Antarctica, a continent, is an environment of monochromatic beauty accented with remarkable lighting. All the shades of white, grey and black in the skies, clouds, ice, land and sea depict a calmness, a serenity, a cohesiveness that is almost hypnotic. Watching the landscape/seascape never grew old. See the attached Monochromatic Antarctic photos.
Getting to Antarctica one must cross the Drake Passage which lasts about 2 days and is far from a quiet experience. Here's a video, not of my trip, but that shows examples of the wave action. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jld5pIUKhCE (Watching for a couple of minutes will give you a sense of the ROLLING.) We did not have 14m waves, but most of the way we had heavy wave action with some up to 8 to 9m. Most guests spent the days in their rooms lying flat on their backs and avoided eating. There were a few hardy souls or those with super drugs used by the serious yachting crowd. I was able to leave the room, but I did not eat several meals. In the video, you can hear the crashing of dishes which became a familiar sound, and no one batted an eye. Walking was very challenging; well, it was actually scary sometimes especially in the dining area. One could easily land face down on a table. We now understood why all the chairs in the lounge and dining room were chained down. We also understood why barf bags were located every 10 feet in the halls. On the return voyage, the Drake Passage was much kinder to us. We were most grateful for that clemency.
On the ship there were many lectures/movies on the history, animal life, ice, and geology. Once in the Antarctic area, we took 2 zodiac/land excursions a day. Bio-security was taken very seriously. Our gear from home underwent a staff inspection to insure no seeds or other nature matter were carried in. Many had to vacuum their backpacks. We had to sanitize our boots every time we left and returned to the ship. Temperatures varied depending on the sun, clouds, wind and precipitation of some sort. Generally, it was in the 30's and 20's but not accounting for the wind/dampness factor.
Watching the icebergs never grew old. What an assortment of shapes, sizes, colors, textures, sheens, and mysteries. See the attached Icebergs and Glaciers photos.
Watching the penguins never grew old. What endearing behavior, cute waddles, beautiful features, dedicated partnerships, diligent parenting, innocent curiosity, and cunning thievery. In December the penguins are nesting, so we saw the communication displays between couples and highly shared care the parents take of the eggs and chicks. There's minimal selection for nesting materials, so they find the best rocks on the continent to make their comfy homes. The penguin mate that was not on the nest would busy itself by trying to find or more likely steal rocks from other nests. Then it would rush to its nest and strategically place that treasured rock. See the attached Penguin Action photos.
Below is a youtube video of orcas hunting a Gentoo penguin that finds a unique way to escape. Though we did not witness such a wildlife encounter as close up, we did see a pod of orcas in pursuit of a Chinstrap penguin. The ship was the center of the chase and all ran from one side of the ship to the other to cheer the little penguin as it porpoised through the waters, under the ship and back. There was a tremendous roar when the orcas finally gave up the pursuit and the penguin escaped. We were in awe having seen the orca pod up close even though they left without dinner.
In addition to the whites and greys, Antarctica is accented with vivid shades of blue from Caribbean blue to indigo blue. These shades appear in the blue sky, the blue glacial ice, the blue-eyed cormorant, and blue waters. See the Antarctica Blues attached photos.
I've now had the honor of visiting all of the earth's 7 continents. It is so important to care for each of them.