Episode 189 – “Iced” Donuts (or, What to Eat When Visiting a Glacier)

February 6, 2022 62°F/17°C


Our morning started with sweet treats for breakfast: “Berliner”, or German-style jelly-filled donuts. We were reminded that JFK once proclaimed himself to be a jelly donut, using the syntax “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am “a” Berliner, as we would say in English) as opposed to “Ich bin Berliner” (the correct German phrasing).

In long past decades this might have been considered a “cheesecake” picture: a lovely young woman offering temptations. In this case it is the lovely Bybit trying to tempt me with donuts in the World Café!

Today’s itinerary described our day as “scenic cruising”, and it more than lived up to that description.

A piece of trivia we learned this morning is that there are 43,471 islands off the coast of Chile. I wonder who was tasked with getting that exact count?

The highlight of our day was supposed to be the Amalia Glacier. Once again we had a cool overcast morning, with lots of low clouds, so there was no sunshine glimmering on the ice. Nonetheless, the view was at times magnificent – except for the very brief period during which it started to teem with rain.

I rarely post pictures with us in them, but today was too good an opportunity to miss, so here we are, with the Amalia Fjord Glacier as a backdrop, modelling our 2021-2022 Viking World Cruise jackets.

From Wikipedia: The Amalia Glacier (also known as Skua Glacier), is a tidewater glacier located in Bernardo O’Higgins National Park on the edge of the Sarmiento Channel. The glacier originates in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. From 1945 to 1986, its terminus retreated 7 km (4.3 mi), being, along with the recession of the O’Higgins Glacier, the most dramatic retreat of the glaciers of the mentioned icefield during that period.

Trivia item # 2: Chile has 28 glaciers in the Patagonian Ice Field, but 1600 glaciers in total. You can see the full inventory here in this 1998 study South American Glaciers

We saw several bergy bits and growlers. The National Ocean Service definition of a bit is “a medium to large fragment of ice. Its height is generally greater than three feet but less than 16 feet above sea level and its area is normally about 1,076-3,229 square feet . Growlers are smaller fragments of ice and are roughly the size of a truck or grand piano.” They honestly didn’t seem that big as we slowly inched closer to the glacier, getting within 1.7 nautical miles away. (Any closer and we’d run the risk of encountering underwater obstacles – no Titanic moments for us!) Of course, at that distance the glacier also looked smaller than its actual 40 metre height.

Mostly growlers.
The Amalia Glacier. The closer we got to it, the bluer the ice looked. There were penguins and skua birds on the ice, but too far away for a clear picture.

Captain Olaf sent out a phalanx of crew members in a tender to collect a piece of loose glacier ice for tonight’s ice sculpture. They spent a great deal of time scouting out the perfect piece before towing it in to the ship. I wonder what the criteria was.

Apparently someone knew the parameters and pointed out the target.

While they laboured among the growlers, we folk watching from the Explorer’s Lounge were being plied with donuts, hot chocolate, and hot toddies. THESE are the guys (below) who really needed those warm drinks!

When Viking passengers want pure glacial ice, there are no lengths to which the crew won’t go to provide it. Here they are delivering it to the ship.

About half an hour after leaving the Amalia Glacier, our Captain announced that we would be cruising past a second glacier, and that he would be opening access to the bow of the ship so that we could get as close as possible with our cameras.

The Brüggen Glacier, also known as the Pio XI glacier (after Pope Pius XI) has a height of 70-80 meters and a width of 2 kilometers, giving it a spectacular ice face. There was tons of ice in the water as we approached this second glacier. THIS was the real highlight of our day.

The bow is not normally open to passengers, especially when we are not docked, but being that close to the water made the experience of seeing (and hearing!) the glacier even more special.
Bottom left: me with Kasia, the Star’s Assistant Chief Housekeeper.
(Yes, flip-flops ARE appropriate footwear on deck!)
Notice the way the glacier is perfectly reflected in the clear cold water.
Notice, too, how much ice is floating everywhere… that water is frigid!

To put it in perspective, this glacier is as big as Santiago, with a surface area of 1265 squared kilometers, and is growing 50 meters in height, length and density every day. It is the biggest glacier in the Southern Hemisphere, outside Antarctica, and one of the few in the world that is growing.

The glacier is shockingly vivid blue, especially in the crevasses. The extremely dense compressed glacial ice absorbs all the longer wavelengths of light in the spectrum, reflecting only the short blue light.

As a “consolation” for the cold weather, Chef Thomas arranged a hot and hearty selection of soups for lunch today, accompanied by lots of varieties of crusty bread. I ate ice cream. It just seemed appropriate.

As we enjoyed our afternoon lattés in the Explorer’s Lounge, still cruising through the channels, Ted was able to get a photo of three more glaciers! The giveaway is the blue ice.

Just before dinner, the Captain announced that we’d be passing by our sister ship, the Viking Jupiter. Much sounding of horns, waving and shouting accompanied our crossing of paths.

The picture at the top shows what can happen if you don’t have Captain Olaf.

Once again, dinner was wonderful.

Top left: a passionfruit shell filled with passionfruit, mango, papaya, and gooseberry. Bottom left: Caprese salad with fresh Buffalo mozzarella and basil. Right top to bottom: Steak and mushroom pie, apple bread pudding, and vanilla rice pudding.

This evening’s entertainment was “Viking Star’s Got Talent – the 2021-2022 World Cruise Edition”, featuring performances by passengers (and magic by one of our housekeeping crew). No Simon Cowell judging – just some really great acts; ukulele, vocals, magic, comedy, piano, clarinet, flute and even harp!

After the wonder of seeing our first ever glaciers today, we’re looking forward to seeing our first ever penguins in their natural habitat tomorrow (zoos don’t count). Pinch me!

Aside: I am always amazed at the people on board who recognize me from reading our blog. I’m also very appreciative of the fact they think our posts are good enough to share with their friends and family. To that end, here’s today’s Public Service Announcement: Alex from Genoa Nevada sends greeting to all his fellow Genoans following along!

A few more islands, just because they’re gorgeous (and lined our view for the rest of the journey as we head toward Punta Arenas on the Strait of Magellan).


  1. Please say hello to Alex and Susanna from Genoa and let them know we Genoans are enjoying your blog tremendously. Your photos (well Thank you to Ted) and descriptions are allowing us to enjoy the journey vicariously. I think we’re even gaining weight just from the amazing food we are virtually devouring! Wolf is a Berliner so your posts are even more interesting. Susanna is also German and has Canadian ties. Thank you so much for allowing us to enjoy the journey along with you, Audrey & Wolf Behnke


    • Glad to have you following along! We’re planning to spend all of July in Berlin (if our Schengen days aren’t all used up), so perhaps will be able to share some good memories with Wolf then!


  2. I really enjoy the daily recap. The lovely photos and written descriptions make me believe I’m there beside you if only for a few minutes. You are my daily highlight! We were to have been on the Jupiter cruise and could have waved at you in today’s photo shot…but we backed out due to fears of covid and being stuck in Chile. I’m so glad you brave souls are continuing on. Maybe next year…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fascinating post!

    Loved all the facts (yes, who was tasked with counting all 43,471 islands off the coast of Chile) and all the photos (geez, those poor staff members who had to get into the water to retrieve the ice).

    I did chuckle at your flip flops on deck 🙂


  4. Wonderful pictures — what a fascinating day. Pictures don’t really do justice to glaciers though. I’m glad you included the heights and the reason for the blue. We were supposed to be on that Jupiter cruise, once upon a time… Here’s a virtual wave /\/\\\/\/


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