Our trip to Antarctica was bittersweet. We were experiencing the most epic adventure of a lifetime – exploring the most isolated and remote continent on earth, though acutely aware that no trip in the future would ever compare.
I’ve grappled for the past few weeks with how to put the experience into words. Because even though the continent pulls rave reviews, the experience is still undersold. One of the rare destinations which actually exceeds and surpasses the hype.
And I’ll admit, I was apprehensive of traveling to Antarctica. Extraordinarily excited, sure, but I’ve traveled enough to know that you can ruin a destination by building it up in your mind. And the pedestal I’d built for Antarctica was exceptionally high. But we needn’t have been scared. Because the reality of Antarctica didn’t crush the dream – it blew it out of the water.
The Trip of a Lifetime: Traveling to Antarctica on an Expedition Cruise
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For me to travel to Antarctica, I was only ever going to go on an expedition cruise; a smaller ship with limited number of passengers which was an experience more likely torn from the pages of National Geographic than Travel + Leisure.
Because the whole romance of experiencing a destination such as Antarctica is to follow in the footsteps of historic explorers such as Shackleton or Drake. And a boat with 500 passengers would dilute this. Also, international regulations limit the number of people allowed on land at any one time, so large cruise ships don’t let you off the boat.
“We’re heading to Antarctica” I said to the inquisitive couple in the elevator of the Renaissance Santiago.
“Ooooooh we’ve just come from there!” she exclaimed. “It was increeeeeedible – though a little disappointing, actually. We had to stay on the boat.” She paused. “Incredible sightseeing though!”
I smiled politely and said “I can’t wait”. I don’t voice my opinion, but am quietly wondering why you wouldn’t book to actually walk among the spectacular wildlife and landscapes you’ve traveled to the edge of the earth to see.
We chose to travel with Chimu Adventures because the company mirrored our values, offering a taste of exploration and an intimate connection with the land. When you’re on an expedition ship you’re not simply brought to the southernmost continent only to snap a few pics and then head back, but given an authentic experience of what the voyage really means.
Our floating home for the duration of the cruise was the ice-strengthened M/V Sea Spirit, and she sailed 3,631 nautical miles from Ushuaia, across the Drake Passage, to Paradise Harbour and back. This small and mighty vessel carried 114 passengers and 72 incredible crew, who spend more of their time immersed in this part of the world than that of their original home.
Instead of musical theater and bingo, activities on board had an educational theme. Presentations from naturalists and science-oriented guest lecturers covered the history, geography and ecology of the region. And these stressed that sustainability and responsible travel was key.
But to keep the trip from getting too serious, there were fluffy robes, and flatscreen TV’s. And the crew actively encouraged friendly on-board competition – bar credit for the passenger who could guess the correct timing of the first glacier we would see (we were an hour shy!).
Films and documentaries played which offered insight into Antarctic exploration. And we were always ready for spontaneous discoveries – a pod of whales, a circling Albatross, or a glaciated mountain vista. With only 114 passengers on board there was always space on the outdoor decks. Which, on a calm sunny day was an excellent place to dive into a book from the library.
You Won’t Have Time For the Library
Before we boarded the ship I was quite excited about the prospect of the library. A quiet cozy place for reading and relaxation, it has an extensive selection of polar books and DVDs, magazines, and reference materials, and we often stopped in for a quick scan of world newspapers printed daily. But while I had grand plans of reading in my down time, in reality, there was too much else to do.
Because this was an adventure cruise. From dawn until dusk we were hiking, kayaking, exploring, swimming, sliding down glacial mountain tops, visiting a research base, eating incredible food, drinking amazing wine, dancing, and attending expert lectures if we wanted to. And, if you hadn’t decided to give up your room for camping on the ice, there was an outdoor hot tub from which you could decompress and enjoy the view.
Ours was the most basic room, though for an all suite ship, even this was luxurious for what we assumed from an expedition cruise.
We had 226 square feet in a stateroom with twin beds (which pushed together into a double), and a sofa. We had port hole windows, two wardrobes, a computer desk, mini fridge, TV/DVD, temperature control, and en-suite. House keeping will service daily if you want them to.
