Category: Adventure

Crystal Endeavor Expeditions

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 150 0

On August 10, 2020, Crystal Endeavor will embark on her maiden voyage from Tokyo. The groundbreaking vessel under Crystal Expedition Cruises will sail a remote and remarkable journey through the islands of Japan and the Russian Far East, Antarctica via the Ross Sea; New Zealand and Tasmania; Australia and the Great Barrier Reef; and Borneo, Indonesia and the Philippines.

We are most excited for the Crystal Endeavor’s Indonesian Immersive & the Great Barrier Reef that sails for 16 nights from Bali to Cairns on October 15, 2020.  You’ll journey through the legendary Spice Islands and Papua New Guinea, to Komodo Island where you may encounter its famous dragons. And of course the breathtaking underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef.

Throughout this voyage you’ll want to don your wet suit for fascinating deep water discoveries like Lizard Island, nestled within the spectacular Great Barrier Reef and Ribbon Reef, constituting approximately 125 miles of it. Lizard Island is an ideal spot for expedition adventures that range from snorkeling to rugged hikes through mangroves and acacia woodlands in search of the yellow-spotted monitor lizard and even taking the time to sun yourself along white sand beaches. Ribbon Reef presents opportunities to dive deep into the coves, caves and canyons that house a rainbow of sea life within an isolated haven of turquoise. In Kalabahi, Indonesia, a snorkeling adventure will take you to the coastal waters of Pura Island, where the coral reefs still thrive and tropical fish dart in and out, playing hide-and-seek with visitors. You may also meet some of the local Alor tribe, who farm and fish the land.

There are adventures and eye-opening discoveries in each of these spectacular destination, and even aboard the expedition ship itself.

Silversea Arctic Experience Offers

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 715 0

Take the plunge and travel into one of the most enigmatic regions on Earth. Mountains of ice calve gracefully while seals, sea birds and of course the mighty Polar Bear search for food in this frozen wonderland. Dreamlike, beautifully bleak, yet bursting with energy both above and below sea-level, hike upon tundra and sail amidst fjords – after all, this is the land of the midnight sun so anything is possible. A must for any modern traveller, Silversea Expeditions allows you to explore the Arctic Circle with expert guides in comfort and class. Making way for you to have a truly memorable experience.

 

Take advantage of one or more of these special offers and connect with an Cruise Specialist to start you on your planning journey.

Arctic Air Offer: Book by September 30, 2019 and enjoy Reduced Airfares in Business Class or Free Economy Class Airfares + Free Pre-Cruise Hotel, 1 Day Use Post-Cruise Hotel &Transfers + Free In-Country Flights (if required) + Free Shore Excursions

Early Booking Bonus: Book and pay in full by October 31, 2019 and save 10% on select departures

Family Cruise Savings: Guests under the age of 18 receive 50% or more savings depending on their age when travelling with two full paying guests on select voyages.

 

Arctic Sailings – all promotions may not apply to all sailings 

Silver Cloud Expedition June 10, 2020 – 11 days from Reykjavik to Longtearbyen
Silver Cloud Expedition June 21, 2020 – 9 days from Longyearbyen to Tromso
Silver Cloud Expedition June 30, 2020 – 9 days from Tromso to Longyearbyen
Silver Cloud Expedition July 09, 2020 – 11 days from Longyearbyen to Reykjavik
Silver Cloud Expedition July 20, 2020 – 16 days from Reykjavik to Churchill (Manitoba)
Silver Cloud Expedition August 05, 2020 – 16 days from Churchill to Kangerlussuaq
Silver Cloud Expedition August 21, 2020 – 24 days from Kangerlussuaq to Nome (Alaska)

Silver Explorer Expedition September 17, 2020 – 14 days from Tromso to Reykjavik
Silver Explorer Expedition October 01, 2020 – 13 days from Reykjavik to Halifax

 

Ask about Venetian Society Savings of 5% on select voyages

Gentoo penguin in Antarctica

Explore Antarctica with Lindblad Expeditions

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 429 0

Active, immersive expedition travel
Explore Antarctica in expedition style, aboard an authentic expedition ship is an incomparable experience and your guarantee of an in-depth encounter with all its wonders. Lindblad Expedition’s pioneering polar heritage and 50 years of experience navigating polar geographies is your assurance of safe passage in one of the wildest sectors of the planet. Lindblads veteran polar expedition team enables you to:

~ See more of the legendary landscapes and habitats
~ Encounter iconic penguins, leopard seals, and marine mammals
~ Kayak among icebergs, Zodiac cruise past resting leopard seals, and hike on the continent with the best ice team on Earth
~ Experience the seldom-seen Antarctic undersea, too––through the efforts of our undersea specialist
~ Benefit from our 175 collective years of Lindblad-National Geographic expedition experience to see and do all you came for and more


Journey to Antarctica: The White Continent

14 days with Expeditions departing in January, February, November and December 2020
From US $14,680 to US $35,330 p.p.
NG Explorer – 148 Guests | NG Orion – 102 Guests

Special Offers
FREE AIRFARE | Book select departures by December 31, 2019 for free round-trip economy group airfare between Miami and Buenos Aires (or Santiago).

FREE BAR TAB AND CREW TIPS INCLUDED | We will cover your bar tab and all tips for the crew on all National Geographic Explorer and National Geographic Orion voyages.

 

 

Have up-close, personal penguin encounters
Travel with virtually any company to Antarctica, and you will see penguins. They are the citizens of the white continent, present in astounding numbers, and endlessly fascinating. Travel with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, however, and you’ll travel equipped for up-close, personal encounters—with a fleet of Zodiacs and kayaks to enable you to get closer. And a team of engaging experts that enable you to spend more time enjoying penguin society, and understand more of the adaptations that enable these remarkable animals to survive their environment.

Take advantage of all the superb photo ops
You’ll have a National Geographic photographer as your traveling companion, to inspire you and provide tips in the field. And the services of a Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor, as well—to help you turn your point-and-shoot camera into an “aim and create.” You’ll find no end of subjects and the help you need to return home with your best photos ever.

Every day is active and engaging
You’ll get out on adventures every day we’re in Antarctica, sometimes twice a day—to walk or hike, kayak or Zodiac cruise among the bergs. Because National Geographic Explorer has a fleet of both Zodiacs and kayaks, the entire expedition community can embark at once on forays, no waiting around for returning parties. You’ll have a choice of activities each day, and the option to join the naturalist whose interests mirror yours. Choice also includes opting to enjoy the view from the bridge, the all-glass observation lounge, the library or the chart room. To visit the fitness center with its panoramic windows, or ease into the sauna or a massage in the wellness center.

