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).
Today’s itinerary described our day as “scenic cruising”, and it more than lived up to that description.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once again, dinner was wonderful.
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!