30th September 2015
We have recently launched a new destination, the Polar Regions. Some of the trips offered to our clients will be sea adventures through the Antarctic. A cruise boat is the only way to explore and experience this beautiful but remote wilderness, with its colossal glaciers, jagged ice mountains and gigantic icebergs and ice fields. Surprisingly, this extreme environment is also rich with wildlife such as penguins, seals, seabirds and whales.
Fortunately the number of cruise boats that are allowed to operate in the Antarctic is strictly controlled, to protect this natural environment. Currently there are 30 passenger cruise boats allowed to carry tourists through these waters. They range from Luxury Expedition Ships with ide-strengthened hulls (75 – 200 passengers), Expedition Ships (50 – 200 passengers) and Ross Sea, East Antarctica Ships and Specialty Trips (50-125 passengers). These boats are members of IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators), who play a major role promoting the practice of safe and environmentally responsible tourism to the Antarctic.
One of the boats we have chosen to use is the M/S Expedition. I was lucky enough to go on-board and review the boat in Leith, Edinburgh, when it was repositioning from the Antarctic to the Arctic.
The G Expedition is one of the smaller cruise boats and can carry up to 134 passengers. Originally it was built as a car/passenger ferry and was converted into a cruise ship and refurbished in 2009. It’s also ice-strengthened so it is fully adapted for this tough environment!
The cabins, common areas and corridors are more spacious than other boats due to it originally being a ferry. The observation decks are massive and allow panoramic views of the surrounding area, which is perfect for wildlife viewing. The cabins have various categories: quadruple, triple, twin share and suites, all featuring ocean-facing windows or portholes and private en-suite facilities. The cabins are spread out over three decks. There is also a dining room, the polar bear pub, sauna, gym and computer room.
There is a large fleet of Zodiacs for daily shore excursions and sea kayaking and on some of their itineraries you can camp overnight on the ice. Each voyage comes with a ‘Photographer in Residence’ amongst their staff - a professional photographer who can show you how to improve your photography. In addition, there are expert naturalist guides and wildlife zoologists who guide on-shore excursions and provide lectures in the evenings.
What I liked most about this boat was its informal atmosphere on-board and the friendly expedition staff. The overall experience is such good value for money too!
We offer a number of trips to Antarctica and the Arctic aboard the G Expedition, including our G Expedition: Antarctica Classic suggested itinerary.