Antarctic cruise ship runs into trouble in Southern Ocean

Antarctic cruise ship runs into troubleAnother Antarctic cruise ship ran into trouble yesterday while crossing the treacherous Drake Passage on its return voyage to Ushuaia, Argentina from the Antarctic Peninsula. The Clelia II suffered engine failure that left it adrift in the Southern Ocean for a time while the region’s notoriously bad weather pounded the vessel.

According to this report from Gadling’s very own Jon Bowermaster, the Clelia II has 88 passengers and 77 crew members on board. All of the passengers are reportedly fine and in good health, while one crew member has suffered minor injuries in the line of duty.

The ship was spotted and passed by the National Geographic Explorer, another cruise ship, which was also making the return voyage to Ushuaia. When the crew of the Clelia II failed to respond to hails, the Explorer turned around and returned to the foundering ship to render aid if needed. After establishing communications with Clelia, the Explorer stood by for much of the day, while crew members repaired the engine and managed to get the damaged ship limping back towards South America once again.

There have been a number of high profile accidents involving passenger liners in the waters off Antarctica in the past few years. Back in 2007, the MS Explorer struck an iceberg and sank in the Southern Ocean, while just last year this very same ship, the Clelia II, ran aground and needed to be pulled off the ice by another vessel.

For now, the ship is once again under its own power and hoping to complete its return trip to Argentina where full repairs can be made. The incident just happens to underscore the dangers of traveling in the Antarctic waters, which can be treacherous in the best of times. Fortunately, it seems that the Antarctic tourism community dodged yet another potential disaster. With the poor weather conditions this situation could have been far worse and it is a miracle that no one was seriously injured.

[Photo credit: Stewart/McIntosh]

Photo of the Day (5.11.10)

If someone asked you to pick out Ushuaia on a map, would you know where to look? That’s the location of today’s Photo of the Day, taken by Flickr user pancha!.

Ushuaia (hear the pronunciation here) is the capital of Argentine province Tierra del Fuego and regarded as the southernmost city in the world. Tourists flock to Ushuaia for skiiing, wildlife, Antarctica-bound cruises, and apparently the beautiful sunsets. Light is key in any great photo, and this is certainly a great example of capturing a photo at just the right moment.

If you’ve been to a remote destination and snapped a great photo of it – share it with us! Drop it in our Gadling Flickr Pool and it could be tomorrow’s Photo of the Day!

Scotsman completes epic ride from Anchorage to Ushuaia

Scotsman Mark Beaumont completed his Cycling The America’s expedition yesterday, reaching Ushuaia, Argentina 268 days after he set out from Anchorage, Alaska. Mark crossed through 12 countries on his journey, racking up 13,080 miles, and climbing two major mountains, in the process.

While this would seem like an incredibly long ride for just about anyone else, for Mark it’s only his second longest ride. Back in 2008, almost two years ago to the day, he finished circumnavigating the globe on his bike, a journey that took him just 195 days to complete, which was a record at that time.

To spice things up on his latest adventure, the Scotsman decided to throw a couple of new challenges into the mix. Not only did he climb the 20,320 foot tall Mt. McKinley, in Alaska, he also reached the summit of Aconcagua, which stands at 22,841 feet and is located in the Andes mountains of Argentina. The two peaks are the tallest in North and South America respectively.

While he peddled away the past eight months, Mark has also been blogging his experiences extensively, and it has made for an interesting travelogue. He clearly enjoys spending his time on the road, exploring the countries he passes through, and getting fully immersed in the local cultures. For their part, many of locals that he met along the trail thought that he was a little crazy for making such an epic journey on just his bicycle, but Mark was often touched by the kindness of strangers, who were usually curious about his expedition.

For certain sections of the ride, Beaumont was accompanied by a camera crew, but he also carried his own camera, and filmed much of it himself as well. All of the footage will be edited together to make a BBC documentary that will air in the U.K. later this year. No doubt it will be a fascinating adventure to watch unfold.

Explore Antarctica with Neil Armstrong!

Yesterday marked the 40th Anniversary of Man first landed on the moon. It was one of the most iconic moments in human history when astronaut Neil Armstrong took that first “small step for man” and planted his foot onto the lunar surface. Now, four decades later, he’s still showing his adventurous spirit by joining National Geographic Expeditions and Lindblad Expeditions on a 25-day journey to Antarctica.

The adventure begins on November 15 of this year, when travelers depart for Chile, where they’ll board the National Geographic Explorer chartered out of Ushuaia. The ship will head south across the Drake Passage towards the Antarctic Peninsula, where travelers will have the opportunity to explore Deception Island, Paradise Bay, and Port Lockroy. From there, it’s on to Elephant Island, South Georgia, and the Falklands, before returning to Ushuaia and returning home.

Over the course of the three-and-a-half week voyage, passengers aboard the Explorer will have an opportunity to watch whales swimming in the Southern Ocean, walk amongst King Penguins, and kayak along the Antarctic Peninsula, exploring waters that few ever have the opportunity to visit. And joining them at every step of the journey will be Mr. Armstrong, making an already unique travel experience, even more amazing.

As if venturing to the Antarctic with one of the most well known explorers to ever live wasn’t enough, this year also marks the 50th Anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty, which established the continent as a scientific research location and banned all military actions there, while proclaiming that Antarctica belonged to no single country. That historic event will be commemorated while aboard the ship, and all passengers will receive a special duffel bag, courtesy of Patagonia, in celebration.
National Geographic Expeditions offer some of the best adventure travel opportunities in the business, and they always find a way to make their tours unique. Where else could you possibly find the opportunity to visit one of the most remote and pristine ecosystems on the planet with a legendary figure like Neil Armstrong along for the ride?

For an overview of the itinerary click here, and to find out more details click here.

Antarctic Cruise Ship Runs Aground

The Antarctic cruise ship the M/V Ocean Nova has run aground in Marguerite Bay, near the Antarctic Peninsula, with 106 passengers and crew aboard. According to this story, from The Guardian, there is no immediate threat to anyone on board the vessel.

Quark Expeditions, the tour operator running the Ocean Nova, is posting updates for the press on their website, and reports that ship is not leaking fuel, and that the captain was waiting for high tide to return in the hopes that it would help in freeing the ship from the rocks. Since that dispatch however, two high tides have come and gone, and there is no word that the ship has been freed. Meanwhile, another ship, the M/V Clipper Adventurer is en route to pick-up the passengers and return them to Ushuaia, Argentina.

Jon Bowermaster, a frequent contributor to Gadling, has updated his blog this morning with information on the incident, including his own thoughts. He was in the region in December, and feels that it will take unusually high tides to dislodge the ship and get it back on its way.

This is the second incident of a ship running aground in Antarctica in the past few months. Back in December the M/V Ushuaia ran aground in Wilhelmina Bay, and last year the Explorer sank after hitting an iceberg. These incidences help to underscore the dangers of traveling in the Antarctic.

UPDATE: The M/V Ocean Nova has been freed by high tides.


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