Behemoth Icebergs and a Super Bowl Win!

  • Day 30, Grand World Voyage 2020
  • Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020; Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Super Bowl Champion Chiefs!!!

The #ChiefsKingdom reached all the way to the bottom of the world late tonight when Patrick Mahomes led the team to its first Super Bowl championship since 1970. (We had just moved to Kansas City in time for the 1969 season, and ever since the Chiefs have been my team.)

Elaine and I watched the game from the VIP section of the Mainstage Theater. Our reserved seats included decorations, football hats, cowbells, tailgate food and all the adult beverages we could drink. I don’t think I came out ahead on that last deal, but it was worth the $55 VIP charge to be part of the crowd for what turned out to be an exciting game. Most of those sitting around us were San Francisco Niners fans, but a vocal group proudly cheered on the Chiefs.

We were just glad the broadcast signal held for the whole game. I loved the half-time show, but was disappointed that we didn’t see any of the commercials. The ESPN International video feed repeatedly showed promos for its upcoming soccer and cricket coverage.

Elaine said that, as we have now watched the Super Bowl from Antarctica, we should make a goal of watching it from every continent. Next year it looks like the Amsterdam will be somewhere between Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and Hawaii, so the 2021 World Cruise won’t advance us much toward that objective. Perhaps from every ocean?

The second highlight of our last day in Antarctica was our passage between two massive icebergs just off King George Island. I saw the vague outline of the first one in the distant haze from the Crow’s Nest. A few minutes later Captain Mercer gave us 20 minutes notice to grab our cameras.

Look closely to see the huge iceberg in the distance

I bundled up in all my winter gear and headed to the bow, thinking level 3 would provide a good perspective. And almost got blown overboard! Well, not really, but one petite woman quickly retreated afraid that she would. There were only a half dozen of us out there, huddled far from the “pointy end.” The better location was the Deck 3 promenade, and I moved between sides as we passed between the two behemoths.

The captain measured the rectangular iceberg as being 550 meters (600 yards) wide and at least as tall as the ship.

The other one was just as tall. And remember, the part we are seeing is only about 10 percent of the total size. We gave them both a wide berth. Icebergs are known to occasionally flip onto their sides, depending on how the ocean water is eroding the waterline.

Otherwise the day was a bust for sightseeing. We awoke to heavy fog and stayed in the fog bank until the afternoon. So Captain Mercer called off our scenic cruising of the Antarctic Sound and Hope Bay. The Antarctic Cruising Guide describes the sound as a parking lot for giant icebergs, and Hope Bay as home to more than 100,000 pairs of Adélie penguins.

He turned the ship toward Cape Horn at the foot of South America and our next port, Ushuaia, Argentina, where we will arrive late Tuesday afternoon. Joining us on our journey through this tip of Antarctica were an ice pilot and an observer from the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO), in addition to our team of three expedition leaders.

I spent too much time in Antarctica trying to access the Internet. We are outside satellite coverage most of the time. When I do connect it is extremely slow. I think I spent three hours yesterday trying to upload photographs and post the last blog. Between that and the lack of TV reception, we really do feel detached from the rest of the world.

I have given up on reading South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby, our second book club selection. I couldn’t get interested in the protagonist and thought the writing was a bit disjointed. I have plenty of choices already on my Kindle app. I’m always looking for more recommendations to download. Times have sure changed since the 1990s, when I carefully curated the seven books I allowed myself to pack on an annual 14-day transatlantic cruise.

For those that wondered, my cold-weather clothing worked out just fine without supplementing my wardrobe from the ship’s shops. My packing advice if you don’t go ashore is a good jacket with hood to block the wind and rain, a warm hoodie or jacket underneath, gloves and a hat. Holland America gave us a set of fleece gloves, hat and scarf as a pillow gift before we arrived in Antarctica, but we didn’t know that in advance so brought them anyway.

In retrospect, seeing Antarctica from the deck of a ship has sufficed for me. I’d love to come back, but I don’t feel a strong urge to bundle up and go ashore in a small tender to cavort with smelly penguins. It’s a majestic land, and photos just don’t capture the immensity.