I didn't know anything about the Antarctic until my first Chilean Fjord/Antarctic Cruise with the MS Hanseatic in January 2, 1996. I guess, like many other people, I considered the Antarctic as a great mystery and although longing to learn about it, I did not pursue the study until then. I've learned that this continent is vast and there are no Eskimos or Polar Bears at this southern extremity. I was privileged to visit the Arctic only six months ago and I don't think many people can make that claim. This 3PM today, I had the most unique experience in my life when I finally gathered enough courage to get on a Zodiac to meet my first penguin. We were told not to get within fifteen feet of any penguin but there was one curious one who came to me while I sat to zip up my boots. He stared at me and looked friendly. We stared at each other until he got bored. Trudging through the snow later was extremely aerobic. It was most invigorating. On this cruise we had a full ship of 158 passengers and almost everyone today took the Zodiacs to join us on Peterman Island which I've considered my favorite. I'll post photos here soon. Today's weather was a brilliant, sunshiny and brisk 45 degrees F and wonderfully still. We visited a few Penguin colonies and took miles of video footage. Unlike Paulet Island where there are millions of Penguins, Petermann is quieter with only a few colonies. I stayed onboard that day that the ship anchored near Paulet Island. It was much too cold for me that day.

   The bleak snowy deserts that are found here in the Antarctic are among the most inhospitable places on earth but despite the bitter cold, a surprisingly large variety of animals and plants survive on the rare rocky out crops that fringes around the ice caps. The stormy southern ocean and islands teem with life!

   Words penned by Cook: "Lands doomed by nature...always frightful whose horrible and savage aspect I have not words to describe. Yet it can be transformed within minutes to an Eden of ethereal beauty. Quite suddenly the wind will drip, the sky will clear, the light will strengthen until mountains 300 miles away can be seen by the naked eye and the ice will glow with colors so brilliant and be encompassed by a stillness so absolute that they have to be experienced to be believed. AT such moments, the Antarctic offers a pageant of beauty unequalled anywhere in the world.'

   I just had to copy his logbook entry dated Feb. 21, 1775. I don't think there is any other description as succinct as Captain Cook's. I feel privileged to be in my luxurious cabin writing this diary as I gaze at the snow capped horizon through my stateroom picture window and sipping Apolinaris from a champagne glass. I think each and everyone onboard are dining tonight. I won't dine in the dining room tonight because I am looking forward to a quiet meal by myself. Ah, the wonders of Room Service out while gazing at out into the Antarctic, can't be beat.

   There was only one problem on the first few evenings. We could not do our concerts onstage because the beautiful icebergs were my competition. Sometimes the light shows in the sky literally take my audiences away. However, my first full show finally happened and I received the most wonderful ovation and shouts of Bravo from a very kind and generous audience. On this cruise we had an international crowd, Germans, Americans and Argentineans. Indeed, music is universal.

Love, Amy    @ Photo Gallery  @ Slideshow

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