Amanda’s Expedition Cruise to Antarctica

Amanda Kwong, one of our Merit Travel consultants from Toronto travelled to Antarctica in January 2017. We’ve asked her a few quick questions about her Antarctic experience.

How did you get to Antarctica and who did you travel with? I travelled with G Adventures. We sailed on a small expedition cruiseship, ate good hearty food each day, enjoyed ocean view cabins, had landings each day and the staff were very knowledgeable.

What photo sums up your experience? Watching the sun reflecting off snow covered mountains at 11:30pm, by myself on the top deck – see the image below! Beautiful.

What was your favourite meal or most interesting meal? Each day we started the day with a buffet breakfast, then a buffet lunch and sat down to a dinner with vegies and a fish or meat each night – good, hearty dining. Visiting Antarctica isn’t about local cuisine fine dining, but rather eating well to suit the climate, and we ate very well!

Why should I book a trip to Antarctica? What was the most unique part of your trip? Antarctica is the last frontier. Many people go to tick off visiting ‘the last continent’. The wildlife is unique to Antarctica and can’t be seen (or are difficult to find) in nature anywhere else in the world and the scenery is unlike anywhere else.

What should I know before I go? There really isn’t much to worry about on this journey, apart from some seasickness that some passengers experienced on the journey between the Ushuaia in the far south of Argentina, through the Drake Passage. So be sure to pack seasickness tablets.

Was there any place you wish you could have spent more time? I would have loved to have been on a longer cruise that went further south into more of Antarctica as well as to the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the Falkland Islands. Other tour options cover these additional destinations.

What was an activity you’d recommend for visitors If you are lucky enough to spot them at work, watching Humpback whales bubble net feeding is absolutely incredible. A group of whales work together to feed. They swim deep and blow bubbles up to trap their food, then they take turns eating in the middle of the ‘net’.

What was the WOW factor you experienced in Antarctica? I loved seeing whales and penguins, it was an absolutely beautiful experience, we were lucky to see so many!

What type of person would love this destination? Anyone with a sense of adventure and a love of nature, the ocean, the cold, wildlife and learning about all of these things along the way. The ship is well equipped but very casual. Comfortable but not luxurious. Hikes can be up steep hills covered in snow, so mobility has to be good. My roommate was in her 70’s and managed just fine!

Is Antarctica somewhere I’d go alone, with my partner, with my kids or with my Grandma?
Obviously it’s an expensive – but once in a lifetime destination. It’s suited to all ages, but best suited to young adults and young at heart active ages. You don’t to be physically fit, but it’s advised to be stable on your feet. When we did shore excursions we would go via zodiac boats. The crew give you rubber boots, and you can easily get into the zodiac from the ship. The zodiacs pull up onto the beaches and the boots keep you dry as you climb out. It was easy to get on and off the ship into the zodiacs, but sometimes a little hard to get out of zodiacs onto the beach. There was a polar dip which you can participate in, (I didn’t do it because I am not crazy!) but it looked fun! On board there were also theme nights and movie nights, photography lessons and lectures in Antarctica to keep us entertained.

Is there something you would do differently if you visited Antarctica again? I would spend time in Buenos Aires for the big city attractions and Ushuaia for hiking and various activities nearby. There is so much to see and do and it’s a great way to ease into a destination and enjoy pre and post cruise journey as well.

When is it best to visit Antarctica? The cruise season for Antarctica is November-March. Early in the season, the landscape is pristine and penguins are mating and laying their eggs. In the middle of the season it’s
is actually at it’s warmest with the most sunlight, penguins are hatching and there are fluffy chicks, whales are starting to come down. Late in the season the landscape isn’t as pristine, with ice and snow melting, but there are more whales and penguins chicks are starting to fledge.

I’d love to tell you more about my experience in Antarctica and send you there to experience it for yourself! Contact me for any questions you have about Antarctica! You can reach me on 416 345 9726 cx 2125 or via or find her up on Instagram @aamandakwong

For more trips ideas, thoughts or insights before booking your next vacation, talk to a Merit Travel Consultant first.

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