I’ve had the possibility to go to Antarctica final 2017 and it certainly has been probably the most wonderful journey that I’ve ever accomplished in my whole life! …I’m not even kidding once I say that its pristine magnificence and wildlife stored me singing praises for weeks — yup, even thus far. And naturally, given my expertise, lots of you’ve been asking me tons questions and it makes me completely satisfied to listen to that a majority are excited about visiting this breathtaking ‘White Continent’. (Then once more, who wouldn’t need to go to this wonderful place, proper?) (FAQ)
So with a purpose to streamline all the pieces in an organized method, I’ve determined to place up this FAQ (Regularly Requested Questions) submit that may reply all of your queries and issues concerning Antarctica cruise expeditions. I hope it helps!
FAQ (Regularly Requested Questions)
ABOUT A CRUISE TRIP
WHEN IN ANTARCTICA
Prime featured picture by Marsel van Oosten / Hurtigruten
◘◘ What are the completely different protected methods to get to Antarctica?
The most effective and most secure solution to go to the continent is to ebook by one of many member tour operators below IAATO (Worldwide Affiliation of Antarctica Tour Operators). Not solely do they display a high-level of dedication and experience for following security protocols, however additionally they have an incredible file for being one of the best and customary alternative for any Antarctica go to. As for the alternative ways of reaching the ‘White Continent’, beneath are a few of your choices…
By cruise ship. That is the MOST widespread solution to go to the Antarctic and the cruise can begin and finish from any of those places: Ushuaia in Argentina, Punta Arenas in Chile, Bluff in New Zealand or Hobart in Australia.
Relying on the supplier, the size of the journey, and the type of cruise expedition that you just choose, you too can do further actions or excursions within the Antarctic in addition to go to different Antarctic and sub-Atlantic islands alongside the best way. It helps to notice although that the dimensions of the ship issues: on the whole, smaller ships are most popular as a result of they will go to extra locations and do extra landings. …Why extra landings, you would possibly ask? Effectively, in line with IAATO tips, there can solely be 100 folks at a time on land — so, in case your boat has greater than 200 folks, you would possibly simply spend just a few hours on the shore.
With this, I extremely advise that you just go for Hurtigruten’s MS Fram ship, which is a small but robust vessel that carries about 200 visitors. This was the ship that I went with once I visited Antarctica and day-after-day, we did at the least 2 landings to completely different places (which was additionally full of non-compulsory excursions like kayaking, tenting, zodiac excursions, hikes, and others).
NOTE: A lot of the Antarctic ships are NOT icebreakers since if they’re, you’ll have a tough time crossing the seas just like the Drake Passage (both means, the ships are ice-strengthened that are equally robust).
By airplane. There are three methods to do that: you are able to do a  ‘fly over’, a  direct flight, or a  fly-cruise choice. First, because the title implies, a ‘fly over’ will simply be a sightseeing flight whereby you can be above the continent for hours as you admire the views. This sort of flight solely takes off from Australia and it’ll value from $1,000 to $eight,000. Second, direct industrial flights may be accomplished from Argentina, Australia, Chile or South Africa — however they are often fairly uncommon. (A fast Google search will lead you to some suppliers who schedule flight journeys to the continent.) Lastly, the fly-cruise choice will simply lower your time on a cruise ship (to keep away from the tough Drake Passage, for example). These flights will take you to locations like King George Island the place you’ll then board your designated ship. More often than not, costs for this begin at $10,000 and departs from Chile.
By yacht. There are a few dozen of those constitution yachts that supply three to six week journeys to the Antarctic Peninsula from South America. Even when it will probably present extra freedom and adaptability, you need to keep in mind that it’s pricier (beginning at $1,000+ per day), extra treacherous (the seas will rock you tougher) and might require work (since most yachts would need you to assist out.)
◘◘ Is it harmful to go to Antarctica?
