We had taken two cruises on P&O whilst still at work and thought we had got cruising out of our system but just after we retired in autumn 2004 I saw an advert in a local travel agent for a cruise to Antarctica over the new year. So plans to travel the Rockies by train were abandoned and we booked to go on MV Discovery sailing from Buenos Aires on the 29th of December 2004
To Buenos Aries
Packing for this cruise was a nightmare. Our earlier cruises had started from Southampton so there were no weight restrictions then, but now of course there were, and worse was that we had to pack waterproofs and wellies for our landings on Antarctica. This is in addition to our smart, casual and formal clothes. Still we manged to pack it all in and stay under weight.
Ready to go
Its a 14 hour flight with a break in Madrid to get to Buenos Aires (BA) so you are travelling for about 18 hours all told from when you start in a taxi in Salisbury. It was only a couple of days after Christmas with all that entails and so after the flight we were a bit crumpled when we arrived in BA airport to be bussed to MS Discovery which was lying in the harbour not far from the city centre. There were two even more crumpled old guys off our plane who were wandering about looking lost whilst we waited patiently to be processed. I pointed them out to Doreen with a denigrating remark or two about the sort of people you always see on cruises turning up at the wrong place or time and generally not being 'with it'. We were to see much more of these two, but we are getting ahead of ourselves.
Editorial note: most of this was written on my psion pda as it happened and I think its unpolished nature gives it an 'edge' so by and large I haven't changed anything except that looking at this again from nearly ten years on I have decided to mellow and disguise some of my descriptions of people.
None too pleasant start
Bath Travel had organised this trip which was to be escorted and we were to be taken by taxi to Heathrow as part of the deal but first I had to get the dogs to their kennel .... on the Isle of Wight. Its a long story but we hadn't got a kennel near Salisbury that we trusted and the IoW kennel couldn't take them until today. We had packed their requisites the night before but at 7am I asked "where are their vaccination certificates?" a frantic search ensued but not a trace, so at 7.15 I left with the plan that the kennels could phone our vet and the details could be sent over. About 20 minutes down the road I remembered our vet would be closed but luckily a minute later remembered that we had taken them with us to Ireland and they would be in the MH. So back to Salisbury picked up the certificates and caught a later ferry over. As luck would have it and by dint of ignoring normal IoW speeds and an ultra fast dog hand over I made it back on the booked return trip which was doubly lucky as they had no vacancies on later ones.
So there was plenty of time to be ready for the taxi which arrived promptly at 2pm. We were near Andover when the taxi driver's phone rang. After a short consultation with us we headed back to Salisbury and picked up another passenger for the same trip. As we were now on the opposite side of Salisbury he headed up to the A303. It was jammed up as far as the eye could see so we got a nice long look at Stonehenge in the fading sun. I regaled everyone with tales of sea sickness to get that out of the way before getting on board.
As I wrote this I had no idea if we would be in time at Heathrow we were now on the M3 and it was dark.
We made it in plenty of time and were met by Bath Travel and Discovery representatives. There were 79 of us from the UK so that will offset the rest of the ship being full of Americans. We had a couple of hours of purchasing opportunities which we resisted, Dixons is still rubbish even when air-side. We took off about 30 minutes late in our 757 but will arrive in Madrid 15 minutes early, they must have lawyers doing the schedules. Transit was smooth and hassle free and we left Madrid on time.
Factoid: Spain is an hour ahead of GMT, not an hour behind as it should be geographically.
Not much room in cattle class on an Iberia A340-600 though. Not much sleep either. I am too large, Doreen not bendy enough. However with the aid of B-movies, books, the iPod and the occasional Zzzzzz we made it through the night. Dinner was served at 1am GMT, which seemed unusual but was very welcome.
Day 2 29th December Buenos Aires
It is 0500 (Argentina time) 0800 (GMT) and 0900 (Spain) and we can see the sunrise from 30,000 feet, our body clocks are synchronised with the other passengers so 'queues are forming to use the latrines' - song quote, anyone know it?
