We are on a bus, which is carrying us to a port, where we will load up a ship. Nothing unusual about that.
Nothing strange, except for our fat wool hats, our puffy penguin-y parkas, our knee-high insulated boots. Nothing weird but where we are: Punta Arenas at the southernmost tip of Chile. And where we are going: to the isolated, ice-walled bottom of the world.
We know that cruises are supposed to be warm. But do we care? We thumb our facemasked noses at the idea of palm trees. We are explorers who are booked on Lindblad’s steel-prowed, spray-glazed Endeavour.
Stadium-sized icebergs, the Falklands, South Georgia Island, and the continent of Antarctica itself are our goals.
Antarctica. No one lives there except for a handful of scientists. It’s the world’s driest desert and its ultimate cold spot, thanks to winds as sharp as 199 miles an hour and temperatures reaching as low as -128 Fahrenheit.
Lindblad Expeditions was the first outfitter and cruise line to bring tourists here on a regular basis—they’ve only done it since 1966—and the 110-passenger Lindblad/National Geographic Endeavour is engineered for ice. There’s a 40-foot-high crow’s nest up at the bow to keep an eye out for dangerous floating chunks of the stuff, and the chairs in the dining room are wave proof: they are chained to the floor.