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Best (any) way to "visit" Antarctica?

Best (any) way to "visit" Antarctica?

Old Oct 23, 2023, 7:55 am
  #31  
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Small ship cruising is a completely different experience than large ship cruising, and an Antarctica cruise is more different at that, so if you really want to see and experience Antarctica don't completely discount a cruise if your only image of cruising is ships with midnight buffets and water slides. As mentioned above, lines like Hurtigruten and Ponant offer fantastic options to Antarctica.
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Old Oct 23, 2023, 8:03 am
  #32  
 
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I think OP ought to reconsider his aversion to an Antarctic cruise. We're absolutely not "cruise people" and we had a wonderful cruise to Antarctica (+ Falklands and South Georgia) on a small ship (~100/pp) in 2020. I get not wanting to be on a cruise and not wanting to be around around "cruise people," but on a small ship Antarctic voyage, most of the guests are going to be well-traveled folks who wouldn't otherwise be on a cruise and realize that a cruise is by far the best way to see the Antarctic.
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Old Oct 23, 2023, 8:57 am
  #33  
 
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There are about 600 trips to Antarctica every season (November to March), on small boats to very large boats. The large ones just cruise along, no landings, and are closer to what people perceive to be a cruise. Most ships are smaller (100-200 passengers), and when in Antarctica, you will actually leave the ship and land via zodiacs.
In my 10ish trips there, I saw list-tickers ("must have been on the 7th continent", "must have a picture of myself on the 7th continent"), lots of retired folks (trips cost $7k to $30k+ per person, depending on length of trips ship type and season, and run 10-30 days) interested in the history, wildlife and landscapes. More families around the holidays. I went for the wildlife and do not have a single pic of myself there.
I have not been on a "regular" cruise, but these cruises (on the smaller ships) do not have captain's dinners, climbing walls, spas etc. Cabins have showers, so this is not "roughing it".
Season runs in the Antarctic spring and summer, Nov-March. I booked via www.polarholidays.com, as they have traveled there extensively. NG, Hurtigruten etc. will only sell you their trips, a small subsection of the 600ish offered in a season (600 includes trips to South Georgia and deep into the Ross Sea etc.).
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Old Oct 23, 2023, 9:42 am
  #34  
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I had a vendor who was doing luxury short stay trips to Antarctica via airplane from South Africa - so you could do CPT on United, then do the tour flight from there, but it's very expensive and doesn't get you as up close and personal with wildlife as the cruises. PM me and I will check if they are still operating and their dates/availability for 2024.

Having said that, I had friends who just did the cruise from South America on a smaller ship, and aside from the Drake Passage, it was mostly smooth sailing. I had them reach out to their MD for a prescription for compounded Scopace tablets and they were fine - even posting videos of their dinner sliding back and forth across the table. The product was discontinued and needs to be compounded by a specialized pharmacy, but is far more effective than the patch with fewer, if any, side effects. It helped us on an Alaska fjords cruise some years ago with 18-20ft waves crashing over the boat - we were the only two people on board who ate lunch, everyone else was on the floor praying for a quick death to end their misery
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Old Oct 23, 2023, 11:42 am
  #35  
 
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There are fly and cruise options to Antarctica (and maybe two-way fly??). The flights are charters and sold as part of the cruise. This costs more than the usual cruise round-trip from Ushuaia or other southerly port. As far as what you DO in Antarctica, unless you have a job there you are talking about Zodiac shuttles to walk around on land among the penguins.

OP could go instead to Longyearbyen in Svalbard that is the most northerly airport with scheduled service. There he will find coffee shops, hotels, and opportunities for dog sled rides.
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Old Oct 23, 2023, 12:42 pm
  #36  
 
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Originally Posted by malbik
There are fly and cruise options to Antarctica (and maybe two-way fly??). The flights are charters and sold as part of the cruise. This costs more than the usual cruise round-trip from Ushuaia or other southerly port. As far as what you DO in Antarctica, unless you have a job there you are talking about Zodiac shuttles to walk around on land among the penguins.

