Emperor Penguin Crashes Heritage Expeditions’ Antarctica Discovery Party

A penguin walks into a bar in Antarctica © I.Wilson, Heritage Expeditions, Heritage Expeditions' Spirit of Enderby and Akademik Shokalskiy rendezvous in Antarctica © Y.Simard, Greenstone TV, Heritage ExpeditionsA well-dressed Emperor Penguin charmed its way onto Heritage Expeditions exclusive guest list during the pioneering small-ship expedition cruise company’s Antarctic celebrations on the 200th anniversary of what is widely regarded as the first sighting of the frozen continent.

While most ships are known for passing in the night, Heritage Expeditions brought its sister vessels Spirit of Enderby (Professor Khromov) and Akademik Shokalskiy together in the Ross Sea for a special celebration with champagne and dessert on the Antarctic ice.

The auspicious milestone of Russian explorer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen’s 1820 circumnavigation aboard Vostok and Mirnyi called for an extraordinary celebration, with expedition leaders Nathan Russ (Khromov) and Samuel Blanc (Shokalskiy) surprising Heritage Expeditions’ intrepid explorers on each of its recent Ross Sea ‘In the Wake of Scott & Shackleton’ voyages with the Antarctic rendezvous 77˚ south of the equator, a first in the New Zealand company’s 35-year history.

The celebrations also caught the attention of the local wildlife, including a curious Emperor Penguin and two Orca/Killer Whales briefly observed spyhopping from the ice edge. The party-crashing penguin was the first to arrive, torpedoing out of the water and belly sliding over the ice to join Heritage’s expedition team as they set up, guests watching in disbelief from the two ships parked at the ice edge between Mount Erebus and Mount Discovery.

Though expeditioners were reminded, and mindful, of keeping their distance and giving the animal space during the festivities, the suave surprise celebrity guest mingled freely and posed for photos.

During a short toast Russ, also a co-owner and Operations Director at Heritage Expeditions, said celebrating the anniversary was important as Antarctica and its ongoing preservation, its explorers and their stories are the inspiration behind the family-owned and operated expedition cruise company.

“We are a family company following in the footsteps of legends – Shackleton, Scott and Amundsen – bringing together like-minded people from around the world to explore, discover and raise awareness around the conservation efforts on some of the planet’s most remote shores and coastlines,” he said.

“When you travel with Heritage Expeditions you become part of our family and an ambassador for the regions we visit. Helping raise awareness and sharing your story are all important parts of our expeditions.”

As with most party animals, the penguin was the last to leave – continuing to watch guests as they boarded Zodiacs and their respective expedition vessels.

Guests on board the two voyages enjoyed excellent access during the Antarctic summer season with landings on Ross Island visiting both of Scott’s huts at Hut Point and Cape Evans, as well as Shackleton’s Hut at Cape Royds, Antarctica’s largest Adelie penguin colony at Cape Adare, exploring Franklin, Possession and Inexpressible Islands and ship cruising along the up to 50-metre high Ross Ice Shelf surrounded by pods of Orca/Killer Whales hunting Antarctic Toothfish along the ice edge.

In the Wake of Scott & Shackleton is a 30-day exploration down to the Ross Sea including New Zealand and Australia’s Subantarctic Islands. Travel is aboard an authentic, ice-strengthened expedition cruise ship with a maximum of up to 50 guests.

(Heritage Expeditions)