We landed on time at BA - it was raining but a balmy 21 degrees. Getting to Discovery was disjointed, two buses and lots of lists, and we Brits seemed to have thinned out a little since Heathrow or perhaps that's a result of spreading out on the ship after being cooped up on the Airbus. The ship has to take reduced number of passengers in the Southern Ocean for safety reasons so it never seemed crowded (450 instead of 650). One disappointment was that we got on board at 10.30 (local) but our cabins won't be ready for another three hours. We could both do with a freshen up and a sleep as the above photos may show.
Discovery has a problem with one engine which is going to result in slower steaming, and as a result we are sailing late tonight, not tomorrow afternoon. We are in our small twin bedded cabin, (Ricardo our steward, is sorting it out into a double by tomorrow). The ship is much smaller than the P&O cruise ships, but looks much more like a ship than a floating hotel. It's now early evening, we've unpacked, had a sleep (Doreen), tea and cakes (me) and Ricardo has changed the sleeping arrangements. We've booked our Falklands tours and walked around the ship a bit but in general we've slobbed out. We went to watch an exhibition tango dance and a band before dinner.
Guess who we are sat with for dinner? Yes the two old chaps who we saw wandering in BA airport. Disaster. They are brothers, one I'll call 'F' is 85 and clearly not with it, ex RAF, when I told him about being involved with army aircraft he started asking me about Lysanders (a WWII aircraft). The other 'G' is in his 70's, neither are very well and both leave before the end of the meal.
Well your dinner companions can make or break a cruise, we had expected to be on a table for 6 and here we were on a table for 4 with two unwell geriatrics and we had exhausted our conversation after two courses.
After dinner we went on deck as we sailed out of BA into the river Plate on a clear still night.
Factoid: One thing we found out today is that Discovery is the original 'Love Boat' from the 70's USA TV series.
Day 3 30th December River Plate and S Atlantic
Woke to a scorching hot morning, still in the river Plate. We walked a mile together before breakfast then lifeboat drill, After an introduction to all the lecturers, zodiac 'drivers', beach master and ice master (he takes over amongst the icebergs) we went to the first lecture. This was by a young Argentinean girl, Gabriella who told us a little of the history of Argentina including the Falklands war and was very good. I am ashamed to say that one British red-neck (or should that be red nose) stomped out of her lecture when she mentioned Islas Malvinas.
Factoid: In one two week period Argentina had five different presidents.
Factoid: The river plate is 500km wide at its mouth.
We have been told that the plan is to go ashore at least three times but it will all be weather dependent. It seems such a long way to go if we are unable to land due to weather so we are a little down but hey if we weren't on this ship we would have zero chance of landing.
We sun bathed for an hour and saw an albatross and a large butterfly(!) before taking a light lunch and going to a sea bird lecture. It transpired that the albatross seen earlier was in fact a pelican. We were invited by an American lady to join her quiz team, selected by accent I think, certainly not for bird spotting skills. The team consists of three Americans; Bonnie, Dell and Roger and after the first day we are currently in joint first place. We should have no trouble in getting our team up to full strength by tomorrow for the cruise long quiz championship.
Still not knowing what to do about F and G we made our excuses and didn't go to the main restaurant tonight but went instead to a different restaurant on an upper deck where we had a really excellent six course meal and watched the sun set at 20.30.
The after dinner entertainment was a showcase of the acts on board. It was a a very impressive show given the size of the ship. There was a six piece 'orchestra' who gave us big band music, two singers/dancers and five dancers, the dance tutors (Latin-American champions of Romania) who did an exhibition dance (a samba I think), a singer pianist, a three piece string group and an excellent compere who was genuinely funny. We were also introduced to some more of the staff which included five 'Gentlemen Hosts' who are here primarily to dance with unattached ladies.
It lacked the 'big name' star of the larger cruise ships but they were all very good if a little scaled down - even the costumes for the female dancers were much smaller. 'I' decided that 'we' really like this little ship.
Factoid: Missed meals today include tea and supper.
Day 4 31st December New Year's Eve, South Atlantic.
