Antarctica Cruise is now one of the most in-demand places when it comes to cruising tours. But few people know what’s expecting them on such a trip. The following, therefore, is an Antarctica Cruise guide containing the best and worst things-to-do list. Plus, 5 Antarctica Cruise mysteries are revealed by the end of the article.
Antarctica Cruise: Best & Worst Things to Do
- What to Do During the Antarctica Cruise
- What Not to Do During the Antarctica Cruise
- 5 Things That Are Not True About Antarctica
The demand for Antarctica Cruise is raising and more American tourists are willing to visit this spectacular region. So, at Sailingyes, we decided to provide a to-do and not-to-do list for our readers to generate better ideas about their prospective cruising trip.
What to Do During the Antarctica Cruise
Get Out on the Water and Kayak!
You should disremember all the icy-water images of this region. That’s because the typical reflection of Antarctica is much different from what you’ll see in-person. Some parts of the ocean are so calm that make kayaking possible for enthusiast visitors.
Of course, you are not supposed to bring your kayak as it would be an awkward move. The cruising companies often offer rental watercraft so that you can head out on the cold waters effortlessly.
However, remember that the water temperature is almost always near freezing point—or sometimes even colder. So, gear up and do not ever try to go kayaking without a PFD.
Swim as if You Were a Penguin
Again, this activity requires you to delete all the presumptions about this place. During the Antarctica cruise, you’ll have the chance to get in the water, have someone to take a picture of you, and obtain an official document to verify what you’ve done later.
It may sound like a crazy idea, but most of the corporations allow the passengers to swim in the subzero waters. However, don’t opt to swim under such conditions if you have specific health issues. Being in such water may cause a shock and force your body to react intensely. This can lead to heart attack, hypothermia, and/or temporary paralysis, causing drowning.
Let the Ship Give You a Lift
Being on board for a long time while it’s cold outside may not sound like a cool idea (pone intended). But things are different in Antarctica as you get the chance to cruise by some amazing sceneries such as the A57A iceberg.
It’s a massive piece of ice which is 11 nautical miles long and 5 nautical miles wide (20 Km long and 9 Km wide). This iceberg is so huge that you only get to see the above-water parts. But its actual height is 330 meters—that you only get to see the 30-meter on-water section.
You’ll also have the opportunity to cruise by the Lemire Channel. This is a must-see topographical zone where the large pieces of ice move gently on the water, creating a second-of-none landmark. Plus, you might be one of the few people who visit the region, because it’s a narrow channel often closed by the icebergs.
Embrace the Zodiac Cruise
If you don’t like experiencing hands-off stuff, wait for the zodiac journeys to fire up. During a zodiac trip, you will be on a small-sized craft with 5-10 passengers and a guide, navigating as close as possible to the glaciers, icebergs, research stations, and whales!
There are some sections where your team lands, giving you the opportunity to walk on the natural environment of this cold region.
Step on the Land for the Sake of Science
When zodiacs land, you can walk around and experience the unique atmosphere by yourself. But you’re better off without trying to wander around as there is some fun stuff to do. You should visit the Wordie House, which is an old research station now being used as a museum.
Other stations on the Islands, however, have small shops and are able to stamp your passport. Moreover, you can buy a postcard, write a short memo on it, and then post it to your family and/or friends. (But it would be more of a snail-mail than anything else as the delivery takes 5-6 weeks).
Become a Scuba Diver
If swimming is A-Okay, why not scuba diving be? Well, the tour operators are on the same boat when it comes to diving in the subzero waters. They have enough compressors for every volunteer. However, you must bring your gear. (Drysuit, hood, mask, fins, snorkel, pressure gauge, and compass).
Since there’re some regulations about the numbers of people who can dive at the moment, you may need to wait a bit. But it is worth it as you’ll finally see the unique under-water creatures and landmarks.
Run the Icebergs
Have you ever heard of the Antarctica marathon? Several event organizers offer Antarctica Marathon & Half-Marathon tours. It’s a good occasion to test your actual strength and see how far you can go.
The marathon is a 42-kilometer run, starting at King George Island—near the Antarctic Peninsula. The half-marathon, on the other hand, kicks off at Bellingshausen Station (the Russian base). But the finish line often changes due to weather conditions.
Most of the organizers are non-profit, spending the earns to help the research projects for saving Antarctica. So, the $300 or so that you spend on registration will help the scientists to continue their investigations.
Spend a Night on Ice
Nowadays, Antarctica tourists are more interested in real-world experiences in this region. So, cruising companies have figured out some new ways to allow them to spend a night camping on the white, icy lands.
They give you a tent as well as necessities for having such a night out on the ice, and the guides will be right at the corner all the time. Since the equipment you get might not be the one you wish for, you better bring your stuff in advance. A sleeping bag/mat coupled with warm cloths would be okay.
Since you’ll be there in summer, the sun will not go away 24/7. So, it’s more accurate to say that you’ll spend a full-day time on ice rather than a starry night.
What Not to Do During the Antarctica Cruise
Don’t Expect a Luxurious Trip – or, Do Expect One
As a rule of thumb, a cruising trip to this region costs at least $6,500. This is the most economical price you get for such a journey. A couple of extra amenities is enough to raise the number to something between $10,000 to $15,000—and we are not even talking about the luxury crafts.
There are two types of plans when it comes down to Antarctica cruise. Normal ships—large and small ones—have typical cabins with the capacity of up to 6-7 passengers (sometimes even more). These vessels offer the cheapest deal as the amenities onboard are not ultra-luxury.
