Antarctica is on the bucket list of most aspiring travellers. The White Continent has a fearsome reputation as the coldest, driest, and windiest region on earth. Despite this, countless cruises visit this breathtaking land each summer. Regardless if you are young or old, an Antarctic cruise has something for everyone. Wildlife and photography lovers will be particularly thrilled! So, to help you prepare fully for your Antarctic adventure, I have written my top 8 tips for visiting Antarctica for an epic trip.
8 Must-Know Tips for Visiting Antarctica
There’s a rumour of tips for visiting Antarctica going around that suggests that booking a last minute cruise to Antarctica is the cheapest way to go. This is largely untrue as the real price gems come from booking way in advance. When I say way in advance, I mean 1-2 years! This will guarantee the early bird prices that won’t be beaten.
Save Your Pennies And Book A Research Vessel
There are three options when it comes to Antarctica cruise ship options; research vessels, expedition vessels, and luxury vessels. Although research-style ships have less space and less facilities, their rugged outfitting actually makes the trip feel more like an adventure! They’re also far cheaper than the other two options.
Buy Some Muck Boots
All Expedition cruises, including Antarctica, make daily shore landings via zodiac boats. As great as these excursions are, you’ll need to bring a pair of muck boots or comfy wellies to deal with the ‘wet landings’. I suggest buying a pair with good thermal lining and excellent grip on the soles.
These tips for visiting Antarctica may sound obvious, but Antarctica is not a warm destination, even during summer. Most days, you’ll be lucky to see the temperate gauge rise above freezing. The best way to combat the cold weather is to wear layers. This means wearing a thermal base layer, fleece, and warm parka. Wearing layers is great as it allows you shed them or add to them depending on the temperature.
Bring Excellent Binoculars
One of the main reasons for taking an expedition cruise to Antarctica is to witness the incredible wildlife on offer! You’re likely to see whales, penguins, seals and much more along your journey. I therefore strongly advise bringing a good pair of binoculars. When I say good, I mean good! I’m taking about image stabilised binoculars by Canon or Nikon. These really help reduce handshake, offering a better viewing experience.
Although the thought of going to sleep with the sounds of penguins in the distance may sound idyllic, the reality is a little less appealing. Often you can hear the noise of the engine, not to mention other passengers and unfamiliar wildlife noises. Getting to sleep can be difficult because of all the new sounds that your body is not accustomed to. I strongly advise bringing a pair of earplugs to combat this. You may not need them, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Book An Extra Activity
On most cruises to Antarctica, you’ll have the option of booking one or two added activities such as kayaking or camping. I really think these add a new level of fun to the cruise, especially kayaking. Although it costs extra, you get to experience Antarctica in a way that few other ever have. Explore icebergs and shallow inlets with your guide who will show you the best wildlife watching points.
Take The plunge
During your cruise everyone is offered the chance to do what is called the ‘polar plunge’. This is a free activity and involves you jumping from your ship, without a wetsuit, into the freezing waters below. For safety purposes, you’ll be harnessed to a guide who will reel you in once you hit the water. I’m not going to lie to you, the water feels like thousand knives when you splash down. After a hot mug of tea though, you’ll feel a lot better!