We entered the Drake Passage in the early hours. Conditions were perfect for wildlife viewing with calm seas and partly sunny skies.  Appropriately, and just before breakfast, early risers viewed two large whale blows in the distance. Photos and behavior suggested strongly that they were mom and calf fin whales!  About an hour later, we saw a humpback mom/calf pair. Then during lunch, a pod of striking-patterned hourglass dolphins appeared off the port side, matching the speed of National Geographic Resolution for several minutes until they peeled off, either because they were tired of us or were tired themselves. A little later, another pod followed in our wake for several minutes.  Not a bad day for marine mammals!

After lunch, the wind increased, bringing in the magnificent gliding albatrosses.  Nature selected a perfect design for these birds that depends upon the steadily blowing winds to find food and to travel amazingly long distances: the exceptionally long, stiff, and locked wings allow the albatross to soar effortlessly for hours, over and between the swells, with virtually no wing movement or expenditure of energy. Pure visual poetry. Smaller petrels, equally adapted for surfing the winds, dipped and glided mere inches above the water surface.

In between bouts of watching for wildlife, we listened to presentations and recaps that provided more information about the truly magical Antarctic. And when not sorting the innumerable images on our devices and in our minds, images that will sustain us for years to come, we simply stared at the endless sea and reflected on our nearly indescribable Antarctic experience.