Sunny and hot but cooler than yesterday. Cocktail of the day: Mimosa
I started my day with a mile walk at about 0700 (Doreen did hers at 15.00). Breakfast was salmon and scrambled eggs, for lunch I had trout and salad. Attended three lectures which can be summarised as Penguins, Rocks and Explorers. The first two were great the last a little stodgy, but on the whole the lecturers were a cut above those we had encountered on P&O. Went to the library and to the quiz, both of us are a little sunburnt. Today there was a large grasshopper on deck we are over 100 miles from land we are out of range of email.
Factoid Correction: An American lady said that this wasn't the actual 'Love Boat' but it was used as a stunt double when the real one was unavailable, but I found a history of liners in the library that said it was. Another American lady said that at the time the series raised concerns about morality and TV standards, but she said in comparison with what is now produced it would count as high art.
We have found that seven Americans who flew in from Atlanta arrived sans baggage. You can spot them they are wearing Discovery T shirts and shorts to dinner. Apart from that many of our cousins have a funny interpretation of the published dress code. Tonight is a formal one and I have seen a tweed jacket and some designer denims getting ready to meet the captain at his cocktail party. The guy I want to see dressed up weighs at least 25 stone.
There are a few children aboard. One lad seems to be hyperactive and he is running around or eating or both every time we see him. Apart from one time yesterday when he was being sick. There is as usual food available around the clock, again we missed tea, there were some iced biscuits in our cabin earlier but they seem to have disappeared, must warn Ricardo to look out for rodents.
I spent some time with the Maitre d' reorganising the dining arrangements, moving the four of us to a larger table and having 'M' and 'P' join us. (M was the lady we went back for in Salisbury.) That meant we didn't have to be too rude to F and G and just leave them. This worked well and there was even talk of the brothers going off to a party in one of the lady's cabins.
So all togged up and looking a little lobster-like after the sun we went to the cocktail party, gala dinner and new year's eve party. At midnight I kissed more Americans than Doreen thinks is strictly good for me. We had a great time, we had intended to stay up to 4am ships time to see the new year in, in Calgary, but by 2am it was mostly just drunken little huddles apart from the nightclub which was full of crew, and us.
Day 5 1st January New Year's Day, South Atlantic.
Again cooler but still strong sun wind now force 5-6 Sea state 'Moderate'.
I don't know why but I didn't write anything else for today(!), so I will use the space to describe some of our fellow passengers. I heard someone mention their 'Wince List' Some of these (not necessarily on our table) would have figured on every ones wince list.
M: she is S African probably in her 70's, very lively, has been accused of not having heard of old age but has a very unfortunate attitude to the waiters and other crew members who we meet.
P: travelling 1st class is rather large and takes rather a long time to say anything and its seldom interesting.
F: 85, wasn't well at the beginning but picked up and although a little diffident has a GSOH
G: as his brother improved he went downhill. Often seen at bar with LiR (see below). He said to me that he could get lost in a paper bag. Later proved it.
M P F G
Obnoxious Texan (OT): Loud, been everywhere, done everything asks questions to demonstrate own knowledge takes flash photos during lectures and shows. All the time on his own - we think that is proof that Darwin was right.
Lady in Red (LiR): Youngish American with a very old liver. Got publicly banned from alcohol on the ship. Embarrassment personified.
Lamb Chop (LC): see day 14, also fell over in Tango restaurant, shame.
R and J: Nice couple from Hampshire we swapped Christmas cards for a while still send emails.
H: Bath travel director reserved but a very nice chap and very efficient really added to our enjoyment
Sourpuss: knows H, her expression could curdle milk.
B: lawyer, Nurse, Colonel in reserve, she doesn't cope with our accent well, or bother to listen much but otherwise great to know.
D: quiet (although she hinted at an earlier wild life) tall and pretty, one of our favourite Americans.
D and F: (and their parents) from Tasmania great fun and the only pair guaranteed to be still partying after us.
M: a baby, what we thought was sweet was, every time that her parents went in a zodiac there was the dance instructor with open arms to take M from her perents and deliver her up afterwards all without any protest from M.
J: a Canadian who joined our quiz team and single handed brought us low. He had the knack of sowing the seeds of doubt into all of our answers.
Day 6 2nd January The Falklands.
