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Antarctic Circle: a voyage fit for a king

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Below is a voyage update from Expedition Guide, Diane Erecg. Diane is currently aboard the Sea Spirit, on Quark's Crossing the Circle, Southern Expedition:

“Those who come seeking permission to cross the Antarctic Circle and enter into Neptune's waters come forward now and kneel before the King!” This is the brute and booming proclamation that confronts us as we anxiously await our initiation…

It is February 20th and the Sea Spirit has brought us safely and smoothly to the Antarctic Circle. Few expeditions aim for this ambitious goal and even fewer achieve it; the ice in this region of the Antarctic Peninsula is notorious for blocking the way of those daring to venture this far south. But following two and half days at sea, we find ourselves at latitude 66°33'44'' South. We have reached the Antarctic Circle.

King Neptune King Neptune

Right now, our continued passage to the southern side of the Circle remains uncertain. We must first meet with Neptune, King of the Sea, and be granted rite of passage to his waters. So we gather in the chill of a breezy Antarctic morning, donning our most quirky and creative sea-inspired attire, and hoping that our efforts and actions will be deemed satisfactory. Many of us emerge from our cabins as an assortment of kooky sea critters. There are several penguins and a spurting humpback whale. One of us has made a trident from a monopod and kitchen forks. This is serious Neptune-impressing business.

The brute, booming proclaimer before us is Neptune's henchman, a surly character with a head of green seaweed hair, pale skin and dark empty eyes. She orders us forward one at a time to kneel before King Neptune and his wife, who sit unperturbed at their throne, decked out in regal robes and jewels, and bearing an uncanny resemblance to our kayak guide Kevin Sampson and expedition physician Dr Barbra Villona.

Kissing the toe Kissing Neptune's toe

Neptune's foot rests on a stool, his big blue toes exposed for all to see, and we are now told to lower our heads and kiss it. We do so, watched on by Neptune, his wife and a band of henchmen, mermaids and pirates. Satisfied of our toe-kissing ability, the henchman brands our faces with the trident tattoo and we are made to drink a vile concoction they call ‘Neptune's Grog'. Thus, we are initiated and, one by one, granted passage to the icy waters south of the Circle.

Passenger with Neptune's Grog Passenger drinking Neptune's Grog

Finally, with all of us fully initiated, Neptune stands and speaks. “I, Neptune, King of the Sea, grant you, the passengers of this sturdy vessel permission to enter my waters. Be safe and respectful of the wonders you encounter here and you will be rewarded.” Our cheers echo around the ship and signal Captain Oleg to proceed. Into the enchanted waters of Marguerite Bay and Crystal Sound we go!

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