The Southern Ocean is notorious for having some of the strongest winds and largest waves on the planet. It is also home to the largest current in the world, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. When sailing through the Southern Ocean, one can only hope for a smooth crossing. On our first day of voyage toward South Georgia, our dreams have come true. We were treated to sunshine, blue skies, and flat seas. A marvellous way to start an expedition.

Exploring the Southern Ocean and crossing the polar front is in itself an incredible part of our expedition in the Southern Hemisphere. With outstanding birdwatching and whale-watching, the experience gives us a privileged perspective on the size and power of our oceans. Today was a beautiful day to stand at the bow and admire the elegant albatrosses flying around our ship. A pod of hourglass dolphins sailed alongside of us for quite a while, and they even came very close to our bow. Inspired by these great wildlife sightings, our photo team taught us how to best capture these moments.

Today is Carnival. Celebrated in many countries of the world, Carnival is a festive Western Christian season that occurs before the liturgical season of Lent. The main events occur during February or early March, during the period historically known as Pre-Lent. Carnival typically involves public celebrations, including parades, public street parties, and other entertainment. Elaborate costumes and masks allow people to set aside their everyday individuality and experience a heightened sense of social unity.

Onboard National Geographic Explorer, we have 15 nationalities at the moment. Some of our staff and crew were thrilled by the date, and therefore we celebrated Carnival. Our galley prepared a delicious tea time, and we had surprise visits from very interesting and intriguing characters. A few penguins, some drifting algae, a krill, a completely-lost walrus from the Arctic, a pirate of the Southern Ocean, a leprechaun, and even Jeanne Barret, a woman who boarded La Bouseuse in the 1700s disguised as a valet so she could join the expedition. We enjoyed a full day of outstanding presentations from our staff, fun Carnival moments, and great times out on deck.

To end our day at sea, Captain Peik welcomed all of us at cocktail hour and introduced some of our amazing crew onboard National Geographic Explorer.