Lyndee's Last Continent - Antarctica!

LyndeeLoo

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With a recent visit to Antarctica last month, I finally fulfilled my bucket list item of visiting all seven continents - whooo hooo! :D Truly, my adventure was epic and included doing a Polar Plunge, upon which I was given a Certificate of Achievement (and the water wasn't that cold - to me anyway...).

Antarctica was FANTASTIC!!! After doing much research, I decided to use Quark Expeditions. Not only do they have the reputation, but their price point was reasonable for a single solo traveler. When I booked my trip, they were having a sale and among other things, they waived the fee for a pre-night stay in a hotel in Buenos Aires, and my charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, where I boarded the ship. They also provided a yellow waterproof parka (which was mine to keep), the usage of waterproof muck boots for our landings and most importantly, for me, my own private room with no single supplement (that was HUGE). All in all, with everything that was included, Antarctica was suddenly affordable in an expensive sort of way, LOL! That, plus my own private room? It was a no brainer at that point and I booked their 11-day ‘Antarctic Explorer: Discovering the 7th Continent’ tour.

Our ship had one restaurant, four lounges, a gift shop, a library, a spa, and a small exercise room. There was also a pool and Jacuzzi. All in all, there was everything one would need for an excellent adventure. Since this was my first cruise ever, I cannot give a comparison against other expedition ships such as the ones used by National Geographic or Lindblad, but our ship was modern and very clean.

We were given three meals a day and in a word the food was phenomenal. The chef was from Austria, and that man could cook! Our meals catered to both meat eaters and vegetarians alike and there was always a huge variety of items to choose from. Some of our meals included lobster thermidor, osso buco, filet of sole and rack of lamb, steak...you name it. Just so you know, on Day 4 of the cruise, I asked the chef to marry me. :D

He turned me down. :(

I don’t feel bad, however, because I found out that he had multiple offers of marriage, all of which he declined, so at least I know that it wasn’t just me, LOL! :p

The crew was top notch. Their emphasis was to make sure everyone enjoyed themselves but not at the expense of health and safety. The expedition leaders came very well credentialed and included a couple of PhD's and one who shared a Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work. Unless you read their biographies, however, you would never have known, as they didn't advertise their accolades and achievements. I found the staff and crew to be extremely friendly, down to earth, and efficient and most of all, very approachable. You could tell that they had a full plate with making sure things rang smoothly, but that never stopped them from being available when you needed them. As an aside, there were 195 passengers, 185 crew members, and 30 expedition leaders, so the ratio of passengers to staff was 1:1.

The Drake Passage and the Weather

Believe it or not, the average temperature was in the 30'sF. Being that I'm used to the cold, I only wore a sweater while on deck. It, of course, was colder when on the zodiacs and on shore, but the Quark provided parka was extremely warm and kept the cold at bay. Also their muck boots were completely waterproof. You were responsible for your other clothing and were advised to dress in layers. For the shore excursions, I wore a hat with the ear flaps, a balaclava for my neck, nose and mouth, and waterproof gloves. Under the parka I only wore a thermal long john. For my bottoms, I wore long johns, a pair of fleece pants and then my ski pants. I wore one pair of thermal socks. I found I was more than comfortable and never felt cold at all.

Now, according to our expedition leader and the captain, our passage from Ushuaia to Antarctica was "smooth", however, if that was smooth, then I do not want to experience rough. From Ushuaia, it was two straight days of sailing before you got to Antarctica (and, of course, what goes down must come back...). The first night was not bad as there was just a gentle rocking. The Drake lived up to its reputation and “Drake Shake” nickname on that second night, however and on the return. And...if items weren't nailed down, rest assured, they went flying, including our meals, LOL! While in bed, you definitely rolled from side to side. Fortunately, I was in a suite that had a couch. In the bed, I rolled from side to side. The couch, however, was perpendicular to the bed, and when I laid down on it, found myself being rocked from head to toe, which was much, much better. I ended up getting extra sheets from the steward and along with the comforter from the bed, parked myself on the couch and went sound asleep! During the day, you got used to walking on a slant, but, I will say that the staff was right there to help you if you needed it. Once again, I never got seasick, but I was grateful once we got to calmer waters.

The Landings

Despite everything being weather dependent, we were able to enjoy several landings onto the shores as well as zodiac rides, typically two per day. Specifically, we visited Deception Island, Half Moon Island, Kinnes Cove, Brown Bluff, Mikkelsen Harbor, Cierva Cove and Cuverville Island. We were able to observe species of penguins (Chinstrap, Gentoo, and Adelie) up close and personal, as they would walk right up to you! We also saw whales, sea lions and a large variety of birds. Also, we were able to cruise among the icebergs and glaciers in the zodiac and that was an experience I’ll never forget. Those formations!! The icebergs were blue and aqua and they were massive, and just so beautiful. We also were fortunate to see one partially split and fall into the water. Now that was special!

My fellow shipmates participated in options such as kayaking, paddle boarding and hiking. I was scheduled to camp overnight on the ice, but at the last minute we were unable to go, as high winds were predicted for that evening. The captain determined that he could not safely navigate the ship to where he needed to go (there are only certain places you can go camping). I was actually on the bridge when the decision was made and witnessed the discussion between him and the expedition leader, and again - it was safety over everything else. And...I was perfectly okay with that. Besides, I got to do something that I'm still shaking my head over - I did a polar plunge, and have a Certificate of Achievement to prove it, LOL! Yes, there is video evidence :confused:, but I don't have it yet...

