The Marina’s passengers enjoy a view of the rocky coast in Admiralty Bay.

By Klaus Katzch

On January 15, my wife, Susan Bach, and I embarked on a 20-day trip to Antarctica. We flew to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for a few days before boarding the Oceania cruise ship.

Buenos Aires is a beautiful city with many wide boulevards and plazas. There seemed to be four restaurants on every corner. Argentinians love their steaks!

On January 17, our ship set sail. The ship was amazing with great meals, fabulous entertainment, lots of bars and cool places to hang out on board. Four professors gave daily lectures on various topics regarding the Antarctic, including the history and wildlife of the region.

We sailed to Montevideo and Punta Del Este, Uruguay, as well as a few other places in Argentina. We were supposed to visit the Falkland Islands but, unfortunately, that stop had to be cancelled due to bad weather.

A few days later, we landed in the Antarctic after crossing the Drake Passage. This is where the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans converge and it was a rough time as 20 to 30-foot  swells were the norm.

Once we arrived in the Antarctic peninsula, we were stunned by the beauty of it all. This was the highlight of our trip. As the pictures indicate, it truly is a special place. Fortunately, there was very little wind when we were there. The weather was cool, around 2 to -5 degrees C, but the sun was up for about 20 hours a day.

No one owns the Antarctic. Treaties were signed years ago by many nations to keep it pristine and pollution free. Also, many countries have research stations down there.

We saw whales and penguins, although the penguins were only visible through binoculars. When these guys are in the water they really move! We witnessed them as far as 50 miles out to sea.

We left a few days later. Crossing the Drake passage was again an adventure. Sometimes the ship would pitch so severely that the propellers would be partially out of the water.

After six days at sea, it was nice to finally encounter land again in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world. We explored the Chilean fjords taking in the Straits of Magellan and various ports along the way. The fjords are a unique kind of wilderness with mountainous terrain ending in the sea.

We finished our trip in San Antonio, a two-hour bus ride to Santiago, Chile. We spent two nightsthere exploring the city, which has a French/Spanish-like feel, similar to Buenos Aires.

We had an incredible adventure. It’s hard to get your head around the fact that explorers ventured there over 150 years ago.

If you have the chance to go to Antarctica, do it. It’s the trip of a lifetime.

The white continent

Antarctica, the “white continent,” has a mystique that has attracted travelers looking for adventure since its discovery in 1820. South Pole expeditions by legendary figures Scott, Shackleton, and Amundsen captivated the public imagination.

Today, visitors can enjoy this remote getaway in much better conditions. Modern cruise ships bring approximately 35,000 passengers from South America each year between November and March. Most visit the Antarctic Peninsula region although with special permission, a few cruises extend within the Antarctic circle.

The continent is protected by the Antarctic Treaty, which preserves it for peaceful and scientific use. All human activity is carefully managed and planned, including environmentally sensitive tourism.

Because no country owns Antarctica, a visa is not required for travel there but planning well in advance is advised.