Travel in excellent company
Journey to Antarctica under the sure guidance of an expedition leader, eight veteran naturalists, a National Geographic photographer, plus a Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor, an undersea specialist, a Global Perspectives guest speaker, a video chronicler, and a wellness specialist. Their knowledge and passion for Antarctica is the key to your once-in-a-lifetime experience.

 

ITINERARY

DAY 1: Fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina (Explorer) or Santiago (Orion)
Depart this evening on an overnight flight to Buenos Aires (Explorer) or Santiago (Orion).

DAY 2: Overnight Hotel in Buenos Aires (Explorer) or Santiago (Orion)
Guests traveling aboard National Geographic Explorer arrive this morning in cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, set on the Rio de la Plata, and check in to the fine Alvear Art Hotel (or similar). In the afternoon, we have a guided overview of the city, seeing its Beaux Arts palaces, grand boulevards, and the famous balcony forever associated with Eva Peron. In the early evening we gather for an informal reception and a drink at the hotel. (Day 2: L)

Guests traveling aboard National Geographic Orion arrive today in Santiago. We check in to the fine Mandarin Oriental (or similar), centrally located in Santiago, and have the morning to relax. Santiago is nearly surrounded by the Andes, which form an inspiring backdrop to our afternoon guided overview of this vibrant city. We explore the Plaza de Armas, the main square, and nearby Presidential Palace, enjoying wonderful views from the many hills that dot the city. In the early evening we gather for an informal reception and a drink at the hotel. (Day 2: L)

DAY 3: Fly to Ushuaia, Argentina/Embark Ship
Today we fly by private charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina. Guests traveling aboard National Geographic Explorer will from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Ushuaia to embark the Explorer; and guests traveling aboard National Geographic Orion will fly from Santiago, Chile to Ushuaia to embark the Orion. This morning’s charter flight will bring us over Patagonia before landing in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. If the weather is fine, you’ll have a chance to view the spectacular mountains rising out of the Beagle Channel as you enjoy lunch on a catamaran cruise. Then, you’ll embark the expedition ship and set sail, (B,L,D)

DAY 4: At Sea
We awake this morning well into our journey across the Drake Passage. Lying between Cape Horn and the Antarctic Peninsula, the Drake holds a unique place in maritime lore. Sometimes misty and gray, other times calm and clear, crossing the legendary Drake Passage is unforgettable—a milestone in any adventurer’s personal travel history. (B,L,D)

DAY 5-10: Antarctica
With nearly 24 hours of daylight, we make the most of our days, keeping a flexible schedule to take advantage of the unexpected — perhaps watching a 40-ton whale surface off the bow. We are out daily. One day, you may take a Zodiac foray amid towering bergs under a bright sun, walk along the shoreline amid a huge penguin colony, hike to a summit for a breathtaking view, or kayak along a cliff-side rookery in search of blue-eyed shags. And the next, you’ll have the thrill of watching the ship crunch through the pack ice, or step ashore to the cries of thousands of gentoo penguins. You’ll learn from our experts how to identify penguins and get photo tips from a National Geographic photographer while watching those same penguins. Back aboard, our Undersea Specialist may present video from that day’s dive — rare images taken up to 1,000 feet below the surface using our ROV. Our expert staff will craft an expedition where you will learn more, see more and experience more. (B,L,D)

DAY 11-12: At Sea
As we sail back to Ushuaia, an albatross or two may join the avian escort of seabirds that cross our bow, and our spotters will keep an eye out for marine life. There’ll be plenty of time to enjoy a wellness treatment, log some time in the gym, or catch up on the book you haven’t had a minute to read. Talks from our staff will reflect on all you have seen and learned.(B,L,D)

DAY 13-14: Disembark Ushuaia/Fly to Buenos Aires (Explorer) or Santiago (Orion)/Home
After breakfast, we disembark in Ushuaia with some time to explore before proceeding to the airport for our LAN charter flight (guests on Explorer fly Ushuaia to Buenos Aires; guests on Orion fly Ushuaia to Santiago.) Please confirm departure and arrival cities with an Expedition Specialist before booking your flights. (Day 13: B,L)

 

Connect with a cruise specialist and check this incredible experience off your bucket list! 

 

 

Photo: Gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua) parent with two downy chicks on Pleneau Island, near the Antarctic Peninsula.
Copyright: Michael S. Nolan
Silver Origin

New Silver Origin to Sail the Galapagos

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 280 0

Silversea Cruises will open their newest luxury expedition ship for bookings on July 16, 2019. The new Silver Origin, has been designed entirely for the Galapagos t oimmerse you, the luxury guest, into the destination.

Starting on July 16, 2019, travellers will be able to reserve their suites aboard Silversea’s new ship, Silver Origin, which has been designed entirely with the Galapagos Islands in mind and will be the most elegant ship to ever sail the region when it launches in summer 2020. The all-suite, 100-guest Silver Origin will embark on her maiden voyage in July 2020, unlocking the authentic beauty of the Galapagos by connecting guests with the destination through immersive experiences.

“Our unique, industry-leading offering in the Galapagos Islands is being enhanced further still for the benefit of our guests,” says Roberto Martinoli, Silversea’s President and CEO. “From July 16, 2019, we will open sales for Silver Origin, which will enrich guests’ experiences with an unprecedented level of elegance and comfort. After admiring endemic species in the wild and exploring the beautiful landscapes of the Galapagos – with the guidance of local experts – guests will continue their discovery of this unique destination on board, through regionally inspired cuisine, informative lectures and various other enhancements.”

Silversea’s new ultra-luxury ship will continue the award-winning legacy of the retiring Silver Galapagos by alternating two seven-night itineraries between Baltra and San Cristobal, unlocking varying experiences for guests, as follows:

Baltra to San Cristobal
Aboard Silver Origin for Silversea’s north central itinerary, guests will enjoy a circumnavigation of Isla Daphne Major and explorations of Darwin Bay and Prince Philip’s Steps in Genovesa; Galapaguera Cerro Colorado and Punta Pitt in San Cristobal; Gardner Bay and Punta Suarez in Espanola; El Eden, Charles Darwin Research Station and Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz; as well as Sullivan Bay, North Seymour, Rabida, and South Plaza. Highlights of this seven-day itinerary include the chance to witness captivating wildlife species in their natural habitats, including and an abundance of marine life through various snorkelling opportunities – potentially near schools of tropical fish, turtles and impressive whitetip reef sharks; and the chance to explore unusual geological features, including lava flows at Sullivan Bay, among other experiences.

