Ocean Nova Antarctica Cruise Ship

Due to a very fortunate set of circumstances, I was able to do a Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctica cruise in early 2009. I departed from Ushuaia, Argentina on Jan 23rd aboard the Ocean Nova and returned on Feb 10th. It was a fantastic trip and as a photographer, there were amazing wildlife and scenery opportunities - truly a "target rich environment" as I took almost 10,000 pictures! ;-)

But a week after disembarking, the Ocean Nova was in the news - it had run aground in Marguerite Bay by the Argentine research station San Martin. The folks there were nice enough to allow me to use some of their pictures - both stills & webcam images - special thanks to Pablo S. Areas Carcano. There are also some pictures from onboard the Ocean Nova courtesy of Jeff Berg who was a passenger on this Antarctica trip.

After several attempts over ~30 hours to get the Ocean Nova loose, the passengers were safely transferred to the sister ship, Clipper Adventurer. Later that evening, the Ocean Nova was finally freed with fortunately no apparent major damage or environmental leakage. It then returned to Ushuaia, shadowing the Clipper Adventurer, and inspections there showed "four indented areas" ... but no damage to the propeller or rudder. The Feb 22nd departure was cancelled, but hopefully future trips will be a bit less adventuresome and as wonderful as mine per my pictures below.

On a related note, my wife (she works in the adventure travel business) had visited Antarctica in 1997 on the Explorer (the Little Red Ship) which was the first small cruise ship in Antarctica ... but was also the first to sink there in 2007 - D'OH! Fortunately, all were rescued from the lifeboats. Some interesting first-person accounts here & here, a Today Show segment, an excellent analysis by a naval architect onboard (his pics) and the final accident report. Remember that thousands of people travel safely every year to Antarctica, so don't let a few incidents discourage you from taking a trip of a lifetime.

10:04PM on Feb 17th, 2009: Ocean Nova aground near San Martin Base - wide-angle view

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click to play time-lapse video from san martin webcam navy plane

9:28AM on Feb 17th, 2009: "first" grounding of the Ocean Nova

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1st grounding - that evening, it got loose ... only to run aground again after flipping around!

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Jeff Berg's pictures of the 1st grounding - those rocks are darn close to the Ocean Nova!

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Beautiful Antarctica Landscape from the stern of the ship, but winds were howling at 70+ Knots!

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Yes, those are the rocks the Ocean Nova was stuck on

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The evening of the 1st grounding, Sam the bartender came up with a new drink!

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Jeff's picture from the bow of the Ocean Nova at the 2nd grounding after flipping around

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8:49AM on Feb 18th, 2009: daytime close-up of Ocean Nova's 2nd grounding with raised Bow

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Wide-angle view ... birds seem to be flying by to see what's happening

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12:48PM on Feb 18th, 2009: full power (?) during high tide - Stern free, but Bow is still stuck

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2:37PM on Feb 18th, 2009: panoramic view - Spanish Navy vessel Hesperides is behind iceberg

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6:42PM on Feb 18th, 2009: Ocean Nova free! Passengers previously moved to Clipper Adventurer

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It will be a bit crowded going back to Ushuaia, but these passengers certainly got an adventure!

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Here's a bunch of Ocean Nova pictures I took on the trip right before the one that ran aground!

Ocean Nova docked in Ushuaia, Argentina shortly before Jan 23rd, 2009 departure

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Side view of Ocean Nova from the upper deck of Lindblad's National Geographic Explorer

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Ocean Nova Dining Room is in the middle of Deck 3- mouseover Image to see before dinner

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James, Debra, Steve, Paco, Suzanne, Melissa, Lindsay, Clavey, & Paul in the Aft Library/Lounge

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Jan 27th, 2009: we spot a Southern Right Whale in the Western Scotia Sea - from Aft Deck 5

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Jan 29th, 2009: Zodiac Boat landing at Salisbury Plains, South Georgia - mouseover to see "returning to ship" picture

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Jan 30th: Cruising into Fortuna Bay where we hiked the last part of the Shackleton Walk to Stromness

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Zodiac'ing out from the Ocean Nova - easier than 16 days in a lifeboat from Elephant Island! ;-)

South Georgia Fortuna Bay 2

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Our group successfully did the 4 mile hike without losing a single person ... ;-)

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Stromness Harbor, South Georgia - mouseover image for wide-angle view

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Paul "holds up" the Ocean Nova in Stromness Bay, South Georgia

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Jan 31st, 2009: Ocean Nova drops some hikers off at Maiviken

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After a couple miles of hiking, we came to the former whaling station of Grytviken, South Georgia

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A toast that evening at the grave of famed Antarctica explorer Ernest Shackleton
Perhaps we should have also toasted the Ocean Nova?!? ;-)

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Feb 1st, 2009: Drygalski Fjord, South Georgia - water is over 200 meters deep here!

