Lucy I love penguins, especially the gentoos, the chin straps and the adelies, the ones we saw in Antarctica. The chinstraps are my most favourite because I like their straps on the chin. I loved seeing them toboggan down the snowy hills. We saw a gentoo chick feeding from its mother, it managed to eat half but then a snowy sheathbills came in and stole the mother's special sick up for the chick. We saw loads of humpback whales. My friends had a humpback right right under their canoe, it was filter feeding underneath them. We learnt to hulu-hoop in Antarctica. On the last day we were hulu-hopping on the deck with lots and lots of albatrosses and giant patrols flying past really close. We thought they might fly through the hoops too. We camped on the ice, we had to keep Antarctica really clean so we had to take our toilet back to the ship. So we had to wee in a bucket called "Mr Yum Yum". We didn't have a tent just a sleeping bag and outside bag.
We went to Antarctica. We spent two days on the Drake Passage before catching sight of Antarctica through the mist. Lucy spotted it first during dinner. The next day we went out to the front of the ship and took photos of Antarctica. That morning we went for our first excursion to Pleneau Island, where we saw many gentoo penguins. We made several more excursions and cruises on the zodiacs. We made 2 continental landings, on both continental landings we climbed up to see how high the penguins nested, it was a long way up! We got down by sliding and had a snow ball fight but it was far away from the penguins.
There were two other kids on the ship, Brianna and William, we played with them almost every day.
On the 1st February we slept on the ice, with no tent, just in a hole in the snow. I shared a hole with the other children, we had a great night.
This is a video the girls made of their trip
This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip so far, it would be belittling our truck travel to say it was "the" highlight but it is up there with best.
I loved the talks by the onboard experts and Scientists, it helped me understand more about what we were seeing. They covered everything from the fauna, history, politics, photography, climate change and even a comparison about the differences between Antarctica and the Arctic. Something I hadn't fully understood, apart from being on opposite sides of the globe. As the experts were also onshore and drove the zodiacs for cruising around on the water it gave us the chance to ask them questions about what we were seeing as well.
When we got to the continent the views were just stupendous, we didn't know quite where to look at times. This was especially true with the humpbacked whales, we'd already been treated to lots of whales on several of the landings, zodiac cruises and from the ship. In Wilimena Bay we had been told to expect more whales but even the guides were amazed at the actual numbers. There were pods surfacing wherever we looked, it took my breath away.
I was extremely proud of how the girls behaved. They really loved both Antarctica and the experience of being on the voyage. They were really engaged with the trip: asking intelligent questions, going up onto the bridge and even asking to sit without us at meals so they could "meet new people". I couldn't believe it when they asked to take the microphone during the last dinner and thanked all the staff personally by name and presented them all with awards. They had prepared this totally independently without any adult knowing what they were doing. They didn't miss anyone out and there were several misty eyes, even John who has a couple of Polar medals and an OBE looked sweetly impressed. This was in front of over 100 adults, I was so amazed at both their confidence and thoughtfulness.
We have been back from our epic trip to Antarctica for a few days now but are still basking in that warm glow of having had a really special time. The raw beauty of the stark wilderness and the wonderful wildlife will stay with us forever. The trip was made even more special by the One Ocean Expedition crew and staff on board. They had boundless energy and ran a great operation as well as sharing their knowledge and passion for the place. They were also fantastic with the kids.
I could not have been more proud of Alisha and Lucy. It was great that there was another family on board so they had other children to play with but they behaved fantastically, were genuinely interested and knowledgeable in what we were doing and I think brought a different dimension to everyone's trip. The way they interacted with the other passengers and crew was very mature and gave everyone an insight to seeing Antarctica through a child's eyes.
We only got to touch the beauty of Antarctica and each day after our landings we returned to the warmth, comfort and safety of the ship. Even when we camped out on the ice, a memorable night, the ship was not that far away. However two of the crew had been dropped off on the previous voyage and had spent 14 days kayaking around the Antarctic peninsular unsupported. During our time on the trip we welcomed them back on board at the end of what must have been an amazing experience. They shared with us their photos and experiences and we were in awe of what they had achieved. It must have been an amazing and at times slightly scary experience but a wonderful one and shows that there are special experiences out there if you go out and find them and put the effort into making them happen.
For us I felt such a privilege to have just touched the seventh continent. A trip of a lifetime? Perhaps, but there are others out there and who knows we may go back one day.