Adventure into the Ice with MS Roald Admunsen
My journey ends at two red flags, about knee height, emerging from the ground in an “X” shape. I’m supposed to turn around, to meander back to the boats and get on the ship, but the solitude tempts me to stay. This marks the first time I’ve found myself alone on this continent. Yes, a few clusters of red expedition jackets dot the path far behind me, and even further in the distance, chinstrap penguins congregate on rocks — but right here, it is only Antarctica and I.
A massive waterway in front of me sounds with the most delicate trickle. The air barely moves (a gift we’ve been blessed with during our four days on the White Continent). Veins in every shade of white and turquoise pulse in the thick layers of snow. I relish this time for myself and by myself because, as it turns out, time is a funny thing in Antarctica. The days to sail here lasted years, my time on this continent spanned simply a few seconds, and in this exact moment on Half Moon Island, time has stopped completely.
MS Roald Amundsen: The Way of a Pioneer
Nearly two weeks earlier, I boarded Norwegian expedition-cruise operator Hurtigruten’s newest ship, the MS Roald Amundsen in Valparaiso, Chile. As the world’s first hybrid electric-powered cruise ship using battery power, our trip would make history. This, plus the promise of smaller ports of call, a state-of-the-art Science Center, and lectures to give a broader understanding of the areas through which we’d sail would make the journey one of the most sustainable ways to see the White Continent.
I wanted the best of both worlds: the thrill of an expedition into polar waters as well as the luxury of a high-end cruise. One minute, I peered through a microscope at clumps of volcanic rocks, and the next, I dined on an exquisite meal of New Nordic cuisine. After sitting in on a lecture about the history of earthquakes in Chile, I sat back in the Explorer Lounge to watch the fjords go by (with a glass of wine in hand, of course).
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The contemporary Scandinavian design throughout the ship felt sophisticated yet welcoming, but my favorite areas were the ones which didn’t try so hard. An outward-facing sauna with floor-to-ceiling windows made for a unique whale watching environment, while the casual dining option, Fredheim, had a living-room vibe perfect for intimate conversation. Quite often, I found myself on the two-level Observation Deck, a place which turned the focus to what was happening outside the ship rather than inside. Here, Mother Nature took center stage. Even on the days when there was nothing to see but water in every direction, I found myself hypnotized by the endless white crests and deep blue troughs that flowed out to the horizon.
The Charms of Chile
When we arrived at Puerto Edén, a cozy, isolated town in Bernardo O’Higgins National Park accessible only by water, we had no dedicated excursion. Zodiac boats ferried us ashore and we then got free reign to wander the boardwalks and hills of colorful homes for one hour.
Puerto Edén will disappoint people seeking….
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By Theresa Christine