How this is going to work

iceberg in antarcticaMy plan is to start by posting an overview of the whole trip, and then I’ll begin writing more detailed posts about each day after that. I’m also working on a gallery of some of my favorite images that will be separate from any blog posts.

Here’s the extremely brief summary.

We spent two days sailing the Drake to reach Antarctica. I felt a little queasy the first morning, popped a phenergan that took about 45 minutes to kick in, and I felt totally fine once it did. SO GLAD for the phenergan.

We spent six days doing landings. We made ten landings in those six days. The goal was at least two landings per day, and one day we had three scheduled, but everything is dependent on the weather and the ice, and several times Antarctica changed our plans for us. I cannot say enough good things about Quark and the expedition team. They are truly experts in their fields and they really run an amazing expedition. The times that we couldn’t do our scheduled landings, they found other things–different landing sites (in a more sheltered bay, for example, where the water wasn’t as rough) or zodiac cruises (when there was too much ice for us to reach our intended landing that afternoon)–for us to do instead.

There were penguins. Seals. Whales. MORE whales. We sailed through a feeding frenzy one day, with a bunch of orcas chasing seals and penguins all around our ship. More penguins. Icebergs of every shape. They were like clouds–you could make out shapes and faces and animals and objects from them–and they were more shades of blue than you think look real.

One night we sailed through a hurricane. Our Drake crossings were relatively calm (for the Drake). The hurricane definitely rocked the boat more than the Drake did. Jeff got some GoPro footage before they requested people not go out on the decks. (Hahaha–most people were smart enough not to, but there were a handful of us out there with cameras.)

We sailed below the Antarctic Circle. (Debate: Do you call it “below” or “above”? I say below because it’s at the bottom of the world; I’d call it “above” the Arctic Circle. But Allen said “above” because the latitude is higher.) So, anyway, we CROSSED the Antarctic Circle. And then we kept going. We sailed farther south than any ship has gone this season. There is less wildlife that far south, and a lot more ice, so we couldn’t have gone much farther anyway. There was a little ceremony when we crossed the circle. I’ll write more about that later.

We did the polar plunge. (Well, 36 of us did.) The water was a balmy 3 degrees Celcius. Which Google tells me is 37 degrees F, which is about 9 degrees warmer than what we expected.

And then we spent two more days sailing back across the Drake. Smoothest crossing they’ve had this season, and we made such good time we got to detour past Cape Horn, which was an unexpected bonus.

Random observations:

I felt like we spent a lot of time putting on and taking off clothes on this trip. It truly is not as cold as you think (everyone said this and I was like, how can that be when everyone’s in all these clothes? and yet now I’m saying it too), but there is wind, and the weather can change fast, so you have to be prepared for anything. We always took extra clothes on land with us in our backpacks, but we never ended up needing them. I brought more layers than I needed. But you need the wind & waterproof stuff even outside on deck, but of course inside the ship it’s plenty warm so you don’t need all the heavy clothes. So, lots of on and off and back on.

The ship carried a little over 100 passengers, which seemed like a good size. It was enough people that you had plenty of people to socialize with and could easily find people you meshed with, and it was easy to befriend people because you were all in close contact fairly regularly. At the end of the trip they put together an email exchange list so we could all share emails with each other (if you wanted to…the majority of people participated) so we can keep in touch.

I’ll be back soon with a more detailed summary that includes each landing and photos.


  1. Deanne April 17, 2015

    I am going to Antarctica in December ( it was at the top of my bucket list as well) and I want to knwo most specifcally – what would you do differently? esp. in terms of packing, photo or other gear ,etc..

    I would really appreciate any info !

    • Karen April 17, 2015

      Hi Deanne!

      I will work on a post about this very soon. I do have a post about the camera gear (here: where I covered what I brought and how it worked out.

      Thanks for commenting!


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