Ushuaia, at the southern tip of Argentina, is the departure point for the majority of Antarctic cruises. Our flight there from Buenos Aires was delayed by the overnight return of the victorious Argentinian World Cup team. Over a million fans had traveled to the airport to greet the players, abandoning their cars and walking when they could proceed no further. The highway to the airport was near completely-blocked plugged with cars and people, and the normally one-hour trip took nearly three. But we made the flight, and it was an memorable experience to be surrounded by throngs of people streaming back to their vehicles.
Ushuaia lies on Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego along the Beagle Channel and beneath the dramatic Martial Mountains. On arrival, we took a short harbor cruise over lunch, then boarded the National Geographic Endurance. That evening, we departed Ushuaia and watched the sun set over the Beagle Channel en route to the infamous Drake Passage and, ultimately, Antarctica.
Below are highlights from December 20th, 2022. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a map with our most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.
Left: Leaving Buenos Aires for the airport and driving through crowds of World Cup fans streaming back to their cars along the highway. Right: We departed the hotel at 3am and arrived at 6:00am in time for our 7:40am flight. But our flight crew was several hours late and we didn’t actually take off until past 10am.
Flying over the dramatic Martial Mountains on Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego
The Beagle Channel
Dropping off our luggage for transport to the ship.
View across Ushuaia harbor to the cruise ship dock and the Martial Mountains en route from the airport. Our ship, the National Geographic Endurance, is at center in the first picture.
A harbor cruise over lunch
Imperial shags (cormorants), native to South America, on a small islet off Ushuaia
Sea lions on a small islet off Ushuaia
Looking across the harbor to the Martial Mountains, left, and another X-BOW cruise ship, this one Aurora Expedition’s Sylvia Earle, moored behind the Nat Geo Endurance
On the cruise ship dock just before boarding the Endurance.
A warm greeting from the cabin crew as we board.
Left: Cabin 704 on the Nat Geo Endurance, our home for the next ten days. Right: The view forward to the Nat Geo Endurance bridge from our balcony.
Our expedition parkas were waiting in our cabin, along with a token stuffed walrus. All returned home with us.
One of the many aspects of the Nat Geo Endurance cruise that we really liked was the open bridge policy. Except during more involved maneuvers such as docking, passengers were always welcome on the bridge.
Left: Nat Geo Endurance engine state display. It’s a diesel-electric ship with four generators on board, and the hotel loads azipods and thrusters are all electrically powered. They start and stop generators as needed to meet the requirements of the current load. Here you can see, at the dock, they are running on a single engine. Right: The largest of several navigation displays, this one close to 100-in in diameter.
Captain Oliver Kreuss explains how the Endurance‘s azipods work. James had asked if it was possible to move the boat sideways without using thrusters due to the 360° control of the aft-mounted azipods.
James and Captain Oliver Kreuss going through the details of the Nat Geo Endurance specifications before departing. The captain, and many members of the crew, were remarkably generous with their time.
Looking to Ushuaia from the upper deck, left, and the Hurtigruten ship Roald Amundsen taking on stores opposite us on the dock
One of two infinity-edge hot tubs on the aft of deck 8, left, and viewing portal along the deck 8 port walkway
Charlie’s Table public area on the Observation Deck 8, left, and the Ice Lounge on the Lounge Deck 6
The Hurtigruten ship Roald Amundsen departing at 7pm, just before we’re scheduled to leave. On the right, our ship, the Nat Geo Endurance is getting underway.
The Ponant ship Le Lyrial, and the privately-owned Octopus, at anchor off Ushuaia. This is our fourth sighting of Octopus around the world. We’ve seen it in San Francisco, Hawaii, and Sidney, Australia, and just missed it in Cairns, Australia.
A last view to the jagged peaks of the Martial Mountains as we get underway
Dinner underway in the Beagle Channel. The private table, and its dual on the starboard side, became our favorites during the cruise.
Looking south to Puerto William in Chile, left, and enjoying the sunset from the deck 6 aft fireplace seating
Dropping off our pilot as we near the eastern end of the Beagle Channel
A nightcap on the balcony of our cabin as the sky darkens near 11pm.
Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map. And a map of our most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.