OP could go instead to Longyearbyen in Svalbard that is the most northerly airport with scheduled service. There he will find coffee shops, hotels, and opportunities for dog sled rides.
Longyearbyen is great for a couple days, but doesn't come close to the majesty that is Antarctica.

Though if you want to fly *A to Longyearbyen, now is your last chance. I flew on a SAS J award booked by UA from CLE-EWR-OSL-TOS-LYR.
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Old Oct 23, 2023, 12:42 pm
  #37  
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Originally Posted by malgudi
What's the reference to infanticide? Did you mean infinitesimal?
Darn it, I even thought I caught that autocorrect before I posted... Oh well...
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Old Oct 23, 2023, 4:20 pm
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It happens that I'm just back from an early spring visit to "El fin del mundo" as Ushuaia calls itself: PHX-DFW-EZE-USH. mostly on AA. This is the closest city to Antarctica, and although my own visit was to the archipelago of little Chilean islands in this vicinity, there are cruises and charter flights to Antarctica that depart from there.
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Old Oct 24, 2023, 1:10 pm
  #39  
 
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Not all Antarctic cruises are created equal. I was on a very rustic Russian icebreaker about 15 years ago — it was awesome.
We kayaked with humpbacks and spent a night camping on the ice. I despise cruises, but this was by far one of the best trips ever.
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Old Oct 30, 2023, 7:18 pm
  #40  
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[QUOTE=steveggetit;35686372]
Le Ponant French Cruise line is very nice and their ships are designed for Antarctic etc. /QUOTE]

Le Ponant is the original ship of the Ponant line. A tiny sailing vessel that goes nowhere near Antarctica. That said, Ponant has ~10 ships that are icebreaker-certified to some degree that operate out of Ushuaia in the austral summer (plenty of own-line rescue capacity if required). Leading ship is the one-of Le Commandant Charcot. Next are the explorer series and then the older ships (named after stars/constelaltions) . These are equipped with many Zodiacs and kayaks, as well as a plethora of survival suipplies.

There are various promotions that one can book a cruise at a less-than-eve-popping price.
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Old Nov 15, 2023, 3:06 pm
  #41  
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Bark Europa - a 100+ year-old rebuilt 'tall ship'. I think the passenger load is 40 - everyone can go ashore at the same time.

To be honest, I never looked at any other options. I've never been interested in the cruise ship experience but I heard about this ship (Dutch) from someone on a trip and went right home and booked it. It circumnavigates the globe every year with five round trips from Ushaia to Antarctica. I don't recall exactly - there were a few private cabins, but I booked a bed in a six-bed shared cabin with ensuite (no single supplement!) and there were only three of us in the cabin that trip.

Trip of a lifetime, worth every penny.
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Old Nov 15, 2023, 4:06 pm
  #42  
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Originally Posted by chollie
Bark Europa - a 100+ year-old rebuilt 'tall ship'. I think the passenger load is 40 - everyone can go ashore at the same time.

To be honest, I never looked at any other options. I've never been interested in the cruise ship experience but I heard about this ship (Dutch) from someone on a trip and went right home and booked it. It circumnavigates the globe every year with five round trips from Ushaia to Antarctica. I don't recall exactly - there were a few private cabins, but I booked a bed in a six-bed shared cabin with ensuite (no single supplement!) and there were only three of us in the cabin that trip.

Trip of a lifetime, worth every penny.
it must have been buckets of fun through the Drake Passage
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Old Nov 19, 2023, 3:07 pm
  #43  
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Originally Posted by bocastephen
it must have been buckets of fun through the Drake Passage
The woman who told me about the ship got the Drake Lake both going and returning. We got some rock-and-roll on the outbound (nothing scary) and an easy ride back. It was great.
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Old Nov 22, 2023, 6:28 am
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Saw that they landed a Dreamliner there the other day :wow:
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