Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday (2/19/11) – Oh The Pain, The Pain of It All

Well, after we left Elephant island, the cruise director got on the intercom at about 1pm and said that they had been watching the weather in the straight and bay and received information from the Paradise Bay station that the weather was zero visibility and snowing.  There were THREE BIG LOWS that were approaching from the west and going through the area that we would go tomorrow (now today) and the Drake Passage in the afternoon.  The third low was right behind the other two.  It was a MASSIVE storm.  It would last roughly 48 hours.  They said that they would update us in about an hour.
Bob told Julie that this was not a good sign.  That they were probably going to abandon going any further down the coast of Antarctica.  Julie mentioned that last year there something similar happened and the passengers revolted and basically made them try again.  So, she felt that if they couldn’t get in tomorrow they would try the next day.  After all, we are only in our 6th day of a 14 day cruise, so there was plenty of time.  Bob was encouraged a bit more.
An hour later, at about 2pm, the hammer dropped.  The cruise director said that due to the really bad weather, that we were going to abandon the next day’s itinerary and head straight for Ushuaia, arriving a day earlier there and spending the night in Ushuaia and then resuming our planned schedule after that.  So, two days in Ushuaia.  We were livid.  This is the very last time that Celebrity (and probably any other regular cruise line) will go to Antarctica EVER.  Why not abandon some of the other ports and stick it out or try again?  This is not a Ushuaia Cruise, it is an Antarctica cruise.  We were so, so upset.  We were also really, really depressed.
In the evening, we didn’t even go to dinner, just went upstairs and got a quick bite to eat at the buffet.  Later on, we saw Joe and Cecilia and they shared our pain.  We talked about the idea of getting up a petition of some kind to try and get them to reconsider.  Joe and Cecilia were going to talk with the Cruise Critic folks to see if we could organize something.
On Saturday, we awoke to 35-degree temps and the seas were rocking.  We heard at the noon, Captain’s update that there were 50 mph winds and 15 foot seas.  They even had put barf bags conveniently located around all of the stairwells.  We were passing through the Drake Passage up to Cape Horn.
Speaking of the Drake Passage, it very often has just awful weather.  The reason is pretty simple.  The winds flow around Antarctica in a west to east fashion in a big, giant circle.  Weather that comes from the west in the southern hemisphere goes along and hits the Andes Mountains in Chili.  Because they are so tall, a lot of the weather gets stuck and is forced to the south.  Eventually you run out of mountains and get to the tip of South America and the Drake Passage.  So, all of that weather then passes through the Drake Passage going from the Pacific into the Atlantic.  That concentration of the weather makes the area very, very dangerous.  It is why so many ships had major troubles trying to go from the Atlantic to the Pacific around Cape Horn.
Anyway, back to today.  So, the seas are really rough.  The storm down in the Paradise Bay is very bad and the one approaching in the Drake Passage has 70 mph winds and 40-foot seas.  According to the Captain, it would have made the Passage impassable and we would just have to sit it out waiting for it to pass.  We would then have to give up on Ushuaia (sounds good to us).  Basically we are trying to outrun the storm and make it to Ushuaia before it really hits the passage.  Oh well.
So, the bottom line, we didn’t technically get to see Antarctica.  We never made it far enough along to see the coastline or to even get within the “territorial” waters.  Yes, we are really, really bummed.

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