As we congregated for welcome drinks in the presentation lounge upon boarding, we were asked to pull out our itinerary.
“Good” said our expedition leader Jonathan. “Now rip it in two”.
The reality of exploring such a harsh environment means that our landings each day were dependent on weather. We would gather at the end of each day for a daily recap, and a preview of the plan for the next. And we take our hats off to the Sea Spirit Crew who were incredible at orchestrating back up plans for their back up plans, and quite literally working overtime to make sure we didn’t miss the chance to explore.
Each morning breakfast would run from 7.30 until 9 in a beautiful open seating dining room (while there is a buffet laid out the chefs will cook to order for you). We would board a fleet of rubber zodiacs for a morning landing at 9, and have the freedom to explore until lunch was served back on the ship at 1 in the afternoon.
During lunch the ship would sail to a new destination, and we would take an afternoon landing around 3pm. While there were tea and cakes served in the bar every day at 4, and cocktails and canapes at 6, we never made it. We were never onboard.
And this freedom and flexibility to take landings as you wanted to, return to the ship if you’d had enough, and explore at your own pace was really, for us, what made the cruise.
We were concerned before traveling that our land based activities would make us feel nannied. That there would be a guide breathing down our necks and there would be a path from which you wouldn’t be able to move. But nothing ended up being further from the truth.
Yes, there were flags which were placed on each landing site to indicate where a cliff would drop off, or the presence of a “penguin highway”, and there were one or two guides posted along the general route. But they would only tap you on the shoulder if you got too close to the wildlife, and spoke to you as equals as opposed to making you feel as if you were in year two.
For this, we pass on our sincerest thanks to an incredible crew
Just being present in such a harsh environment burns more energy than you’re normally used to, but if there was one thing we were impressed by, it was the food.
A buffet for breakfast and lunch meant you could eat as much as you wanted to, and on a sunny day the outdoor bistro would serve hamburgers, soups, pasta, salads, and desserts if you were after something lighter.
A la carte dinner was served each evening at 7.30pm, and the open seating dining meant there were no assigned tables – you could choose your seating, meet and mingle with other passengers, eat alone, or join other guests. Dinner was a fine dining experience, with contemporary, international cuisine created by the talented on-board chefs.
And while the servers and Maitre D were incredible, if there was one man everyone was on first name basis with it was the bartender. Who else! After dinner most passengers would ascend to the Club Lounge, which has comfortable seating around a Grand Piano, a 24-hour self-service coffee and tea bar, and a full service bar with a wide variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
I’m not the type of person to spontaneously burst into tears, but the pristine landscape of Antarctica will do that to you. It steals your composure and wills you towards an emotional wreck.
You don’t know whether to laugh or cry. You look around to see if there’s anyone who can share the moment with you, and provide reassurance that this is happening – that the beauty is real and you should believe your eyes.
And it’s a delicate balance, for photographers especially. Photography is a huge part of the trip, and you want to be able to capture the incredible sights. However the landscapes and scenery in Antarctica are some of the most majestic and pristine man has ever seen. And if you can be present in the moment and detach yourself from your viewfinder, the feeling which washes over you is an immense sensation of awe and inner peace.
To Take Your Breath Away
The landscapes you’ll see are surprisingly diverse for a continent which is known as the land of snow and ice. Literally covered with a thick ice sheet that reaches up to an average of 2,450m, there are of course snow capped peaks and collossal mountain ranges which have been set in a deep freeze.
You’ll take rubber zodiacs through glassy water and maneuver floating glacier ice, though Antarctica also has several large and small islands, with deep beds of moss and visible vegetation, where everything has melted and the bedrock is dry.
Deception Island in particular is a far cry from the Antarctic stereotype; an active volcano in the South Shetland Islands archipelago, with barren volcanic slopes, steaming beaches and ash-layered glaciers. It is one of the only places in the world where vessels can sail directly into the centre of a restless volcano, and in stark contrast to the pristine white landscapes you would expect, everything is covered in dark ash.
