Our day began before 3:00 AM when expedition leader, Jonathan, called us to the outer decks to view killer whales. We spotted the same group earlier in the trip, but this time we observed the killer whales interacting with a humpback whale calf. We did not witness any predation event, but it was interesting to see the two species in close proximity. Too excited to return to bed, some of us stayed awake to enjoy the beautiful sunrise in Gerlache Strait.

After breakfast, we prepared for kayaking and a Zodiac tour in the calm waters of Markmann Bay. Abundant ice sculptures offered endless photographic opportunities. Crabeater seals rested on icebergs while penguins porpoised. We were thrilled to see a humpback whale cruise through the area!

We returned to National Geographic Explorer for the polar plunge. Many intrepid souls voluntarily jumped into the icy, numbing waters of the bay.

In the afternoon, we fulfilled one of our goals: to step onto the continental mainland. We accomplished this at Orne Harbor, another picturesque, ice-filled bay. The ship parked close enough to (almost) merit its own continental landing. Many guests hiked the steep, snowy slope to arrive at a chinstrap penguin colony at the top.

We enjoyed another surprise treat as we departed the landing. Members of the hotel department offered us hot chocolate on a sea ice floe!

Back on board, Global Perspectives guest speaker Kathy Sullivan related stories about her times on the space shuttle and her visit to the deepest depths of the ocean – the Mariana Trench. She is the world’s most vertical person!

What a fun day!