Antarctica Adventure - 2002

We flew up one floor to the Reception Area (open 24 hours a day) only to find a young woman whose English was not the best looking at us with bemused eyes as we questioned her as to what had happened and what was the cause of the smell on our floor. The smell in her area was only faint compared with the odors on the 4 th deck. She did not seem to have even registered the “lights out and ship heeling over” episode and just looked at us blankly. The chemical aroma probably came from whatever the sailors used to clean the decks, according to her. However, we did not buy that for a second since we had been on board l0 days now and had never smelled it before (nor did we ever smell it again during the rest of the cruise). So we hurtled ourselves outside and breathed the fresh ocean air gratefully, but saw that our perception of the ship’s being dead in the water was right. No engine noises and no forward (or backward) motions. The lifeboats were rocking crazily in their davits and we were left to wonder how they could ever be launched in such seas. Vague memories of books about the sea filtered into our brains causing questions like, “doesn’t the ship need power so that it can head into the waves rather than being hit from the side?” and “have we struck an iceberg” and “what are the words to ‘Nearer My God to Thee’?” Able to breathe freely again, but still unsatisfied as to what had caused all these almost simultaneous downright frightening occurrences, we went to the top deck to visit the Observation Lounge where the expedition leader and his crew often hung out in the late hours. However, there were only some passengers drinking, playing cards, and chatting as if nothing at all extraordinary had just transpired. The lone waiter also seemed totally normal even though he did have to work at keeping his balance as he ferried drinks and glasses back and forth. So, without much discussion between us, we sat in a corner and waited for what we knew not: the call to abandon ship, some reassurance on the loudspeaker, some rational explanation from one of the one of the crew or leaders?

About 45 minutes passed with us getting sleepier and sleepier; at least that meant we had not succumbed to panic. Gradually we became aware that the ship was underway again


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