Summer in the Antarctic, which begins in November and lasts until March, is the only time you could consider a cruise to this ice-laden land. The best time is, of course, in December and January, when the temperatures reach their most comfortable and there is enough daylight to fulfil your travel dreams. It is in December that the first penguin chicks make their appearance and the whales start to arrive. The ice begins to recede in January, making way for whales everywhere and opening up avenues for exploration further south.
Antarctica is a destination that is not chalked out for every traveller. Although money is a deciding factor, it is also about fitness, endurance, mental agility and the spirit of adventure. As far as cruises are concerned, most expedition ship itineraries stretch anywhere from nine to 12 days, and include visits to the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. There are, of course, options to fly to and from the South Shetlands, but sailing across the Drake Passage has been described as an experience that makes Antarctic all the more special.
But, if your sole cruise objective is to witness penguins basking on land, no inconvenience will seem difficult to manage. The penguins thrive in raucous colonies, creating a sight that is like no other you would have ever been privy to. If king penguins are on your cruise agenda, you may have to go to South Georgia where they are found in large colonies.
Antarctica also has its share of marine wildlife, including seals and whales. While seals are commonly seen on the beaches, lazing on floes, the summer, apparently, beckons humpback whales as well as killer whales, which you could catch sight of easily.
So, if the prospect of witnessing ice everywhere, alongside tabular icebergs that break off from frozen ice shelves, and glaciers, as well as penguins and whales, is fascinating, check out the options for being on an Antarctic cruise this season. There are several cruises tailored by tour and travel agencies, who have well assimilated the requirements of the market, alongside dedicated ones like the ‘National Geographic Explorer’ or ‘National Geographic Orion’ that are designed on an educational level with teams of biologists, geologists, and undersea specialists who offer insights and in-depth presentations throughout the trip.
Closer home, Omani travel enthusiasts can look forward to exploring Antarctica, as a part of the 11-day curated trip for GCC travellers, by the India based ‘The Q Experiences’.
As The Q Experiences observe, Antarctica is slowly emerging as one of the most sought after destinations for Oman’s cruise travellers, who are always on the search for something exotic and different. As per the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), 38,478 visitors travelled to Antarctica with IAATO members during the 2015-2016 season. That is a 4.6 percent increase over the previous season. Furthermore, 43,885 visitors are expected to visit the continent in the 2016-2017 season.
To address the needs of the Omani travellers, ‘The Q Experiences’ has announced a trip to Antarctica on a luxury cruise. Starting on 9th of December 2017, this will be an 11-day curated trip to the exotic ice crowned continent – Antarctica, also rightly known as The White Continent.
Starting off from Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the luxury cruise trip promises to create an experience of a lifetime and will take travellers across ‘Drake Passage’ into the Land of Ice. The travellers would be on board ‘The Great Majestic Explorer’ – a sleek, gorgeous yacht, which would have 132 elegant staterooms and suites.
Travellers will be cruising through some of the most breathtaking glaciers of Neko Bay and Paradise bay, anchoring at Port Lockroy, finally sailing to the largest colony of Chinstrap Penguins at Deception Island and visit the quietest place on earth, the majestic Weddell Sea, and at every step of the way, there would be experts to guide the travellers and show the sights one had only dreamt of.
Travel enthusiasts can also watch the mysterious stories unfold at www.thewhitecontinent.com.