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I think the restrictions were more anticipatory than anything else.
There is no serious discussion of banning visitors and the logistics
make landing more than 100 people really tough. All the landings are
wet-- we never saw a dock. I suspect some major cruise lines were
hoping to talk some quasi-commercial "research" station into building a
dock to land more people. Argentina has opened a runway to commercial
flights at one of their stations allowing one way boat trips or
skipping the Drake (Sereima tours). The tour operators are very
careful to disinfect boots between landings.
This is a cold and
snowy year in Antarctica. Several of our landings were canceled
because of pack ice and we were almost trapped by the ice on one
island. I now understand the Emperor penguin strategy-- there is no
snow free breeding space to spare. The Gentoos must march 100's of
yards up hill to find snow free breeding sites.
Birding and the spectacular sights were amazing.
Quark ran an excellent tour but if space were available I would have paid extra for a real birding tour.
Full-time Birder, Biker and Rotarian
Tucson, AZ, Lake Tahoe, CA, & Kirkland, WA
rccarl@... Tucson 520-760-4935
We went to Antarctica in 2006 with Discovery and at that time, only 100
people from our ship could land at a time. According to the operators, they
had to file an impact statement and a plan which had to be approved (not
sure by whom). As with Richard, all our landings were wet, and we were
restricted to very limited areas. The operators had folks posted along the
route for information and to make sure you stayed where you were supposed to
On the whole I thought it was pretty well done (with minimum impact), except
for one hot dog zodiac driver who ran out of gas in the middle of one of his
runs (the tank levels are clearly visible, so how hard was it for him to
check?), and his radio battery was dead, so we sat in the zodiac in very
cold, windy weather and ice floating around us for about 1/2 hour until one
of the other drivers came by to see what was wrong.