Setting Sail For Antarctica From Ushuaia Argentina The Adventure Begins

Our ship the Ocean Diamond ready to leave for the frozen continent, Antarctica.

Finally, after a rollercoaster time in Argentina, very long story and perhaps a future blog, we were ready to set sail for Antarctica. Our ship the Ocean Diamond was in Ushuaia Harbour looking good and we were on the quayside very excited. Sunday 17th November 2019 and finally we were about to board and set sail, we had arrived in Ushuaia on the 26th of October, we were ready, very ready!

Stunning Dolphin Gulls were enjoyed in the harbour at Ushuaia, Argentina.

Of course we still could not board just yet, we had to wait for our luggage to be loaded onto the coach that would take us the few hundred yards to the ship. Our fellow travelers were gathered here too and great to see a lot of young people making the adventure. We had plenty to see as we waited for the final paperwork to be completed, beautiful Dolphin Gulls were on the harbour wall right next to us and huge Southern Giant Petrels were on the calm water in the harbour. The reflected colours of the boats made for great photos of these perhaps less than gorgeous seabirds.

Southern Giant Petrel in the harbour with reflections of colourful boats.

At last we were called to the coach, along with Helen and Brian who were coming with us, and we trundled the short distance to the Ocean Diamond. This was it. After so much anticipation and confusion and heartache we were finally boarding a ship for Antarctica!

We checked into our cabin, number 621, and we were very impressed! A full size double bed, a generous amount of storage space, a writing desk and a decent sized en-suite bathroom. And it had a pretty good sized picture window, no portholes on this deck. We were setting sail with around 110 other guests on this adventure of a lifetime and we all gathered to meet the crew and expedition staff. A briefing from Shane, our expedition leader followed and of course the safety briefing where we all got to try on our lifejackets and find the muster stations and lifeboats, all hoping we would not ever need any of this!

Finally the engines throbbed into life and we watched as the ropes were cast off and the Ocean Diamond very slowly inched away from Ushuaia dockside, this really was it, Antarctica was finally happening. We looked back at the beautiful Andes mountains rising from the sea behind Ushuaia, it really is a beautiful little city and everyone had been so friendly and helpful.

We were then issued with our amazing bright yellow expedition parkas, so warm we were usually too hot in them! Then a wonderful meal was served, the first of so many; wonderful food throughout the cruise was provided by an amazing team in the resturants and bars, first class in every way! We then returned to the stern, that is the back of the ship, and scanned The Beagle Channel for seabirds in the slowly fading light. Magnificent Black-browed Albatrosses cut through the air with ease, often seen against the backdrop of The Andes! More massive Southern Giant Petrels swept up to the ship, had a look at us and then swept away again. Wonderful Cape Petrels whizzed back and forth over the wake of the Ocean Diamond, such cool birds and they were to become almost daily companions on the voyage. We were also thrilled to spot some Magellanic Penguins, South American Terns, Imperial Cormorants, Magellanic Cormorants, Southern Fulmars and amazing scenery! As the light faded we took our last look at the mainland and looked ahead to a vast ocean!

Black-browed Albatrosses in The Beagle Channel as we steamed south in the evening.

Last look at Chile and Argentina at dusk from the ship in the Beagle Channel.

Lots more blogs and photos to come soon, please check back!

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