Archive for the ‘Cruises’ Category

A New Antarctica Article

March 22nd, 2010 at 12:02 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

I was asked by Lindblad Expeditions if I could write an article for their blog about our trip on the National Geographic Explorer. I immediately agreed, and only realized later how challenging an effort it was – we just saw and experienced so many wonderful “firsts” on our trip. After a third attempt I finally came up with as good a summary as I possibly could without writing a book.

You can find it at


The Black Penguin

March 11th, 2010 at 5:48 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

It figures that something remarkable was seen on our trip, but I completely missed it. Fortunately my daughter Krystyana did see it – and she also managed to take several photos of this unusual critter. I’m speaking of the Black Penguin, a flightless bird with unusual coloring that appears to have taken the world by storm.

Black King penguin next to normal King penguin

Black King penguin next to normal King penguin

Fellow traveler and National Geographic Traveler contributing editor Andrew Evans posted a photo of the melanistic penguin on his blog, which led to another post in the Intelligent Travel blog, and from there it seems to have spiraled into a major news story.

So, to help prove that Andrew’s photo was not an anomaly, below are a few more photos of the Black Penguin.

Black Penguin in the foreground with a regular King penguin in the background

Black Penguin in the foreground with a regular King penguin in the background

The Black Penguin

The Black Penguin

Larger versions of the above images, along with additional photos can be found on Krystyana’s Flickr pages.


Slide Show From The Antarctic Expedition

March 9th, 2010 at 2:01 am (AST) by Jake Richter

We had several photo pros on board the National Geographic Explorer, including Lindblad staff photographers Michael Nolan and Eric Guth and National Geographic photographers Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson. This photo “team” was always readily available to provide guests with tips and critiques, as well as technical assistance.

Some of the ways they used to help improve the quality of the photos taken by guests was to lead seminars on photography and photographic techniques, as well as have open critiques of submitted photos. There’s no question that general photo quality improved as a whole over the three weeks we were traveling the seas.

The culmination of the photographic experience was a computer-based slide show put together by Mike Nolan, including most of the submissions from the first two critiques, plus a final set of photos, all contributed by a large number of guests and staff alike. There are many amazing photos from our trip included in the slide show, including wildlife, landscapes, abstract works, and even ones of various people you might or might not recognize.

While the slide show was distributed to folks on memory cards on board the ship the last day at sea, I offered to Mike that I could also post it here on our site for on-line access by our fellow guests and their friends and family, and that offer was gladly accepted.

The link below leads to a .MOV file containing the slide show, which can be played back via QuickTime, iTunes, or any of a number of other video players. You can download Apple’s QuickTime here in case you need it.

The .MOV file is just over 50MB in size, and takes about 32 minutes to play through (there are a lot of photos there). There is no sound in the file, so don’t be alarmed if you hear nothing when you start the slide show. I would suggest playing some Jazz or Classical music in the room you view the slide show in to add a nice aural ambiance.

To play the .MOV file, click on the link below, and then save the .MOV file in a local directory on your system. Once it is fully downloaded, and assuming you have QuickTime or another compatible player installed, you can double click on the file to play it. You may also have to click on the “play” button in your video player to start the slide show.

Enjoy the show! And special thanks from all of the guests (including us) to the National Geographic Explorer Photo Team for all their advice, comments, and support!


GPS Tracking – The Path To Great Lamb BBQ From Ushuaia

March 6th, 2010 at 7:37 am (AST) by Jake Richter

Considering we were not even supposed to still be in Ushuaia yesterday, the folks at Lindblad Expeditions have been taking marvelous care of us – allowing us to remain in our cabins on board the National Geographic Explorer (which was supposed already have been several hundreds of miles away en route to dry dock in the Canary Islands), feeding us, entertaining us, and even providing us with free drinks. That will end later today as we get on the Miami Air charter (which Lindblad has also arranged for us at no charge) to get us to Miami. No other tour company I know of would have done all this for its guests. Kudos to Lindblad Expeditions!

The tour we were treated to yesterday was over the closest part of the Andes to Lago Escondido, and more specifically, to a small restaurant called Villa Marina, where we had wonderful BBQ lamb done in the local style, slow roasted for four hours (see photo in previous entry). Great scenic vistas and explanations of the geology and topology of the area by our guide along the way as well.

The GPS track for our Lamb BBQ quest is below in case any of you make it here, to the end of the earth (Fin del Mundo):


We Really Mean It This Time – We’re Going to Miami

March 4th, 2010 at 10:31 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

But we’re not going to Miami when we thought we would be. The latest update is that we’re not leaving Ushuaia at 7:30am as most recently planned. Since the Argentinian paperwork appears to have been even more bureaucratic than expected, our charter flight still had not left Lima as of a couple of hours ago, but the signs are very positive that they will actually get to Ushuaia tomorrow.

This is the long-tailed meadowlark - in this photo he seems to be pretty serious

This is the long-tailed meadowlark - in this photo he seems to be pretty serious

The new, updated, and revised plan is that we will now be leaving Ushuaia at 8:00pm on Friday evening, getting into Miami at 10:00am on Saturday morning.

And, since we get most of another day in Ushuaia (while staying in the “best hotel” in Ushuaia, namely the National Geographic Explorer), the folks here have been great in planning another excursion for us to a lake on the other side of the Andes mountain range here in Tierra del Fuego. Should give us an opportunity to see sled dogs and the elusive Magellanic woodpecker (seriously!). And we’ll be fed, several times, tomorrow too. We feel very well loved by Lindblad Expeditions. Not sure I can think of another company that would do so much, on their nickel, to make sure their guests got home safely. Kudos to all of you Lindblad folks!


GPS Tracking – A Day In And Around Ushuaia

March 4th, 2010 at 8:21 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Our unexpected full day in Ushuaia turned out quite nice. We started with a visit to the Maritime Museum of Ushuaia, located in the former prison which had been the core of the foundation of Ushuaia as a penal colony a long time ago.

We then wandered through the main shopping and restaurant portion of downtown Ushuaia – lots of tourist goods, a large number of restaurants offering all you can eat buffets (we didn’t partake), and tour companies offering trips to see penguins (been there, done that).

Lunch required busing to Patagonia Mia, a restaurant near the entrance of the Tierra del Fuego national park. While not bad, the meal we had there was perhaps the most disappointing of the trip – they only offered fish (cod) as a main course (we managed to get a breaded beef filet for Bas), and it was bland and uninspired. Quite a contrast from the diverse and almost universally great food we’ve enjoyed aboard the National Geographic Explorer.

After a quick stop at the ship, we took a two hour bus ride to Estancia Harberton. Estancia means “ranch” or “farm”, but while Estancia Harberton used to be a sheep farm and place where firewood was harvested, today it’s more of a historic site. On property is also the Museo Acatushun Aves y Mamiferos Marinos Australes, the Museum of Birds and Marine Mammals, which features the world’s best collection of marine mammal skeletons and skulls. Pretty impressive, although we had limited time available to truly appreciate the collection.

Our final dinner aboard the Explorer awaited our return.

We’re now just about thoroughly packed and ready to get up before dawn so we can leave Ushuaia just after dawn. We hope to be in Miami late Friday night at a hotel Lindblad has arranged for all of us on the charter. On Saturday we move to a nice hotel in Coconut Grove, a trendy area south of downtown Miami.

The GPS track for our day in and near Ushuaia is below.