San Cristobal to Baltra
Silversea’s western itinerary encompasses such points of interest as Cerro Dragon and Las Bachas Beach in Santa Cruz and a circumnavigation of Kicker Rock. The itinerary also includes Punta Vicente Roca, Tagus Cove and Elizabeth Bay in Isabela; Post Office Bay, Champion Islet and Punta Cormorant in Floreana; Los Gemelos, Charles Darwin Research Station and Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz; Playa Espumilla in Santiago, conditions permitting; Punta Espinoza in Fernandina; and Bartolome Island. Guests travelling westbound with Silversea will witness magnificent geological features, including Kicker Rock and Pinnacle Rock; enjoy a Zodiac ride to Buccaneer’s Cove, which once provided a refuge for pirates; and various other unforgettable experiences.

On both itineraries, Silver Origin’s guests will spend their days exploring Darwin’s “Living Laboratory of Evolution,” where they might spot giant tortoises, colourful marine iguanas, comical Blue-footed Boobies, energetic sea lion pups, Flightless Cormorants, Galapagos Hawks and Galapagos Penguins. Expert local naturalists of the highest calibre—one for every ten guests, providing the highest ratio of guides-per-guest in the Galapagos—will share their knowledge and insights, as they lead complimentary excursions. A fleet of eight Zodiac crafts—the largest in the region on a per-guest basis—and kayaks will enhance the adventure with on-water exploration.

In 2020, two special extended voyages are planned for the holiday season: departing December 19, 2020, guests will be able to travel deeper into the destination on an 11-day voyage from San Cristobal to Baltra, while a 12-day New Year’s cruise will depart Baltra on December 29, 2020, concluding in San Cristobal.

“The Galapagos Islands are one of the world’s greatest pristine wonderlands,” said Fernando Delgado, Silversea’s Vice President and General Manager of Canodros C.L. “It will be our honour to unlock the authentic beauty of this region for guests, as they journey aboard the environmentally conscious Silver Origin, enjoying the ship’s understated elegance and all-inclusive comforts and luxuries.”

Thoughtfully crafted to provide superlative comfort, Silver Origin’s stylish, butler-serviced suites are among the most spacious in Galapagos cruising. Each features a private veranda or a Horizon Balcony to provide stunning views of the island landscape. Luxury amenities include a minibar stocked with local snacks and a range of soft and alcoholic drinks, in-suite fresh water purification system, large flat-screen television, choice of pillows, eco-friendly bath amenities, plush robes and slippers, 24-hour room service and in-suite dining, unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi, and complimentary expedition gear that includes a waterproof backpack, raincoat and premium metallic water bottle.

Silver Origin’s eight suite categories include one Owner’s Suite that wraps around the ship’s rear section on Deck 6, offering an unrivalled panoramic view. Situated directly below, on Deck 5, are the ship’s one Grand Suite and one Royal Suite, which are connecting suites that may be combined into one ideal suite for family and friends travelling together. Rounding out the most spacious accommodation options are two Silver Suites—located forward on Deck 5—each of which can be connected to an adjacent Classic Veranda Suite to accommodate groups. All of these top-tier suites feature a large veranda with comfortable outdoor furniture and floor-to-ceiling glass doors. A first for Silversea, the Owner’s, Grand, and Royal suites offer an ocean-view whirlpool bath and separate shower, accessible from the veranda (except in the Grand Suite). The Silver Suites’ whirlpool bath and separate shower provide exterior views and can be accessed from the veranda.

The remaining four suite categories include one Medallion Suite, seven Deluxe Veranda Suites, and sixteen Superior Veranda Suites located on Deck 6. These accommodations are most notable for their innovative Horizon Balcony, which converts into an indoor living space with a floor-to-ceiling window. On Deck 5, there are also twenty-two Classic Veranda Suites, each with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that open onto the veranda. Additionally, they offer third-guest capacity as well as several connecting suites.

With the environment in mind, Silver Origin will feature a dynamic positioning system, which will be used when the ship is positioned over a delicate seabed ecosystems to prevent the anchor from causing damage. Moreover, Silver Origin’s guests will be gifted a metallic reusable bottle that will leverage in-suite freshwater purifications system that convert seawater into drinking water, drastically reducing the use of plastic on board. The ship will also meet the highest standards of energy efficiency in the segment.

Shore Excursion Highlight: Glacier Walk & Waterfalls

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 218 0

This Mindful Living Tour may be experienced on Seabourn’s Route of the Vikings voyages, British Isles & Iceland, Atlantic Isles Quest, A Viking Summer, Icealandic Summer, Northern Summer Skies, Viking Island Quest, Icelandic & Scottish Adventure, Commonwealth & Viking Route Quest, Atlantic & Maritimes Quest

GLACIER WALK & WATERFALLS: A MINDFUL LIVING TOUR

Live the dream today with this opportunity to walk on an Icelandic glacier.

Leaving the city, relax and enjoy a panoramic drive southeast, passing over Hellisheiði — a mountain that offers a magnificent view of the wide plains formed by glacial rivers. You’re headed towards the town of Hveragerði surrounded by fertile farmland. The south coast of Iceland has some of the fantastic greenhouses built to harness geothermal energy for the food and horticulture industry. The quality and taste of these naturally grown vegetables is fabulous. Continue driving east, passing small villages and farmland. The majestic mountains towering above the coastal plain are your companions. Weather permitting, you might catch a glimpse of snow-shrouded Hekla — the country’s most active volcano. In the distance lies ice-capped Eyjafjallajökull volcano, whose 2010 eruption brought Europe’s aviation industry to a standstill. Beautiful Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is a fun surprise — you can walk behind the falls for a view of the falls’ backside! At Myìrdalsjökull Glacier, meet your expert glacier guides and set out on a hike to the frozen glacial tongue named Sólheimajökull — a rugged, raw and ever-changing river of frozen water. Step onto the glacier and observe the spectacular surroundings as you walk to the ice wall. Here, you will climb the ice, equipped with ice axes, crampons and safety lines that ensure that even if lose your grip, you will not fall. Once the glacier hike is over, head back to Reykjavík, stopping for a late lunch near Skógafoss Waterfall.

Please note: It is essential that you wear warm, layered clothing in order to fully enjoy and participate in this excursion. Outer layer jackets and pants should be waterproof and windproof (jeans are not permitted). Bring gloves, a warm hat and a scarf. Excellent, sturdy hiking shoes are required to fit the crampons. This outdoor activity comes with inherent risks. Waiver must be signed and medical conditions disclosed. The walking takes place on Sólheimajökull Glacier which is a branch of the Myìrdalsjökull Glacier. Lunch is light and includes Icelandic meat soup or soup of the day, bread and dessert with tea or coffee. This is a long walking/hiking tour, suitable only for physically fit participants. The glacier walk does not require any special skills but you must follow the guide’s instruction at all times and keep to the walking paths. Minimum age is 10 years.

