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Christmas at Santa’s Summer Home

Christmas in Antarctica was different.  I spent last Christmas solo in Palm Springs, CA and I am honestly still having trouble believing at this point in 2022 I had yet to even THINK about this quest to step foot on all seven continents in 2023.  It’s actually mind boggling.

Like Palm Springs, Antarctica is also largely a desert.  Dry and cold, so very different from the Mojave Desert of California, but a desert nonetheless.

Unfortunately, due to weather the captain had to change our planned itinerary and destinations for Christmas Day so we did not get a landing but I did have a zodiac ride in the early morning fog to see bird colonies and a spectacular bay Jorge our fire named Christmas Bay, as the ship hadn’t ever been to this sight previously in any prior cruises or seasons.

We definitely got wet from the spray while in the zodiac.  It was a good call to leave the camera in the room.  I have a dry bag and all, but Viking has had days where every camera in the zodiac was ruined due to unexpected swells and fast changing winds.  Thankfully I t didn’t get that bad but peoples lenses were freezing and there was so much fog photos would have been difficult anyway.

It was a bit refreshing to be freed from the camera gear and just sit and watch.  I mean, wildlife photography is not my calling.

I also dabbled in a mini photoshoot with my new ship friends Lelia and Zdravko.  We had fun and I think there are some keepers for them, but it’s so different from the street photography that I have grown accustomed to and grown to love.

I am actually thinking of selling the camera and gear.  Part of me feels like the photography part of me is over along with the crazy travel trek.  Not sure yet.  I do know that it’s brought me a ton of joy but also a lot of sweat and sore shoulders lugging so much gear around. Maybe 2024 is the year to throw aside all of the things that weigh me down and fly free into whatever the world has in store for me…

Christmas traditions were able to carry on while onboard the ship.  I had some delicious fresh waffles with cream and stewed berries for breakfast.  The many years of Christmas Day breakfast waffles on Aspen Drive and memories came flooding back.  Happy tears.

For dinner, a group of 11 of us (the karaoke crew) sat together for a dinner arranged by Lelia at 7p at Manfredi’s, the ships Italian restaurant where I ordered lasagna, also a family tradition.  So while I was with my ship family and not blood relatives, it was a dinner filled with laughter, lively conversation, good wine and food and traditions carried on!

After dinner we gathered back at the Explorers Bar at the stern of the ship and I got to spend some time conversing with Kevin and Garrett before they retired back to their room for the evening while I stayed and had more conversation and cocktails with some of the other bar flies.

Off to bed around midnight is becoming part of the Antarctic tradition.

Tuesday, December 26th

I woke around 8a and then quickly got ready for a 9a SOB (Special Operations Boat) ride.  Sleep overrode my love of coffee for the first time in a LONG time, as coffee is a normal part of the morning routine before I do ANYTHING in my normal life.  I left the ship, before having any coffee and enjoyed the ride further from the ship than I had been yet.

The water was literally glass like and without and wind other than the boat cruising speed, it was a beautiful morning where we say some more penguins, birds and a rare glacier erratic.

Erratics are rocks picked up and moved, sometimes long distances from where they would normally be found.

Due to the Antarctic Treaty, we are limited to 10 knots although the modified military vessel is capable of 40.  I also learned today that the SOBs are extremely light-weight and designed to be carried under helicopters and dropped, fully loaded with gear, soldiers and weapons from the underside of a helicopter and into battle.

Once back onboard, it was finally time for my first latte of the day.  I gathered it on my way back to the room, still fully geared up.  I had a few hours until my 2:30p landing, and work has gotten fairly active again over the holiday weekend so I took the trusty laptop up tot he World Cafe (buffet) on deck 5 and worked for about 4 hours until it was time to gear back up for the 3rd landing of our voyage.

The landing and hiking path laid out for us was stunning.  A short traverse up a hill with an unspoiled three hundred and sixty degree view of the landscape.  Bright sunny skies and the warm temps (33F with zero wind) meant I walked around with my baseball hat on and my gloves shoved in my pockets.

The snow is a strange granular texture at these temperatures and was very easy to walk in without the frigid winds to freeze it on the surface like yesterday.  The hour on shore goes incredibly quickly and today was all about soaking up the sun and sights.  It’s very likely I’ll never have the opportunity to return here, unlike the other continents so trying to absorb as much as I can.

After the disinfectant spray down when we get back on the ship after landings, I worked in my room for a few more hours before I headed up to Deck 5 aft to grab a cocktail and check out the outside sun deck.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one with this idea as most of the karaoke crew had also gathered coincidentally.

I sat there in a short-sleeve polo and flip flops in complete comfort under the Antarctic sun.  How that is possible was a complete surprise to me.

Thankfully, dinner started at 6p and I was an early patron tonight where I enjoyed king crab legs, filet mignon, sushi and a wedge salad before i sampled some vanilla gelato and lemon sorbet (made onboard in the ships $25,000 ice cream machine).

Tonight, we the people have spoken.  The ship added a 10:30p - 1a dance party.  They finally heard us that we want some more fun onboard and they responded quickly.  I actually had a call from the guest services manager thanking me for my feedback and checking to be sure I was still enjoying myself, even with my comment card feedback requesting a bar stay opened past 11p and maybe add some later music options.

Good for them for making adjustment so quickly, and trust me, it’s not just for me at all.  Several others also made suggestions and Viking was quick to respond.  So tonight is a dance party under the Antarctic twilight and I am here for it and actively recruiting other passengers to dance the night away with us!

So signing off for now - have to get ready to dance the night away 🪩

Cole from Colorado

Cherishing the last few days of a dream



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about me:

Hey!  I am Cole from Grand Junction, Colorado. In 2023 I stepped on all seven continents, in a single calendar year, solo!

The year continues to shape my life and my lust for travel.

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