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Exploring the Wonderful World of Cruise Ships

The Falkland Islands

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The day dawned cool, clear and windy. The seas are choppy, though not as bad as yesterday. The ship is too big to dock here, so we anchor in the outer bay and tender to the pier. It’s a slow go because the tenders are bouncing on the waves. Any faster and the jarring would be difficult to take. We’re lucky, however. The sun is shining brightly and we made it into port. Yesterday two ships were unable to get their passengers to the pier because of the high seas and simply bypassed the islands. No doubt passengers and residents alike were disappointed.

Fortunately for us, yesterday’s rough seas only delayed our arrival. Patrick Watts, the owner of the company which is to take us out to Volunteer Point to visit the King penguin rookery, informed me by email that our delayed arrival will still give us enough time. Patrick holds permits to take visitors out to the Point, and does so for about half the price Princess charges. Highly recommended. The captain, Ed Perrin, has also extended our stay until 7PM, giving us ample time.

The trip out to Volunteer Point is an adventure in itself. The paved road ends shortly outside of Stanley and becomes a packed gravel road. Not so bad in a 4 wheel drive vehicle. After perhaps an hour we veer off the road and onto a private farm and across its peat bog. This city boy didn’t have any clear notion of just what a peat bog is. Now I know, and now I also know that I need never traverse one again. In essence we simply bounced up and down, forward and backward, side to side for an hour in each direction. The only respite was when we got mired in muck and had to be towed out by another member of the caravan.

Volunteer Point is remarkable. King penguins, the second largest variety after Emperor penguins, form the largest rookery, joined by Gentoos and Magellanic penguins in smaller numbers . Penguins have no land predators and exhibit no fear of humans as long as our movements are not too abrupt. They regard us as rather tall penguins and betray only minimal curiosity at best. Mostly they simply hang out. On occasion small groups of 2 to 4 will take a stroll. I can’t help thinking of them as little old men, hands clasped behind their backs, discussing some philopsphical notion. They’re an absolute delight to watch, charming and unintentionally comical.

Prior to returning to the ship (Oh lord, here comes that peat bog again!) we walk for a while on the magnificent crescent beach of powder white sand, watching the penguins swim in the aqua water. If there were palm trees, this beach would be indistinguishable from the finest beaches in the tropics.

Tomorrow is a sea day as we sail south. Next stop, Elephant Island.

The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers

Where should we put the blanket?

Where should we put the blanket?

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