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IAATO
Memories of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia & Antarctic

Magellanic Penguins at Grave Cove, Falkland IslandsMagellanic Penguins at Grave Cove, Falkland Islands (Amy Sonbuchner)
Thankfully, we have good traveling weather. We're happy to postpone the rough seas for as long as possible. We wake at 7:00am to a very bright room. I guess that is the danger of leaving the balcony drapes open. At breakfast, we are again impressed with the food selections. We sampled mini-waffles, pancakes, fresh fruit, cheese and smoked salmon.

Next we select our red expedition jackets, which we can take home at the end of the trip. The extra small is quite roomy, but hopefully it will shrink.

We attend a mandatory IAATO briefing where we all agree not to get too close to the animals or to litter. IAATO stands for the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, which is an organization that promotes safe and environmentally responsible private-sector travel to the Antarctic. During the meeting, we also meet our naturalist team. Then we go to the bridge and watch prions, albatross, and petrels and hear a short lecture about the navigation system. Interestingly, Rolls Royce, Saab and Shindler all make parts for our boat.

Lunch is another formal affair. We eat quiche, salmon salad, and fresh fruit and yet another dessert bar. Wow!

The captain announces that we will be arriving at the Falkland Islands around 8:00pm. We attend a meeting soon after to learn about our first embarkation: Grave Cove in the west Falkland Islands. The naturalists tell us that we will see a rookery of gentoo penguins, which means we will see a breeding colony and hopefully some penguin chicks.

We get ready for the formal Captain's Welcome Gala where the crew serves champagne and appetizers. Live music plays while people filter in. We aren't the best dressed as many women brought fine jewelry, and the men are donning suits. Still, we liked the idea of traveling light, so we could bring back treats and souvenirs!

The dinner following the welcome speech is a four-course meal with soup, risotto, veal, foie gras custard creme brulee and an opera pastry for dessert. The food is good as always, and it is fun chatting with new friends.

The boat makes its approach into the cove and you can really feel the boat hang a sharp right before dropping anchor. We go to the theatre to watch ''Paris,'' a singing and dancing show. It feels a little like Vegas, but it is definitely entertaining and fun.

Back in our room, we prepare our belongings for the first disembarkation in the morning.

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