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This was a pretty active glacier - note birds high-tailing it outa there!

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Looking back as we depart Drygalski Fjord, South Georgia

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Feb 1st, 2009: Ocean Nova in Cooper Bay which was the last stop in South Georgia and then down to Antarctica

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Needless to say, we saw more and more icebergs the further South we traveled

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Feb 3rd, 2009: Near the British Antarctic Survey Signy Base in the South Orkney Islands

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A wave comes over the Ocean Nova's bow in the Scotia Sea - mouseover to see Chief Officer Popescu Bogdan ("George") at the helm

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Videos from the Ocean Nova Bridge and rolling swells in the Drake Passage.

We skirted a two mile long iceberg as seen on the radar screen - mouseover image to see close-up

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I was able to get a tour below deck of the inner workings of the Ocean Nova - watch video

Ocean Nova below decks

The kitchen of the Ocean Nova - mouseover image to see close-up

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My fellow passengers were glad to hear the all-important sewage system was showing Green Light status! ;-)

Scotia Sea Ocean Nova sewage

The weather picked up a bit as the sun went down

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Sunset at 2119 on Feb 4th, 2009 in the Scotia Sea - mouseover image to see 3 minutes later

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Feb 5th, 2009: approaching Antarctica - taken at 0332, 63 minutes before a glorious sunrise

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An Antarctic bird flies by just before sunrise - mouseover image for close-up

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A few minutes after sunrise on Feb 5th, 2009

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First landing in Antarctica at Brown Bluff - click here for higher-res pano

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We pass yet another Iceberg on the way to Astrolabe Island

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Feb 6th, 2009: The Clipper Adventurer (and Leopard Seal) passes us in the Errera Channel
This ship ended up taking the Ocean Nova's passengers 12 days later

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Some early morning Antarctic sun lights up the Clipper Adventurer

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We passed a smaller and more rustic ship later on in the channel

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An empty Zodiac returns to the Ocean Nova near Danco Island

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View of the Ocean Nova as we Zodiac back to the ship that morning

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In the afternoon, we visited Neko Harbor, Antarctica

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Zodiac motors out from the Ocean Nova - mouseover to see reflected in the water

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Feb 6th, 2009: Captain Alexey keeps a close eye on the Orlova in the Lemaire Channel
This ship was also initially dispatched to assist the Ocean Nova when it ran aground

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Feb 7th: Ocean Nova anchored in Port Charcot - our last stop in Antarctica

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Feb 7th: Suzanne took this picture heading back to the Ocean Nova

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Feb 7th, 2009: The last passenger off the last Zodiac signs in - me!

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One of several piles of Wellington Boots - the wooden "boot remover" (back left) worked great

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Looking back at the Zodiac gangway as everything is stowed away

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This was posted nearby ... glad we never needed it ... although I'm sure it was referenced the following week! ;-)

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Several photos stitched together for a very wide-angle Antarctica panorama - click here for larger version

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Last view of Antarctica - mouseover image for view without the ship in it

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Ocean Nova Cabin #309 - my "home" for almost three weeks

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Feb 8th: Alek going through pictures despite not feeling too well - more due a cold than the rough seas

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I gave the slide show the last night onboard the Ocean Nova - mouseover image for other picture

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We docked the morning of Feb 10th, 2009 - it felt good to be back on land after 19 days at sea!

The Ocean Nova would depart that evening with a new Captain and new group of passengers
On Feb 17th, the Ocean Nova ran aground in Marguerite Bay near the Argentine research station San Martin

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Check out the Antarctica Maps to see our route and/or the Ship's Log with Daily Programs