What draws intrepid travellers to the Great White Continent? According to luxury expedition specialist Abercrombie & Kent, it’s many things.
It’s the awe-inspiring icebound landscapes, the incredible wildlife, the comfort of the cruise ship which is exclusively chartered for A&K’s four journeys, the expertise of the award-winning Expedition Team on board and, simply put, the sheer remoteness of the destination.
It’s certainly one for the bucket list and with no more than 199 guests travelling on any one journey, it’s exclusive. Departing from Ushuaia, the southernmost tip of South America, A&K expeditions operate on luxury small ship, MV Le Lyrial, one of the most sophisticated vessels cruising in Antarctica with balconies for every stateroom and suite and a technologically advanced stabilising system to minimise the effects of rough conditions, keeping passengers comfortable at all times. Common areas are spacious and elegant with a theatre for nightly enrichment lectures, entertainment and movies.
With over 25 years’ experience in polar cruising, A&K assembles the finest Expedition Team in Antarctica. From award-winning scientists, habitat conservationists and wildlife photographers to historians and Polar Medal recipients, the team represents a remarkable group of accomplished explorers, many of whom have been sailing together for decades. Their credentials and expertise in Antarctica are matched only by their commitment to the guest’s experience.
There is an average of 18 expedition staff on each journey accompanying guests on regular Zodiac excursions, conducting educational and informative briefings and lectures on board and providing expert guidance and camaraderie. There is also a professional photography coaching team on board to conduct lectures and interactive workshops to ensure travellers can get the most out of their camera.
The pristine ecosystem of Antarctica is unfathomable. Explored by a lucky few, it is the last true wilderness with vast icebergs, towering mountains, glaciers and geothermal beaches – all providing a backdrop for a huge variety of marine and bird life that cannot be experienced anywhere else on the planet.
The abundance of krill which surges up from the deep, icy waters feeds everything from the region’s celebrated penguins to its colossal whales. Guests cruising to the Falkland and South Georgia islands – the latter considered one of the most biodiverse environments on earth – will experience another level of Antarctic abundance.
At least five species of penguin can be seen on an Antarctic journey with A&K, including the Adélie and chinstrap, gentoo and rockhopper varieties and, in South Georgia, hundreds of thousands of King penguins at Salisbury Plain. Elephant and fur seals are regularly sighted as well as humpback and minke whales and orcas. The birdlife is equally astonishing and from the deck, large numbers of seabirds follow the ship’s passage including petrels and skuas, terns and the remarkable wandering albatross.
Another fascinating element to an Antarctic expedition is the legendary history of exploration in the region. The heroic age of Antarctic exploration from 1892 to 1922 is sprinkled with names of famous explorers such as Shackleton, Scott and Mawson and on A&K’s journey to South Georgia, travellers visit Shackleton’s gravesite at Grytviken and toast his courageous exploits.
So, what sort of traveller is suited to an Antarctic expedition? According to A&K, it’s varied. In general, guests are very well travelled with an interest in wildlife and remote ecosystems and for most it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Couples of all ages are drawn to the adventure as well as family groups and there are special journeys with a family focus offering tailored hands-on activities and workshops for young travellers throughout the cruise including research station visits; children-only Zodiac rides in search of ocean creatures in tidal pools; squid dissection; nature journaling; special bridge visits with the Captain; penguin drawing; nautical knot tying; wildlife identification; making Japanese fish prints; photography lessons and snowball fights on land! Added inclusions are Young Explorer leaders who are dedicated educators and experts in engaging children’s creativity who share their knowledge and expertise with young travellers in an engaging and educational way during Zodiac trips, on shore excursions and aboard.
Cruising with A&K in Antarctica is all-inclusive. Gourmet dining is a highlight with all meals included, plus unlimited house drinks. Room service is available 24/7 and staff gratuities are also thrown in. Each traveller receives a custom-designed expedition parka and backpack to keep plus complimentary use of rental gumboots, waterproof pants and trekking poles, delivered directly to guest staterooms by the Concierge Service – another reason to travel with A&K.
Abercrombie & Kent offers four Antarctic expeditions with a special offer for bookings in Balcony Staterooms (categories 1-3) made and deposited by 31 March 2018.
Save US$3,000 per person.
12 – 23 December 2018
6 – 17 January 2019 (Understanding Climate Change Expedition)
Prices from US$12,845 (normal price US$15,845) per person twin share.
Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands
Save US$4,000 per person.
22 December 2018 – 7 January 2019 (Family departure featuring an A&K Young Explorers Guide and special child pricing)
16 January – 1 February 2019 (Photographic Expedition)
Prices from US$18,845 (normal price US$22,845) per person twin share.