The Ban on heavy fuel oil in Antarctica is good for the environment and hasn’t really impacted small ship expedition cruising in the region. While voyages for this season’s Antarctic travel are filling fast there is still a chance to take an Antarctic vacation between October, 2011 and March, 2012. There are three main itineraries; the classic Antarctic Peninsula voyage, the Antarctic Circle voyage and the longer Falklands, South Georgia, Antarctica trips (see last week’s blog for details).
For most Polar travelers a classic Antarctic Peninsula voyage fits both time available (10 – 12 days) and their interest – which for each individual is varied. Maybe you are a birder looking to add to your life list or just a wildlife enthusiast. Perhaps you won’t be satisfied unless you see downy chicks in nests. For some it is the chance to stand on their 7th continent. Still others are looking for the vast Polar landscape with surreal blue ice or want to see the calving of a glacier. Maybe for you it's the distant echo of past heroic explorers. If you are like me it is all of the above!
Still for some it is the quest for the Antarctic Circle (13 – 15 days) which adds a bit more to that classic Antarctica experience. Many have been to the Arctic Circle and want to experience the other end of the spectrum. For others it’s the lure to go where few have traveled before. If you are lucky you may land at the small snow covered Detaille Island with its abandoned (March 1959) British station. Perhaps your circle trip will make it through the Gullet, a narrow passage way between Adelaide Island and part of the Antarctic Peninsula.
On one of my previous circle voyages we were treated to an avalanche of snow that spread across the Gullet and covered us with a light dusting of powder as the ship sailed through it. Most of the time this passage is ice choked but if you make it through there's a chance to see crabeater seals on ice floes or the elusive snow petrel. Beyond the Gullet is the chance to zodiac cruise by penguin colonies where leopard seals may be lurking. There is a good chance for whale encounters and the scenery is always spectacular!
No matter your interest, there is still time for Polar Cruises to find an Antarctic Voyage with just the right fit for you!
Blog post by Sharon Keating