Antarctica and Patagonia: An Adventure on the Seabourn Quest – Part VI (Captain Larsen and Class, Crossing the Southern Polar Circle & Breaking Records)

Captain Bjarne Larsen is the master of the Seabourn Quest for her Antarctic cruises.  He has been doing this since Seabourn started the program five years ago. 

Captain Bjarne Larsen
Seabourn Quest Captain Bjarne Larsen
On this cruise something very special happened.  Captain Larsen was able to sail the Seabourn Quest across the Southern Polar Circle; a, ‘er um, “quest” of his since he first was master on many of these Seabourn Antarctic sailings.  (Jumping forward in time a bit, when I mentioned this to some of the expedition folks on a Quark Expedition ship in Ushuaia, Argentina they gave me the “Damn that’s impressive” nod.)
Once the ship reaches Antarctica, there are more general plans (unlike when you are sailing port to port) so Captain Larsen has much discretion in where the Seabourn Quest sails, taking into consideration weather, wind and ice…as well as places where Seabourn can obtain clearance for an unobstructed 12 hours of shoreside operations.  (Yes, it takes that much time to organize, have all the groups of guests able to enjoy the experience, the kayakers on the water and then packing everything up.)  The logistics, especially with the ever changing weather and ice conditions, make it very challenging, though the guests on board have only a bit of a clue…as it should be.
Anyway, with all of these factors; especially with varying ice and wind conditions and providing an experience for the Seabourn guests, crossing the Southern Polar Circle is a truly big deal and very difficult to accomplish.
There is definitely a “cool factor” and bragging rights not only for crossing the Southern Polar Circle, but for being on the Seabourn Quest being the largest cruise ship to ever accomplish this feat. (And, of course, with my having now crossed both the Northern and Southern Polar Circles, I am officially “bi-polar”!)

So how did this occur?  We sailed from my favorite location so far, Peterman Island, to Crystal Sound, located between the coast of Graham Land and the Biscoe Islands.  After time at sea we cruises through an amazing and awe inspiring maze of icebergs.  The Seabourn Quest was so close to some of them you felt like you could almost reach out and touch them.

Seeing icebergs as I stroll on Deck 9 of the Seabourn Quest
But for me, and what I will remember most, is that Captain Larsen didn’t make this accomplishment about himself.  He talked about his “Mama” and how she didn’t want him to be a fisherman because she lost her father, also a fisherman, at sea.  He talked about how she made him get an education.  And then he talked about how proud she would have been to see him accomplish this incredible record.
Captain Larsen also did not take credit by himself.  He had the staff captain and Iggy, the expedition leader for many years, come up to the stage and not only thanked them, he gave them genuine hugs.  This brought tears to the eyes of many and literally left Iggy speechless (a difficult task, to say the least!)  Sharing that moment just made this overwhelming Antarctic experience even further beyond what I could have expected.

If you want my definition of a “Seabourn Moment”, there it is!

About my day:  Sitting in the Colonnade for an amazing al fresco breakfast was incredible…and I am running out of adjectives!

Al fresco breakfast in the Seabourn Quest’s Colonnade
below the Southern Polar Circle (Icebergs included!)

Plan was for each group to have a zodiac ride around the numerous beautiful icebergs, but as much as Mother Nature cooperated with our reaching here, she kept most of use from being able to get out on the seas as the swell increased so much it just wasn’t safe.

Zodiac tours below the Southern Polar Circle

Honestly I was not disappointed as just taking in the magnificence of the area was visually and emotionally more than enough for me.

And, of course, the best place for me to take it in was the forward hot tub!

What a view!

After another excellent al fresco lunch in the Colonnade (I could not get enough of the view)…and yes, it was cool but comfortable for me (though most would have had to bundle up) I listened to an excellent presentation by Kirstie Yeager, a member of the Expedition Team, on diving under the ice.  Everyone on the team brings something special.  Kristie strikes me as a super-intelligent, super-devoted, scientist that discusses things at a higher level than one would ever expect on a non-scientific cruise.  Loved it!

Afterward was the Polar Plunge into the Seabourn Quest’s pool.  With all the excitement of the day’s success, there was great enthusiasm and participation.

Polar Plunge on the Seabourn Quest
Some “Juan” had to take the Polar Plunge!

Did Captain Bjarne Larsen take the Polar Plunge?
What happens on the Seabourn Quest
stays on the Seabourn Quest!

A truly inspiring day for so many reasons.  And our evening ended with our being given Certificates commemorating Captain Bjarne Larsen’s feat!

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