The 5 Best Things To See And Do On An Antarctica Cruise
Visiting Antarctica is for many people a once-in-a-lifetime goal, ambition or dream. I’m about to share with you the five very best things about going on a cruise to Antarctica.
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One of the best things about an Antarctica Cruise is the fact that it is so unique, it’s so special and you are so privileged to do it. Only about 45,000 people go to Antarctica at the moment. Very few people get to go
to Antarctica and experience this magical, remote and unusual place.
The best thing about it is you’re going somewhere that’s not overcrowded. It’s still very special and it’s unique. It’s unpredictable. It’s different and you feel when you’re there that you’re part of something absolutely magical, and you’re doing something that’s unique and special. That’s one of the best things for me about Antarctic cruise.
It’s not like going everywhere else where everyone’s been.
Without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best things about Antarctica are the landscapes and the scenery.
Every day I thought I’d seen the best scenery that I was going to see in Antarctica, and we’d move somewhere else and it was an even bigger revelation. It was almost as if every day was building to something bigger and better.
It is absolutely magnificent. We went to incredibly diverse places. You’re going to see huge soaring mountains, glaciers are everywhere you look. There are many glaciers, and they are huge and magnificent. It is absolutely magnificent.
No matter where you go it is just remarkable, and I don’t know if the images will ever do justice to what you actually get to see.
One of the best things about Antarctica are the Penguins. There are so many penguins wherever you go, and I learned so much about penguins. We mostly saw Chinstrap and Gentoo, because the time of the year that I went.
There are no land-based predators in Antarctica, so the Penguins are comfortable with people being on land. Although the regulations say you should try and stay 5 meters (15 feet) away from penguins,
they didn’t get the memo and they will move right around you.
What I learnt about penguins is their Rookeries and where they live is very far and high up from the sea, and they have to walk huge distances and climb over quite rough terrain. They create highways which they use to go up and down. If you get in their way on the highway, or you block the highway, they are not happy at all. One of the big things we were told is avoid the highways and penguins have right-of-way.
When they swim it is quite remarkable. They can move very fast and Gentoo can swim up to 30 miles an hour. Sometimes we were cruising along on the ship and they were swimming alongside the ship, with his kind of ducking and diving that they do, and they were keeping up with the ship at all
They are gorgeously cute creatures. Penguins are everywhere and we just huge amounts of penguins, and they are absolutely phenomenal.
Whales and Seals
The third best thing about Antarctica is the other wildlife. You see phenomenal amounts of wildlife, particularly whales. I went towards the end of the season, which is the end of February and early March, which is a really good time to see whales.
We saw humpbacks up really close. In the zodiacs, humpbacks were swimming around us and diving down getting food. When we were cruising through Gerlache Channel, we saw a huge part of Orcas, also known as killer whales. Pretty much everywhere we went once were in Antarctica, whales were somewhere around, and we could see them everywhere.
The other thing that I absolutely loved seeing was seals, and we saw a wide range of seals. Some of which were floating on the various bits of floating ice, others were on land. We saw the leopard seals, they’re very deadly and are big predators of penguins and they’re also very popular food for the Orcas. We also saw Weddell seals, crabeater seals which don’t eat crabs and we also saw Antarctica Fur Seals. Seeing these big amazing creatures is quite remarkable.
If you’re into birds, you also see a wide range of birds both on crossing on Drake Passage but also once you get to Antarctica.
The thing that for me was quite a surprise, was the diversity and range of different expedition experiences on an Antarctic cruise. We had three buckets of things that we did.
Cruise sail bys
The first was basically sail by on the ship. We stayed on the ship and cruised by things like the massive A57A Iceberg, which is 11 nautical miles long and five nautical miles wide. It’s 30 meters above the sea and 300 meters below it. We also cruised through one of the most scenic parts of Antarctica, the Lermaire channel which is famous for its narrow channel that is blocked for large parts of the year with sea ice. Absolutely beautiful place to sail through. There’s loads of leopard seals and other breeds of seals on the
various ice floes through that channel.
The second set of expedition experiences are on the zodiacs. The small zodiacs have eight to ten people and one guide, and we headed out on various excursions staying on the zodiacs. Sometimes it might be cruising through a beautiful Bay, getting up close to the glaciers, or perhaps cruising past some of the different research stations that are down in Antarctica, and of course zodiac cruising around looking for whales, particularly humpback whales which would come really close to the zodiacs and dive all around us. Another great example of a zodiac excursion was in Pleneau Island. This is an area where the currents and the winds drive and push many large icebergs and you almost have an iceberg graveyard, or a certainly an area where there’s all these beautiful and unusual ice sculptures.
Sometimes there was be the odd surprise. For example, once they sent out a zodiac which had hot chocolate, champagne and cookies.
The third bucket then were zodiac landings. You head off from the ship on the zodiacs and step on land.
There were three main types of zodiac landings that we did. The first of those were ones that got you close up to intermingle with wildlife. There might be penguins, there might be seals and the wildlife were right around as you went on the various walks. The second type were hikes, and some of these were pretty strenuous. We’d hike up big ice-covered hills. They look like they’re covered in snow, but they are actually slippery ice. We’d hike up mountains to get incredible views or sometimes at the top of these hills would be rookeries with penguins, sometimes even with little fluffy baby chicks. Another great example of a hike was on Deception Island at Telefon Bay where we hiked right up to the crater of a volcano which had really destroyed big parts of the island.
The other type of zodiac landing, which I really enjoyed as well, were ones where we either went and visited a research station, so for example we went to the Vernadsky Station which was a Ukrainian station since 1996 and before that it was a UK station which they sold to the Ukrainians. The people there spend a
whole year working there. Or we’d go and visit an old historic research station. For example, there was Wordie house, which was quite near, which was an old research station and now is a museum. The other type of excursion, which was really fascinating, were historic ones and this was mostly at Whaler’s Bay on Deception Island where the whaling ships would come in and on land there were processing facilities for the whaling industry. It was deserted in the 30s when the prices collapsed of whale oil and now there are these slightly surreal remnants left behind.
The experience of an Antarctica Cruise is phenomenal. It beat every expectation I had. Nothing that I’d read or seen prepared me for the magnificence of Antarctica. Those are the best things and there are a few worst things. However, the worst things are never ever going to get in the way of making an amazing experience.
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