However, other luxury vessels with everything-included schedules are available as well. You get to go to the gym, enjoy A-grade meals, and reside in a top-notch private cabin in these ships. They cost much more than an ordinary trip with a standard cruiser, but the overall experience makes it worth the price.
The bad news is that you must add several extra expenses to the bills. So, it’s not just about the tour prices. Here are some of the additional costs.
- Prerequisite costs:
The starting point of most tours is Ushuaia. So, you should get there either by airplane or ship. This will add to your overall expenses, resulting in a heavier bill by the end of the trip. Unfortunately, flights to Ushuaia are not cost-effective and the best deal you may get for a flight, say, from Texas to Ushuaia would cost nearly $2,000.
- Gear expenses:
It’s a cod region with unpredictable meteorological conditions. So, it’s not like packing for a summertime BVI sailing trip where the most important item is the sunscreen—though you need it here as well. You must have a couple of pairs of pants, hoods, windproof jackets, neck and forehead buffs, gloves, and a pair of wool socks.
- Returning fees:
Technically, you’ll need to buy another returning ticket (in this case to Texas) which will cost another $2,000. So, the overall expenses may exceed $20,000, and you better not be on a budget for such an outing.
Do Not Forget About the Drake Passage
This passage is known for being confused and unstable all the time. That’s why regardless of the time of your travel, the chances of getting caught between huge swells are large. Some swells on this area are 10-12 meters, stopping the ships from proceeding for a day or two.
Being prepared for such a situation is vital as you possibly will experience seasickness. Some people spend the two days of cruising to Antarctica on the bed due to becoming seasick—and things usually don’t look up for them while returning to Ushuaia.
So, have some prescriptions and gadgets like wrist bands to guarantee your wellbeing while abroad and passing the Drake passage.
What is Drake Shake and Drake Lake? These are the terms mariners utilize to indicate the conditions of this passage. Drake Lake refers to the times where the water is calm and swells are not large, whereas Drake Shake specifies the opposite situation.
Don’t Assume Anything at Antarctica
This place is the land of unexpected things. The weather can change abruptly, the wildlife may react in a different way, and the ocean may refuse to stay calm and friendly—and vice versa. That’s why you have to let the presumptions go before stepping on the deck.
Call Off the Last-Minute Reservations
Trying to reserve a cabin at the last minute is almost impossible. Due to excessive demand and lack of enough space for every vacationer, you must book a place in advance—preferably 5-8 months earlier.
The season is too short for visiting this area. most of the companies plan their Antarctica cruise to last only from November to February. So, there are 4 months in each year available for tourists, and that’s while the average capacity is roughly 46,000 people.
Avoid Choosing the Big Ships
According to local laws, only 100 tourists are allowed to land on the Islands at a time. That means the big ships carrying 500+ passengers cannot provide you with a zodiac cruise to the nearby Islands—which could be a great disappointment.
The upside of being on a large cruiser, however, is that the prices are much economic, allowing more travelers to enjoy the atmosphere. But if you’ve been dreaming about watching the penguins and walk on the ice, avoid choosing the big vessels as they might not let you do so.
5 Things That Are Not True About Antarctica
Alike any other mysterious places in the world, there are several myth-like information about white land as well. Here, we’ll put an end to some of them, providing you with real-world info.
People Are NOT Everywhere
It’s an in-demand tour schedule, and you cannot knock that. But the point is that the number of tourists who get to visit this place is restricted. Only 46,000 people end up cruising by the stunning landmarks of this region.
This might sound like a lot of people, but not when you consider the time limitation. Since the season lasts for about four months, a simple calculation is enough to figure out merely 11,500 are at Antarctica each month. And the number will drop down to just 2,875 when you divide it to four weeks.
Icebergs Are NOT Identical
Pleneau Island is a zone where the currents and winds push the large iceberg near the land, creating scenery like a massive graveyard. This place will remind you of the metamorphoses nature of ice and prove everyone thinking the icebergs are alike is wrong.
In order to visit the land in such areas, you must be a passenger of small- to mid-sized ships with less than 500 travelers at the time. Bigger vessels are not allowed to let passengers out on the ground.
The Wildlife Is NOT Hostile
Penguins, seals, whales, and all sorts of birds are almost always around. So, you’ll see pretty much active wildlife around your cruiser constantly. Some companies often schedule zodiac excursions where the guides take you on the water, as close as possible to the whales.
Other times, you team up with other passengers and go for a walk on the Islands. These are the moments where you get to stand next to the penguins and observe their daily life in-person. Although the rule is to keep at least 5 meters of distance between, these cute creatures wouldn’t mind coming closer.
As long as you don’t step on their specific commuting paths, everything is A-Okay. But they might not stay as friendly when you block their ways home.
Seals, on the other hand, have a harder time trusting humans. And that’s why you’re better off without getting too close to them.
4. It’s NOT Freezing
- The average temperature in summer is often below zero (°C). Nevertheless, you can bare it effortlessly having the right gear. So, it’s not going to be a frustrating trip where you can’t even step on the deck because of cold. By contrast, you’ll even get to hike around on sunny days thanks to the chilly and pleasing weather.
5. NOT Everywhere Is Covered with Snow
- You might be thinking about what is special about this pale white area. Well, that’s just not true—some Islands are not even covered with snow. Deception Island, for instance, is a volcano right in the middle of Antarctica.
This place is where most Antarctica cruise companies let the passengers swim and/or camp. The overall water temperature is higher in this zone. So, swimming isn’t going to be that hard.