2022 Antartica Jan 19-31



  • We saw two species of penguin. At one stop there were something like two hundred thousand penguins. We almost did not go ashore because there were almost too many penguins close to the landing site. We did go ashore, but the area was covered with loose rocks of various sizes. Most were around four inches in diameter and walking was very difficult. The supplied boots protect from the water during the wet landings (all landings are wet), but they are a far cry from hiking boots. I had walking sticks which our TD’s said were highly recommended for this journey. For those going next season (I just learned that the Feb. 8th trip has just been canceled) I would bring collapsable walking sticks that will fit in a backpack. I also recommend two sets of ‘expedition’ landing clothes, and one pair of waterproof pants. I brought way more warm clothing than I need, and I never used any of my old and mostly cotton ski clothes. The ‘modern’ fabrics are much better, much lighter, take up less space, and weigh less, but are a bit expensive. You have five days of expeditions, and you don’t sweat much, so two sets work just fine. I wore my sport coat once … very few did. The French did not even dress up for our trip. Anything more than smart casual is a waste of space and weight in your luggage.

    Tauck canceled, but from looking at Ponant’s website the trip appears to still be operating. If anyone from Feb. 8 wanted to go independently, they should check with Ponant … and learn to speak French. (;-)

  • @Smiling Sam we saw three different species of penguins...chinstrap, adelie and gentoo on the January 19th trip.

  • **Sealord, Cathy **- No Emperor penguin sightings? Is it the wrong time of the year for them, or you just didn't go to where they are?

  • edited February 2022

    Tauck visits a very small peninsula of Antarctica. Emperor penguins tend to go a lot further in land to ‘nest’. I highly recommend watching as many documentaries about Antarctica and it’s wildlife before you travel there.
    A recent article I read now says there are 18 types of penguin on the planet and not 17 which been the accepted number

  • Smiling Sam
    Sealord - Do you know how many different species of penguins you saw during your tour?

    Was it an African swallow or a European swallow?

  • edited February 2022

    Actually, I saw black and white penguins … at least they were black and white after they had been for a swim. The ‘chicks’ have gray down. They all smell like my parka which is now hanging in the garage to air out. All of the clothes have been washed (even clean ones) because they last lived in the suitcase with … the parka. It is quite a souvenir and a conversation piece … much better than an “I been there belt buckle”. (;-) Some people … probably from Florida, … left the parka behind. You can probably buy them on Ebay.

  • Sealord
    7:22PM edited 7:24PM
    … the parka. It is quite a souvenir and a conversation piece … much better than an “I been there belt buckle”. (;-) Some people … probably from Florida, … left the parka behind. You can probably buy them on Ebay.

    Yup! :D

  • Are you guys sure this was the same tour 😀 ?

  • I am so envious of all of you, Tauck cancelled our Feb. 8 trip on Feb.3 We were due to leave on the 6th.

  • Eloise did confirm for me that we also saw ‘three’ species of penguins. We had very little ‘sea ice’ on our trip.

  • I hope there’s room on the 2023 trips…so sad you were canceled. My FB is reminding daily of the photos we took on our February trip. Weather was gorgeous that year.

  • kfarber: Tauck canceling 3 days before you are to leave, what a disappointment. I thought 3 weeks was bad when they canceled my river cruise at the beginning of Covid in 2020. Sorry to hear this news as I know, from all the posts on this discussion board, there was a lot of preparation and many forms to fill out for this trip plus arranging for the Covid tests. It was probably all for the best considering how many people tested positive for Covid.

  • edited February 2022

    This was our trip. So sorry for those who got canceled. Lyrial is touring Antarctica as we speak, Boreal is at Ponte Arenas, the L’Austral is still in Ushuaia presumably with the quarantined people. They should be about done with that I think. I hope all the canceled people can get a booking for next year and enjoy the trip as we have.

  • Tip for getting the expedition parka home. Roll it into hood, interlock the ties and you have a nice carryon/pillow. I live in South Texas but I wasn’t going to leave that behind!

  • We were taught how to roll them up that way by TD Bill. But, they went into the suitcases. I wish I had worn mine home as I was freezing cold even though we went through MIA … they always keep the A/C at the refrigerator level. I would have been very comfortable on the airplane even though those around us would have wondered why they smelled penguin poop. It really was not that strong. I am fairly deep into ‘post trip depression’. There is a ‘down side’ to fulfilling the bucket list. Where do we go next? We will redo the bucket list starting with K&T in late June. Then we might add some places to the list like Machu Picchu and Patagonia. Then there is New Zealand and Australia … we have both been to Australia but not New Zealand. We are also doing the Rhine river in August. Our dog did not like a nearly three week trip. She is trying to herd us as if she was a Border Collie.

  • Tip for getting the expedition parka home. Roll it into hood, interlock the ties and you have a nice carryon/pillow. I live in South Texas but I wasn’t going to leave that behind!

