of every detail and teaching all along the way. The Mandarin Oriental hotel was excellent with great views of the city.
We flew to Ushuaia, Argentia the next day to begin the Antarctic part of expedition. The Drake Passage was quite rough and most passengers had some degree of seasickness, even with Scopolamine patches. Two days later, we crossed the Antarctic Circle and weather was amazing for the rest of our trip: blue skies, blue water, little wind, great birds, whales, seals and penguins. Each day there were at least two activities off the ship that included zodiac rides to see icebergs, seals and penguins up really close; hikes on glaciers, penguin rookeries, research stations and even an active Ukrainian research station. Amazingly, the ship would stop to see anything interesting and call all of to the observation decks. Our last day in Antarctic, the Orion turned around to follow a group of Orcas for over an hour.
The entire naturalist staff was exceptional. Lectures were given between off ship activities, before and after dinner. They included photography, birds of the Antarctic, seals, whales, ozone research, geology, and penguins. Staff was always available to answer questions, share meals or cocktails with us, and help in anyway possible. We have even communicated with Josh after the trip, with whale questions. It was clear that these men and women had a passion for this work.