For more than 20 years, tour operators Abercrombie & Kent have offered a variety of cruise itineraries to Antarctica, embarking on over 150 voyages. Their ‘Classic Antarctica’ itinerary allows groups of 199 pax to enjoy the natural beauty of the White Continent’s majestic glittering glaciers and hardy wildlife aboard their newest and most environmentally-friendly vessel, the stylish 108-cabin MV Le Boreal yacht.
The utmost in incentive travel, the all-inclusive 14-day journey includes a day in Santiago, Chile, with lodging at the 310-room Grand Hyatt Santiago and optional city tours. From here groups travel to Ushuaia, Argentina–the southernmost city in the world.
In Ushuaia, groups can enjoy a traditional Patagonian barbecue lunch before boarding Le Boreal, the only ship currently sailing to Antarctica with private balconies in every cabin. Even the notorious Drake Passage, known to have some of the roughest waters in the world, is no match for the ship’s technologically-advanced water stabilizing system.
NEW GENERATION OF ADVENTURE CRUISING
Representing the future of sustainable travel, the ship uses the cleanest-burning marine gas oil fuel, and it has a state-of-the-art positioning system that eliminates the need for dropping anchor, which can damage fragile marine reserves.
“It’s a new generation of adventure cruising,” says Scott Wiseman, president of A&K. “The sleek, stylish and stable design of Le Boreal has made the idea of a voyage to Antarctica much more appealing to groups who might not have considered it before.”
A&K’s voyages take place in the months of November, December and January. While winter in New York City means snowstorms, these months make up Antarctica’s warm Austral summers. The round-the-clock daylight makes it the perfect opportunity to photograph the continent’s changing weather conditions or playful wildlife from close range, even at midnight.
The 620-mile journey from South America to Antarctica takes two days, giving groups time for exploring the snazzy new vessel. Those brave enough to stand the cold weather can enjoy some outdoor dining at the laidback La Boussole restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
La Licorne is the ship’s second restaurant, serving gourmet, contemporary and international cuisine. Try the cod fish roasted with Meyer lemon source, artichoke “barigoule” and eggplant confit with the Argentinean Carcassonne chard.
The ship also features a full-service salon, heated pool, steam rooms, spa and fitness center complete the amenities, available to those who wish to remain warm and cozy.
Considering the expansive size of Antarctica–the fifth largest continent in the world—two daily excursions allow for optimal exploration through the frigid waters. Groups are guided daily by a staff of experienced field professionals that include a geologist, a historian, a climate ecologist and a naturalist, among a few.
Hop onto one of the 10- to 12-seat Zodiacs designed to safely carry groups in rough and shallow waters. With no docking arrangements, groups can cruise alongside the towering ice masses and catch a glimpse of passing marine life. By the way, the Zodiacs feature fuel-efficient motors that comply with all environmental protection standards, as well.
Some of the sites visited can include the penguin-filled islands in the South Shatlands, the Antarctic Peninsula and a sail through the stunning Paradise Bay. Keep an eye out for the mythical albatross, known to have the largest wingspan of any bird in the world, or snap a few shots of sunbathing seals.
Hope for good weather and enjoy a visit to research stations and what remains of turn-of-the-century whaling and sealing stations. Finish off each day by comparing notes with your naturalist and recapping the day’s adventure.
On the way back through the historic passage, sit with lecturers and have all questions answered before bidding farewell to the crew and returning home with your Arctic adventure fresh in your mind.