In no way. Positive, Antarctica is an excessive atmosphere with unpredictable climate so accidents can occur; nonetheless, that is precisely why it’s extremely advisable that you just go for IAATO tour operators (like Hurtigruten) since they’ve proven nice expertise and familiarity to working in these sorts of situations.
Both means, very like the way you behave in any trip that you just do overseas, merely keep cautious always and also you’ll be advantageous. All the time observe the directions of the expedition crew and be vigilant. Relaxation assured, all ships have a physician on board for any speedy emergency however in circumstances the place medical evacuation is required, simply be certain that you buy a journey insurance coverage beforehand.
◘◘ When can I go to?
Antarctica is inaccessible to vacationers for almost all of the 12 months because of its excessive situations — it IS referred to as because the world’s coldest and windiest place in spite of everything. The truth is, winter temperatures can fall as much as -70°C (…it even reached -94.7°C again in 2010 and -89.2 in 1983) and that comes along with 24 midnights too!
Nonetheless, issues get higher throughout the summer season season between November and March when the ice begins to interrupt and the temperature will get hotter; therefore, cruise expeditions are run throughout this time of the 12 months and most landings are accomplished on the tip of the continent alongside its west coast. It helps to notice that temperatures there common at solely about zero°C to eight°C (with near 24 hours of daylight).
- NOVEMBER: That is stated to be the time when you will notice Antarctica in its most ‘untouched’ type. Icebergs are at their greatest, snow is pristine, and the penguins begin to mate (with them laying eggs on the finish of the month of their nests). Nonetheless, the temperatures are nonetheless fairly chilly and polar ice continues to be breaking apart so the draw back of touring to Antarctica on this month is that you just may not have the ability to entry some areas. Furthermore, wildlife resembling whales and penguins are harder to identify.
- DECEMBER to EARLY FEBRUARY: December is alleged to be the BEST month for touring to Antarctica. Because the continent begins to heat up, it creates the proper situations for seals, penguins and whales — subsequently, wildlife is quite a bit simpler to search out (together with the lovable little seal pups and penguin chicks who’ve simply been born). Whales, specifically, are greatest seen in February. Additionally, since these are among the months whereby there may be extra hours of daylight, you’ll have loads of alternatives within the day to take fantastic photographs.
- MID-FEBRUARY to MARCH: There are a number of execs and cons for visiting throughout this time of the summer season season. Let’s begin with the cons: temperatures begin to get a bit colder, most wildlife would have already went out to sea, and landings will are usually rockier and muddier. However for the ‘execs’: whales are nonetheless plentiful for recognizing, the penguin chicks are bigger and beginning to ‘molt’ (or shed their fur), and there are lesser vessels (so there’s much less competitors for landings).
For my case, I landed in Antarctica someday in early to mid-December with Hurtigruten’s 20-day ‘Final Antarctica Expertise’ and I’ve seen lots of completely different penguins, whales (orca + finback + humpback ones), seals, glaciers and big icebergs. There have been no downside with landings nor was there any competitors — we have been the one ship round throughout the days of our go to. Climate was additionally excellent averaging at about 2°C to five°C, so I didn’t put on an excessive amount of layers; at one level, I even sweated quite a bit once we have been mountain climbing up a hill! The winds have been nonetheless fairly robust although and there have been instances that it was cloudy; however for probably the most half, we had nice sunny climate.
All in all, it’s greatest to keep in mind that each journey to Antarctica is exclusive. Regardless of in case your pal went on a distinct journey in the identical month and similar cruise as you do, the experiences you’ll each have will almost definitely be dissimilar as a result of each voyage will rely upon ice and climate situations. Because of this there may be days the place you’ll expertise and see wonderful issues that some others may not (in the event you’re fortunate!). For instance: our ship sighted about 50 humpback whales whereas we have been on our solution to the Antarctic Peninsula and so they say that this incidence was fairly uncommon in December!
◘◘ Do I would like a visa to go to Antarctica?