While we made landings in the South Shetland Islands on the first day, and I burst into tears from the landscapes on the second, it wasn’t until Cuverville Island on day three that I thought “This is what I expected Antarctica to be”; standing in the middle of a gentoo rookery, with thousands upon thousands of penguin pairs.
One of Antarctica’s biggest draws is its incredible wildlife, and much like the Galapagos Islands, animals here roam free and have no fear of close contact with humans. If anything, they were mildly curious about our presence, but honestly, for the most part, they didn’t seem to care.
They didn’t run when you pointed your camera lens, in fact, they would often come closer to stare. Vastly outnumbered by the native wildlife, we were the only exotic creatures here.
If there was any fear of taking the polar plunge, the only likelihood was from Humpback Whales who would swim within 100 meters of our zodiac. They hardly breach, though do tend to put on a show, slapping the water with their tail and fin, and being open to relatively close encounters. It was absolutely magnificent to see in person.
We sat next to colonies of seals without disturbing them, witnessed giant seabirds with the balls to swipe a penguin chick, and were left thoroughly in awe of the array of hardcore wildlife which call the icy continent their home.
Click on individual images to enlarge
It’s important to keep in mind that you’re there to observe and not interact. As visitors to this pristine land, our job as travelers is to make sure our actions don’t interfere with the behavior of native species.
The Trip of a Lifetime
2,000 words later, the moral of the story is that this was the trip of a lifetime, though it was definitely bittersweet. We’re very aware that no destination going forward is ever going to be able to compete.
Keep watching our Antarctica destination page for detailed stories from the trip – each activity, wildlife encounter, and landscape is a story in it’s own right. From swimming in the sub Antarctic waters, to getting sunburnt on the ice, I still have so much more to write!
Getting There: Cruises leave from Ushuaia in Argentina. Flights leave from Buenos Aires daily via LATAM and the local Aerolineas Argentinas.
Travel Insurance: mandatory with every Antarctica cruise due to the remoteness and isolation of your destination.
I used Cover-More travel insurance as they offered premium cover, affordable policies, and included our land based activities (other insurance companies told me they would only cover time spent on the ship, which is pointless for an adventure cruise). Click for a quote.
Disclosure: Special thanks to Chimu Adventures for providing our cruise. As always, the opinions expressed here are entirely our own. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to travel with a vibrant, committed and socially-responsible company. We plan to pay for an expedition cruise to the Arctic with Chimu next June.
More info: For more information on Antarctica travel visit the Chimu Adventures Antarctica Resource Centre.
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Photo credits: M/v Sea Spirit in Pinterest Image by Sophie Hardcastle. Some images were taken by other passengers including Anthony Smith and Sherly Clarke.
This post was sponsored by Cover-More Insurance Services Pty Ltd and Chimu Adventures.
What an awesome trip! I’ll look forward to seeing more photos and reading more stories about Antarctica.
Thanks Daniel! We had an incredible time! The blog is giving me an opportunity to re-live everything, which is nice!
Just awesome I can relate to your experience because I have been there to describe Antarctica to another person is often hard I believe the only people that understand it’s true beauty are others that have been
Thanks Valeria! Psyched to hear that you’ve been to Antarctica too! It really does feel as though words can’t do justice to the experience – this was one of my more difficult posts to write to try and get the wording right!
I would so love to do this trip! When you love winter like we do, Antarctica is the ultimate destination.
Hope you do have the chance to organize a cruise :) Absolutely – it’s actually the best of both worlds – summer for that part of the world, so it’s sunny out (I actually got sunburnt!!) but you have premium winter landscapes, activities and views :)
Absolutely amazing Meg! Really inspiring adventure and write up. This is the stuff of dreams :)
Thanks Stefan! We had the most incredible trip! Hope you have the chance to travel to Antarctica too :)
I (Janice) experienced an Antarctic expedition cruise too — and it also was a trip of a lifetime! Your post has brought back so many precious memories. I never thought I’d want to go (too cold!), but the penguins, the monstrous icebergs, the whales, the blue ice colors — all just blew me away…
How fantastic Janice! So psyched to hear that you had an incredible experience too :) Glad we could bring back memories – it was like being back there as I was going through photos and videos, thinking of making an album we can sit down from time to time to go through :)
I actually did’t find it overly cold – we got very lucky with the sun being out the whole time :) Was totally blown away too!
