After our ridiculous bus journey, Adam and I woke up the next morning to take a look at the last-minute specials advertised for Antarctica. We stopped into a few travel agencies to talk about a trip to Antarctica, just to see what was all included. We found out that the last minute deals were really good, plus it included everything: meals, excursions, jackets, snow pants etc. It essentially was a two person for the price of one for the trip to Antarctica. It would be leaving the next day, at 4 p.m. After a long conversation, Adam and I agreed that this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and it would take a lot of resources to show up here again if we ever decided to go to Antarctica. The next available cruise wouldn’t be available for another 10 days. Also, the Chile bus strike apparently started up again after we arrived to Ushuaia, so we didn’t know how long we would be stuck here otherwise! There was only one problem: the payment. After 8 hours of sitting in the office to pay for the trip, our card kept coming up as denied, even though we went through meticulous instructions to both of our banks to approve the charge. We decided to give up around 9:30 that evening, very disappointed. It took a lot of energy to get mentally prepared to spend the money we needed to get to Antarctica, and to have it denied for no good reason was disheartening. To this day we still don’t know what the problem was, but the next morning we woke up early, prepared not to go on the trip, but decided to give it one last shot. I headed to the office and asked them to try to make the charge once again, and IT WORKED! WE WERE GOING TO ANTARCTICA!
It felt as if we had won the lottery or something (only the financial opposite, haha), we were both so excited. We only had a couple hours to pick up our winter gear, purchase sea sickness pills, make any last minute calls to family, and we were off. Walking down where all the ships were docked was such a rush, we even saw the National Geographic cruise ship (unfortunately, that tour cost a minimum of $10,500 per person… waaaay out of our price range). We boarded the boat, the MV USHUAIA, and descended to our room all the way into the basement and unpacked all of our things into the closet. I was happy because we would be in this room for 10 days. That’s the longest we’ve been in one spot, and it was going to be nice to be able to unpack and hang things up.
Adam and I didn’t know what to really expect from the trip, other than to see some amazing wildlife, icebergs, and to stand on the continent. We were greeted by a very friendly staff of biologists, the captain and crew, and a champagne toast with a huge spread of appetizers. So far we were pleasantly surprised, we didn’t expect such a fancy setup. We walked around the ship and met some of our fellow travelers and noticed quite a few Americans. We met a total of three other passengers before reaching the ship: a Japanese guy by the name of Esky, and a couple girls from Finland named Anu and Tuula, who we met on the bus ride down to Ushuaia, and convinced them to join us on the last-minute trip to Antarctica!
The announcement for dinner came over the intercom and we all filed in to the dining room. Quite pleased with our meal, we returned to the community room and played a couple games of cards then called it a day. We were notified after dinner that we would be crossing the Drake Passage, which is known as some the roughest waters in the world. I wasn’t happy about this, but there’s really no other option in how to get there. I had planned accordingly and started taking my dramamine pills. I went to bed a little early that night, not sure if my body would be agreeing with the choppy waters, but very excited at what the next 9 days would be like!
(Editor’s Note: Starting on Monday, we will be featuring one post a day from our “diary” of the experiences we had while in Antarctica. Don’t miss them, these posts will offer a first-hand look at what a trip to the coldest, driest, and highest continent is like!)