Seabourn’s Antarctica and Patagonia – Goldring Travel’s Third Expedition – Part I

On December 19, 2019 I board the Seabourn Quest for my third trip to Antarctica and Patagonia. Yes, I have the “ice bug”!  For me it is the most personally enlightening and biologically magnificent place on earth…and I feel like I have but only begun to scratch its surface, in part because that is the absolute truth.

What makes this expedition even more exciting for me is we are calling on South Georgia Island, which is “the” place to go.  I have heard so many times, “Have you been to South Georgia? No, it will blow you away!”  So I am very ready to be blown away. I have been waiting for this since I wrote my first article on Seabourn visiting South Georgia back in my 2013 article: Seabourn’s 2013-14 Antarctic-Patagonia-Chilean Fjord Cruises: Just About Everything You Wanted to Know, But Were Afraid to Ask…or Didn’t Know What to Ask 

South Georgia Island is considered to have some of the most abundant seabird habitats on earth with an estimate of over 30,000,000 breeding pairs. 7,000,000+ penguins comprised of six species (Mararoni – 3,000,000 pairs; King – 500,000; Gentoo – 105,000; Chinstrap – 6,000 plus smaller numbers of Adelie and Rockhopper), 250,000 albatross comprised of four species of albatross, numerous petrels (including burrowing), waterfowl, and more. And 400,000 southern elephant seal (50% of the world’s population) as well as 2,000,000 southern fur seals (95% of the world’s population).  It is, of course, one thing to see huge numbers on a page and another to see it in person and to see how these massive numbers of animals interact with each other.

A Fur Seal and young Elephant Seal having a bit of a fight

Another exciting thing for me is that my last two expeditions to Antarctica were in January, so it will be interesting to see the difference in penguin activity, chick development, seal pups, etc., as one month in Antarctica is a very long time considering the few short months of habitable weather and temperatures.  And, of course, comparing this to the more northern South Georgia Island populations will be fascinating; at least for me.

King Penguin

Have I mentioned the scenery? 

But, alas, I have to first get there!  This time I am combining two trips.

First, I will travel to New York City as I am Seabourn’s guest yet again for the annual Travel Weekly Awards Dinner.  This is a wonderful black-tie affair at the Conrad and, to be sure, there is nothing like New York City at the holidays.  It is considered “the” travel industry event of the year and it is great to socialize with all the industry leaders in a non-sales related way.  (Note:  For those who haven’t been, the city has an excitement and beauty with all the Christmas lights and holiday shoppers.  For those who, like me, grew up in or near the city, it is a nightmare of traffic and a hassle to even walk down the streets as they are filled with lost and amazed tourists.  Bah Humbug…I know. LOL)

As an annual bonus, I use this trip to visit with my mother, daughter and sister, all of whom live in the city, for a few days; and to, hopefully, meet up with some of my dear East Coast friends. One annual amusement is that, because it is the travel industry, everyone stays at great hotels and asking where one is staying is a normal conversation warm-up.  I always enjoy the look on my colleagues’ faces when I say, “I’m not staying in a hotel. I’m staying with my 87 year old mother!”

After the dinner, and my fill of real bagels, real pizza and real Jewish food (things that do not even marginally exist in Truckee, California) and quality family time, I fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina for one night before boarding the Seabourn Quest.  I am flying on United and LATAM, so wish me and my luggage luck!

I was going to “do it on the cheap”, but then realized that didn’t mean I had to do it poorly.  Honestly, I was going to stay at the Holiday Inn near the port where the Seabourn Quest will dock, but then realized I had a ton of Hyatt points and could stay at one of Buenos Aires premier properties, the Palacio Duhau, for free.  And, let’s face it, free is better than a Holiday Inn and the Palacio Duhau is far better than most regardless of price. (Last time I stayed there I enjoyed a bottle of wine and some cheese while the actor Will Smith played with his children at the next lounge over.)

Since I was going “luxury” I thought I would check out the food scene; probably visiting a churrascaria (Portuguese for barbecue) for my usual Argentinian “meatfest”. But then I realized that with the exchange rate being so in favor of the U.S. Dollar, something different and with a bit of a culinary flare might be more appropriate.

