Not a single soul in this big old world of ours permanently calls Antarctica home. While I’m not saying that I have what it takes to set up shop down there or that anyone really does, I will say that spending a few weeks traveling to this beautiful, white continent is a worthwhile endeavor. I mean where else in the world do you receive a welcoming committee that consists of massive whales, lovable penguins, laid back seals as well as a wide variety of birds gracefully soaring above? To top it all off, many of these animals have had very little contact with humans, if at all, which is incredibly unique!
Five Ways in Which a Cruise to Antarctica will Exceed Even Your Highest Expectations
1. Two Words: Polar Plunge
Why not strap that rope around your waist, let out your highest pitch scream and submerge your body into water temperatures fit for a penguin? When in Antarctica, it’s only appropriate to do as the penguins do! Be sure to immediately reward yourself with a steaming hot shower though. Becoming a human icicle isn’t as sexy as it sounds!
2. (Cue old school, robotic AOL email notification voice) You’ve Got Mail!
By mail, I mean snail mail that is actually signed, sealed, and delivered from Antarctica from who else than yours truly. The post office is located on Port Lockroy and it operates in a small building that was previously an old British base. The three or four individuals that work there will kindly mail postcards to the destination of your choice. Brian and I took bets on how long it would be (if ever) before our parents laid eyes on our cheesy messages. Any guesses as to how long it took? Well, much to our surprise, the postcards arrived in only a few short weeks! The South Pole mail service might just have the US Postal Service beat!
3. Playing with the Penguins!
Polar bears are to the Arctic as penguins are to the Antarctic. Nothing better than a good analogy, right? If you’re looking for polar bears, no need to venture to Antarctica. You must head to northern waters. Here in the Antarctic, penguins are the main attraction and oh boy, are they funny to observe as they waddle around and slide on the snow!
We were fortunate to see four different types of penguins while on our cruise including the heavily sought after emperor penguin! Based on the areas we were traveling to, we were told by the staff aboard our boat that we weren’t going to see an emperor penguin. In fact, we were informed that we had a zero percent chance of scoring even a quick glance at an emperor penguin. Lucky for us, Mother Nature happened to be working some miracles while we were down there and we did actually get to see a majestic emperor penguin! I think he was lost…
4. [insert fun, adventure activity here] and do it in ANTARCTICA!
While the excursion activities will vary depending on which company you go with and which boat you are on, there should almost always be a handful of exciting activities offered for you to enjoy! Camping, kayaking, skiing, and mountaineering are just a few examples of ways you can get out there and experience more of the natural beauty that is Antarctica!
Brian and I are only amateur skiers; however, we knew that skiing in Antarctica was an experience that we would never forget. As it turns out, our small cross country ski group was able to spend one of our afternoons skiing on a glacier of all things. Thankfully, no one tumbled into any crevasses!
5. Learn? I didn’t come down to Antarctica to get lectured.
Believe me, you’ll enjoy this type of lecturing! When you aren’t gasping in amazement at the towering icebergs or the whales surfacing on the water and you’re not off frolicking on land with colonies of penguins, the experts on board the cruise offer a plethora of interesting seminars with topics to spark anyone’s interest. On our cruise, we actually had a biologist, historian, ornithologist (bird expert) as well as a scientist specializing in penguins conducting research in Antarctica all giving lectures on topics within their respective fields.
We even had the cousin of the famous Antarctic explorer, Earnest Shackleton, on our boat as well. Can you imagine being one of the first people to explore the unknown Antarctic waters or venture onto the breathtaking, white continent with its beautiful but harsh and unforgiving climate? Antarctica is actually the coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth! However, you can handle even the coldest temperatures with the massive parkas they give you on the ship and let’s be honest, having to bundle up is a small price to pay for being able to enjoy the remarkable wildlife, marine life and landscapes that make up Antarctica!
If Antarctica is on your bucket list, you should definitely give an Antarctic cruise some serious consideration. It’s truly unlike any other experience! If you have some extra time, consider traveling to El Calafate and El Chalten or Bariloche in Patagonia on your way down to Ushuaia (which is the launching point for cruises to Antarctica)!