Thanks for this post. I’ve always had the idea that I’d like to see the end of the world but these days I’m hopeful of some space tourism. The landscapes based on the photos seem quite similar to various mountain ranges. The comparisons to Galapagos make me want to check out the birding game out there and penguins are always great. The up close encounters with the whales is incredible as well.
I’m curious about how you went about researching some of your trip? This just seems like a massive tasks. It’s nice to hear that Chimu gave a huge emphasis on sustainability and education. I just imagine others would do the same at least hope so.
I look forward to scrolling through you Antarctica destination page once I get the chance. Thanks for this post again and safe travels ahead!
Hi Mark, thanks for your comment :) I’m also hopeful for space tourism … surely it’s only a matter of time at this point!
Once we had decided on Chimu the research wasn’t that hard – there’s a lot to research which can definitely be overwhelming at the start, but after we had our booking confirmed, the company emailed with 10 or so different PDFs which cover pretty much everything you could possibly want to know.
The kit they send you on booking includes a ship manual with packing lists, pre departure info, history on the destinations we would be visiting each day, a wildlife guide, check list for everything you need to cover before you go, what to expect during the voyage, like seasickness meds, weather, electricity, and a section for photography tips.
I was really impressed with the comprehensive information they sent through.
Re sustainability, the great thing about Antarctica is that the destination is heavily regulated by international treaties, so all ships have to operate within regulations for sustainability anyway. But Chimu makes it part of their brand identity and really pushes this throughout the rest of their South American itineraries too.
Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions :)
Wow! This really is a once in a lifetime experience. I have never thought about going to Antarctica, but now I am really considering it. It’s interesting when you pointed out that the harsh weather conditions burn a lot of energy. I never really thought about it until you said something and it makes sense. It must have been amazing to see all that wildlife!
Highly recommend it, it really is the experience of a lifetime! Yes, we read that re the burning energy at a higher rate before we left, and it’s definitely true. Your body has to work overtime to keep you warm, so you need to eat a lot more.
The wildlife is incredible – hands down the best wildlife destination we’ve experienced to date :)
Reading your story and looking at the photos brings back a heap of fond memories of my trip to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands several years ago. Like you, I was a bit apprehensive before the trip but after going I’ll have to agree with you, Antarctica is the most amazing place I’ve ever been to.
So glad we could take you back Christina! It’s been a blast editing photos and reliving the experience by writing posts these last few weeks. The memories flood back in so vividly!
We didn’t include South Georgia and the Falkland Islands on thic cruise, but would love to organize another one if we were ever lucky enough to.
Yep, definitely lives up to it’s reputation … and then some!
Megan, thanks for this article! It’s definitely on my bucket list, and after seeing your amazing pictures I want to go there even more. What months would you recommend?
Cruises start in late October and go through until mid March – December, January and February are your peak months and when you’ll have the most amount of daylight :)
I feel the same that it wouldn’t be worth visiting if you just have to stay on the boat so I’m glad you shared this. Those pictures look absolutely incredible!
Yep, we decided that we wouldn’t go on a cruise if we weren’t stepping off the boat, even if it was offered complimentary as a trip through the blog.
I think this is something that people assume, but don’t always fully research, so I’m glad I could bring people’s attention to the need to make sure before they book :)
Wow, this is truly a trip of a lifetime and one of a kind. I would love to experience this kind of trip if given a chance. Thank you for sharing your inspiring travel experience. Your photos speak so much about your great time in Antarctica on a cruise ship. Great photos I must say!
Thankyou so much! We had such an incredible time. I’m so glad that you’ve enjoyed our photos – hopefully you’ll have the chance to travel to Antarctica too :)
Antarctica would be a life-changing experience for sure! I would be scared to make the trek and am not that great with cold, but would be well worth it for the gorgeous sights. The wildlife is adorable too!
