After flying to the southernmost point in Chile, my wife and I boarded The World Discoverer, a double-hulled vessel used for expeditions into waters populated by icebergs. It had the latest satellite navigation system and boasted a gourmet chef, but those amenities did not guarantee a smooth ride. We left Puerto William, in southern Chile, and steered across the famed Drake Passage to Antarctica. There were times when the waves were higher than the ship.
On arrival and using inflatable Zodiacs, passengers paddled ashore to visit research stations that could not be reached by any surface transport. As the ship moved farther south toward the Antarctic circle, there was an increasing amount of ice in the water. Our German captain steered cautiously to avoid the big bergs and the broadening areas of pack ice.
We had been assured that the steel hull of our sturdy vessel had been reinforced for ice duty. Even so, it was disquieting at night as we lay in our berth with our heads just a few inches from the steel plate separating us from the frozen world outside. Every time the ship scraped noisily through an area of ice we thought about the Titanic.