Awoke to find us amongst the Falkland Islands.
Slight cloud and distinctly chilly at 6am.
By the time we disembarked from the tender on West Point Island it was hot and most people stripped off a few layers before walking the mile or so to the Rockhopper penguin and Black-browed albatross rookeries. En-route we saw several of the in our opinion miss-named long-tailed Meadow Larks - why? Well they have a prominent crimson breast and a modest tail. We also saw the Cara Cara bird named for its call but looking like a cross between a hawk and a chicken. Cara Cara eat penguin chicks. Boo. We picked our way carefully down amongst the waist high tussocks and got as close as we were allowed to the birds (a few dozen feet in some cases).
It was a glorious morning, true we had some heavy showers but it was not unlike a British summer's day. On our way back we, along with most others, made our way to a small farmhouse where tea and home made cakes were served to everyone in shifts. Now we have a friend with family in West Falkland so the small world tale would have been if we had met up with them there, but it was not to be, the people doing the washing up knew them and offered to ring them, we didn't bother but to show appreciation dried up twenty or so sets of cups saucers and plates while we talked.
When we returned to the quay F&G arrived on the tender but got back on and came back to the ship because it looked like rain. They 'hadn't realised they could go ashore' until they noticed the ship was strangely empty. Bless.
Day 7 3rd January Stanley.
Sunny and very hot
Went ashore at Stanley before nine and on to a bus tour of Stanley with Marilyn as our guide. Although Scottish she had come to the Falklands in 1984 from Yorkshire she gave insights and comparisons that a a more established islander might not have. She was of course not there for the conflict but showed us beaches that were still mined.
Factoid: Civilian population of the Falklands is 2,900 all but 500 in Stanley. Military population around 1700.
We then wrote postcards in the Upland Goose Inn over a coffee, bought a souvenir or two and walked in the sunshine.
At noon we went on a tour of the nearby battlefields which was advertised as strenuous .... getting in and out of the bus was the most difficult bit. We went to Fitzroy (not Bluff Cove as often miss-reported) where the Royal Fleet Auxiliaries Sir Galahad and Tristram were bombed and Sir Galahad sunk, and stood for a while at the memorials to the Welsh Guards and RFA crew who died there. Unfortunately the OT is on this tour and sat not far away on the bus. He kept telling all who could do nothing else but listen, how the US would have fought all the battles differently and of course better.
Later we sailed away past Cape Pembroke Lighthouse and headed on South towards Antarctica and our big adventure. The trio did a brilliant before dinner concert marred only by the LiR trying to fondle the bass player.
Day 8 4th January Drake's Passage.
Foggy and Damp
For the first time for ages the Albatrosses storm Petrels etc that are normally at our stern weren't there. We were in Drake's passage and although there was a slight swell it was remarkably calm for this stormy area. We attended our mandatory safety and environmental briefings for our zodiac landings. We have to sign up to part of the Antarctic Treaty before being allowed to land. Some of the questions our cousins asked . "Will there be a sign saying Antarctica that we can get photographed next to", and this after being told that we shouldn't take anything with us apart from cameras and allowing for the fact that onshore trips were limited to about 45 minutes "can we take bottled water". B said to me afterwards do you know what is really sad about this, only the most intelligent 5% of my fellow countrymen take trips like this.
At about 11am we crossed the 'convergence' in the space of a mile or so the water temperature dropped by 5 or 6 degrees, you can almost see a line in the water, the colour changes too. Half an hour later I was on deck looking forward when a whale surfaced blowing about 200 metres away, it shallow dived and surfaced several more times as we overtook it and left it behind. It was probably a humpback but it was difficult to be sure, it did not break surface with its fluke as it dived. I did get one very fuzzy photo of a blow.
All through the day the fog and rain persisted though sometimes the visibility improved to a couple of miles. Gradually the swell increased as did the ship's roll. I found out later that the master did not deploy the stabilisers on the trip. They would have slowed us down by a couple of knots and with the reduced power from one engine this would have made our time shorter in Antarctica. Many people have now taken seasickness precautions, most Americans have patches stuck on behind their ears, others including Doreen are wearing wrist straps, I am drinking the cut price cocktail of the day. Its nowhere near as bad as the Scillonian going to the Scillies. The sick bags were on show in corridors by 6pm. We went to the cocktail making demonstration, bar staff demonstrated how to make them we demonstrated how to drink them.