Since there may be NO single nation or authorities who owns nor controls Antarctica, guests technically do NOT want visas. Nonetheless, with the existence of the Antarctic Treaty’s Protocol on Environmental Safety, it requires guests (who’re residents of nations which can be signatories of this treaty: together with USA, Canada, EU, and Australia) to amass a allow previous to visiting Antarctica. These permits are nearly all the time acquired by tour operators.
EXAMPLE: If you happen to booked by way of a cruise ship, permits are lined by the cruise firm that you just’re going with. If visiting by air, you need to test along with your native authorities or airline if in case you have the fitting paperwork. If doubtful, you could possibly all the time ask your Antarctica tour operator.
In the meantime, like I’ve already mentioned, most ships and vessels depart from ports in locations like Argentina, Chile, Falkland Islands, New Zealand, and South Africa. Relying in your nationality, you would possibly want a visa to have the ability to set foot on the ports of any of those stated international locations with a purpose to begin your voyage to Antarctica.
So for my case, since I’m a Philippine passport holder and my cruise began in Ushuaia, Argentina, I wanted to use for an Argentina Visa. As such, it’s your duty to test in the event you want visas to any of the aforementioned beginning ports.
◘◘ How a lot is a cruise journey to Antarctica?
Antarctica is clearly NOT a price range vacation spot given how most cruise expeditions begin at a value of $5,000 per particular person. Nonetheless, there’s the potential of paying solely $four,000 in the event you handle to get a final minute deal in Ushuaia (the primary start line of cruise ships in Argentina) throughout November or December. This feature is just ideally suited if in case you have the time and endurance to attend for an opportunity to come back by — which they are saying may be fairly uncommon. But once more, it’s price a shot!
For a extra hassle-free expertise, naturally, it’s higher to ebook upfront. Hurtigruten‘s expeditions often begin at $5,000 per particular person. But when I’ll add a tip: in the event you e mail Hurtigruten by way of [email protected] and point out my promo code ‘IAMAILEEN’, you’re going to get a particular discounted value quote!
◘◘ What currencies ought to I deliver?
Antarctica just isn’t a rustic, so it does NOT have its personal foreign money. Nonetheless, there shall be some locations within the Antarctic Peninsula resembling Port Lockroy (the place you will discover the Penguin Submit Workplace museum and memento store) and a few analysis station services that may promote some stuff to guests. With them, currencies just like the USA dollars, Pound Sterling and Euro are usually accepted (along with MasterCard and Visa playing cards).
As dependent in your ship too, they will settle for different currencies (e.g. Hurtigruten is a Norwegian firm in order that they settle for the Norwegian krone foreign money on board.)
◘◘ What ought to I pack or put on for the journey?
There’s a LOT to pay attention to — from seasickness medicines to the correct clothes. So if you wish to be taught extra or if you wish to see a whole packing record, learn my Antarctica Cruise Packing Checklist.
◘◘ Ought to I get journey insurance coverage? And the way about immunizations?
It’s a MUST to get journey insurance coverage on your Antarctica journey (most ships require it too in spite of everything). When buying one, I might extremely advocate World Nomads since apart from being a highly-rated insurance coverage supplier, additionally they have greater than sufficient protection for abroad medical assist, evacuation, emergencies, flight issues and extra.
In the meantime, with regards to immunizations, there may be NO such requirement when getting into Antarctica. Nonetheless, if you’re staying in Chile or Argentina (which frequently are factors of embarkation for cruise journeys), you must test the well being suggestions or necessities for these respective areas as per your nationality.
◘◘ What can I count on on the cruise?
A LOT! Apart from, Antarctica is understood for being a magical place on this world that may completely give anybody an unforgettable expertise — from having fun with breathtaking landscapes to witnessing distinctive Antarctic wildlife up shut… the chances are merely countless in each shore touchdown!
After all, all the pieces nonetheless depends on climate and ice situations however there are all the time so many actions you may take pleasure in resembling in a single day tenting, mountain climbing, snowshoeing, kayaking, and extra. For a whole record of issues to do in Antarctica, see right here.
