Antarctica Cruise – Danco Island/Orne Harbour

Good morning Antarctica! It was like dreaming; waking up and seeing glaciers, icebergs, and mountain ranges right outside our cabin window. Breakfast was pretty full today; we usually got a table at the front of the restaurant but this time we walked all the way back to find a free table. The view was spectacular, it was hard to believe having breakfast while looking out at Antarctica!

The scenery was ever-changing as well as the weather. Our ship slowly sailed into the channel heading to our first landing site – Danco Island/Orne Harbour. It was cloudy and the clouds were pretty low to covered the peak of the mountain ranges:

Even on a gloomy day, the blueness of the glacier was so vivid.

A big iceberg going down the channel:

Endless icebergs and mountain ranges, each one is unique!

The thickness and blueness of the glacier:

The Quark Expedition ship made a landing at that site. According to the Antarctica tourism policy, only 100 people are permitted at each landing site and the cruise companies had to pre-book the site.

Icebergs on top of a huge and flat iceberg:

Look at the shape of this iceberg!!!

This one was huge too! We went to Iceland and learned that what we saw on the surface was only around 10% of the iceberg whereas the other 90% was underwater!

I was at the deck taking photos while Jason brought his binoculars for wildlife watching.

We arrived at our landing site – Danco Island/Orne Harbour:

The brown spots on the right were penguin colonies!!! Penguins yay finally!

A zodiac boat carried the kayaks out for the first lucky kayaking group, not us 🙁

Another zodiac boat filled with crew members to prepare the landing site. I learned that they’ll need to transport emergency food and equipment to the landing site in the event that they couldn’t get back to the ship such as weather conditions. The crews wear blue jackets versus our red jackets to easily identify.

We headed back to our room to put on the boots and mandatory life jacket for our small zodiac boat cruise!

We got on the zodiac and cruised around the harbor. The small zodiac boats allowed us to get closer to the icebergs, wild life, etc.

Our ship docked there!

And then the crew said look there’s a humpback whale right beside the ship and I went searching for it…so hard to see, ahhh there you go!!! The crew communicated with each other on whale sightings as well as an announcement on board.

We went around icebergs…and got low angles of the landscape versus in the ship.

This iceberg was really blue:

The landscape surrounding us was breathtaking!

Oh look at the penguins…must be hundreds of them!

This iceberg looked break into two!

The small zodiac boat cruise was around 50 minutes, it was a good length because longer than that, you’ll feel really cold, especially with the freezing wind blowing on your face! For your information, the temperature was around 32 degrees Fahrenheit so it wasn’t really as freezingly cold as you would think! It was actually warmer in Antarctica than at home – Boston LOL. It was funny whenever I said that to my friend or coworker when I got back after the cruise.

Antarctica is so pristine, it was quiet, only us plus the wildlife!

The first lucky kayaking group:

Photo of us two on the deck:

Whale on sight again!!!

The kayakers were done, but later I found out that they cut it short due to ice on the water building up quickly and the cruise company arranged another kayak trip for the group the next day.

Oh two birds hanging out on that iceberg, I wish they were penguins instead!

For lunch, we went to Restaurant Fredheim and had a steak and our daily dose of milkshake!

Then, we headed down again to join the science boat! Look at the landing site and the zig-zagging hike up to the mountain!!

The science boat was the same type of zodiac boat but the purpose was to collect water samples at specific locations, yes they recorded the exact GPS coordinates! Hurtigruten has collaborated with some universities to collect water samples to analyze the plankton level as an effect due to global warming. It was cool to watch the process, get involved, and more opportunity for photos 😀

The sky actually cleared up and we saw the sun and blue sky!

The views draw us away…..

Photo of us on the zodiac:

Ship versus the mountain in height:

OMG two whales on sight!!!!

Then we heard a big drum sound and saw a glacier calving off the tip of that glacier!!!!

Okay, back to business….collect water sample!

But I can’t keep my eyes off the scenery…

A bird flew by…

Water collection:

Filtration process?

Look a penguin swam by…they might look clumsy on land but they are really fast in water!

Ice was building up and happened so quickly!!!

More penguins taking a swim:

Can you spot the whales?

The crew was actually a huge fan of whales and he couldn’t take his eyes off finding them. We got closer to the penguins…

Then a group of them swimming by:

With all those activities going on, I was amazed by how calm the water was to give a reflection!

Incredible doesn’t it?

Then out of a blue, a whale popped up out of nowhere! It was so close to us that I was actually scared that we’ll tip over or something! OMG, it was magical; we were so lucky!!!

The science boat turned out to be the best whale-watching cruise we ever had!!!

We got back to the ship and then joined the next group for the landing.

Finally and officially, I set foot on Antarctica yay 7th continent checked!!!

Hurtigruten provided hiking poles and they were a huge help on slippery snow! Hiking up on slipper snow was not too bad but coming back down was a different story….

The views were magnificent as we got higher and higher!!!!

We were the younger groups on the cruise, I think Peter and them were the youngest. I would think professional photographers would make up the majority of the passenger but no, there was probably only a handful surprisingly. Most of the passengers on the ship were retirees! Some of them were struggling especially coming down the mountain…I struggled too so I was glad that I did this while relatively young and fit.

We reached the top and we were sweating but the views were so worth the effort!!!

The cute pair of penguins!

And then more penguins….the way they walk and fall was so cute!

This one was carrying food down…

Another one heading up…

The penguins at Danco Island were chinstrap penguins, they got their name from the black strap under their chins.

Careful, careful, watch out!!!

We were only a few feet away from the penguins and they didn’t seem to care about us!

Oh those two got in a fight!

We had an hour on land so it was time to head back down….

Ahhh the views….

Every angle was like in a national geographic cover photo, it was that picturesque!

Yay we made it to Antarctica!!!

The hike down was much harder….

We finally made it down without a fall….that guy just fell. A penguin popped up and we need to make way for it to go wherever it wishes to. They like to pause like we were paparazzi hahahaha!

On our zodiac boat back to the ship and wow it was like a mirror, that was how still the water was!

What a busy day we had with the zodiac boat cruise in the morning, the science boat and landing in the afternoon. The day quickly went by!

For dinner, we paid 25 Euros per person extra to dine at the more upscale restaurant – Restaurant Lindstrøm. The setting was more classy for sure. We started off with a soup…it was just okay.

I ordered smoked shrimp and it was just okay and small portion even as an appetizer.

For the main, I choose the sirloin steak medium-rare and it turned out to be completely overcooked, the same thing as Jason’s steak. I can tell by the look, it was burned OMG. It was so dry that it was unacceptable, I showed the waitress (the same waitress who worked at Restaurant Fredheim at lunch). She apologized and asked the chef to remake them. I can’t believe an upscale restaurant messed up on the steak! The 2nd time was better but still not medium-rare sigh!!!

For dessert, I chose the fruit tart, it was okay.

A mixture of chocolates…

It was totally not worth the extra to dine at Restaurant Lindstrøm and we never went back again! After dinner, we checked the lottery boards, and no luck for us on either the kayak or snowshoeing 🙁

Our first landing day in Antarctica was amazing, the landscape and the experience of getting so close to the whales and penguins were out of this world. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

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