Our quiz performance has deteriorated. We have gone from joint first to equal second to third, but we did beat the on-board entertainers today and heard the best answer to "who lived at Osborne House on the IoW" the answer from our Tasmanian friends was "Frank and Doreen".
Did a bit of dancing after dinner, my dancing skills improve as the ship rolls more, by midnight there were only a few other passengers around.
Day 9 5th January South Shetlands
Foggy only a few hundred yards visibility and ship still rolling. Cold.
Near the South Shetlands saw several whales, porpoising penguins etc. We had 30 mins of wonderful visibility seeing mountains and glaciers then a blizzard struck and we more or less stopped where we were for a couple of hours. At least one large snowman and snowball was made. We were unable to enter the culdera (a partially submerged volcano crater) at Deception Island because of the blizzard, so a plan was announced to sail East and through the Antarctic Sound to the Weddell sea and land at an Adelie penguin colony.
Then we came across two large tabular icebergs which we circled.
We were talking to R and J in the explorer bar when J pointed to a large blow nearby, we then saw the humped back and tail fluke signifying a deep dive. It was certainly a humpback (strength of blow, position of dorsal fin and display of fluke. No one had a camera!
Day 10 6th January Weddell Sea
Brilliant sunshine cold wind. Doreen has a slight cold.
Woke up off Paulet Island in the Weddell Sea, unfortunately after deploying the zodiacs the wind was found to be too strong and the landing plans were abandoned. Instead we had a fantastic cruise through small icebergs and 'bergy bits' in strong sunshine with over 40 knot katabatic winds. Katabatic winds are those formed by the temperature difference between the mountains to that at sea level with gravity pulling the heavier cold air down to the sea. I had my sunglasses blown off my face. A pod of seven or eight Minkes broke surface near the ship blowing and diving repeatedly very near the ship We saw lots of penguins some porpoising others resting on bergy bits. All this before 9.30am.
After looking at Hope bay where another cruise ship had just abandoned landing operations (70 knot winds) we went on towards an Argentinean base where we were told we couldn't land because they were about to start their yearly personnel exchange.
Its now 11am and a decision has been made to stop engines and drift with the small icebergs. We will board zodiacs for a close encounter with them. We are split into 4 groups, we (red group) went first to West Point Island so we are rostered last today. We dress up in our warm weather clothing and wellies and sit around getting some rays. If like me, your feet are big and your wellies agricultural, they will have consumed quite a bit of your aircraft weight allowance. I'm going to leave mine on the ship to make room for souvenirs on the way back. Some of the less able people are having difficulties with getting in and out of the zodiacs. Just before we are called an 80 year old woman fell into the sea she was plucked out immediately and has suffered no ill effects. (She got a cheer at dinner). At about 3pm we went to a nearby iceberg that had a hollow centre, without mishap and in full sunshine. There is no colour problem with these picture, old ice, because of the pressures it has been subjected to, looks blue. When small pieces of broken off ice is taken out of the water, it goes snap crackle and pop as the deeply pressurised air bubbles are liberated. We could hear it over the sound of our idling outboard.
In the evening we had a parka party on an open deck, fancy dress optional, most settled on a penguin theme. Lots of Brits and Aussies dressed up, most Americans didn't. Those that bothered, and we had no forewarning, so the costumes were very improvised, won prizes. The simplest thing was to wear your parka inside out then it looked like mess dress for a colourful regiment. There is no limit to what you can do by stealing your own bed sheets. I got fed up explaining my FCEK Irish connection T shirt to Americans but one grinning Aussie wanted to buy the T shirt off my back!
D & F
Before bed at around midnight we saw lots of penguins near the boat and a single humpback doing lots of dives
Day 11 7th Paradise Island and LeMaire Channel
Dull and Over cast 5 degrees C brightened up through the day but odd bits of snow.
