Why Antarctica Was My Favorite Trip of All Time
I’ve been to all 7 continents and almost 100 countries, so I’m ALWAYS asked what my favorite country is. The answer is, it’s not a country! My favorite trip of all time was visiting Antarctica over Christmas and New Years a few years back. I wasn’t expecting much to be honest, and I’m usually a “cultural” traveler vs a wildlife traveler. Despite that, this trip completely blew me away.
I visited The Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and the Antarctic Peninsula leaving from Ushuaia. Here are some of the highlights that made it so special:
Penguins on penguins
We saw 500,000 penguins in one place on South Georgia island! The animals here aren’t used to humans so they aren’t scared – you’re so close you could touch them (but you don’t out of respect). We also saw seals, whales, other birds, and more.
Special occasion touches
On Christmas Day we visited an abandoned whaling town that had a refreshed chapel. The crew organized a non-denominational service and had champagne and cookies waiting for us after. For New Years Eve (Alex’s birthday!) we visited a Ukranian research base, had their home made vodka, and then returned to the boat for a NYE party (the pool on deck was heated!)
Our expedition leaders were so boss! Most had PhDs in their fields and one had a Nobel prize! Subjects ranged from Antarctic History to Penguin Behavior to Climate Change. On days at sea these folks held lectures (often funny too!) and of course went out “in the field” with us.
Outrageously good service
This isn’t a “cruise” it’s an expedition on an ice class luxury vessel. There were only about 100 guests but over 400 crew. This team taught me that champagne can be served anywhere! They came zooming up to us in a zodiac on our last day in Antarctica proper to hand us each a glass of bubbly.
Visiting Ernest Shackelton’s grave
I am a nerd and read all about Ernest Shackleton before our trip. The antarctic historian on board took us on a short excursion up to an old graveyard on South Georgia. When we arrived, there was a table outside the grounds all set up for everyone to grab a whiskey shot! We went in, got the history from our guide, and had a toast to “The Boss” right there in the graveyard.
The Captain’s enthusiasm
If there was something amazing to see on this trip, the captain let us know about it – even if it was 2am! It sounds bad in theory, but when you’re in Antarctica everything feels heightened and more exciting. It turned out to be pretty fun jumping out of bed, throwing on coats, and running out on deck to see a whale right next to us with babies, or a mile long ice berg!
Excellent On-board Programming
This part really blew me away. When you’re sailing such long distances sometimes you’ll have days at sea. The crew did an excellent job at organizing lectures to talk about what we’d seen or were about to see. Every evening no matter what the agenda, there was a cocktail hour with wrap up discussion – it was always funny, and very cool to re-cap the day’s events. It’s no surprise that I took notes in all the sessions and still have my Antarctica notebook!
If you’re interested in visiting Antarctica in the next few year, definitely give me a shout! There are SO many options – different price points, different expedition companies, different itineraries etc. I can take the overwhelm out of the process and help truly make your trip a once in a lifetime experience!