The trip started as the inspiration
of my husband Benny, who last summer discovered a bargain Antarctic cruise and insisted that we sign up. It was an offer by G.A.P. Adventures, a Canadian tour company that had recently acquired its own Antarctic
expedition vessel, the Explorer, a small ship (105 passengers capacity) originally built by Lars Eric Lindblad specifically
for Antarctic waters. This is G.A.P.’s first season operating in Antarctic waters, hence the low promotional fare.
When we boarded the Explorer
in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world, I still felt some trepidation about safety or service issues that
might arise during a first season cruise, but I was quickly reassured by the level of experience manifested by the expedition
staff. Brad Rhees, the Expedition Leader, was a rock of confidence with more
than 25 years experience in the Antarctic, many of them aboard this ship. Captain
Kenth Grankvist and his officers were also veterans of Antarctic waters, while both the expedition staff of naturalists, photographers,
and zodiac captains, and the hotel staff who served and prepared our meals were models of professionalism. By happy chance, the waiters in the dining room were Filipino, which gave them an immediate bond with my
husband, who was born in the Philippines. The waiters pampered him and called
him “uncle” - but indeed they pampered everybody. As we cruised out of the shelter of the Beagle Channel and onto
the high seas, our chief anxiety was the prospect of seasickness on the notorious Drake’s Passage. We heard that the
last return trip from Antarctica had ben particularly rough, putting most of the passengers out of action.