Its 7.30 we are at Waterboat Point (Paradise Harbour) and the Zodiacs are being deployed, we are in the third group to go ashore . Going ashore is limited to no more than 100 people at a time and this is strictly controlled by the beach master. Also as you leave the ship your wellingtons are scrubbed and the same occurs as you land. This is all part of the deal with being allowed on to land in Antarctica. There are other restrictions; you mustn't walk right up to the penguins for instance, but if you stay still and quiet they will come right up to you - they don't have to sign up to the rules. It is a Chilean research station they all seem to be military personnel, but its just a few guys in a large wooden hut surrounded by penguin guano which is a light pinky/purple colour by the way, all that krill.
A fabulous morning. Gentoo penguins, an elephant seal, sheath bills plus an odd chinstrap, skua etc and the fin of an orca circling in the bay. Took short videos of Gentoos. We took the advice of the briefing and wandered away from the pack and sat on a rock. One Gentoo snuck right up on us whilst we were taking a picture of another.
It was only 45 minutes but wow. Getting back to the ship entailed waiting for wellingtons to be scrubbed again (all that penguin poo) and as we waited a crabeater seal floated by on a piece of ice, had he been eating crabs or was that penguin blood round his mouth?
Photo by R&J
It was the above photo that convinced me to get a better camera. Tea was a traditional chocoholics one, a feature of many cruises.
We steamed towards the LeMaire channel but it was iced up so turned back. Discovery is not ice hardened, after all she started out as a Caribbean cruise ship, so she's ok pushing through small bergy bits but gives a wide berth to anything more threatening. As we turned we saw a pod of Orcas, seven crabeater seals on a flow and a humpback diving in really good visibility. Generally a whale every half hour or so and people aren't bothering to get their cameras anymore. In fact if the cry 'Whale' goes up I'm inclined to shout 'what sort', I'm not getting up unless its at least a Blue.
Again a great before dinner concert by the trio and an excellent dinner but it was revealed that none of the rest on our table had gone ashore. G said he might have but thought he had to book and pay extra. Fancy coming half way around the world just to stay on the ship.
Day 12 8th January Half Moon and Deception Islands
Today will be our last day in Antarctica and its bright and a little warmer Doreen's cold under control.
Anchored in the bay at Half Moon island as I was on my mile walk at 6am, first group ashore was at 7am, we went at about 8.30. We saw Chinstrap penguins and Kelp gulls. The Chinstraps are nesting on the bare rock with little pebble nests and they are just out of pecking range from each other. Unfortunately this doesn't help any penguin traversing the area as they get pecked at from all sides. At one point I joined one of the science lecturers who was staring at a small patch of a moss like plant. She said she was guarding it as it was probably very old and scarce certainly all the rest of the rock around was bare. It was probably buried by snow and ice for ten months of the year and only survived by being on the edge of the penguin colony away from the sea and their normal routes. That way it got some fertiliser but didn't get worn away.
All to soon we were on our way with the zodiacs being loaded into the hold now more excursions being planned we had one more place to go however and this was Deception Island that we missed on the way in due to the blizzard. We went through the narrow entrance known as Neptune's bellows and into what remains of the volcano. It is still alive the last activity being in 1970. We saw Weddell seals and loads of penguins after sailing in a slow circle we made are way back through the bellows and set sail for Ushuaia at 3pm. Hit swells within the hour.
That afternoon was our worst quiz performance 8/20.
This was the night of the Captains Gala dinner - cocktail of the day was whisky sour I had quite a few of them before switching to single malts got to bed after 1am.
It was only three days in Antarctica but after a dodgy start we did our three zodiac trips and saw all we had expected to see.
Day 13 9th January Drake's Passage
In the middle of Drake's Passage by 7am I am a little hung over
Sea state is now rough but what is worse is the swell, by evening we had been pitching fore and aft with a twenty second period more or less constantly for ten hours. Eventually we both took seasickness tablets. Really worst quiz performance 7/20 and ended up 4th overall.