I was actually quite surprised with the weather, because even though it was cold, you travel in the height of summer, so the sun was out, and on many hikes I actually stripped down to a singlet top! I ended up getting sunburnt in Antarctica haha!
But you get expedition jackets as part of the tour which are big and bulky and incredibly warm, so there was never a time where I was too cold which was nice … apart from maybe when I decided to take the polar plunge and go for a swim :D!
Megan, this truly does sound like the trip of a lifetime!! I love all of the amazing photos. How cool would it be to be right near adorable penguins?!! My grandfather was a geologist and studied in Antarctica — he has a glacier named after him so I can’t wait to visit someday!! :)
Wow, what was your grandfathers name Natasha? How amazing to have a glacier named after you in such an incredible part of the world! I imagine he had the most fascinating stories to tell :)
Wow! Talk about building my expectations up, though, because it sounds pretty incredible! I agree with you, I wouldn’t want to miss going on land! I’m with you that the true adventure feel is what it seems like Antarctica is all about. The food, lodging and other aspects of the cruise sound pretty fantastic as well!
I promise that even the highest of expectations will be met! Everything, from life on board the cruise like food, to stepping out onto the continent itself surpassed our expectations. Can highly recommend a cruise :)
What a spectacular trip you had! I envy you. I loved each part of the trip. And the pictures were just stunning! The landscapes of Antarctica are jaw dropping.
Thanks Sandy & Vyjay! I hope you have the chance to book a cruise too! :)
I think you did a really similar trip to our two trips, in that you chose an expedition style cruise that allows you to spend lots of time ashore and which eschews the usual cabaret and casino entertainment for educational and hugely fascinating presentations and lessons on all manner of topics, from wildlife to geography to history and so much more. Our ships both had 100 passengers, so that we could all be ashore at once, allowing for much longer on shore.
The main difference from our trips is that your cabin and dining were definitely more luxe. The food we had was actually amazing, but the setting was less elegant, not that we minded at all. The cabins were functional rather than beautiful like yours.
When we did our first one in 2004, we too thought it would be a once in a lifetime, but we found ourselves heading back for a second trip 4 years later, and then a couple of years after that, we spent 3.5 weeks in the Falkland Islands, sitting for whole days within penguin or albatross colonies. So magical.
Wow how incredible that you’ve been quite a few times Kavey!! I can definitely see how it would pull you back for another trip! I would love to go back for more :)
So glad you did the 100 passenger trip too – it really does make it so much more enjoyable when you’re traveling in a small group, and as you said, much better for maximizing your time on shore. Definitely the way to go.
I haven’t done the Falkland Islands yet, but that’s definitely on my list, so maybe I can incorporate it into the next time we go … I’m being optimistic that there’ll be a return trip :D!
Wow wow wow. It is a trip of a lifetime. An incredible adventure. I like that you travelled with an expedition ship and not with the big cruise ships and that you had the chance to walk into the wildlife. Your cabin even being the basic one looks so luxurious!I am saving money from now to do this trip too. Looking forward to more stories.
So glad that we could inspire you! It’s definitely an incredible adventure, and yes, choosing an expedition ship over a large cruise ship is the way to go. Smaller numbers of people, more time on land to explore the landscapes and spend time with the wildlife.
Happy travels! You’ll love the cruise!
Wow Megan. This reads like the trip of a lifetime. I think I hung on all 2000 words. As a traveller who has sailed only on private vessels or large cruise ships, I am fascinated by this smaller ship. What a fantastic opportunity to learn and explore. I love the sustainability focus and the opportunity to explore on your own. Ripping up your itinerary and letting nature and weather dictate your days, that’s real life. While I got a glimpse here of what it was like, I think you have turned me. Being a fan of summer, and one who generally avoids winter when I can, I am surprised as to how much I would like to experience this cruise one day. Thanks Megan for opening my world and making it just a bit bigger.
Thankyou Rhonda! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! As I was writing it I was hoping it wasn’t too long!! So difficult to cover everything the trip was though in one post!
Yes, highly recommend traveling on a smaller expedition ship if you plan to travel down. It’s one of those trips where you’re paying a lot of money to go, so it should be worthwhile :)
We were very impressed with how real and authentic a journey the expedition offered us – as you said, it’s very real life!
