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Exploring the Wonderful World of Cruise Ships

Ushuaia

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We threw open the curtains this morning and looked out on Ushuaia.  Across the pier from us are three expedition vessels, affirming Ushuaia‘s position as the primary starting point for consumer expeditions to Antarctica.  The town has the feel of an outpost, a bit of civilization clinging to the end of the earth.  The expedition ships only help to reinforce the notion that untamed adventure lies just beyond this shore.

The physical setting of Ushuaia is achingly beautiful.  To the south the sea, to the north snow capped mountains, the sun glinting off the peaks, the billowing clouds crowning all.

We’ve chosen to take a catamaran cruise through the Beagle Channel, named after Charles Darwin’s ship, as our shore excursion.  It strikes us as amusing that, after some seven days at sea, we get right back on another ship.  The Beagle Channel offers the opportunity to view more wildlife up close, however, and we can’t pass it up.

Catamarans, we learn, can sail in as little as six feet of water, enabling them to get remarkably close to the outcroppings of rock which characterize most of the islands in the channel.  One of the islands is literally covered with sea lions and cormorants.  We get so close to the sea lions we can almost touch them.  Most assuredly we can smell them.  The cormorants stand silent guard on the rocks, amidst the bellowing seals, looking very much like small penguins from a distance.  As you approach, not quite certain if you are looking at penguins or cormorants, one or two take to the air, revealing their true identity.

Everywhere you turn, new vistas appear, each one my new favorite.  The day is beautiful, this place is beautiful.  I won’t forget how special this all has been.

Sea Lions

Cormorants

Ushuaia

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