    Damos I'm a New Orleans girl. I thought my parka would spend eternity in the attic, but lo and behold, 7 months after returning from the expedition I got a work promotion and relocated to Boston--That red parka came in handy many a COLD days. It may not have been as elegant as my other outerwear, but it served it purpose well. I'm back in NOLA and the parka spends its days in the cedar closet in the garage. I use it when I visit friends in Canada during the winter. It was perfect for dog sledding in Banff National Park. The temps over the past few days here has been in upper 30's. I contemplated taking it out for a few giggles. :D

  • Pure Luxury…. I’m a New Orleans girl as well!!! Not much use for the parka in the Big Easy. I’m sure you get some looks when you do wear it though!!!!

  • I just had a follow up chat with Tauck about our expedition. I was concerned about our ‘positive’ travelers and our TD. Most of them are on their way home. Ponant did a typical Ponant thing. They were all put up on deck six of the “Austral” so they were not confined to their rooms, and they were even provided with entertainment. I can’t imagine a better place to do a quarantine than a French cruise ship. I could not get a clear idea about why the Feb. 8th trip was canceled other than the logistics with the government had just become too complicated.

  • That’s all good to know SeaLord. I guess you are looking forward to K and T now!

  • One hundred thirty-six days and twenty-two hours … but who is counting. (;-). We are avoiding LHR and going business on KLM, so it will be something of a new experience. Sweetwaters looks very nice, but I’m pleased that we will be returning to the Mt. Kenya Safari Club. We will see if I can prevail to do horses and dogs, versus monkeys and weavers. (;-). Actually, I would not be surprised if Sweetwaters has better plumbing, but as you know I love the Safari Club.

  • I called Tauck this week about Portrait of Arabia and when I mentioned that A&K just left on a similar land tour with group of only 6, rep suggested that low headcount was at least part of reason for Feb. 8 Antarctica decision.

  • Well, I hope our reports and pix did not cause people to cancel out of covid concerns. I think the choice is to ‘live with it’, or postpone living. More than 90% of us made it through the trip without a problem, and those who tested positive got to do at least 90% of the trip. Only a very few were reported to have significant symptoms. If you lived where we do in California, your ‘odds’ would be roughly the same if you stayed at home. The choice is pretty simple. Do you want to stay at home, or travel and have some fun?

  • I was a passenger on Le Lyrial for the Jan 19-31 cruise. We boarded the ship Friday, and the following Tuesday I visited the ship's doctor because of a bad sore throat. Tested positive for Covid of course (both antigen & PCR). Was confined to my cabin for the entire remainder of the cruise, and then was transferred to L'Austral on 1/31 with several other passengers and crew (including at least 2 of the naturalists). On L'Austral, the passengers were given cabins on deck 6 and could use both the lounge and buffet restaurant on that deck. We were treated very well by the Ponant crew.
    My only "complaint" was that the Tauck tour guides and the office in CT were unsure about how long I had to quarantine and never provided much information about what to expect. My flights home had to be changed twice because no one at Tauck could confirm when I would be allowed to leave. Many times I was told something that was contradicted the next day. I actually did not know with certainty that I would be leaving the ship until I received a phone call in my cabin from the "hotel manager" on L'Austral that I would be taken via tender (lifeboat) to the dock and met by a driver to take me to the Ushuaia airport. That was 2/2.
    I was provided two documents by the ship's doctor: a letter stating that I had quarantined from 1/25 through 2/1 and a second showing a negative RT-PCR test, administered the morning that I was to leave L'Austral. When I expressed concern that the re-test might show a positive result, I was emphatically assured that the result would be negative. Draw your own conclusions.

  • Were you traveling solo, or was your partner in quarantine with you also? I talked with Tauck two days ago, and they said one of the reasons the 2/8 trip was canceled was that they could not get ‘consistent’ information from the local government. It sounds like your quarantine arrangement was far better than what “British” experienced.

  • My spouse was unable to make the trip, so I was solo in my cabin. However, I was with two travel companions, who fortunately never tested positive. When the Jan19-31 passengers were transferred to L'Austral for quarantine, the ship's captain held a meeting in the 6th deck lounge to provide information. He held up what appeared to be a memo from the local authorities about the current protocols the ship was required to follow. The document was dated January 12.
    I should also point out that the ship's doctor on Le Lyrial was quite emphatic that my quarantine would last through 2/1 and that I should not schedule any flights out of Ushuaia before 2/2. She provided this information two days after I tested positive, but I was unable to verify this information with Tauck. Perhaps they never contacted the doctor on Le Lyrial, but she certainly appeared to have knowledge of the current Argentine quarantine protocol.

  • I’m watching L’Austral and Le Lyrial. Austral is currently in Antarctica, and both L’Austral and Le Lyrial are scheduled to do another trip. I have read that Ponant always does French and English. For those Feb. 8 people who may be somewhat broken hearted, you could probably do the trip this year with Ponant. I can see that there are many open cabin opportunities. I know it would take a scramble … but having just done it … I would do it.

  • Just lovely photos SeaLord, or should I call you Ken! What great memories for you.
    I think my favorite photo must be the one of all the rubber boots lined up outside the room doors, my kind of humor!

  • Sealord...Thanks for sharing

  • edited March 2022


    Tried to edit my post and my album disappeared. So I put it back (above). Kenneth is the name I never use … it is Mike.

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