As an extension of the Spa & Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil, this Mindful Living tour is designed to deliver the experience that contributes to mind and body wellness. You are invited to visit the on-board spa to speak to the Mindful Living coach to learn more about Dr. Weil and our holistic wellness program.

Families Experience the South Pacific

The South Pacific Is Made For Families

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 288 0

The South Pacific isn’t just for romantic getaways, it’s a wonderful destination for families. And Paul Gauguin Cruises can help create a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for your family to create memories you’ll relive forever with their Moana Explorer Program

Offered in partnership with Te mana o te moana, a South Pacific marine education and conservation foundation, this exciting new program invites children and teens, ages 7-15, to discover and value the natural wonders of this breathtaking part of the world through hands-on, interactive learning.

Every day of the voyage, there is a combination of naturalist-led island and/or beach excursions, science activities, crafts, games, and other adventures. Depending on their itinerary, your children might learn about underwater life through board games, create natural jewelry, conduct water experiments, go on a treasure hunt, enjoy water games in the onboard pool, go stargazing, design their own Polynesian tattoo, and more.

Best of all, there is no fee* for this special family program! It’s all part of Paul Gauguin Cruises’ extraordinary all-inclusive value.

Tahiti & the Society Islands – 7 nights
July 20; December 21, December 28, 2019

Society Islands & Tahiti Iti – 7 nights
July 27, 2019

Society Islands & Tuamotus – 10 nights
July 10; August 14, 2019

Cook Islands & Society Islands – 11 nights
June 15; August 3, 2019

The Moana Explorer program is only available on select sailings during the summer and holiday and must be reserved at time of booking.

The New Wave Of Cruise Experiences

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 290 0

Thirteen experiences you didn’t know you could have on a cruise.

Today’s cruising boom is good news for everyone, from aficionados who love setting sail to those ready to give a new vacation style a go. And as cruising’s popularity grows – approximately 27 million people stepped aboard in 2018 – cruise lines have diversified. It’s all about variety these days, not just in ship size – ranging from intimate, 60-passenger yachts to next-level, 6,000-person megavessels – but in style too. You can sip coffee on your balcony as you float down a European river, go searching for wildlife on an expedition ship, or get lost in a floating city at sea. Itineraries are also more creative: Culinary academies and wellness centers on board, for example, pair well with surprising shore excursions, from hiking up mountains to attending orchestra concerts. These 13 experiences are offered by cruise lines that participate in Virtuoso Voyages – an exclusive program that offers complimentary benefits and perks to travelers who book cruises through a Virtuoso travel advisor – and they’ll make you think twice about what you can do on your next sailings.

 

Welcome to the new era of cruising, where almost everything goes.

 

1 – Explore Marine Life From Inside A $3 Million Submarine

Realize your James Bond fantasies with a trip on Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Esprit, a 62-passenger yacht that touts a three-person submersible as one of its water-based activity options. (Jet Skis, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards are also at the ready.) A pilot takes two passengers at a time on explorations up to 1,000 feet below the surface, including on a seven-day, Dubrovnik-to-Venice sailing. The Esprit is an ideal vessel for scuba divers and snorkelers, and its slim size means it can call on smaller ports, including the yacht marina in Kotor, Montenegro; Croatia’s walled city of Dubrovnik; and all the way north to Venice.

Departures: Multiple dates, July 7, 2019, to August 30, 2020. Virtuoso Voyages benefits on select sailings include a $125 shipboard credit. Submersible experience, $350.

 

2 – Set Sail With Your Pup In Tow

Crossing the Atlantic on Cunard’s eight-day, New York City to Southampton sailing is slow travel at its finest – rest, relaxation, and enrichment, from tango lessons and yoga sessions to fi lm screenings and music recitals. Share the adventure with your four-legged BFF on the 2,620-passenger Queen Mary 2, which has an onboard kennel for 24 pets. Like their owners, cats and dogs receive VIP treatment, including a portrait session, fleece coat, and “turndown service” of freshly baked biscuits. The pet lounge and play area welcome animals from both sides of the pond with a Liverpool lamppost and an NYC fire hydrant.

Departures: Multiple dates, June 7 to December 15, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits on select sailings include private port transfers in New York City and London and an onboard specialty-dining credit.

 

3 – Get Your Daily Cardio In

You’ve worked too hard to let your fitness routine slide for a week. Do as much (or as little) as you like with AmaWaterways, the river-cruise line that stables bicycles for shore excursions and employs dedicated wellness hosts to lead core and circuit training classes on board. On the new, 196-passenger AmaMagna, which debuted in May and is twice as wide as most European river ships, cruisers can log a mile on the top-deck walking track, take a stretching class in the Zen Wellness Studio, hydrate at the juice bar, or get a massage. Disembark on an eight-day, Vilshofen-to-Budapest Danube River sailing to bike along the river or hike to a castle.

Departures: Multiple dates, June 2 to December 29, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits on select sailings include an onboard host and welcome reception and a guided tour of Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace.

 

4 – Discuss World Affairs With A Career Diplomat

There’s nothing like sailing with an astronaut, scholar, government official, or filmmaker to vanquish the shuffleboard-and-buffets cruising stereotype. Seabourn raises the intellectual bar with its Seabourn Conversations series, featuring notable guests who don’t just lead onboard lectures, but engage with fellow passengers over meals and excursions as well. Ashok Sajjanhar – India’s ambassador to Sweden and Latvia and president of the Institute of Global Studies, New Delhi – will educate guests on the 599-passenger Seabourn Ovation during a 19-day, Dubaito-Singapore cruise with stops in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.

Departure: December 2, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include an onboard host and welcome reception and a $150 shipboard credit or a private shore excursion in Mumbai.

 

5 – Stay Out LATE Without Fear Of Missing The Boat

Azamara Club Cruises pioneered overnight port stays, letting guests revel in the local nightlife in addition to the standard daytime scene. The boutique cruise line is amping up its after-dark experiences with a new series of exclusive evening shore excursions, such as taking in an acrobatics performance in Valencia, Spain. On an 11-day, round-trip-from-Athens sailing on the 702-passenger Azamara Pursuit, travelers can attend a traditional Jewish folk music performance by a klezmer group at Jerusalem’s Ashdod Performing Arts Center. It’s part of an immersive, three-day stop in the holy city that includes visits to the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock.

Departure: September 4, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include an onboard host and welcome reception and a $150 shipboard credit or a private shore excursion to Jerusalem.

