Voyage to Antarctica
Christmas on the Drake
Antarctica: The Unknown Continent
Explorer: Ship and Crew
The Drake Passage
Gourdin Island
Esperanza Base
Into the Weddell Sea
Snow Hill Island
Devil Island
View Point
Half Moon Island
Aitcho Island
Christmas on the Drake
Cape Horn and End of Voyage

December 24-25, 2004 

It was Christmas Eve on shipboard. Snowflakes were actually falling as the ship moved away from the South Shetlands and we sat down to one more festive meal.  The circumstance that we had been served Christmas dinner the evening before did not prevent the chef from turning out an elegant repast for Christmas Eve.  There was no particular celebration scheduled. After supper the evening’s entertainment was a film made by our nature photographer team, Kennan and Karen Ward on the Wolves of Yellowstone.  I went upstairs to watch the movie while Benny headed down to the crew’s quarters to see how his Filipino compatriots were celebrating Christmas Eve. The front lounge was silent except for the usual few passengers huddled in front of the bar  – this was supposed to be an expedition ship, not a party boat. But disco sounds wafted up the stairwell from the crew’s quarters. Benny came to get me, saying there was a good party down below, and it wasn’t just for Filipinos.


In the crew’s dining room tables had been pulled back, music was playing, and people were dancing in the tiny cleared space, while our Filipino waiters warmly welcomed all comers to their Christmas celebration.  The ship was moving into the Drake’s passage and rocking from side to side, but we danced and laughed and drank beer.  Whether the boat rocked us or we rocked the boat was never clear, but seasickness never bothered Benny or me again.


Christmas Day saw a quiet crossing of the Drake. We attended more lectures and spent a little time on deck, seeing another humpback off the bow of the ship. That evening we had one more gala dinner – billed as the Captain’s Farewell Dinner and just as elegant and delicious as our official Christmas meal two nights ago.  We were gearing up for the dramatic moment of “rounding the Horn.” The ship was actually running ahead of schedule, and the captain predicted that we would reach Cape Horn at about 4:30 A.M. 

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Text and photos by Carol Holtzman Cespedes, Ph.D.
Carleton College, Class of 1961

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