Seattle residents Alan and David Axelrod, Members since 2003, experienced Antarctica together for the first time during a 12-day, 11-night Adventure held in January 2018. Here, David reveals his most memorable day adventuring from his headquarters aboard the National Geographic Explorer.  

6:42 a.m. 
“Good morning, everyone, good morning!” Our expedition leader’s New Zealand accent chimes in over the loudspeaker. He’s 18 minutes early to wake us, but for good reason. There’s a pod of killer whales directly in front of the National Geographic Explorer. I didn’t come to Antarctica to almost see whales, so I slide on my sandals, grab my camera, and head to the bridge. A pair of binoculars obscures the captain’s face. All 142 guests on board are equally determined to track the playful predators. If my day ended here, it would already be worth writing home about. 
 
7:30 a.m. 
The servers have memorized my breakfast order. A green tea is whisked over to me from the bistro bar within seconds of sitting down. The omelet chef grins when I approach. My eggs are already frying. 
 
9:15 a.m. 
The Lindblad staff refuses to let us get bored. We gather in the lounge to hear one of many presentations from expert naturalists on climate change, wildlife, and marine biology. 
 
10:30 a.m. 
It’s my Zodiac group’s turn to kayak and the sun, as if on cue, breaks through the clouds. I sit in front while my dad steers us through a sapphire wonderland. The icebergs sparkle like massive uncut diamonds as the sky is reflected along glassy water. It seems futile to row; there’s no better place to venture to. No better air to breathe. The grandeur envelops us. We take a selfie. My dad passes the sunscreen. 

12:15 p.m. 
We return to the ship for lunch on the observation deck. Staring into the white abyss, I think about what Shackleton and other great Antarctic explorers endured. I am promptly distracted by an assortment of pies. 
 
1:45 p.m. 
After days of exploring satellite islands, the time has come to make a proper Continental landing. The short Zodiac ride carries all the suspense of a lunar landing. I swing my legs onto shore and pump my fist for Number Seven. We climb a powdery ridge and are rewarded with the end-all, be-all of panoramas. Here, the word “otherworldly” seems insulting to Earth—this is our world, wild and pristine. A lifetime of shared adventure has brought my dad and me to this surreal perch. I feel lucky to achieve the milestone, but especially lucky to experience it with him. We celebrate with a hug, then plop ourselves onto the snow to soak in the majestic view. Only one place could top this: Mars. 
 
4:00 p.m. 
The chef is grilling churrasco on the rear deck. I wash mine down with a Malbec and stare back at the promontory we just ascended. I think I hear David Attenborough narrating: “In the depths, something stirs …” Is he referring to my elation, or are there humpbacks surfacing on the starboard side? 
 
4:51 p.m. 
To decompress, I walk up two flights from my cabin to the wellness deck. The sauna is empty and I bake in it for awhile, contemplating the epic-ness of the day and rejoicing at having found one of the few places in Antarctica where “the penguin smell” doesn’t linger.  

6:15 p.m. 
The evening recap in the lounge includes underwater footage from the dive team and a slideshow from a National Geographic photographer. My dad and I order two Manhattans on the rocks—as if we need any more ice. 
 
7:30 p.m. 
Our servers, who by now seem like old friends, welcome us to dinner. I choose the king salmon over the lamb shank and lobster tail. My dad, a vegetarian, opts for a beet salad and tagliatelle.  
 
9:21 p.m. 
We return to our cabin at the stern of the ship. The curtains have been drawn over our sliding balcony door, and there’s a chocolate on my pillow. I eagerly upload my photos, flagging candidates for my print shop, before stepping outside to inhale the day’s final gust of perfection.  
 
6:38 a.m. 
“Good morning, everyone, good morning…”