Some visitors earn their passage into Antarctica through a series of rough, tempestuous days at sea, slowly pounding their way south towards the icy continent. Our first full day at sea was anything but that. Calm winds and slightly following seas nudged us along one of the most forgiving crossings this naturalist has enjoyed in years.

A calm Drake means more time to focus on the life that lives in this notorious body of water separating mainland South America from Antarctica. The most usual subjects? Seabirds. From two of the largest birds on the planet, the southern royal albatross and the wandering albatross, to some of the smaller species we will see, the acrobatic prions and blue petrels, there was a steady entourage of feathers with us all day.

Our speeds have been so steady that we have already crossed the polar front, officially entering the colder, biologically rich Antarctic waters, and we are poised to arrive a full half day ahead of schedule tomorrow. At this speed, we should awaken to even more life as well as the ice clad coastlines where some birds spend their summers breeding.