“A journey is a person in itself, no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, polices and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”
~ John Steinbeck
I’ve celebrated many things on ships… birthdays, several Christmases, New Year’s Eve, Australia Day, 4th July on a US ship, St Patricks Day, Halloween, ANZAC Day and even Easter. I have also celebrated Crossing the Equator, Crossing the International Dateline, Transiting the Panama Canal, and until now, my favourite, Crossing the Arctic Circle at 66° 33′ North just off the north coast of Iceland.
Tonight, we got a 20-minute call over the public address system at 0140 that we would be Crossing the Antarctic Circle 66° 33’ South just after 0200 and anyone who wanted to be on the outer decks of Deck 6 should rug up and come out for a glass of champagne.
So we quickly jumped out of bed and expected there to be a handful of crazy people willing to forgo sleep and warmth to toast this momentous occasion. Our cabin on the ship is 623 so we are already on the right deck and walked about 10m down the corridor into a mass of yellow Quark jackets!
The crew had been up and ready before us with trays of champagne, and so many people had gotten up to toast the Crossing of the Antarctic Circle. All the expedition staff were here, many in penguin and dragon onesies, and I would estimate that 90% of the passengers were here too.
The excitement and buzz around the group as we floated in the deep southern ocean waiting for Woody our Expedition Leader to say tell us exactly when we were crossing the invisible line was infectious. Everyone was all smiles and excited for the expeditions to come.
Word came from the bridge and a countdown was started – it felt very much like a New Years toast only people were talking about having goosebumps and how much they had been looking forward to this for decades. We milled around and were eventually herded together for a group photo by the ship’s photographer, Acacia. We were then taking turns being photographed beside a handmade sign to mark the occasion.
I, for one, can’t hardly believe I am actually here. Antarctica is a place I have always thought I would want to come, but never in my life did I think I would actually get here.
After all the buzz of excitement and champagne we eventually all head back inside to try and get back to sleep. It took me ages to wind down and get back to sleep.