 

6 – Finally Figure Out The Difference Between A Julienne And A Brunoise Cut

Make tasty use of your time at sea on Oceania Cruises’ 1,250-passenger Marina or Riviera ships by enrolling in a cooking class or three at the onboard Culinary Center. Kick things off with Slice: Mastering Chef Knife Skills to learn the basics of mise en place before trying your hand at making pasta or grilling. The 12-day, Rio de Janeiro-to-Buenos Aires voyage on the Marina offers a balanced diet of cultural excursions in Paraty, Brazil; beach time in Punta del Este, Uruguay; and food and wine tours in Montevideo and Buenos Aires.

Departure: December 7, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include prepaid gratuities.

 

7 – Celebrate Your Anniversary With A Polynesian Blessing Ceremony

Cast away to the South Pacific for the most memorable of occasions aboard the 332-passenger Paul Gauguin Cruises. During an eight-day, roundtrip from Papeete sailing through the Society Islands – full of archaeological sites, lagoons fit for snorkeling, and white-sand beaches – local onboard hosts know as Les Gauguines and Les Gauguins can bless couples in a traditional Polynesian ceremony by reciting a love poem, singing, and after a Champagne toast, wrapping celebrants in a traditional patchwork tifaifai quilt. They’ll also teach you how to say “I do” in Tahitian, dance island-style, and make a basket out of pandanus leaves.

Departures: Multiple dates June 8 to December 28, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits on select sailings include an onboard host and welcome reception and a $150 shipboard credit or a private shore excursion in Moorea.

 

8 – Spend All Day At The Spa

Bookending stops in Sint-Maarten, Dominica Saint Lucia, Antigua, and Saint Bart’s, four of the 11 days on Regent Seven Seas Cruises 750-passenger Seven Seas Explorer’s roundtrip from Miami journey are spent at sea, offering prime time to find some inner peace in the ship’s Canyon Ranch Spa. This at-sea outpost mirrors the famous destination retreat, with yoga classes, seaweed wraps, hot stone massages, reflexology, and hydrotherapy features ranging from saunas to cold rooms. Between oxygen facials and pedicures, check out the ship’s impressive art collection, including several Picasso’s, or learn about the healthful secrets of Mediterranean cooking in the Culinary Arts Kitchen.

Departure: January 8, 2020. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include an onboard host and welcome reception and a $150 shipboard credit or a private shore excursion and lunch in Saint Bart’s

 

9 – Learn How To Steer A Sailboat

Sixteen sails bound to four masts help power the 360 foot Star Flyer clipper ship, one of three throwback vessels in the Star Clippers fleet. Nautical culture meets luxury aboard this 17- passenger vessel, which has two swimming pools on its teak decks. Friendly deckhands, who hoist the sails manually each time the ship leaves port, offer knot-tying classes, ship-maneuvering lectures, and demonstrations on navigating with a sextant – a tool to measure angular distances at sea. Test your newfound skills on a 15-day, Barbados to Panama voyage, which visits Grenada, the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao), and Colombia and culminates in a sailor’s dream transit through the Panama Canal.

Departure: November 23, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include an onboard host and welcome reception and a $150 shipboard credit or a private shore excursion and lunch in Saint George’s, Grenada.

 

10 – Turn Your Expedition Photos Into Professional Masterpieces

Go beyond VSCO and your smartphone’s filters: The fully equipped Photo Studio aboard Silversea Cruises’ 254-passenger (200 in polar waters) Silver Cloud offers master classes in composition, editing, and Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop programs. High-tech printers encourage shutterbugs to create postcards and panoramic prints, regardless of whether they were taken using an iPhone or a DSLR. Photograph the wildlife that inhabits the bottom of the earth on a ten-day, roundtrip-from-Ushuaia expedition to Antarctica. The ship’s resident photo manager will coach passengers on adjusting shutter speeds so they can capture images of seabirds in the Drake Passage, penguins on the South Shetland Islands, and otherworldly icebergs in the Antarctic Sound.

Departures: Multiple dates, December 10, 2019, to January 20, 2021. Virtuoso Voyages benefits on select sailings include a $300 shipboard credit per person.

 

11 – Read Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn On The Mighty Mississippi

The sense of freedom and possibility brought to life in Twain’s iconic novel can still be found on Ol’ Man River, and you’re likely to experience both during American Queen Steamboat Company’s nine-day cruise from New Orleans to Memphis. On board the 436-passenger American Queen, an authentic paddlewheel riverboat, watch the Mississippi roll past from the ship’s decks, read a classic tome in the Mark Twain Gallery, and take in a show in the Grand Saloon. Along the way, holiday themed events and excursions reveal the history and heritage of the U.S. South. See NOLA’s ceremonial lighting of bonfires on the levee, learn how to perfect buttery biscuits in the Natchez home of award-winning chef Regina Charboneau, and more.

Departure: December 15, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include an onboard host and welcome reception; contact your Virtuoso travel advisor regarding an additional, soon-to-be-announced amenity.

 

12 – Travel Back In Time On The Nile River

From the hand-built pyramids at Giza to tranquil Nile excursions aboard a traditional felucca sailboat, travelers will revel in the ingenuity of past centuries during their time in Egypt. Seven of the 12 days on Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s round-trip-from-Cairo itinerary are based on the elegant 82-passenger River Tosca. Egyptologist-guided excursions decode the colossal statues of Memnon, the mummified remains of King Tutankhamun in his Valley of the Kings tomb, and the hieroglyphics adorning temples from Luxor to Aswan. Changing pace, ride a felucca and take tea at the hotel where Agatha Christie set Death on the Nile. Go now, while tourism is growing, but before the masses return.

Departures: Multiple dates, September 28 to December 28, 2019. Virtuoso Voyages benefits on select sailings include a $200 shipboard credit per person.

 

13 – Get Cooking With A Celebrated Chef

The James Beard Foundation ships out its award-winning chefs and sommeliers on culinary-themed Windstar Cruises sailings, which include cooking demos, beverage pairings, and market tours. Gain firsthand knowledge by joining a talented chef and beverage expert on a ten-day, San Diego-to-Vancouver sailing aboard the 212-passenger Star Breeze, which plies the U.S. West Coast with stops in Santa Barbara, Monterey, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. The chef will host a wine-paired dinner, lead a shopping trip, and provide a cooking demonstration. Work off the meals while exploring the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

Departure: May 5, 2020. Virtuoso Voyages benefits include an onboard host and welcome reception and a custom-curated shore event.

