The deep south. A magical place with mystical creatures, treacherous seas and buffet-style meals of mythical proportions. While tip-toeing the line between cruise and adventure ship, Quark Expeditions’ Ocean Endeavour took us into the deep, deep south.

We were also fed a steady stream of near magical sights.

One various occasions, we would see families, indeed extended families, of humpback whales. We all agreed that boiled cabbage seemed to be a popular dish down under the beautifully blue tabular icebergs for the great beasts would surface so close to our small band of huddled adventurers afloat on our piloted zodiac that we could smell their breath.

Christmas Day presented us with a landing on the Antarctic peninsula; in fact, it was our only footfall on the actual continent. But it was what our footfalls navigated through that was the real present. An Adele penguin colony forty-thousand-breeding-pairs strong with one apparently lost Chinstrap, nicknamed “chinnie,” who was looking for a friendly face.

We were assured, though out of place, that he was just taking a break.

We could go on and on but take our word for it, if you get a chance to get to the deep deep south, jump at it. Some passenger on our boat had charmed the gods because the infamous Drake Passage had us becalmed on both passages, as well as glass smooth water on the continent, and the number and variety of animals was incredible. Orcas, penguins, humpback and Minke whales, five types of seals: Leopard, Weddell, Krab-eater, Elephant, even an injured Fur seal. One of the Weddell seals even broke out in song for us, which is a rare event if Quark’s staff is to be believed.

A happy Weddell who may just break into song

Lastly, one of Denise’s great wishes was to have her picture taken on her birthday with an Emperor penguin. Although, we missed the birthday part as we left for Antarctica a week late, we did get a glimpse at a lone Emperor. Aware that this is starting to sound cliche’, the Emperor is a very rare sighting on this particular voyage.

A Christmas to rememember!

The Orcas exhibited interesting behavior; they lined up and floated like this for over 30 seconds