Home' Get Up and Go : Spring 2013 Contents very little, if at all, my cruise experience
moved from a repurposed Soviet-era
ice vessel to champagne and caviar.
I’d repeat both experiences in a
heartbeat, but the second ‘expedition’
demonstrated to me how much the
Antarctic cruise offering had moved on,
becoming much more of a mainstream
travel product. Now you can argue
the pros and cons of that, but the
fact remains more people are taking
an Antarctic cruise and more ships of
varying specification are going there.
Why the Peninsula? That’s an easy
question. The world’s most southerly
international airport is at the port
town of Ushuaia, and the Peninsula
can be reached in as little as 24 hours
by the faster ships in calm conditions,
while the little ones can take up to 48
hours in rough seas – which happens
quite often in the Drake Passage. Now
there’s even a fly-in option offered
where you can cross the Drake by
small jet and get aboard a ship at a
real Antarctic station.
Once at the Peninsula, the waters
are calm and your tummy can relax.
The scenery is spectacular. Snow-
capped mountains seem to jut straight
out of the sea. Well, actually they do,
often creating mystical reflections in
the mirror-still waters of the Lemaire
Channel. These are the images
everyone craves, so much so that the
place is often called ‘Kodak Channel’.
Going ashore is by inflatable Zodiac
runabout, but don’t be concerned.
These are tough little rubber boats used
by everyone from marine biologists to
navy commandoes. On a calm day,
you might get 10-12 bottoms arranged
around the pontoon of the boat, while
in rougher conditions it could be
just eight. Getting in and out of the
Zodiacs is probably the toughest part
of journey, but there are always ready
hands to help anyone and mishaps are
rare. If you want to visit the animals
and see the historic sites, you’ll need
to do this. Some folks stay on the ship,
but I don’t see the sense in this. You’ve
come this far.
Once ashore, you’re either tip-toeing
among squawking penguins of half
a dozen different varieties or trying
not to wake dozing seals. I recall one
hilarious moment when a precocious
little baby seal chased a dozen of us
all over the place like a frisky puppy.
When he was bored with us, he chased
the King Penguins – who were not
amused. He was having a ball and so
were we just watching.
Birders, or twitchers, are in their
element, counting kelp gulls, spotting
petrels and making lists of endangered
pelagic albatross. History buffs, of
whom I count myself one, are similarly
enraptured at Shackleton’s grave (on
South Georgia) or at the quaint, restored
Antarctic base at Port Lockroy, getting
their passport stamped or buying a
genuine Antarctic snow globe.
Whatever your passion, there’s
bound to be something for you way
down south. Sometimes you don’t
know what it is until you’re there, but
no matter what, it’s bound to follow
you home and stay with you for life! •
Step onto one of Holland America
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welcomed with a generous amount of
personal space. Be treated to award-
winning service, with nearly one crew
member for every two guests.
Choose from quality dining options as
diverse as our enrichment programs,
and onboard activities that suit your
every whim. Your convenience is our
priority, with the luxury of unpacking
once while visiting multiple ports.
For 140 years, Holland America Line
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Europe is a continent that never
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Our complete series of sailings range
from 7 to 42 days Fares start from
$999*pp double occupancy.
Contact your preferred travel agent
intriguing ways to explore
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the former British base at
Port lockroy, abandoned in
1962 and restored in 1996,
is now a ‘living museum’
and the most visited site on
the entire peninsula.
Passengers aboard Zodiac tender. inflatable Zodiac runabouts are the favoured
transport by all antarctic and expedition operators. almost indestructible, they are
comfortable and easy to handle.
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