Overall

Hands down and without a doubt, this was the best vacation I have ever taken. I can also now check off my bucket list item of seeing all seven continents – whooo hoooo! To all those who are thinking of visiting Antarctica, stop thinking about it and GO! I promise you, visiting this continent is an experience you will never forget.

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Photobombed, LOL! :ROFLMAO:
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What an amazing journey! I'm very much looking forward to more pictures.

I would love to visit Antarctica, but I honestly don't think I could handle the Drake passing. I'm not good on the water to begin with!

Glenn
 

Butlerkid

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WOW! What a great thread!!!! And the photos are so well done!!!! #1 just blew me away...and then they just kept getting better! Well done!

Sounds like a place we should add to our bucket list....which is running low!
 
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That's fantastic Lyndee. The photos are super and the description entertaining and well prepared. Crossing this item off your bucket list is the accomplishment of a lifetime. Congrats..Can't wait for more photos and that plunge video ---- ;)
 
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Wow!What a fantastic trip and Great photos too. Antarctica is on my bucket list too. I love the first photo of the Penguin!

Lyndee, thanks for sharing them, I am going to look into Quark Expeditions.

cheers,
alexis
 
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Good for you, Lyndee!! A cousin's husband made a photo book of his trip to Antarctica, and the color saturation was outstanding.

As others are, I am looking forward to more photos of your adventure!
 

LyndeeLoo

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What an incredible trip! I look forward to seeing more.
Thanks, Mike - it was truly the most memorable trip I have ever taken!

What an amazing journey! I'm very much looking forward to more pictures.

I would love to visit Antarctica, but I honestly don't think I could handle the Drake passing. I'm not good on the water to begin with!

Glenn
Thank you, Glenn, and I am just so thankful that I do not suffer from seasickness. The Drake really did live up to its nickname and reputation. I know for a fact that the doctors on board were busy. The ship also placed barf bags on all the railings on the ship just in case a passenger needed one. Also, there was one morning (on our return) when the restaurant was just empty. I looked at the restaurant manager, who laughed at my raised eyebrows and said, "Everyone is sick!" :D I had the place practically to myself that day...

WOW! What a great thread!!!! And the photos are so well done!!!! #1 just blew me away...and then they just kept getting better! Well done!

Sounds like a place we should add to our bucket list....which is running low!
Thanks, Karen! This is just the trip for you and Justin - you two would have a blast there!

Fantastic, congrats on fulfilling your bucket list...too bad about the chef :)
I'm not giving up on the chef, Chris. He's gonna marry me, LOL! :LOL: And thank you!

That's fantastic Lyndee. The photos are super and the description entertaining and well prepared. Crossing this item off your bucket list is the accomplishment of a lifetime. Congrats..Can't wait for more photos and that plunge video ---- ;)
Thank you so much, Art! And yes...that video. Let's just say that I can confirm that my entrance into the Antarctic waters was less than graceful and swanlike, LOL! :ROFLMAO:

What an incredible experience!

That is a wonderful writeup, and outstanding photos to document it. More !
Thank you so much, Jim - I really appreciate it!

Thanks for posting your trip. And looking forward to more. I think the Chef lost out on the proposal.
Awwww...thank youuuu!!! :)

WOW! Excellent write-up and terrific images -- I feel as though I am there.
Thanks, Bob - it was an amazing adventure!

Wow!What a fantastic trip and Great photos too. Antarctica is on my bucket list too. I love the first photo of the Penguin!

Lyndee, thanks for sharing them, I am going to look into Quark Expeditions.

cheers,
alexis
Thank you and you will love Antarctica. The scenery is just splendid!

Good for you, Lyndee!! A cousin's husband made a photo book of his trip to Antarctica, and the color saturation was outstanding.

As others are, I am looking forward to more photos of your adventure!
Thank you so much, Bob! I'm going to look into doing a photo book; thanks for the suggestion!
 
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I am soooooo jealous! Antarctica is somewhere that I have been wanting to visit for a long time (I was brought up on tales of Shackleton and the Endurance expedition).

You've done a great job of describing your trip and I really like your pictures.
 
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WOW is all I can say. Your write up makes me want to do it soon. I love the pictures and I am sure we will see many more I hope.
 
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Congratulations on fulfilling your bucket list and awesome report and photos.

The animal photos are great and I really like the landscapes with people that
shows the scale of the place.

Look forward to more photos.

Alvin
 

LyndeeLoo

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I am soooooo jealous! Antarctica is somewhere that I have been wanting to visit for a long time (I was brought up on tales of Shackleton and the Endurance expedition).

You've done a great job of describing your trip and I really like your pictures.
Thank you so much, Andy! I read 'Endurance' just before I left and wow; what a story!

WOW is all I can say. Your write up makes me want to do it soon. I love the pictures and I am sure we will see many more I hope.
You really should go; it was incredible. And thank you!

What a great experience. Wow. I'll be living vicariously through you today.
Awww...thank you! The trip was fantastic!

Bravo, Lyndee...!

Excellent pic's and story! That sounds like it was a fabulous trip, good for you!

I'm so jealous...!
Thank you!! I still can't believe I went there - it almost seems unreal.

Congratulations on fulfilling your bucket list and awesome report and photos.

The animal photos are great and I really like the landscapes with people that
shows the scale of the place.

Look forward to more photos.

Alvin
Thank you, Alvin! I'm not a critter shooter, so I have more landscapes and photos of icebergs than anything else. The scenery there was spectacular!

Fabulous--a dream of a lifetime for most of us! Love the shots and look forward to more.
Thanks, Nick! It was unbelievable, from the first day to the last day. Honestly, I didn't want to get off the ship!
 

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