Cruising the Lemaire Channel: Quite Possibly the Most Beautiful Place on the Planet
They call it Kodak Gap. A narrow, iceberg-filled passageway that is one of the most photographed places in Antarctica. Barely a mile wide and just seven miles long, it’s a world unto itself, with steep rocky cliffs, magnificent glaciers and the stillest of waters. With icebergs at every turn, it’s a challenging place to navigate, and ships are not always able to make it through, having to turn back and go around to reach the other side.
The Seabourn Quest was scheduled to arrive at Lemaire Channel around 8 pm. The summer sun was hours away from setting as we headed outside to the top forward deck. Captain Dag’s words over the public address speaker were optimistic: With a visibility of 40 miles and near-perfect weather conditions, he was confident we would be able to sail the entire channel.
A crowd had gathered as we prepared to enter the Lemaire. It was an unspoken truth that we all knew this was going to be special, yet I don’t think any of us truly understood how special it would actually be. As the ship slightly turned, an iceberg served as a kind of doorway, leading us into one of the most enchanting places I’ve ever been.
It was as if we had sailed through a portal into another world. The light, the quiet, the purity of the air. “I feel like I’m on the set of a Star Wars movie,” one person remarked. Everyone was having their moment with this unearthly place as we stood in awe and silence.
After a couple of hours, Herb and I went back to our cabin, where the Lemaire’s magic continued beyond our balcony. As I watched from the edge of the bed, icebergs floated by like Wizard of Oz characters flying past Dorothy’s bedroom window. The shapes were mesmerizing and incredibly real – cities in the distance, boats by a lake, a cathedral, even a dinosaur. The light kept changing as the hours passed, brushing the scene in shades of pink and sepia.
I may have convinced myself for a brief moment that the dreamy shapes in the Lemaire Channel weren’t really icebergs but an unearthly far-off land that we happened upon in the light of the evening sun. All travelers have their favorite most beautiful places. The Lemaire Channel forever will be mine.