Leaving Peru: A journey to Antarctica

Text and photos by Carsten Korch

Feeling stressed-out, Carsten Korch took his family to the end of the world to find a quiet, beautiful spot to relax and reflect.

Leaving Peru: A journey to Antarctica

At the end of last year, I found myself overworked and stressed-out. Too many things had been going on in my life and realized I had to leave my daily routines, Lima and Peru to reboot my body and mind and figure out what I wanted in the future.

My parents suggested that we all go to Denmark to relax and enjoy Christmas with them, but I knew my family and I had to leave everything behind and find a more neutral place to relax.

I decided to travel to Antarctica, where I imagined there was no phone or internet connection to interrupt me. Searching for a way to get there, I found a cruise with Holland America Line, which aside from taking me to Antarctica, would also entertain my family. This was the perfect choice.

Now, I would never leave Peru for good. I am back in Lima, and I was gone just long enough to learn which things from here I would miss and how much I appreciate my family here, my team with whom I work, and my job promoting the opportunities here in Peru.

But if you are wondering if I was able to achieve my goal of rebooting my body and mind, the answer is yes. This cruise on the Holland America Line’s MS Veendam was the perfect choice.

Every morning started for me around 6 a.m. with a little exercise, followed by three classes of stretching, abs and Tai Chi, and then a delicious protein-rich and healthy breakfast with the family.

From 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. my sons, ages 12 and 6, went to the teens’ and kids’ clubs, where they could basically spend all day and evening, only interrupted by the lunch and dinner with their parents, which gave me the opportunity to focus on my plans and ideas. This club for kids was the best Christmas gift possible for every parent onboard. Emily and Nicole, the girls who managed and entertained our kids, did an outstanding job, and we, as parents, felt safe and calm at all times. Besides exploring all of the parts of the ship, cooking, eating ice cream, playing games and having pyjama parties, the kids learned many news things about the places we visited, and practiced their English skills with some of the children, who hailed from 39 different nations.

There was entertainment and information all day for us adults, too. My wife participated in seminars about nutrition, Feng Shui, photo and video editing and more. We both enjoyed the lectures about the Antarctic expeditions, the wildlife, the history of the cities we visited and much more. Specialists were brought onboard to present the lectures. In Antarctica, 16 residents from Camp Palmer visited us onboard the ship to tell us about the science projects they were working on and what life in Antarctica is like.

The four of us spent hours in the Explorers Club playing board games, reading books from the library and using one of guest computers to keep the family and friends updated. With our own computer, we could have connected to the wireless satellite network from almost anywhere aboard the ship.

An important warning

When you go on a Holland America Line cruise, there is a large variety of food available all day, every day, and you really have to be careful. I “only” gained two kilos during our trip, but according to the fitness trainer, many gain 2-4 kilos per week during the cruise. This is of course due to the temptation of having access to so many great plates and lots of desserts, cookies, ice cream etc. It’s available every day and no one tells you to stop, meaning that if you don’t have a wonderful wife to remind you of your current health situation and/or how hard it is to lose those kilos after the adventure is all over (and fortunately, I do), you could get really fat.

Service onboard

Another surprise I didn’t expect was the wonderful service aboard the ship. Not only were we treated very politely, but everyone walked the extra mile to make sure that we received everything we needed to have a remarkable vacation. Almost everyone we met, from Irsan and Kholik, who attended our cabin every day, to the cooks and waiters who served us every day, remembered us and greeted us by name. That not only made us feel at home, but was also an incredible feat, considering how many of us passengers were aboard the MS Veendam.

Our itinerary

After having visited Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Montevideo and the Falkland Island, we finally arrived to Antarctica, where we cruised around for four days. It is definitely one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and if, like us, you ever get to celebrate New Years Eve there, where the sun never goes down and the scenery changes every second due to the light, the reflections on the icebergs, and the nature in general, you are blessed.

I didn’t want to go to bed that night, but instead just sit on deck, in -4 weather, and watch this amazing nature, which was playing out like a movie right in front of me. At 3 a.m., I gave up and slept like a happy baby, having admired God’s nature.

Antarctica was incredible, and so was Tierra del Fuego, a national park just outside Ushuaia and the southern-most point of Argentina. Later, we visited Punta Arenas and Puerto Montt, before ending our trip in Valparaiso, approximately a hundred kilometers from Santiago de Chile, from where most of the passengers returned home.


To appreciate what we have, it is healthy and wise to every once-in-a-while leave everything behind and explore the world.

This trip inspired me, allowed me to reboot my body and mind, enjoy time with my family, and come up with new ideas about what I’d like to do in Peru in the future. If only 25% of my new dreams and goals come through, I’ll be a very happy and fortunate man.

These days Holland America Line offers many great trips and bargains, so that you can do what my family and I just did, and I recommend you to visit to find yourself a once-in-a-lifetime experience that fits your dreams and goals.