Today, we traveled north across the Drake Passage. The day started with a strong wind that lured in the petrels and prions before it subsided along with the seas. Besides the daring, “Top Gun flying” displayed by the petrels, we encountered several large groups of humpbacks and fin whales.

For most, today was spent reflecting on the amazing week…one of perfect weather in which we viewed jaw-dropping scenery as we slowly cruised (by both ship and Zodiac) among tabular and ‘normal’ icebergs while we watched the iconic penguins (including the stately emperor) on land and sea. Seals lounging on ice, pods of orcas, lazy humpbacks, soaring albatrosses and other seabirds, as well as hiking on snow and rocks rounded out the dream.

And now, while progressing across a body of water in a safer and far more comfortable manner than those who made the voyage by sail or steam in earlier years, it is a good time to reflect on where we are in time and space. An area in which we saw no other humans or vessels, this is one of the last bastions of wildness, appropriately guarded by the Drake Passage. National Geographic Explorer is a large and capable vessel; still, it is always wise to heed the words stated by an experienced captain who spent a lifetime sailing upon all seas: “Compared to the ocean, all vessels are small.” And so are we humans when compared to nature, as it has been represented this week by Antarctica and the Drake Passage.