Wakatobi 2014

Singapore 

On our first day in Singapore we took the MRT from Ion Mall to the Marina Bay Area to check out the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and toured the Gardens by the Bay, the Cloud Forest Dome and the Flower Dome. On day two we decided to go back to the Botanical Gardens and walked there from the hotel and spent most of the time taking photos of orchids in the Orchid Garden. After dinner at Ion Mall we took the MRT to Bayfront and walked around taking photos and enjoying the beautiful, lit up Singapore skyline. We spent the next morning relaxing, then traveled to Denpasar, Bali later that afternoon.

Bali 

Balinese cooking class – We decided to try something different so we signed up for an Indonesian cooking class, which we both really enjoyed. We went to a local market for supplies and then went to a local Balinese home where we made four Indonesian dishes; curried chicken, chicken with green chilies, beef dendeng, and vegetable tunis.  All were delicious, but very time consuming as we ground up roots, spices, etc into a fine paste for each dish using a mortar and pestle. Later on when on the live aboard, we had a couple of cooking demonstrations and the Indonesian chef used a food processor to grind up the roots and spices.

Wakatobi 

We flew to Palau Tomea and boarded the Pelagian, Wakatobi Resort’s liveaboard dive boat.

We spent the next two weeks diving the beautiful reefs in Wakatobi National Park and also doing several muck dives in the bay near Pasarwajo, Indonesia located on Buton Island. Two of the muck dives were dusk/night dives to watch very colorful Mandarin fish come out from the rocks where they are hiding until sunset to perform a mating ritual.  The ritual lasts only a few minutes, then they go back to hiding in the coral or in this case large concrete stones, which was the base of a dock. While I prefer beautiful coral reels, muck diving allows you to find creatures not normally found on a coral reef.

We both did forty dives, the most dives to date for a dive trip, during our two weeks on the Pelagian.

On liveaboards it’s known you eat, sleep and dive. Below is Sue’s dive schedule while on the Pelagain:

5:30 get up
5:50 1st cup of coffee
6:00 grazing breakfast
6:15 analyze tank
6:30 dress for dive
6:45 dive briefing, then dive
8:30-9:30 breakfast
9:45 analyze tanks
10:00 dress for dive
10:15 dive briefing, then dive 2
12:30-1:30 lunch
1:45 analyze tanks
2:00 dress for dive
2:15 dive briefing, then dive 3
4:00 tea/snack time after dive
5:10 dress for dive
5:15 analyze tanks
5:20 dive briefing, then dive 4 mandarin dusk dive or
5:40 night dive or if not diving, shower and relax
7:15 shower
7:30 dinner
8:30 slide show
9:30 collapse/sleep

Our fifth trip to Wakatobi, and our first trip on their live-aboard dive boat, the Pelagian.

Antarctica 2014

We wanted to do an expedition cruise, but finding gluten-free food on an expedition ship was difficult in 2013, so we decided to go on a cruise only tour of Antarctica on the Celebrity Infinity.  Before leaving for the cruise, a group of us from Cruise Critic made arrangements for private tours in several of the ports. After booking our international flights, Joe and I decided to do a side trip to Iguazu Falls.

Buenos Aires

After arriving in Buenos Aires, we walked around the port then later enjoyed an Argentinean steak dinner and a bottle of Malbec.  Argentinians eat dinner very late and at 9:30PM we were the only guests in the restaurant. The next day we flew to Puerto Iguazu, then took a cab to the hotel located within the national park.

Iguazu Falls

We had scheduled five nights in Buenos Aires and and decided to add this side trip after getting our international flights, so we scheduled only one night at Iguazu and stayed on the Argentinean side of the falls. After settling in at the hotel we walked the upper trail circuit from the hotel, then the lower section of the trail circuit after getting back from the Devil’s Throat main trail circuit the next morning. To get to the main trail from the hotel, we walked along a path to the train station then took the train to “Estación Garganta”, then walked on catwalks to see the falls from various vantage points. If you think Niagara Falls is incredible, go see the massive Iguazu Falls, one of the new seven wonders of the world and the largest waterfall system in the world consisting of 275 falls. The Devil’s Throat is the main attraction on both sides of the falls and you get the closest to it from the Argentinean side. Massive amounts of water flow into the throat of the falls. After returning from seeing the falls, we had lunch, collected our luggage, then headed to the airport for the flight back to Buenos Aires for three nights.

Buenos Aires

Back in Buenos Aires we walked around the city during the days and enjoyed Argentinean steaks and a bottle of Malbec for dinner every night until we boarded the Celebrity Infinity. While touring our first day, I had pigeon poop aka mustard thrown on me. I knew what they were doing and I threatened them if they came close to me. I’m not sure they understood English, but I know they understood my tone and disposition. Luckily I was wearing white pants that I could bleach the stain out after arriving back home.

Ushuaia

The cruise critic group arranged a tour to see penguins with Pira Tours. We were taken by two large expedition vehicles to/from Acatashun Museum at Harberton Ranch and then by boat to Martillo Island where the penguins were located.  Our tour group was the only group allowed on the island to walk among the Magellanic and Gentoo penguins along with one lone King penguin.

While in port we saw Quark Expeditions’ Ocean Diamond, which reinforced our desire to do an Antarctic expedition cruise.

Fast-forward five years… In 2019 we went on the Ocean Diamond to Antarctica.

Cape Horn

The ship spent several hours cruising around Cape Horn then headed across the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula.

Antarctic Peninsula

The MS Infinity cruised the most northern section of the Antarctic Peninsula for three days cruising the Schollart Channel, Paradise Bay, Gerlache Strait, and near Elephant Island, then headed to the Faulkland Islands. While we were very thankful the Drake Passage wasn’t rough, we weren’t so lucky with the weather, making for less than desirable photos. 

Falkland Islands

By the time we signed up for the cruise, all the tours to Volunteer Point was already booked up, so Joe and I took a ship tour to Sparrow Cove to see Gentoo penguins and then walked around Port Stanley after the excursion.

Puerto Madryn, Argentina 

The cruise critic group arranged for an all day tour of the Valdes Peninsula, an important nature reserve that was first listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. First stop was the Carlos Ameghino Interpretation Center.  Wildlife stops included seeing elephant seals and Magellanic penguins.  We stopped for lunch in Puerto Piramides.   

Montevideo, Uruguay 

With the Cruise Critic group, we went on a city tour of Montevideo and then out in the countryside to Varela Zarrantz Winery for a tour of the winery and lunch. It was a good day and a nice ending to our cruise.

Emergency Evacuation

While on the ship there was a medical emergency and someone had to be evacuated from the ship.  The process involved to airlift someone from the ship was quite interesting to watch.  It was windy and the helicopter pilot did an excellent job of holding the helicopter steady.