Hello! I’m Rose Gray, Fox’s Business Relationship Director, and the voice of The Fox World Travel Show! During my 35 years in the travel industry, I have traveled all around the world, leaving few destinations I have yet to explore. In January, I was able to travel to one of my undiscovered destinations: Antarctica. You may be wondering “How do you travel to Antarctica?”; well, you’re in luck! Below I take you through what it’s really like to venture down to Antarctica and hopefully by the end I will have convinced you to add “The Land of Ice” to your bucket list!
“Where’s your next trip?”
This is a common question I get from guests when I travel with Fox Group Vacations. When I replied, “Antarctica” to those traveling with me on the Battlefields trip in September 2022, the shocked look on many of their faces said it all. “Why would anyone go to Antarctica?” The reaction came as a bit of a surprise to me. Why WOULDN’T you go on an Antarctica expedition?
I have never considered myself a “pin in my map” kind of traveler, but stepping foot on Antarctica would give me bragging rights as it was the only continent I had yet to visit. After two years of postponements thanks to the pandemic, I finally got to check the seventh continent off my list in January of this year. Traveling with me on this Fox Group Vacation were twelve kindred spirits who wanted to experience “The White Continent” and were as excited as I was about this adventure.
The Start of Our Expedition
The journey began with a flight to and an overnight stay in Buenos Aires. This was my first time in this vibrant city and after a three-hour city tour, I looked forward to our return stay so I could experience more of the “Paris of South America.”
The next morning, we flew to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world where we would spend a night and board our expedition ship. Ushuaia is the capital of Tierra del Fuego and is a true haven in Patagonia for free spirits. I absolutely loved the vibe in this city and hope to return one day.
The Great Drake Shake
If you have ever read about or considered traveling to Antarctica, you undoubtedly know about the Drake Passage. This treacherous body of water can be a challenge for those who are prone to seasickness and is sometimes the reason those who are considering an Antarctica adventure opt out. The crossing takes two days and if you are lucky enough to have calm waters known as “Drake Lake” it can be nothing more than soft swells. Our southern sailing was just that. We were not so lucky on the return. The swells on that crossing were over eight meters (more than twenty-six feet) and over half of the 168 passengers were confined to their cabins with intense motion/seasickness. Dining, showering, and moving about the ship was almost impossible but I was one of the fortunate passengers who had no physical discomfort from the “Drake Shake,” the name given to a rough crossing.
Our expedition ship was Albatros (Danish spelling has only one “s”) Expeditions’ Ocean Victory. The ship was modern, and comfortable, the food was quite good, and the zodiacs and excursion equipment, top notch, but what made this voyage so special was the crew.
These special people who hailed from all over the world including France, Tasmania, Denmark, Greenland, Yukon Territory, Norway, United Kingdom, and others were consummate professionals. They were kind, caring and fierce when it came to protecting the fragile ecosystem of their beloved Antarctica. They were all multi-talented, quick to assist or answer questions and not afraid to scold those who forgot to disinfect their boots before disembarking or embarking after a zodiac landing or cruise.
Each passenger was issued a parka which was theirs to keep. In addition, we were fitted with Muck boots and life jackets which we kept in the “mud room.” Every day we had two excursions, zodiac landings and/or zodiac cruises. When our groups were called, we would don our waterproof pants and thermal tops and make our way to the mud room to finish gearing up. Before disembarking and upon return, guests had to step into a Vikron S basin, a virucide and disinfect which prevents the spread of Avian Influenza (bird flu). Expedition companies operating in Antarctica are held to incredibly high standards, established by the Antarctica Conservation Act. The entire crew takes this very seriously and there is no tolerance for passengers who disregard the rules.
Zodiacs are the ideal vessels to cruise the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica. They allow passengers to get up close to spectacular, blue icebergs, wildlife including seals and penguins and make shore landings. There were ten passengers in each zodiac plus a skilled driver who stood at the back of the boat, using the tiller on the large outboard motor to navigate the icy waters. Crew members stood by, ready with a steady seaman’s grip to assist guests boarding and disembarking the zodiacs.
The itinerary and ports we visited were determined by weather. Wind can change quickly so sometimes a planned landing site was not possible and an alternative was offered. The temperatures were quite mild; about 32 degrees Fahrenheit most days. January is summer in Antarctica, the perfect time to travel there. Some days we had warmer temperatures in Antarctica than Wisconsin residents were experiencing.
What an epic adventure it was! I have thousands of photos, dozens of stories, so many special memories and one FULL heart!
If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and I will respond!