An Unforgettable Journey to the Bottom of the World

Linda Nagy

Bernie and Linda Nagy, SaddleBrooke residents, recently returned mid-March of this year from an Antarctic expedition. They were on the inaugural voyage of the Atlas World Navigator, a Portuguese five-star vessel made especially for Antarctic cruising. The cruise included a direct flight from Orlando to Ushuaia in Argentina and back. After a day of local sightseeing in the Tierre del Fuega, the couple boarded the ship in Ushuaia, along with 145 fellow American travelers, to begin an adventure at sea.

What made this Antarctic expedition so different is that it didn’t have a strict agenda. The captain navigated along the outer Antarctic peninsula and its islands and selected the best spots depending on the weather for smooth sailings, wildlife, scenic viewing, and for easy landing sites.

The first two days of sailing were through the dreaded Drake Passage, but it didn’t give that much of a shake and, over all, the weather was great throughout the journey, with mild temperatures between 32 to 42 degrees and mostly sunny days.

Several sturdy Zodiac inflatable boats were used to transport up to 10 explorers to landings on various islands and to the snow- and ice-covered rugged mountain peninsula. Only 100 visitors are allowed on land at one time and all passengers, outfitted with heavy parkas, rubber boots, and inflatable swim vests, had to go through a special boot-cleaning process when leaving and returning to the ship.

With all the Zodiacs landings, one saw thousands of Gentoo penguins, waterfowl, and some seals, and one could see, occasionally within close range, humpback whales circling the ship. The sheer number of Gentoo penguins waddling everywhere was amazing. They were even up in high mountain meadows. Some of the inquisitive penguins would wander curiously within a few feet of their human visitors. At Brown’s Station, an Argentine Antarctic scientific research station, the penguins made themselves at home around the buildings and structures left closed at the time of the cruise due to COVID.

Each Zodiac landing or cruise around was filled with awe-inspiring views or with surprise encounters of seals sunning themselves on smaller icebergs. In the distance were glacier sightings with noisy calving. Besides the daily outdoor adventures, every evening there was a recap of the day and scientific lectures on the history of Antarctica, climate change, and the animals and sea life, as well as current treaties affecting the continent.

In addition to the daily activities, the cruise offered luxury experiences such as large modern cabins with either balconies or panoramic windows. Included was outstanding five-star cuisine, bars and lounges, fitness studio, spa, musical entertainment, Wi-Fi, and plenty more to be entertained or to just relax.

On the last days of this eight-day expedition, the ship again entered the Drake Passage and the Beagle Channel en route to Ushuaia, Argentina. There was more fascinating scenery along the way, including several gigantic city block-sized icebergs glowing in the sunlight. With frozen landscapes, magical glaciers, and icebergs ranging in color from white, turquoise, and small, crystal-clear ice blocks drifting in the calm waters, it was like being in a truly magical landscape at sea.

Finally, the “Navigator” reached Ushuaia where everyone had all day for sightseeing before the flights back to Orlando and to final destinations home.

For Linda and Bernie, it was an unforgettable journey of a lifetime. They returned to SaddleBrooke with uncountable photos and scratched off another adventure from their bucket list. The trip was made available by VIP Southern Tours in Sautee, Ga.