Our Live Voyage Report with Hurtigruten Begins Next Week
“We must always remember with gratitude and admiration the first sailors who steered their vessels through storms and mists, and increased our knowledge of the lands of ice in the South.”
– Polar Explorer Roald Amundsen
Cruising to Antarctica, even in modern times, is the very definition of ‘careful planning.’ It’s as far away from a Caribbean cruise as you can possibly get, and I’m not talking about the weather. For me, however, it’s the preparation that’s been half the fun, even as I ready myself to fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina next week and on to Ushuaia to embark on my first-ever journey to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, aboard Hurtigruten’s sturdy explorer ship, FRAM.
From Ushuaia – the southernmost city in the world – the FRAM will carry us to the Antarctic Peninsula. It’s the closest point to South America on the Antarctic continent, and the area that the vast majority of expedition cruises to Antarctica will sail to. Even here, the Peninsula has a bit of a reputation: nearly all cruises will explore the western side of the Peninsula, bordering the Southern Ocean. The area to the east that borders the Weddell Sea still retains a deserved reputation for trapping ships in thick areas of constantly-shifting pack ice.
Although our exact itinerary aboard the FRAM will be revealed to us as the voyage progresses, taking in weather and ice conditions to create the most optimal experience, the vast majority of “cool” places to visit in Antarctica are all clustered on the western side of the Peninsula.
Take, for example, Port Lockroy. Discovered by Belgian explorer Adrien de Gerlache in 1899, it was used as a whaling station until 1931, and remains of those endeavours still litter the site to this day.
Further south is the Lemaire Channel, a stunningly picturesque spot that is named after a man that never set foot in Antarctica. Adrien de Gerlache named it after fellow Belgian explorer Charles Lemaire in December 1898, when de Gerlache traversed the passage for the first time. Lemaire had never actually been to Antarctica; instead, is credited with discovering the Congo.
Then, there’s Paradise Harbor, another former whaling outpost surrounded by gigantic icebergs. Neko Harbor and its bright-orange “Captain Fleiss” refuge hut, surrounded by Gentoo penguins. The list goes on.
So how did I prepare myself for this very special voyage? There’s a few things I’d recommend to anyone that might be considering a voyage to the White Continent.
Read & Research
You probably know that Antarctica is filled with ice, snow and penguins, but really reading up on this amazing place is absolutely essential. For a place with no permanent human popul