 

 

Original Article from Virtuoso Traveler July 2019 issue

New Luxury Guest Accommodations at McKinley Chalet Resort

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 280 0

Holland America celebrates the Grand Opening of their new 99-Room Addition at McKinley Resort in Alaska

Holland America Line held a grand opening ceremony for its new luxury guest accommodations at McKinley Chalet Resort Friday, June 14. Officially dedicating the new Ridge View building that opened for the 2019 Alaska cruise season, the ribbon-cutting celebration was attended by Arnold Donald, Carnival Corporation and plc president and CEO; Stein Kruse, chief executive officer of Holland America Group and Carnival UK; Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line; Charlie Ball; executive vice president, land operations and customer service for Holland America Group, and several other staff members, business partners and community members. Also attending were representatives from Alaska State Senators Lisa Murkowski’s and Dan Sullivan’s offices and Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker.

The new 99-room addition features the first-ever junior suites at the McKinley Chalet Resort where guests stay on Holland America Line’s award-winning Land+Sea Journeys. Fifty-four of the new rooms are luxurious junior suites with balconies, larger living areas and enhanced amenities including heated bathroom floors and a stunning floor-to-ceiling map of Denali National Park and Reserve.

The new rooms are an extension of Holland America Line’s overland Alaska experience to Denali, which includes the McKinley Chalet Resort hotel and Denali Square, a gathering area to relax, shop, dine and enjoy music and entertainment. The addition is located just west of Denali Square, with views of Mt. Healy and Denali National Park and Preserve.

The new three-story facility, named Ridge View, features junior suites and standard rooms with modern rustic-chic décor. All junior suites have balconies, so guests can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding Alaska wilderness while relaxing on their private deck.

The first two floors have central, open-air lobbies with cozy furniture and gas fireplaces. The third floor has open public deck space with tables and loungers so guests can take in the panoramic scenery.

The new rooms are an exciting addition to the McKinley Chalet Resort, Holland America Line’s magnificent 68-acre hotel property on the Nenana River. The hotel — featuring guest rooms, dining facilities and extensive walking trails — serves as home base for all adventures in and around Denali National Park, such as the full-day Tundra Wilderness Tour included on most Land+Sea Journeys as well as optional flightseeing, ATV adventures, fly fishing, river rafting right from the hotel property and more. All accommodations feature stylish décor and premium amenities.

Alaska-based companies that worked on the project include general contractor Ghemm Company, Inc., based in Fairbanks. Lead architect Heliotrope is based in Seattle, Washington, and also developed Karstens Public House at Denali Square. Heliotrope worked with the Fairbanks office of Alaskan architectural firm Bettisworth North. Costigan Integrated of Seattle served as project manager.

Denali Square Complex Immerses Guests in Alaska Culture
Steps from the new rooms, Denali Square lies at the heart of Holland America Line’s Denali property and is centrally located between the main area of the McKinley Chalet Resort and the riverfront guest rooms.

The largest building in the complex is Karstens Public House, the grand 7,000-square-foot, two-story restaurant showcasing outdoor deck seating and views of the neighboring mountains for dining guests. At the center of Denali Square sits an amphitheater with a covered performance stage and bench seating for guests to enjoy a variety of local shows and ranger talks. Those wanting to quench their thirst or listen to live music can visit Gold Nugget Saloon, home to the Music of Denali Dinner Theater.

Denali Square also features fire pits, outdoor seating, retail shops offering local goods, and an artist-in-residence cabin where Alaska native and local artists display and discuss their works. Walking paths in and around Denali Square show off the property’s mountainous landscapes and beautiful setting.

Land+Sea Journeys Offer Most Comprehensive Alaska Adventure
Holland America Line’s Land+Sea Journeys combine a three-, four- or seven-day Inside Passage or Glacier Discovery cruise with in-depth overland tours to the Yukon and Alaska’s interior.

Holland America Line is the only cruise company to combine must-see sites such as Denali National Park and Preserve — the centerpiece of every Land+Sea Journey — with rare ones such as Dawson City, in the heart of the Klondike Gold Rush Country. Offering up to three days at Denali for wildlife viewing and spectacular scenery, Land+Sea Journeys are designed to highlight the best of Alaska’s wilderness, wildlife, native culture and history.

If you’re looking to visit Denali and book one of these new suites, connect with on of our cruise specialists and discover Holland America’s Land+Sea itineraries today!

 

Photography Ideas While Travelling in Alaska

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 298 0

Did you know Alaska means “great land” in Aleut? If you travel to Alaska, you’ll quickly see why. Alaska is one of the most spectacular places in the world to photograph wildlife and breathtaking scenery. In Alaska, you’ll find 17 of the highest mountain peaks in the country, more than 3 million lakes, an estimated 100,000 glaciers and more than 70 volcanoes. It’s no wonder Alaska is a photographer’s dream come true.

You may be wondering where to start, since there is so much beauty to behold in the Last Frontier. We’ll inspire your photography journey, and show you some of the most jaw-dropping locations to take photos in Alaska.

Most Beautiful Places in Alaska to Take Photos
Alaska may be best known for Denali National Park, but the entire state is full of photogenic jewels. Consider the following locations for your photography excursions. By the end of this post, you might agree — photography in Alaska should be on everyone’s bucket list.

1. Kodiak
Kodiak is a city on Kodiak Island —Alaska’s largest island. It’s one of the top fishing destinations in the country, where you might catch halibut, cod, trout and salmon. It’s also home to Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, where you’ll find enchanting fjords, impressive mountains, alpine lakes and peaceful meadows.

Wildlife photography is a top activity for refuge visitors. Birdwatching photographers have a chance to capture the beauty of over 200 species of birds. In the winter, they’ll find sea ducks and other migratory birds, and in the summer they may see puffins from the North Pacific.

Many people travel to Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge to view Kodiak bears, as 3,000 bears call the refuge home. Frazer Lake, which is at the southern portion of the refuge, is a popular spot for bear viewing. The best time to look for bears is at dawn or dusk. You have a greater chance of seeing bears at salmon streams from July to September. The refuge staff recommends taking a guided tour to view and photograph bears. With a guided tour, you can make the most of your experience and ensure your safety.

There are tons of other photography opportunities in Kodiak. For example, you could take a boat tour of nearby islands and snap photos of sea otters, sea lions, puffins or maybe even whales. Or, you could stay in Kodiak and capture images of St. Paul Harbor and the colorful fishing boats set against a backdrop of mountain greenery.

 

2. Seward
Seward is a port city located south of Anchorage, surrounded by the majesty of the snow-capped peaks and Kenai Fjords National Park. Seward is one of the state’s oldest and most picturesque communities.

