The final day with the possibility of Antarctic landings, we were at Deception Island, a volcanic hotspot.Â Its similar to Santorini in Greece in that the volcano erupted to create the island and then later the central part sunk leaving just the circular ring.Â Â However, the island is nearly an entire circle and the only opening is very narrow; this opening is known as Neptune’s Bellows.Â We all got up very early, about 6am, to watch the ship pass through this scenic area.Â We were expected to have a landing about 7am at which we’d be able to swim in steaming volcanic waters.Â Â However, as we went through Neptune’s Bellows we could see that nearly the entire surface of the water within the crater was covered with ice; in fact, all around us it didn’t look like water but rather that the boat was floating on snow.Â So much for volcanic heat.Â Suffice it to say, this canceled this landing.
Words cannot convey what it is to be surrounded by various forms of frozen water: glaciers, icebergs, snow covered mountains, beaches covered in snow and punctuated by bluish ancient ice, packed snow under your feet, snow flurries flying in your face and on your camera lens, ice and snow all around.
Floating on ice, the captain, again working hard, tried breaking ice with the ship, unsuccessfully.Â Eventually, they decided to go around the ice, skirt the edge of the crater to get us a landing at Telefon Bay.Â We hiked up a small volcanic ridge.Â We also saw lots of birds feeding on krille that had been boiled by the volcanic heat.Â And thus our final landing at Antarctica came to an end.
…But the excitement was just beginning.Â We were told to hurry back to the ship because the ice was closing in on the ship and we might be stuck in the caldera for 20days like Shackleton.Â We gave a little laugh to this.Â The last time we laughed like this was before the ‘hike of death’ up the 1200foot ‘hill.’
Well the ice did close the ship in fast and block the entrance/exit to the caldera.Â All during lunch the ship kept trying to break the ice and get across the huge mass of ice that floated over the entire crater.Â Unsuccessfully.Â Late into lunch an announcement was made that the ship was unable to break the ice.Â Yeah, thanks, we got that.Â At lunch, other guests joked, ‘time to start rationing the food.’Â ‘Guess we’ll need to change our plane tickets.’Â Ahh the excitement of Antarctica!
Shortly after lunch an another announcement was made that we’d wait for the tides to change and drag the ice away from the entrance to the crater and then we’d navigate around and out.Â Well this worked just as planned and with a 5hour or so delay we were on our way back across the Drake Passage and back to the End of The World.
Link to Antarctic photos (again)