Brilliant sunshine, calm conditions and ice abounded the waters in the Weddell Sea.
We woke early to the sight of a lone juvenile emperor penguin on a small ice flow in front of National Geographic Resolution. We stopped there and observed the animal occasionally calling out. The Captain had been scouting all morning for a piece of fast ice to park the ship in, but this was not to be found. A Zodiac cruise was proposed to us instead, and with the help of our expedition staff and drivers we were able to land two boats at a time on a small ice flow out in the middle of the sea. A first for almost everyone and a lovely early Christmas gift.
Once back onboard, the mood was quite festive and we spent the afternoon circumnavigating James Ross Island and Snow Hill. As the afternoon progressed more wildlife was found, various Weddell seals, leopard and crabeater seals. The count of emperor penguins grew as we explored around the islands. By dinner we had sightings of over 25 animals out on the ice. Who knows how many others were just behind towering bergs or foraging in the water.
We had an early dinner to give the hardworking crew the opportunity to utilize the 270 Dining Room to celebrate Christmas Eve. Meanwhile up in the Ice Lounge, a showing of the documentary of Shackleton and the Endurance was shown.
Many of us felt humbled by our comfort aboard in contrast to the heroic tale of these men not more than a century before us.