Anyone who has been lucky enough to travel to Antarctica will tell you what an incredible place it is. It’s a destination far away from the norm and something truly unforgettable. Yes, it’s not cheap, but this isn’t some bog-standard trip to the Med, this is a once in a lifetime trip to the very end of the world where you’re provided with guides, naturalists and photography experts.
Yet even today, so few people know that you can actually visit this epic continent by cruise ship. So I’m here to give you my top 5 reasons to go on a cruise in Antarctica.
1. The Unique Wildlife
The rise in people taking cruises to Antarctica is largely thanks to the unique wildlife found here. Much like the Galapagos, the wildlife of Antarctica is relatively tame and unafraid of humans. In fact, animals such as minke whales and penguins are typically very curious and it’s not uncommon for a penguin to walk right up to you. This makes for some truly unforgettable wildlife encounters. One minute your enjoying a drink on-board your ship, the next your taking a zodiac ride alongside a 10 metre whale! For wildlife enthusiasts, I implore you to include South Georgia in your itinerary. Yes, its more expensive, but you’ll witness penguins and seal colonies over a million strong!
2. The Deep History
Because of its remoteness, Antarctica has garnered the attention of explorers and adventurers for decades. Names such as Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton, Roald Amundsen, and Sir Edmund Hillary are etched into the history of this landscape. Because Antarctica is the driest desert on earth (odd isn’t it?), the remains of past expeditions are preserved in incredibly good condition. One of the finest examples is Scott’s hut at Cape Evans. Inside the hut you can see everything from pots and pans, to bunk beds and seal blubber, all exactly as they were in 1911. History lovers will love the East Antarctica itinerary as it follows in the footsteps of Mackay, David and Mawson as they searched for the South Pole.
3. The Incredible Landscape
The landscape in Antarctica can only be described as ‘otherworldly’. As you scan the horizon from your ship, the sea blends seamlessly into the ice, creating an expansive feel that is difficult to describe. Thanks to the long days during summer, there are plenty of hours when the sun shines in beautiful yellows, oranges and pinks, lighting up the mountains and icebergs. The barren nature of the Antarctic landscape creates gorgeous clean lines for photography and the numerous icebergs make for fantastic foregrounds. Keep in mind though, that although beautiful, Antarctica is cold and you’ll need to pack appropriately.
4. The Cool Activities
Although remote, there is actually a whole host of awesome activities you can do in Antarctica. The most commonly offered is sea kayaking. This is a great way of exploring icebergs and smaller inlets where your ship cannot reach. You’ll need to pay extra though and book ahead. Other great activities are camping, skiing, climbing, and snow-shoeing. If you’re up for it, you can also do what is known as the ‘Polar Plunge’. Jump from your ship into the freezing waters below – it’s colder than you thought possible, but that only helps to keep the memory alive! If you seriously love activities, I suggest taking the ‘Basecamp Itinerary’ as it includes many of the above mentioned options without paying extra.
5. The Knowledge Fountain
When I tell people that Antarctic cruises are full of lectures, most people frown at me. Don’t panic though, this is not like school. The lecturers are charismatic and passionate about what they’re telling you. It also helps that you’re actually sailing in the environment at the same time. I was slightly worried at first, but the lectures turned out to be one of the highlights! We had talks on everything from global warming and geology, to wildlife and photography. Each talk was varied and fascinating and really enhanced the shore trips as it gave us some perspective as to what we were seeing. The photography expert was particularly helpful and helped to enhance my photography greatly.
That’s it folks. Now it’s time to start planning your epic adventure to the White Continent. Take it from me, this will be the greatest journey of your life!