◘◘ How match do I’ve to be?
Basically, you have to be of excellent well being and are capable of stroll cheap distances and even on uneven terrain — nonetheless, this does NOT imply that it’s a must to be extraordinarily match like skilled athletes or hkikes as a result of there are alternatives for everybody in each shore touchdown (resembling strolling solely a brief distance or doing a distinct exercise from the remainder.) Anyhow, if in case you have issues or bodily limitations, simply notify the tour operator upfront and they’ll make methods for you. That being stated, there are methods for everybody to take part on this journey of a lifetime!
◘◘ Will I get seasick?
This completely will depend on the ocean situations and on the particular person itself: some folks surprisingly don’t have any issues whereas some solely expertise seasickness for less than a day or two. Personally, I did get sick on our first day at sea however with the assistance of Sea Bands, I didn’t really feel seasick anymore for the remainder of the journey. (If you happen to occur to nonetheless be dizzy, medical doctors on the Hurtigruten ship additionally handed out these transdermal ear patches for additional stopping nausea). All in all, in the event you’re somebody who will get simply seasick, it’s a good suggestion to test with a physician beforehand or to pack Sea Bands and seasickness capsules; in any other case, there’ll all the time be an on board physician to help you. However to present you some peace of thoughts, you’ll NOT be crusing on a regular basis. Cruise tour operators all the time area the times so that you’ll have time to catch a breather.
NOTE: Some individuals are extremely involved concerning the notorious Drake Passage which most Antarctica cruise ships must undergo. If you happen to don’t realize it but, Drake Passage is alleged to be world’s roughest seas on condition that it’s the place the Atlantic, Pacific and Southern seas converge. There aren’t any close by landmass both so the currents right here meet with NO resistance, ensuing to it being the choppiest waters on the planet.
Nonetheless, one’s expertise right here can both be referred to as ‘Drake Lake’ or ‘Drake Shake’ and our ship’s crossing was someplace within the center. It was swaying greater than normal, however it was manageable. Subsequently, all the pieces will rely upon climate situations in addition to the pace of the ship (larger ships could make the crossing in simply 24 hours whereas smaller ones can take 36 to 48 hours).
◘◘ Is it onerous to sleep on the ship?
From my expertise, under no circumstances. There’s the problem of how sunshine exists for nearly 24-hours in a day throughout the Antarctic summer season, nonetheless, all cabins have thick blinds so it mustn’t disrupt your physique clock. Alternatively, you may pack alongside some eye masks to defend away the sunshine.
◘◘ Is there web and leisure on board?
Some ships have it, some don’t. With Hurtigruten, they’ve a dependable WiFi connection on board at an additional value. Additionally they have an web café with obtainable computer systems on choose ships that they’ve. (Price often begins at for at some point).
As for leisure, not like typical cruise ships which have ostentatious leisure services, the ships that sail to Antarctica have minimal leisure on board; relaxation assured, there is sufficient to maintain anybody busy together with social occasions, workshops, and lectures from skilled workers who’re sometimes made up of scientists. In spite of everything, this type of journey is extra about rest and discovery!
◘◘ Can kids come?
Most Antarctica tour suppliers have a minimal age requirement that ranges from 6 to 12 years outdated, whereas others go away it as much as the dad and mom to resolve whether or not the cruise shall be acceptable for his or her kids. That being stated, it’s greatest to test along with your tour operator for any restrictions that they might have. More often than not although, given the restricted entry to medical services, kids with continual situations resembling bronchial asthma, and many others. usually are not suggested to go on an Antarctica cruise.
Simply take word that lengthy journeys on sea may be tiring for kids. After all, there are lots of fascinating wildlife and scenes to maintain them occupied however it’s all the time a good suggestion to deliver loads of leisure choices on your youngsters.
◘◘ Is it a visit that may be accomplished by solo vacationers?