To start your photography expedition, you might take a picture of the Seward Boat Harbor at the northern tip of Resurrection Bay and capture the essence of Seward. You could also go on a boat tour of Resurrection Bay, camera in hand, and explore hidden coves or photograph sea otters, harbor seals and eagles. Head down to Lowell Point for calming pictures of deep blue water and misty mountains.

You could easily capture hundreds of photos without ever leaving the bay area. However, photographers do not want to miss the chance to explore Kenai Fjords National Park— a top destination for visitors who wish to surround themselves with glacial beauty. You’ll find almost 40 glaciers drifting from the Harding Icefield and an abundance of wildlife in the park’s lush forests and crystal waters.

You might get to photograph sea otters, sea lions, moose, mountain goats, gray wolves, bears and a variety of birds. You might also see orcas and humpback whales. Imagine snapping a shot of a whale rocketing from the water, or capturing the striking contrast of a red kayak in front of a glacier.

Most of the park is only accessible by water, but a boat tour offers incredible opportunities to photograph breathtaking scenery and wildlife. If you’re a photographer visiting Seward, Kenai Fjords National Park is a must-see.

 

3. Metlakatla
Metlakatla, located on Annette Islands Indian Reservation, is the only American Indian Reserve in Alaska. It’s also the only settlement of the Tsimshian people in the country. The community has an active economy due to its natural resources and the ability to harvest halibut, cod, clams and salmon. Metlakatla features lush forests and salmon-rich streams. Visitors usually travel to Metlakatla by boat or seaplane.

For traveling photographers who want to capture Alaska’s cultural diversity and history, Metlakatla is the place to go. Plan to take pictures of skillfully crafted totems, traditional dance, a longhouse painted with a Tsimshian design or the tranquil harbor. You might also take photos of the island from atop Yellow Hill, which stands 540 feet above the community and offers a panoramic view.

 

4. Wrangell
Are you looking to photograph a colorful array of totems and Native American art? Or would you rather snap pictures of Alaskan wildlife? You can choose both if you head to Wrangell.

Wrangell is one of the oldest towns in Alaska and surrounded by natural beauty. You’ll find over a dozen totems scattered through the town. Make sure to take your camera to Chief Shakes Longhouse, located on an island in the middle of the harbor, to take close-ups of totems and tribal designs. You can easily reach Chief Shakes Longhouse by walking over the pedestrian bridge. Keep on the lookout for bald eagles too while you explore the island.

While in Wrangell, you might also visit Petroglyph Beach State Historic Park to photograph primitive rock carvings. If you want to take a short trip south of Wrangell, you can visit the Anan Bear and Wildlife Observatory to watch eagles, harbor seals and bears feast on salmon. However, you don’t have to leave Wrangell to view wildlife. You only need to look to the trees to catch a shot of an eagle or to the shoreline for herons. Everywhere you turn, you can find something picture-perfect.

 

5. Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm
Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm are long, narrow fjords located about 45 miles south of Juneau. From aboard a boat, photographers can capture some of the most unforgettable scenery in Alaska. Imagine plunging waterfalls crashing down cliffs into turquoise water, or brilliant blue ice formations dotting the water like gems. You’ll also have the chance to see eagles, seals, bears and whales if you go in the summer.

You might take your camera with you as you stand within a half mile of South Sawyer Glacier if conditions are right. This glacier, at the head of Tracy Arm, extends deep underwater, producing a vibrant blue hue. If you’re lucky, you might also find mountain goats at the base.

For dramatic glacial scenery that will take your breath away, make sure to explore Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm. When you look at your gorgeous photos post-trip, you’ll be so glad you did.

 

6. Inian Islands
Inian Islands is a unique and pristine designated wilderness area located between Chichagof Island and Glacier Bay National Park. The area is only accessible by floatplane or boat. There are no established trails on the islands, but visitors still have plenty of ways to explore. If you tour Inian Islands by boat, you’ll get to treat your eyes, and your camera, to the unspoiled beauty of dense temperate rainforests, rocky shorelines and shimmering icy water. You’ll mostly want to focus on the water, so you don’t miss the chance to capture photos of humpbacks, orcas, sea lions and otters.

 

7. Icy Strait Point
Icy Strait Point is a tourist destination privately owned and operated by Huna Totem Corporation. It’s on Chichagof Island outside of Hoonah — Alaska’s largest Tlingit village. Lush rainforest and clear, blue waters surround Icy Strait Point. Here, you can choose from over 20 tours, check out a restored Alaskan salmon cannery, walk nature trails or set up your gear on the shore and wait to capture shots of whales or eagles soaring overhead.

One of the benefits of visiting Icy Strait Point, besides its stunning beauty, is the chance to search for wildlife with the help of a tour guide. For example, you might head with a guide to see brown bears at the Spasski River Valley, which is known for a high brown bear density. While on a tour, a guide can show you the best spots for taking wildlife photos. You’ll also get to learn about the animals and enhance your overall experience. You’ll enjoy the meaning of your photographs with greater depth if you learn the story and history behind them.

 

8. Juneau
Juneau is Alaska’s capital city. Downtown Juneau sits at the bottom of Mount Juneau on the Gastineau Channel. Tongass National Forest surrounds the city — the largest national forest and home to the highest density of black bears in the world. An estimated 32,247 people call Juneau home.

Juneau in itself is a photogenic location. While in the city, watch the sky, and you might catch a bald eagle or great blue heron flying overhead. You may also find whales swimming past you as you walk through town, or seals peeking at you from the channel. Search the steep sides of Mount Juneau, and you might catch a black bear or mountain goat feasting on vegetation.

To get closer to the abundance of wildlife in Juneau, you can ride the Mount Roberts Tramway almost 2,000 feet above downtown and explore subalpine trails. In the summer, you’ll find marmots and grouse. You might also see bears, deer, porcupines and other mammals along the trails.

Finally, you won’t want to miss Mendenhall Glacier while you’re visiting Juneau. Here, you can view the 13-mile-long glacier, which ends at Mendenhall Lake, from the historic visitor center. You can also walk along the lake for spectacular views of icebergs or to photograph Nugget Falls cascading down the mountain. You might also snap shots of moss-covered trees or wildlife while exploring the area. To get there, you can take a bus or taxi from downtown.

 

9. Misty Fjords
Located a short trip east of Ketchikan, Misty Fjords National Monument is a designated wilderness area and part of the Tongass National Forest. Thousands of years ago, ice covered the area, carving deep fjords with cliffs reaching thousands of feet into the sky. You can travel by boat on the Behm Canal to enter the heart of the fjords and take jaw-dropping photos. It’s possible you’ll see whales, porpoises, mountain goats and bears along the way. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to photograph plunging waterfalls, abundant wildlife, dramatic cliffs, dense green forest and pure, astonishing beauty.

