In 2015, I took the opportunity to explore the Antarctica via an expedition cruise. This is a repost of the original post….
Absolutely spectacular and worth all my skimping and saving! I travelled with One Ocean Expeditions (located in Squamish BC -they have been involved with finding the lost Franklin vessels) and they were fabulous. Unfortunately they are no longer in business, but other suppliers are also extremely good in what they offer to their adventurous passengers….. Please contact me for more information.
I recommend the following expedition cruise companies to explore the Antarctica- to name just three:
My Expedition Cruise of 2015
Just 96 passengers as the maximum number onboard- we travelled on the Ioffe Akademik across the Drake Passage in Beaufort Scale seas of 9. (Thank goodness for the seasickness patch- and yes it did work- added 6 hours before boarding.) On board was a couple from the Netherlands- he was a naval architect and informed my travelling partner that a smaller ship was perfectly safe- bigger was not better in this case!
The Russian ship and hotel crew were very efficient, and the captain accessible- we were allowed in the bridge anytime…..no blocking the centre windows. Food was plentiful (too plentiful in my opinion!- I went to just sandwiches for lunch on the third day) and very good- not fancy however- lots of salads, etc. Tea and coffee available in the bar/ lounge any time. The dining room seated everyone……very friendly atmosphere. The One Ocean team sat with us- basically went from table to table so we were able to ask questions to our heart’s content.
Crossing the Drake Passage
We left from Ushuaia in the evening on the 16th, and arrived in Fournier Bay after 2 days- we were there when we woke up on the 19th. From the 19th until the evening of the 24th we had 2 zodiac landings or cruises a day for at least 2.5 hours- all of us at the same time. On the 24th in the late evening we set sail for Ushuaia again and arrived early in the morning on the 26th. That was a smooth sail- seas much better- but we all had patches on by that time just in case. The first time round most did not because they are not available in a lot of countries……or people thought they could get away with no seasickness. The doc treated 75% of passengers on the way over for seasickness……
Choosing the Time of Year
I chose the Marine Mammals voyage (last one of the season) for two reasons- the price was at a lower point, and the marine mammals are very plentiful…..for instance, lots of penguins and seals, and the one morning when I woke for sunrise in Wilhelmina Bay there were humpback whales sleeping in every direction from the bridge deck- that was where our cabin was- I was about 10 feet from the door into the bridge. We stopped at Palmer Station (US research station) as well- this was the first time One Ocean Expeditions had been allowed to stop there……I think primarily because of the whale scientists on board who were working in conjunction with some of their team on base there.
Who Explores the Antarctica?
On board beside the expert Russian crew and the One Ocean team (adventurers, expert kayakers, photography experts, etc.) were 3 scientists and an Antarctica historian……the scientists’ specialties were whales and seals…..they tagged a humpback and we were able to see some of the footage (they included it on our memory stick they gave to us at the voyage end with a compilation of the best passenger photos and videos…..). We had talks to attend on our crossings from them as well as some of the speciality One Ocean Team members (for instance 2 of the team were expert kayakers and spent 11 days paddling the Antarctica in February- I followed their progress).
The passengers were a mix from all over the world on ship just to explore the Antarctica- HK, Japan, the Netherlands, NZ, Australia, the states, the UK, Canada, etc. etc. Most spoke English quite clearly. There were 4 photo-jouralists on board- and lots of “professional” amateur photographers. It is hard to take a poor picture. Photo below from an iphone as were all the rest in this post. I have not looked at my camera pics as yet (April 2015)……
My best memories- the whales all around us in Wilhelmina Bay, being a foot from a curious Wendell seal in the zodiac, being handed a cup of mulled wine after our first zodiac cruise ( we had these a lot of the time- especially in the evening on our return around 7 pm or so when it was cooler)- visiting Palmer Station and Deception Island, even the Drake crossing in the rough seas and absolutely killing it…….
Your Turn to Explore the Antarctica?
I am more than happy to answer questions if any readers think you would like to head out on one of the cruise expeditions above to explore the Antarctica. I cannot recommend this trip of a lifetime enough!
Also, I recommend that if you do go on an Antarctica trip, that you take advantage of where you are and do at least a side trip of a couple of days to Iguassu Falls- just spectacular as well, and easily added on to the Antarctica trip. Are you interested in exploring the Antarctica? If so, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 226-927-4061.
Next up- a synopsis of the South American portion.