And that is were Aramburu comes in!  This restaurant is consistently named on of the best restaurants in South and Latin America. While you may not have known that, the culinary scene in this area is literally off the charts, with Lima, Peru leading the way for this amazing culinary region. (It is also, in part, why the 2022 Goldring Travel Culinary & Cultural Cruise/Expedition will start in Lima, Peru before heading to the Seabourn Venture for its cruise up the Amazon River.) Aramburu (the chef’s last name) focuses on molecular gastronomy presented in a 10-12 course (or more) tasting menu.  It is a prix fixe affair for 4,800 Argentine pesos (about US$80.00) with an additional 2,000 peso optional wine pairing (about US$33.00).

So for a total of about US$150 including a luxury hotel and true gastronomic dinner I am seeing Buenos Aires “on the cheap”!

The next morning I will board the Seabourn Quest and, as our, first port is Punta del Este, Uruguay  might wander off the ship in search of a churrascaria for lunch, the reality is that I will be so much more focused on getting organized for the upcoming expedition and meeting up with the officers, staff and Seabourn Ventures Expedition Team that I probably won’t be leaving the ship.

Maybe not so ironically but magically, last week two of the Seabourn Ventures team, Trevor Potts and Robert Egelstaff, posted on my Facebook timeline:

“Hi Eric, Trevor and Rob sitting in a sunny Ushuaia cafe. When are you coming back to join us?”

That is, to my mind, beyond a “Seabourn Moment”!  It is more akin to the “Call of the Wild”!

Kayaking with the Humpback Whales

I have written about Trevor and Rob in my article, “Kayaking While Cruising Antarctica to Alaska – It Will Change Your Perspective” stating in part:

During my Seabourn Quest Antartica journey in January 2019 I was fortunate to spend a good bit of time with two kayaking legends: Trevor Potts and Robert Englstaff. They, in two very different ways, gifted me with some great kayaking perspectives.

Trevor Potts is a character; a rough and ready Scotsman to be sure, but if you spend time with him, he is actually a big softy with a heart of gold. In 1993-4 Trevor successfully recreated Shackleton’s 1916 epic rescue mission from Elephant Island to South Georgia in a replica of the 24 foot (7.5 meter) boat, the James Caird. In 2001 he completed Shackelton’s mountain crossing from King Haakon Bay to Stromness on South Georgia Island; a 22 mile (as the crow flies) journey over glaciers, snowfields and icy slopes with a 4,500-foot rise. Trevor has also engaged in such other incredible events as kayaking from Alaska to Russia across the Bering Sea. Interestingly, in all the hours I spent with him, we spent almost no time actually talking about these feats, but on a more personal level.

Robert (Bob) Egelstaff is a far more outwardly introspective (yes, that is a thing) individual, but as a 30+ year dear friend of Trevor, equally adventurous and was Trevor’s companion crossing the Bering Sea and recreating Shackelton’s boat journey as well as hiking the Himalayas, European Alps and the polar regions among so many other journeys. But as much as they have in common, Robert shared more than the actual experiences with me, he shared the emotions of those experiences…and that is what touched my soul. We spent some quality time together.

I will always recall the three of us walking back to the ship in Punta Arenas after meeting up at Shackleton’s Bar. Over the few miles, we walked I mostly listened…to two mates talking about educating youth and their various adventures creating those experiences. You would never know what lay within these two men’s past. Amazing and truly awe-inspiring!

But my friendships with the Seabourn Ventures Expedition Team does not end there. From the Expedition Team Leader to penguin whisperer to geologist and more, it is such a fantastic and warm, friendly and fun group of individuals I can honestly say that spending those 24 days together just might be too short!

So while I am looking forward to the Travel Weekly Awards Dinner and a wonderful hotel and culinary experience in Buenos Aires, aside from seeing my family, Antarctica is where my focus and emotional urgency is.

It has been a joy to see Seabourn guests currently on the Seabourn Quest posting their photographs and making comments on the Seabourn Sailors Facebook Page as they have their first experience in Antarctica.  One of my clients/friends commented on one person’s posts and photographs, in part, “Though I rarely envy anything in this good life, I come close when Seabourners share their Antarctica photos!!! After two cruises there on the Quest, am seriously thinking of a third journey – that part of the world is so incredible….” 

I wonder what she will say when I report back during my third expedition? December 19th cannot get her soon enough!

Interested in booking a Seabourn cruise to Antarctica or elsewhere? Please give me a call, drop me an email or send me a Facebook message!

US: (877) 2GO-LUXURY (877-246-5898)
UK: 020 8133 3450
AUS: (07) 3102 4685
Everywhere Else: +1 530 562 9232