Cruising Alongside WhalesSure, you can go whale watching in hundreds of places around the world, but believe me the experience is even better in the waters around Antarctica. Many types of whales pass through these icy waters as part of their annual migration routes, thanks to the huge quantities of krill in the region. In fact, whales are what brought the first humans to Antarctica, and for more than a century whalers were the only souls intrepid enough to visit this daunting place. While many species of whale nearly went extinct, like seals, they have rebounded, and now you’ll see everything from orcas to humpbacks and southern right whales. Humpbacks are the most common, and that’s what I saw one afternoon when I least expected it.
It was the last full day of the expedition, and most of the guests were in the observation lounge, enjoying a beer and camaraderie. Suddenly, one of the staff called us to the deck, and that’s when I saw them: The ship was completely surrounded by dozens of humpback whales, swimming and jumping through the water in search of their next meal. The ship's captain carefully followed the pod for more than an hour, eager to see more of one of the largest mammals on the planet. It was an extraordinary moment and one that is uniquely Antarctic.