The thing about Antarctica is it makes you throw away your plans and gifts you with a better one. Not many Antarctica cruises pass by Melchior Island, but the Ocean Atlantic had stopped there for an excursion, where we discovered the stranded yacht, and added three more guests on to our cruise.
If we hadn’t stopped to help, we never would have shared a delicate, golden sunset with thousands of tiny penguins on Danco Island. If there had been enough snow to go snowshoeing as planned, I never would have gotten to kayak through Antarctic waters and witness a seal surprise itself as it rolled off an iceberg and belly-flopped into the ocean. If our zodiac group hadn’t voted to speed around the entire Half Moon Island, we never would have had the chance to see a rare white fur seal play-fighting with ordinary grey colored ones.
On the white continent, you’re at the mercy of the weather. The daily itinerary is announced in hopeful terms. “We plan to … ” “We hope to … ” Never “we will.” Before I left, that’s also how I talked about my Antarctica trip, as if speaking the words I’d dreamed of for so long: “I’m going to Antarctica” would somehow pop the magic bubble and something would jinx the trip, keeping it as just a wish.
I didn’t think anything could top our first day in Antarctica. Waking up to icebergs outside my porthole feeling incredibly alive as we raced around Melchior Island in zodiacs, the crisp and pristine air nipping at my face as if to say: You’ve arrived. Feel it. Try to take it all in as the day rushes by all too quickly. Hold on to each rare moment tightly knowing that you’ll never have this precious time again.
Sitting on the top deck, basking in the rare Antarctic sunshine and watching the cloudless sky slip by, I thought for sure the trip had peaked here.