We awoke on National Geographic Resolution to cloudy skies, bigger waves, freezing temperatures, and, of course, wind. It seemed like a dream, but it was real. Welcome to the real Antarctica! We were finishing our crossing of the fabled Drake Passage on our way to Antarctica. Soon breakfast was served, followed by a well-attended presentation by naturalist Shayne Sanders on “Penguins of the Southern Ocean.” We then enjoyed an informative and wide-ranging presentation entitled “An Introduction to Antarctica” by naturalist Andreas Alexander.

After lunch, we passed by King George Island in the northern South Shetland Islands, marking a successful crossing of the Drake Passage. Moments later, we saw the first tabular icebergs of the voyage. Excitement was high as we marveled at the surreal sizes, shapes, and colors of the ice. Shortly after, National Geographic photographer Andy Coleman gave a presentation on “Photographing Wildlife in Antarctica” with many useful tips.

With great weather and fantastic scenery, we had an early dinner as we approached Paulet Island to the east of the Antarctic Peninsula in the Weddell Sea, our first shore landing of the voyage. This geologically interesting area is an ancient basaltic volcano that is about one million years old and now has a crater on top. We boarded Zodiacs and soon were among a large nesting colony of black and white Adélie penguins on the shore. We walked around on shore for a couple of hours and experienced the sights, sounds, and smells of an active penguin colony. As twilight fell, we headed back to National Geographic Resolution, our home away from home. What a magical day of ice, scenery, seabirds, and penguins!