In the Wake of Scott and Shackleton: Ross Sea, Antarctica

“The whole trip was fantastic”

“We have been back from our amazing trip for just over a week now so I thought it was time to give you some feedback. The whole trip was fantastic and we were very glad that we had the Heritage Suite for a voyage of that length because it was great to have the space. It did mean that we noticed the rock and rolling of the ship more than the lower decks but we do not get seasick so that was no problem. Overall the weather was great but we did have a few days typical of the roaring forties, furious fifties and screaming sixties as well as katabatic winds off the Ross Ice Shelf one day and Mount Erebus on another. The latter were phenomenal, particularly as we were trying to visit the Historic Huts, so we could really appreciate the conditions that those early explorers had encountered - and we were in a nice warm ship with all the latest technical clothing!! Rodney Russ was the expedition leader and what a legend! If there is something he doesnt know about the whole area - history, wildlife, weather, economics, you name it, we didnt find out what it was! He certainly went to every length to make sure all the passengers achieved their aims whether it was the history, the penguins, the albatrosses or the Barrier (or in our case all of the above!). His team was also first rate, and Heidi as the cruise director was quite outstanding. She was always working but never seemed rushed or flustered and she never had to be reminded about any request no matter how trivial. The two chefs worked wonders as well!! How they produced the food they did so efficiently and sometimes in such bad conditions was nothing short of incredible!! The subantarctic islands are a real wonder and far exceeded our expectations. We are not ones to be ticking of species we havent seen before, but to have had real quality views of eleven different albatross and eight penguin species, plus all the other birds was amazing (sorry, I keep using that word!). The Ross Sea component was, for us, definitely a one-off simply because of the number of sea days to get there and back. We were lucky with the weather and although we had some rough seas we could usually manage to get out on deck somewhere sheltered (relatively) to watch the sea, birds, whales or scenery. The historic huts were very, very special and we were delighted that we could spend quite a bit of time viewing both the sites and the interior of the huts themselves. The visits were very tightly regulated in terms of numbers of people ashore and also in the huts at any one time, and of course we could not touch anything, but beyond that we could spend a decent amount of time in the huts and return if we wished for a second look (which we did at both Scott's and Shackleton's huts). Scott's hut in particular we found very moving, and we could recall all Ponting's superb photographs of Scott's party in the huts, and see exactly where they had been taken. The Ross Ice Barrier and Mount Erebus were stunning, and we cruised along the ice edge at McMurdo seeing many Antarctic Type C Orca and more penguins including distant Emperors. We coudnt get to Cape Adare becasue of the ice conditions but that gave us the chance to sail near the Balleny Islands and we were once again blessed because as we arrived at Sturge Island in the early hours of the morning a lunar eclipse was taking place! Our final port of call was Campbell Island and definitely one of the best wildlife experiences I have had, with groups of gamming Southern Royal Albatrosses at times literally within touching distance. What a finale!! One last thing to note about Heritage and Rodney was the quality of the documentation that they sent out, and then once on board Rodney's drawings of each landing site with all the relevant information included. I dont think we have ever had such detailed and pertinent information from any company. Last but not least I have put a selection of images on my web site - http://www.jennymvarley.co.uk/Ross-Sea-and-Subantarctic-Islands/.”

Jenny Varley

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