Antarctica is a land lost in time, a land detached and full of wonder. Its harsh environment has a serene beauty to it that no visitor can ignore. The windiest, driest and coldest place on earth, Antarctica is an environment of extremes that capitates every traveller who visits her white shores.
If you think you have travelled or done adventure cruises, then think again. A cruise to Antarctica will quite literally blow your mind and make you realise just how tame some of the other cruises out there are. However, the cruise is not for the light-hearted as you’ll need to cross the infamous Drake Passage and take on extreme conditions to view this enchanting continent.
As the 2016/17 Antarctic tourist season approaches, we thought we’d share our top 3 reasons to take an Antarctica cruise this year.
From the moment you see your first iceberg from your ship, you’ll understand why the landscape of Antarctica is attracting more and more visitors year on year. Most people describe it as ‘alien’ or unearthly’. This is certainly the overriding feeling as you pass giant icebergs that tower above your ship and look out upon an endless sea of ice.
Blue hued icebergs sit still in the water looking like sculptured masterpieces, huge glaciers shoot out of the shoreline and volcano islands loom over the landscape making the perfect backdrop for photos. Depending on the type of cruise you do, many operators offer adventure activates such as sea kayaking, mountaineering and skiing. If you’re the real adventurous type then try camping on the ice for one night. Once you’ve slept on ice you can sleep on anything!
Whilst the landscape is outstanding, the wildlife may even trump it. Often described as the Galapagos of Antarctica, the peninsula is home to a vast array of wildlife. You’ll have the opportunity to see at least five types of penguins, five types of seals and eight species of whales and seabirds as you cruise through the ice.
Where else on earth can you experience penguins walking over your feet or feel the spray from a whale’s blowhole! Some colonies of seals and penguins are over a million strong and you’ll take daily zodiac trips to get up close to whales and bird nesting sites. If you’re okay with the cold then you could even take a scuba diving session to get up close and personal with the marine life.
The Cruise Itself
The cruise itself is probably unlike any other cruise you have experienced previously. Calm waters, pools and cinemas are generally not on the itinerary, instead, you’re given expert lectures every day on a whole host of subjects ranging from ecology, history, biology, geology and photography. Whilst the majority of the cruise is around the peninsula where the seas are generally calm, the crossing is often another story. The Drake Passage that separates the Southern tip of South America with Antarctica is famously rough and many Antarctic travellers see the ‘Drake Shake’ crossing as a rite-of-passage. It is actually one of the most memorable moments of your trip and after you find your sea legs you’ll love every second!
Antarctica trips start from around $5,000 per person for a 10/11 day trip. Warm weather gear is required, however, your operator will often supply you with water boots and an expedition parka.