Ushuaia, Argentina

I’m late with this update. We didn’t make it out of Antarctica on schedule – just as we started to leave, yet another storm developed (high winds, snow, fog) and we ended up anchoring near Palmer Station, one of three base camps servicing the South Pole. There are 42 residents at Palmer Station, primarily scientists conducting ongoing research. The positive here, was that in exchange for fresh fruit, the scientists (8 of them) agreed to come on board and talk about life at Palmer Station and the nature of their research. They conducted several lectures and Q&A sessions – all very insightful & educational. True statement about fresh fruit – their supply ship wasn’t able to make it in several weeks ago because of weather so their food rations on several items were running low. We finally left Antarctica, though 18 hours behind schedule. The Captain asked that all valuables be placed somewhere near the floor as he anticipated an extremely rough trip northwest to Ushuaia, Argentina, through Cape Horn. All of the retail shops on the shopping deck removed window display items, flowers were removed from tables; any & every breakable item was stowed. We had approximately 800 miles of rough ocean in front of us with seas of 20 feet in the forecast. The trip was rough, but fell short of the forecast – we experienced seas between 12 – 14 feet and had difficulties walking straight, but actually made it to Ushuaia a few hours ahead of schedule. Ushuaia by the way, is the southern-most city in the world at the base of the Andes. Very beautiful – clean – friendly – COLD! A few of us boarded a small vessel to visit Penguin & Seal colonies as you’ll see below. No sooner had we returned to the ship when the Captain informed us that a massive storm formed in the Pacific and as he described, one of the most dangerous he’d seen in 40 years of sailing. He said there were seas of 40 feet and that our ship couldn’t possibly make it safely. The plan was to leave Ushuaia and sail to Punta Arenas, Chile – we arrived a few hours ago (Sat., 2/4) and are currently anchored off-shore, running our life boats (tenders) to the local pier for sightseeing. While Punta Arenas is on our schedule, the Captain has extended our stay here indefinitely, saying that Holland America is monitoring the weather in the Pacific and will release the ship when they believe it is safe to do so. We may have to skip Easter Island (about 2,500 miles west) and instead go to New Zealand or possibly straight to Australia, but we won’t know yet for several hours what the new plan is. Our tour of Punta Arenas is scheduled to begin later this afternoon – we’re still bundled in long underwear and stocking hats – it’s very cold here (high 30’s) with strong winds.