Steaming south, the air onboard is electric. Many will soon see the seventh continent for the first time. The Drake Passage is the fabled stretch of ocean that separates South America from Antarctica. For well over a century, our kind has set out in ships to visit the end of the world with the excitement that comes with seeking the unfamiliar.

The Southern Ocean is a dynamic place. As we head pole-ward, the sea temperature slowly drops with the wind. A suite of seabirds followed the ship, including a punctual wandering albatross that showed up immediately upon conclusion of a presentation on the seabirds of the Southern Ocean. With wildlife abounding in these seemingly remote waters, we took a turn to avoid three southern bottlenose whales that suddenly popped up before the bow.

Continuing with presentations, we learned photography tips to utilize upon arriving at our destinations and a primer on the much-anticipated penguins that live there. The hotel department provided incredible food and service throughout the day, and a spectacular sunset complemented dinner.

Today was a great introduction to the ship and the waters we’ll be in for the next three weeks. With anticipation, we rest up for our first day in Antarctica.