So glad that you enjoyed reading about our experience, and that we could convince you to consider some winter travel :D Although that said, it’s technically summer in Antarctica when the cruise ships go, so while it’s cold, with obviously ice and snow, the sun shines brightly, and I ended up getting sunburnt from stripping off my layers :D!
Hope you do have the chance to make a cruise!
What an incredible and unique trip. Traveling to Antarctica is high on my bucket list, and Chimu Adventures seems to offer the exact experience I would want from an Antarctica adventure! I love your photos of the animals and landscape, and only fuels my travel envy even more! That’s a trip you will certainly never forget!
Thanks Drew! I hope you have the chance to enjoy the journey to Antarctica too! Definitely check out the cruises offered by Chimu – they have a range of options depending on price range and how long you want to take :)
So stoked to be reading your post and beyond excited that you were able to visit Antarctica. Why that couple would pay all the money and not get off the ship doesn’t make any sense. But I guess they just didn’t know all their options.
Bookmarking Chimu Adventures! Lectures on ecology and history sound so much more appealing than watching another rendition of Chicago or the Lion King.
AWESOME photos – especially the one with everyone reflected in Mike’s sunglasses and the one with the whale’s tail about 2 feet from the Zodiak. Hope to make it there one day!
Thanks Debra! And yes, I know, I felt so bad for them! I’m so glad that I have the blog as an outlet to promote that research is so important when taking this kind of cruise :)
Definitely check out Chimu Adventures if you’re planning on making the journey too. Yes, we really loved the educational theme and focus on sustainability.
So glad you enjoyed the post and the photos! Hope you have the chance to take a cruise in the future also :)
I think the allure and the “trip of a lifetime” nature of Antarctica make it a destination most people find inaccessible so they just never consider it. If I were to go, and I absolutely will, I would definitely do it the way you did. The boat experience sounds like so much more than just a cruise, and to get off the boat and see the wildlife, and walk with the penguins like you did, is just incredible. I’m so happy that you got to have that experience.
I agree – I think that to a lot of people this experience seems very far out of reach – but it’s absolutely possible to organize a trip which achieves a great balance of offering an authentic journey while eliminating the previous hardships explorers had to face.
Definitely check out Chimu Adventures when you go to book your own – their values as a company towards adventure and sustainability really made the experience :)
Hi Megan, you have done everything that is still on my bucket list. Visiting Antarctica has been my dream and I want to do it as soon as possible. Just yesterday I was talking to a friend who had come back from Antarctica. He mentioned (like your pictures show) it’s abundance wildlife and untouched. Hopefully I plan it soon, I can’t wait to get there.
Hi Raksha, you’ll absolutely love it in Antarctica! Let us know how your journey goes, I hope you have the chance to experience it soon too!
Wow, this sounds like and looks simply amazing. I’ve been following your Antarctica adventures and living vicariously through your experience. Love how you have captured the serenity and beauty of the place, including the wildlife. Really hope we can make it Antarctica soon. We got as close to Ushuaia…now it’s time to take the next step. Looking forward to more:)
Thankyou for following our journey Rosemary! It really was the most incredible experience, and I can highly recommend the cruises with Chimu Adventures :)
If you do have the chance to visit Ushuaia again soon, definitely think about extending your stay to include a cruise :D!
Fascinating post and pictures about a dream destination also for me. What can I say, Megan, you are the best! ;-) Yow were lucky with the weather, I met some people in Punta Arenas who had do postpone their trip a couple of days because of the weather conditions
Thankyou Elisa! Yes, we were very lucky with the weather on our trip – we came back a day early to miss 10 m waves on the Drake passage, but apart from that it was incredibly smooth!
Megan — I did the exact same trip as you in December on board the Sea Spirit with Poseidon Expeditions! What dates did you go? And I just wrote up my blog post about ship life called “Aboard an Antarctica Expedition Cruise Ship” haha. Almost identical. But I have a whole archive of posts from the trip, with more on the way. It really is incredible, isn’t it! Beyond words and photos, really. I don’t know if I can put a link in the comments, but if you’re interested, my archive is http://skjtravel.net/index.php/component/content/article/369-antarctia-archive.