 

10. Ketchikan
Situated near the entrance of the Inside Passage, Ketchikan is a city that offers charming scenery, surrounded by wildlife-rich waters and forest. Besides being in the Tongass National Forest, Ketchikan is also home to a vibrant arts scene. In other words, there is a ton of potential to photograph something incredible anywhere you turn in Ketchikan.

For example, did you know Ketchikan has the largest collection of totem poles in the world? Some of them are also among the oldest. You can get shots of totems scattered around town or at one of their totem parks. If you want to immerse yourself in nature while visiting Ketchikan, consider taking a trip just outside town to the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary to possibly get photos of eagles or black bears. At the sanctuary, you can also stop at a historic sawmill or stroll through the totem park.

Alaska scenery is hard to believe unless you’ve been there. Words can’t describe the majesty of steep rocky cliffs jutting out from deep blue-green water, or the sight of massive ice formations carved by time and nature. If you explore Alaska, you will never forget the scenery. Taking pictures is one way to remind yourself of your journey, but the beauty of Alaska will likely remain embedded in your mind and your heart.

 

 

Post shared from Windstar Cruises Blog
Written by Curtis Carr and Original can be found here

First Time to Antarctica? Here’s What You Should Know

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 272 0

Imagine a place where the summer sun never sets, where endless ice surrounds you, and snow-covered peaks reach high into a cobalt blue sky. Where jagged glaciers plunge into the ocean, and huge tabular icebergs form wall-like corridors through which ships sail.

Picture thousands of penguins clattering and calling for as far as the eye can see, with their fluffy chicks feeding, learning to walk and fledging. Imagine looking into the big, mahogany-brown eyes of a weddell seal as it lies on a floating piece of ice, or admiring the majesty of a humpback whale as it raises its tail flukes before diving to the depths of the Southern Ocean.

This is Antarctica—one of the wildest and most stunning regions in the world. “Nothing can prepare you for the first time you encounter a penguin colony of 60,000 birds on a beach,” says Conrad Combrink, Silversea Cruises’ Senior Vice President Strategic Development Expeditions and Experiences. “Or when you [first] witness a towering iceberg, floating alone in the water.” For many reasons, the first trip to Antarctica is a life-defining moment.

Meeting Antarctica’s Incredible Wildlife
Antarctica is home to some of the largest marine mammals and most fascinating birds for much of the year. However, it’s during the summer months—from November to February—that the region visibly teems with wildlife.

The most accessible part of the continent, the Antarctic Peninsula, is home to several species of penguins, such as the Gentoo, Adelie and Chinstrap. Weddell and crabeater seals are commonplace along the Peninsula coastlines, and the elusive leopard seal is also spotted here. On the nearby Subantarctic island of South Georgia, King Penguins rule the beaches by the thousands, with Antarctic fur seals and elephant seals living side-by-side around them.

“You can never be near penguins without having a massive smile on your face,” reveals repeat Silversea Expeditions guest Mick Toller. “Whether they’re waddling along in a line, battling their way up a hill, sliding down on their bellies or getting up the courage to dive off a rock, they are a constant source of amusement everywhere you look.”

The southern summer is also when humpback whales arrive from the tropics to feed; at this time of year, calves will usually accompany their mothers. It’s not uncommon to see them as they rest or play at the surface of the water, before diving—up to 600 feet (200 meters)—to feed on krill, crustaceans and small fish.

“Simply being on a Zodiac and right next to a humpback whale—there is something very humbling about that,” beams Combrink. “A humpback whale coming right up to your Zodiac and spyhopping—It’s what most people dream of.”

Thanks to its remote location, the majority of visitors to Antarctica come by cruise ship, usually aboard an ice-class vessel. The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) oversees tourism to the region. As part of its policy, anyone traveling to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands must adhere to strict biosecurity and animal welfare guidelines. It prevents the spread of non-native species, pests and pathogens and also protects wildlife.

The measures include a full inspection of all clothing and gear to be used by both passengers and guides before arrival, as well as a decontamination procedure after every landing, so boots, bags, walking poles and other equipment are regularly cleaned. No food, including nuts, seeds or sweets, or drink, other than potable water, is to be taken ashore. Any waste must be brought back to the ship. The guidelines also stipulate a safe distance limit for observing animals, but still close enough to be able to get a great photo with the right equipment. “Seeing how a concerted effort has been able to keep Antarctica pristine is incredibly important,” reveals Toller. “It makes you more aware of how much we have to do to clean up the planet.”

The Best Time of Year for an Antarctic Expedition
Most expedition ships begin their season in mid- to late-November and operate until early March. “Animals congregate in masses between December and the end of February,” Combrink explains. When you visit can be decided by determining what you want to see most.

November and December offer the best chance to witness female seals nurturing their adorable pups or penguins laying and protecting their eggs. As January and February arrive, the penguin chicks hatch and begin fledging. Whales are also more commonly seen towards the end of the season.

What to Pack for Antarctica?
The key to a comfortable excursion in Antarctica is layered clothing and durable boots. Layers allow you to regulate your body temperature according to the weather conditions and activity, while pull-on boots with sturdy soles will keep you dry during “wet” Zodiac landings in shallow, icy water.

Regarding clothing for your first trip to Antarctica, remember to pack a base, insulating and outer layer. At least two sets of each are recommended. Base layers should be lightweight, quick-drying, breathable and thermal, while the insulating layer should be warm and flexible. Finally, the outer layer should be windproof, waterproof and large enough to fit over all other layers. Waterproof pants should have a wide enough base to fit over boots that are at least mid-calf length.

Woolen hats that cover your ears are highly recommended, as are sunglasses to protect against the glare from the ice. Neck gaiters provide an easy-to-manage alternative to scarves. Windproof and waterproof gloves are a must—bring spare pairs in case they get wet.

Handy accessories might include a waterproof backpack or sealable waterproof sack to ensure possessions stay dry. Collapsible trekking poles help with walking in the snow, and foot and hand warmers add warmth on particularly cold days. Lip balm with UV protection is also recommended. And Toller has one last piece of advice for first-time visitors: “Buy good binoculars. They are a great investment.”

While traveling to Antarctica for the first time is the ultimate adventure, it’s still a trip that can be enjoyed by everyone. “You don’t have to be in top physical shape to go to Antarctica,” explains Combrink. “[Even] going by Zodiac to the landing site is a unique experience. Just sitting at the landing site, there is already so much to see. Or just enjoy the view from your suite—you will never ever be bored.”

 

 

Blog Post c/o Silversea Cruises blog
Written by Karen Edwards
Original post can be found here