Millennium Cruise 2000

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The "Kapitan Khlebnikov" arrived in Lyttelton, the Port of Christchurch on Sunday 11th December 1999 to prepare for a special Millennium Cruise to the Antarctic to see in the new Millennium at the very place on the Globe to see the first sunrise of the 3rd Millennium which scientists had worked out to be a place at sea just north of the Balleny Islands in the Ross Dependency just north of the Antarctic Circle.

The Millennium cruise had proved very popular with some tourists booking their cabins several years previously.

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The "Khlebnikov" arriving at the outer Mole of Lyttelton outer Harbour on 11 December 1999

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"Khlebnikov" with tugboat alongside approaching the inner harbour at Lyttelton.


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Entering the inner harbour and about to be turned around by the Lyttelton tugboat "Godley"


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Turning around to be backed into the Oil wharf  in the inner harbour.


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Berthing at the Oil wharf.


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Later transferred to a  brestwork berth


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The "Khlebnikov" at right with red hulled American icebreaker "Nathaniel B. Palmer" at left background.


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Helicopter deck of  the "Khlebnikov" showing landing pad, zodiacs and helicopters in hanger.


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Zodiac landing craft on deck


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Another view of zodiac craft on helicopter deck


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Russian Mil-18 Helicopter  (6 passenger) in hanger


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Upper deck of "Khlebnikov" showing bridge at front


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Expedition leaders Mike Messick at left and Werner Stambach at right signing postcards offered below.


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This view shows the "Kapitan Khlebnikov" at her Brestwork berth.


The "Kapitan Khlebnokov" left Lyttelton on Wednesday 15th December.

She was bound for the sub-Antarctic Auckland and Campbell Island groups before arriving at Cape Adare in the Antarctic on 23rd December 1999

Her schedule saw her spend Christmas off the Victoria Land Coast with helicopter trips to the Wright Dry Valleys scheduled. The next date was January 1st 2000 off the Balleny Islands for the first sunrise of the new Millennium.

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The vessel spent considerable time travelling through pack ice.

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There were several helicopter excursions in the two Mil-18's helicopters.

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This view shows one of the Mil-18 helicopters ferrying passengers from the vessel in McMurdo Sound in January 2000 with the Trans Antarctic mountains in the background

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The Mil-18 helicopter waiting at McMurdo Base for the return of tourists.


For this Expedition the two companies chartering the vessel were;

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Quark Expeditions which are a German tourist company specialising in expedition tourism to remote locations. Their Expedition leader was Werner Stambach.

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Zegrahm, an American Seattle company whose leader for the trip was Mike Messick who has been involved in Antarctic Exploration since 1986.

The "Kapitan Khlebnikov" is a Russian flagged vessel whose home port is Vladivostok. She is operated by Fesco which is the Far Eastern Shipping Company of Vladivostok in Russia. The large "F" on her funnel represents Fesco. She has a Russian ship crew of 39 plus an international crewed hotel staff of 21. She also carries a expedition staff and has two experienced Russian helicopter pilots on board.

The vessel also had on board representatives of the New Zealand Wildlife division, a condition of being able to land tourists on New Zealand sub-Antarctic islands, several speakers and a noted ornithologist, Frank Todd who was engaged on various bird surveys from on board. Mike Messick, told me that the expedition  hoped to see Emperor Penguins on ice floes this voyage.

Expedition Memorabilia

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Expedition Sticker (1)

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Expedition sticker (2)

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Expedition patch

To commemorate the visit of the "Kapitan Khlebnikov" to Lyttelton and its start of the special Millennium cruise a number of postal items were organised. We offer these below but would advise that for many of these items we only have one or two examples available so please email us to put aside for you any you are interested in.

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Address side with Ross Dependency stamp

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Picture side including view of ship at right

   KHLEB 1.      Picture Postcard with Expedition "First Light Expedition" sticker.      Price US$5

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Address side with Ross Dependency stamp

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Picture side of postcard offered at left

KHLEB 2. Picture Postcard with Expeditions "Antarctica 2000 Expedition" sticker.  Price US$5

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KHLEB 3.  Picture Postcard for visit of "Kapitan Khlebnikov" to Lyttelton   Price US$3

Note: The above postcard shows a view of the vessel arriving at Lyttelton on 12th December 1999. It has been cacheted on board the "Kapitan Khlebnikov" (see rubber stamp at foot) and posted through the Ross Dependency Postal Agency in Christchurch on the 15th December, the day the vessel departed.

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KHLEB 4.  Picture Postcard for visit of "Kapitan Khlebnikov" to Lyttelton   Price US$3

Note: This postcard has a different view of the"Kapitan Khlebnikov" and a different Ross Dependency stamp.

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KHLEB 5.  Picture Postcard of Balleny Islands with "Khlebnikov" cachet.   Price US$5

Note: This postcard also bears one of the "Antarctica 2000" stickers issued to expedition participants.

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KHLEB 6.  Picture Postcard of Balleny Islands with "Khlebnikov" cachet.   Price US$3

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KHLEB 7.  Picture Postcard of Balleny Islands with "Khlebnikov" cachet & 2 signatures.   Price US$5

Note:The two signatures are those of the two Expedition leaders Mike Messick and Werner Stambach.

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KHLEB 8.  2000 (January 5th)   Picture Postcard posted MacQuarie Island     Price US$8

Note: Posted at MacQuarie Island with 2 ship's cachets, a cachet(and postmark) from MacQuarie Island and postmarked on arrival in Christchurch on 9th February, 2000. The above postcard was placed on board the vessel in Lyttelton and carried via the Balleny Islands on January Ist and then posted at the first Post Office available which of course was MacQuarie Island which the ship arrived at on 4th January for a 3 day stay.

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KHLEB 9.  2000 (January 13th)   Postcard of Balleny Islands posted paquebot at Hobart.  Price US$8

Note: The above postcard bears a Ross Dependency sunset stamp and has correctly been afforded paquebot treatment by the Australian Postal authorities when handed in by the "Kapitan Khlebnikov's" purser.  Hobart does not at present have a proper Paquebot postmark but instead applies a straight line "Paquebot" marking and then uses an ordinary Hobart circular hand stamp. as shown above.

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KHLEB 10.  2000 (January 13th)   Signed postcard of Balleny Islands posted paquebot at Hobart.  Price US$10

Note: This postcard is the same as the previous card but it has additionally been signed by the two Expedition leaders.

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