Hi Shara, we left on February 4, we must have been one of the cruises straight after you! Small world! So glad you enjoyed your cruise too – incredible isn’t it!!
Will jump over and check out your archives – thanks for the link!
Wow, Megan, this is really an adventure of a lifetime! I really don’t prefer cold regions, but now that I see your post, Antarctica seems amazing! I did not even this about there is so much of wildlife, the penguins are really as cuties:)
I was actually really surprised that it wasn’t as cold as I had imagined it to be … apart from having jumped in the water for the polar plunge that is :D!
But cruises head down in Antarctic summer which is a lot warmer than let’s say Boston during winter :) Wind chill was the biggest thing, but on still days the sun shone brightly and it was great! :D
Just incredible!! This is number one on my bucket list and I hope I get there. Can I ask how was the sea sickness on this type of voyage? And how many days at sea were you in total – how many to get there?
Sea sicnkess was ok – we were very lucky in that heading to Antarctica we had what they call the Drake Lake – the Drake passage was completely still so there was no roughness whatsoever.
On the way back however we hit 5 m waves and I did spend a good day wallowing in self pity in my room!! So definitely take sea sickness medications with you because it’s so unpredicatable and it can be rough for a couple of days. Though the ship doctor was handing out sea sickness medication to those who didn’t have any with them.
It took us 2 days to cross the Drake to reach Antarctica, and 2 days back. So 4 days at sea total. And then we had 8 days in Antarctic waters, exploring islands and the continent itself :)
Feel free to shoot me an email if you have other questions – always happy to help :)
Oh you lucky girl. It truly must be the trip of the life time. I have not even started thinking of going there yet After seeing your amazing pictures, I might just add it my list. I think it is a great idea that they let the passengers explore at their leisure.
So glad we could inspire you to consider Antarctica for your next trip! You won’t be disappointed – it really does surpass the hype! And yes, it really makes the trip that they let you wander and explore at your freedom :)
The trip of a life time is similar to buying a house. its all about the plan and budgeting. Yours sounds really exciting and to do it takes so much effort. Loved the write up. Inspired me to get my life balance back
Glad we could inspire you to get your life balance back :)
This really looks like an amazing voyage between the wonderful talks, wonderful cuisine and varied outdoor programs, this really is the trip of a lifetime. I think the service would be quite amazing for smaller cruise operation which makes personal experiences more acute and service focused.
Absolutely Noel – having a smaller number of passengers definitely meant the service was more concentrated – when you can offer more of your attention to a smaller group as opposed to having to stretch it out across a larger ship.
Was the best decision we made to pursue this type of cruise :)
What a great cruise trip. After reading your blog it amuses me to have this kind of one a lifetime trip. I must this on my bucket list.
I’m glad we could inspire you to consider Antarctica Joanna – really is one of those once in a lifetime trips – highly recommend it! Happy travels :)
Wow, what a trip! Great read and amazing photographs, thanks. Antarctica is definitely on our list and we will definitely follow your advice and footsteps on the more intimate trip with getting off the boat. Such a amazing place to go visit. Thanks!
Thanks Adam! Glad you enjoyed the post, yes, if you’re going to head to Antarctica definitely look for a more intimate trip, it makes it much more authentic, you get much more attentive and personalized service from the staff, and more time on the actual day trips when there’s less people to shuttle to and from the ship.
Hope you have an amazing trip!
This is exactly our story, 100%. We were there end of January on M/V Sea Spirit with Poseidon Expeditions and Asteria Expeditions (Belgium). It is indeed a once in a lifetime experience. Message to the world: let’s keep this part of the world clean, a last paradise for wildlife. Let animals rule, not people! Thank you!
How fabulous Martine! So glad to hear that you had an incredible journey also. And how extraordinary a ship is the Sea Spirit!! I’m hoping I have a chance to visit again at some point in the future. Totally agree with your message on keeping it clean – I was very impressed with the strong focus the cruise placed on sustainability, conservation, and responsible travel :)