The entrance to the Weddell Sea was surprisingly clear of ice for a visit this early in the season, and we fully took advantage of the opportunity to sail well south of what is normally possible at this time of the year. When we finally found the fast ice, south of Snow Hill Island, we sighted what we were looking for. Scattered here and there were groups of emperor penguins, from the only colony known in this section of Antarctica. But the best was yet to come. By the end of the day the wind died down completely and we found sea ice that was firm enough for us to walk on. Within minutes, a group of raucous emperor penguins found us and approached for a memorable encounter with these near mythical birds!
National Geographic Explorer
Morning began early on National Geographic Explorer with a beautiful cruise through the LeMaire channel. As the ship passed beyond the southern end of the channel, it was surrounded by ice with spectacular views of sea ice and icebergs. The Zodiacs were soon lowered to take everyone ashore at Pleneau Island for up close encounters with penguins. In the afternoon, Zodiacs zipped around grounded icebergs as everyone was treated to a cruise through monumental ice sculptures created by glaciers. The day ended as it began, with a trip through the always awe-inspiring LeMaire channel.