Note: the actual writing of this journal happens onboard Hurtigruten's MS Midnatsol ship the same day, but published later
I’m writing this as soon as i’m disconnected with the outer world. Disconnected as in my wifi router unable to intercept any signal and my cellphone network display a “no service” mode.
Earlier today, i checked out from my room in NH City Hotel Buenos Aires and heading for a breakfast. On the same breakfast area were boarding passes tidily arranged for everyone can retrieve themselves. So far the Hurtigruten tour management was great. I was told to leave my luggage right in front of my room the night before with the luggage tag given when i checked in the hotel. That way, i didn’t have to worry about my luggage and it went straight to the airport.
Considering the hundreds of passengers going on the expedition, it was the right move. I can’t imagine being another passenger had to queue in front of hundreds of others submitting their luggage one by one.
After i got my boarding pass, a big blue bus already waited outside the hotel. There was also a tour leader that told us our boarding gate and where to go once arrived at Buenos Aires Jorge Newberry airport, the national departure.
I went directly to the departure gate, passed the security checked, and awaited my LATAM flight to Ushuaia. The overnight hotel, the flight to Ushuaia, the expedition, and the flight back and all required transfers are included in expedition cost and so far they are all well arranged.
The flight to Ushuaia took about 3 hours and a half, and it was smooth. A sweet/salty snack and generous drinks were provided during the flight. It was already 12:30 when i arrived at Ushuaia. I had to retrieve my luggage myself and hand it over to Hurtigruten crews already waited on arrival area for them to send it directly to the boat.
We were provided transfers from the airport to the boat that include city tours in Ushuaia. We stopped the old airport, circling few historical area, before stopping at the main road of the city near the port.
Ushuaia, dubbed as the southernmost city in the world is really beautiful, surrounded by mountain, and the proximity to the sea makes it a panoramic city for tourist. Not to mention its colourful houses and neatly trimmed plants.
I used the free time having a lunch at a local pizza bar and bought souvenir, as well as got my passport stamped “Ushuaia” and “Antartida”. Getting the stamp already made me feeling like i had visited the continent though i hadn’t even board the ship.
After the free time was up, i went back to the bus that took us to the harbour, right in the entrance of MS Midnatsol ship. I was nervous, giddy, and full of disbelieve. I dreamt about going to Antarctica constantly for almost three years and then it was suddenly the time to board the ship. It was just so good to be true.
Although it was not my first time being on a cruise, i felt like i experienced it for the first time. The check-in process, entering the cabin, and exploring all hidden parts of the ship. Except in this expedition, prior to departure we have to submit our medical report which has been signed by our doctor no less than 2 months before departure. There was also safety briefing and welcoming drink, followed by dinner buffet.
Like i said before, this is my second time onboard the expedition/cruise ship. I was with the StarVirgo Cruise on 2011, and the room design is almost similar with this one. I like that i have the room all to myself, it's small and humble, but it's clean. It is made everyday and always smells fresh.
I thought i have prepared myself enough (logistically and mentally), but when the ship sailed and left the harbour, when my wifi disconnected, the feeling of isolation emerged. Something weird i didn’t expect at all, especially i’m onboard myself and right before the ship sailed i made a video call to my mom showing her we’re leaving the port. Well, i guess i’m alone now (with other hundreds passenger and ship crews) and the wild drake passage. See you on day two.