Antarctica aboard Mikheev

At 9 a.m. on March 3, ’06, the Grigoriy Mikheev sounded her horn and we celebrated crossing the Antarctic Circle with Dutch liqueur. When choosing an Antarctic trip, this had been one of my goals.

The trip, Feb. 25-March 10, ’06, was perfect in many ways. With only 45 passengers on board, getting to know everyone was easy. Also, we never had to wait for Zodiacs and could enjoy 2-hour cruises among icebergs and ice floes. When not in the Drake straits, we had two landings a day.

Another plus was the international group. Only 10 of us were from the U.S.; the rest came from nine different countries. The crew was Russian, and the guides were from Europe and New Zealand.
One-third of the passengers were scuba divers, and that made for a younger age group than would be found on many Antarctic cruises. The rest of us enjoyed their tales and slide show.

Entertainment on the ship consisted of lectures and, at night, a movie on some Antarctic subject. However, one night we were asked to wear our “dancing boots.” We had a barbecue on deck, and everyone, including the crew as well as guests from the Ukrainian research station, warmed up dancing.

It really was a great trip. Having the divers on the trip was a big plus. It is not a luxury cruise, though. We had bunk beds, very small cabins and two young Dutch guys as cooks who sometimes served dishes that weren’t exactly great (corned lamb comes to mind). However, for me it was perfect.

The Grigoriy Mikheev is leased by Oceanwide Expeditions (15710 JFK Blvd., Ste. 285, Houston, TX 77032; 800/453-7245 or I had the least expensive cabin, at $4,990. I embarked and disembarked in Ushuaia, where I stayed in a B&B at $40 a night.

I used my frequent-flyer miles for airfare to Buenos Aires and purchased a ticket from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia on Aerolineas Argentinas. Incidentally, I was lucky to get home. The Argentine airline went on strike at noon the day I left.

Dallas, TX