Icebergs make an incredible first impression.
ANTARCTICA – The world as we know it floats somewhere beyond the horizon as our ship steers into the frozen wonderland that is Antarctica. We are aboard Quark Expeditions Clipper Adventure, and, although it's 3 a.m., we find ourselves in brilliant sunlight and the relative warmth of austral summer of December. The hundred passengers, laden with cameras and filled with expectation, line the rails, looking for the first signs of the frozen continent. We steer into the wonderland that is Antarctica, the bow slicing a mirror of all God's creations.
And then — then! — the first iceberg appears on the horizon, quite alone on a flat blue sea, looking like a baby rhino that has strayed too far from its herd. Our ship edges close so we can capture the cave-like heart of the iceberg, permanently tinted an ice blue that seems to glow from within. At that very moment, I am forever captured by this place.
That, as we will find, is only the beginning. The land of ice is pulling out all stops. We find ourselves gasping, cheering, and shouting as a parade of icebergs — each much larger than our ship, some as large as skyscrapers — float by as if on parade. On some, we see a congregation of penguins, wearing their black-and-white tuxes, pacing back and forth, looking like little headwaiters waiting for the evening crowd to arrive.
Each passenger seems to be echoing same thought: How are we ever going to be able to tell our friends about this? The ocean in every direction is filled with icebergs of every size and shape, each vying for our attention, touching the eyes and the soul simultaneously. We are humbled and in awe. Passing in front of us are moving sculptures wrought by nature — far surpassing anything seen in an art museum.
And this is only our first morning in Antarctica. But in those first hours, fellow passengers have become friends, friends that have joined a private fraternity of those special people who have found themselves unexpectedly blessed by beauty as none of us have never glimpsed. It is a glimpse of a perfect heaven. And it has become ours.