Fly to Ushuaia, the southernmost town in the world. Tour Ushuaia, then board Le Boreal for our cruise to Antarctica. Cocktail soiree then set sail through the Beagle Channel, enjoying dramatic views of the mountains of Tierra del Fuego.
17.02.2015 - 17.02.2015 9 °C
We were in bed by 9.30 pm last night, with the alarm set for 4.00 am. I woke at about 3.30 am and dozed until the alarm went off. We went down for breakfast at 4.40 am and shared it with a group of very excited people because today is the day we fly to Ushuaia to join our cruise to Antartica.
We left the hotel at 6.00 am on the "white group" bus. Scenic had quite a few groups to transport to the airport and it was all conducted with military precision and went off without a hitch.
We arrived at the airport about 40 minutes later and found all our check in luggage lined up waiting for us to claim it. Gary and Anna Maria were really great and held our cabin luggage for us, just in case the airline started weighing it, because no matter how we tried, we just couldn't get it to the required 5 kgs.
At check in, Phil's bag weighed 21 kgs and mine was 19.5. Ricardo from Scenic, checked in our other bag which was probably about 12 kgs. We went through security without a hitch, then waited to board at 8.40 for our 9.00am flight.
I must comment here that so far, all the flights we have been on in South America leave on time, or sometimes even a bit early!
The flight to Ushuaia takes 3 hours 5 minutes. We are all getting a bit hungry and have just received the standard South American airline snack - juice, water, soft drink, tea or coffee plus a packet of dry biscuits and two different types of sweet cream biscuits. Not very imaginative but at least it filled a hole.
I was taking some stunning shots of the mountains surrounding Ushuaia until the hostess told me to turn off my tablet.
Once we land in Usuhaia, we have about four hours to kill before we can board. The weather is about 9 degrees and raining. Because today is still a Public Holiday for Carnival, there won't be many shops open.
We landed at Ushuaia at a tiny little airport and there was a huge crush and a long wait for the bags but finally we found our bags and headed outside to put them on the bus to be taken to the ship. Rikus was outside collecting our passports. It was lovely to see him again and we had a big hug. Rikus was our guide when we travelled from Cape Town to Cairo in 2010.
Our new home for 24 days - Le Boreal.
We hopped on the bus and were taken on a sight seeing trip of the town, Usuhaia. Sergio, our guide told us to be back on the bus at 4.15 pm at which time we would be driven to the boat for boarding. The town is quite small and lovely. Sergio pointed out some good restaurants so Jeanette and Phil and I went to lunch in a lamb barbecue restaurant. They way they cook the lamb is very unique. They cut the lamb down the middle and then attach it to a metal spike and stand it up, so that while it is cooking, all the fat runs out of the lamb. We ordered spit roasted lamb and salad and the lamb was so tender. However, they don't give you nicely sliced lamb on your plate - you get great big hunks of meat with bones so it really is a meal to eat with your fingers.
At 4.15 pm we were back on the bus for the short ride to the docks. The Captain was waiting for us and we had a photo with him as we boarded. Inside the girls gave us our room key and our Butler, Baptiste, met us and took us up to our cabin. There was a lovely bottle of Mumm Champagne waiting for us with some snacks. Our cabin is very nice and roomy. We have two toilets, two TVs, a lounge / dining room with a dining table and a big bedroom with a spa in the bathroom. Nice. I am glad we are staying in this cabin for the next 24 days.
Our big red jackets for Antarctica were waiting for us on our bed, plus our gum boots.
We immediately had an abandon ship drill and a short while after a general briefing about the next 10 days. Sally Austin (better known as Long Tall Sally) is on this cruise too. She took us through New Zealand many years ago. It is very comforting to have old familiar faces looking after us, as Sally and Rikus are a couple of our favourite guides.
The sixth floor had welcome drinks as did the others on the lower decks. We caught up with Lyn and Phil who were on our Russian Cruise last August.
Back to the cabin to unpack and then into the dining room for a quick dinner and then into bed. It has been a long but exciting day.
I started to run a bath but only a trickle of water came out. No matter, I'll have a shower instead. No water there either. A quick call to Baptiste, our Butler, and he phoned someone, and it was fixed. "Unbeliveable", he kept muttering.