Completely! Some ships have single occupancy rooms or have shared room cabins; and naturally, you’ll by no means actually be alone throughout the journey as a result of there are such a lot of alternatives for mingling with others. (Or in fact, in order for you extra solitude, you’re free to keep up that too!).
Emperor Penguins from Shutterstock.com
◘◘ Will we’ve got an opportunity to be taught extra about Antarctica?
All IAATO operators are inspired to supply methods of enriching and educating their visitors concerning the atmosphere of Antarctica and its safety — so sure, there shall be academic packages or lectures obtainable that shall be carried out by educated professionals.
With Hurtigruten, there have been FREE films and lectures day-after-day wherein everybody was free to take part or not. They allow us to be taught extra concerning the wildlife and the islands we have been visiting, and so they have been even delivered by the expedition crew that was made up of professional geologists, marine biologists, historians, and ornithologists amongst many others! If you happen to occur to have any particular requests, you’re all the time free to strategy any of the workers scientists on board or on shore.
◘◘ What penguin species will I see? Can I contact them?
Naturally, penguins are the primary kind of animals that folks consider when Antarctica involves thoughts, however don’t neglect that there are other forms of wildlife to see there resembling whales and seals! Anyhow, to this point, there are 17 species of penguins on the planet BUT solely 7 of them dwell on and round Antarctica:
- 4 (four) dwell and nest in and across the Antarctic continent: Adélie, Emperor, Chinstrap, and Gentoo
- The primary 2 are discovered means additional within the icy continent and the remainder desire to be on the northern tip
- Three (three) breed in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands: King, Macaroni and Rockhopper
For a whole record of Antarctic animals that you will notice, learn right here.
As for touching them, it helps to notice that there are strict wildlife tips that each one guests to Antarctica should abide by. As an example, we have been suggested to keep up a 5-meter distance from any wildlife always (there are some species that require better distance and your expedition crew will let you know). Nonetheless, a lot of the penguins and seals have been curious creatures so there have been many cases whereby they have been tremendous near us; which then makes for an incredible expertise (aside from it being an incredible alternative for taking wonderful photographs and movies!).
So merely put: we didn’t strategy them, we allow them to strategy us.
◘◘ Are there any residents of Antarctica?
Not likely as a result of nobody actually owns Antarctica nor does anybody have precise sovereignty. There was one time although when an Argentinian child was born in Antarctica as an effort of Argentina to depart a mark of sovereignty within the continent however that didn’t rely.
Anyway, backside line: there are not any residents of Antarctica. There are solely two primary teams of individuals there: they will both be vacationers or researchers and none of them dwell there indefinitely.
◘◘ Will I see the Southern Lights and the Southern Cross?
The Aurora Australis or Southern Lights are solely seen in Antarctica from March to September, nonetheless there’s a slim likelihood for vacationers to see this as a result of it’s not usually seen in areas wherein cruise ships are allowed to land — plus, there must be ample darkness for it to be seen. As for the Southern Cross, it’s seen at any time of the 12 months; however then once more, there must be sufficient darkness which isn’t the case throughout the peak of the vacationer season (which is summer season).
◘◘ Can I fly my drone in Antarctica?
No. IAATO does not permit any leisure use of drones or Unmanned Aerial Automobiles (UAVs) to guard the pristine scene and wildlife. But when you actually need to make use of it, there are cases whereby it’s allowed — kindly simply test along with your operator since all requests are often lodged by way of an software allow.
◘◘ Is there anything I ought to pay attention to?
All the time keep in mind that Antarctica is a fragile atmosphere, so with a purpose to preserve its pristine situations, please act your half in being environmentally accountable. Do NOT pollute, do NOT introduce any international organisms into Antarctica’s ecosystem, and do NOT harass any wildlife. Take heed to your expedition leaders very effectively and observe their directions — and naturally, have enjoyable! A possibility to go to Antarctica is actually a once-in-a-lifetime expertise!
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