24 Dec 2011 – The End

This evening, Christmas Eve, we return home to the United States – Miami to be exact.  So, this chapter of the adventure we call life comes to a close.  As we have done in our prior journals, we wanted to use this space to share a few random thoughts / reflections about the expedition (unlike the penguin highways, in no particular order!).

– Our Fellow Passengers on M/V Silver Explorer
The demographic makeup of our fellow passengers was not what we expected.  We put about a third at 60-65 years of age, maybe a handful older than 65, very few under 20 (only about a half dozen traveling with their parents), and a mix of 30, 40 and 50 somethings make up the balance.  It’s not a particularly fit crowd, which is a little surprising given the physical demands of the landings.  There are several “mobility challenged” individuals – one who requires constant assistance to walk, three who use canes, and about five others that have difficulty maintaining balance while embarking/disemarking the Zodiacs.  An absolute standing ovation to the Team for the way they handle these passengers – always patient and encouraging, to the point where for the landing at Baily Head, they carried one passenger to the shore.  We think she has suffered a stroke, and there is no way that she could have disembarked in the rough surf and climbed the very steep embankment to the beach.

– Key Cards
You may recall that when we first boarded, we were issued a key card for our room.  A photo was taken of each passenger as the key card was printed.  This key card became your “ticket for passage” – it was swiped each time you exited and entered the ship for all Zodiac excursions.  We also think that the staff had access to the pictures – a kind of “Face Book” of the ship, as after the second day, everybody knew our names.

– Sleep
We have never needed as much sleep as we had on this voyage!  Have to assume that the combination of 1) the seasickness medication; 2) the stress of the uncertainty of what each day will bring; and 3) your body constantly trying to steady itself in the rolling seas, pushes your physical limits.  We know we weren’t the only ones that were sleeping excessively!!

– Packing List
If there is one pre-cruise piece of advice that we felt was misleading, it would have to be the essential packing list.  Just about every person that we spoke with said that they had over packed – us included!  As an example, the packing list included hiking boots, which we schlepped with us to Buenos Aires, and then to Antarctica.  We never even unpacked them!  For all of the Zodiac landings and cruises, we wore our rubber boots (rented through Ship to Shore, so no schlepping involved!).  We also felt that the packing list advice with regard to multiples of items was excessive.

 – Charter Flights
The charter flights between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia (and vice versa) were all economy class seating.  However, we did learn that Lan Airlines does not assign any of the exit row seating.  On the flight to Ushuaia, we were fine, because we had a row to ourselves and were able to spread out.  However, on the flight back to BA, we did not have that luxury.  Fortunately, the flight attendant let us know that the entire exit row was available, and we were able to move up and sit across the aisle from each other with no one else in our row, and fly in comfort.  Note if you are doing this:  If the exit row is free, sit in it!!

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