Having dinner in the yacht club as guests of some of our American friends. If you think I have been a bit hard on some of the Americans on this ship you should have heard what they had to say about the majority of them. By now we know people well enough for them to share the little scandals and ship board gossip. For example (and only if you promise not to tell a soul) one of couples we have met and who we thought perhaps were having a shipboard romance, it turns out they already knew each other from previous cruises and they take it in turns to book a cruise each year, that is the only time they meet and at least one of them is married, liaisons dangereus.
That night they took away our main baggage
Day 14 10th January Ushuaia and Buenos Aires.
Well arriving on the mainland of South America was the end of our Antarctic trip but our return was not without incident so read on if you want to see what happened next.
Early next morning we sailed up the Beagle channel to Ushuaia which is arguably the most southern city in the World to get our connecting flight to BA. We preboarded our aircraft whilst still on board Discovery and we had to get our boarding passes from the Carosel lounge needless to say we met F & G going in the wrong direction. They didn't know where the lounge was. Given that it was the largest indoor open space on the ship where all the lectures and all the entertainment took place, and where you mustered for going ashore this took them to a new level of ignorance. After we got our cards we had a few hours to spare on shore before lunch then leaving for the airport. We noticed several people taking food for the journey, after all there was a grave danger of missing a meal! This included one guy pocketing several lamb chops!
We passed by the Irish Bar which by extension must be the most southern one of those and spent some time in a museum before returning to the ship
As we got back we bumped into Belinda our lovely wine waitress. We had made a point of being especially nice to her, partly because our dining partners were so rude to all 'the servants' I think we did rather better on the complementry wine as a result. The owners/management have been meeting on board and some of the staff have had their contracts terminated but only the senior staff have been told as yet so the crew are wandering about not knowing if they are being paid off or returning to Antarctica tomorrow.
The flight to BA was uneventful and we arrived for a 30hr stop over in the capital. We were given rooms for the night in the Plaza Hotel in the centre and after a brief walk about looking at the Christmas bedecked shops went to sleep in spacious luxury.
Day 15 11th January Buenos Aires.
At some time, after we checked out of rooms and gathered in a day room which was allocated to our group, we were told that the airline had cancelled our original flight and rescheduled us for the next night. Good, another 24 hours here. Not that everyone was as pleased as us. I can't remember if we got our original rooms back but we got a room eventually. We were booked on a free coach trip anyway that day which gave us some of the cities highlights including the Duarte mausoleum where Eva Peron is buried. (By the way she may not be there any more, they keep moving her body after legal disputes). Maradonna's football club, and The Casa Rosa (where 'Don't Cry for me Argentina' is sung in the show and film). Later that evening we went to a Tango show.
Day 16 12th January Buenos Aries and flight home.
We spent the day walking around BA we visited the world famous Tortoni art nouveau cafe. Did a little shopping and then got on one of the buses to the airport. We bought our souvenir a cuddly penguin from the boat. Doreen however managed to buy a pair of leather boots well when in Argentina...
One of the little wrinkles with our rescheduled flight home was that from Madrid the group would be split up. We would be travelling in several different aircraft. H had a busy time getting people sorted on to the best flights for their personal circumstances. All we had to do was board the bus identify our luggage at BA airport take it through security and everything else would be managed for us. We were on the last bus, when we got out and got our luggage there was a woman in tears because there was no sign of her luggage. It turned out that someone on an earlier bus had collected her suitcase and taken it through security leaving their case behind. We met up with the fool in the departure lounge luckily he was going to London as well but on an earlier aircraft. Out of the goodness of her heart she checked in his luggage. When she met up with him in the departure lounge he was unrepentant and made some off hand remark about it throwing them together, she was not amused. A lady from our group volunteered to collect the suitcase in the baggage hall at Heathrow and wait for her to arrive. The bags were not similar at all. The bloke had been trying to attach himself to the unaccompanied females of our group on the cruise and some wondered whether he had done it on purpose.
Bath travel had coped with our rescheduled arrival and our taxi was there to whisk us back to Salisbury. Oh and why did Iberia cancel our flight it was so they could cram us all in one Jumbo rather than two smaller airbuses and I have to tell you crammed was the word, Doreen is 5ft tall and her knees were touching the seat in front.
Photo Gallery: Antarctica 2004/5
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