The West

Amazing Antactica
Amazing Antactica

Although there are an increasing number of cruises visiting Antarctica, the frozen continent is still something of a final frontier promising adventure and excitement to those who brave the cold.

Iceberg-filled waters and extreme conditions make these seas prohibitive to conventional cruise ships. Instead, smaller expedition ships, often converted research vessels with reinforced hulls, make the voyage.

But passengers will still find lounges, restaurants and public rooms, albeit on a smaller scale.

Formerly a car and passenger ferry, Gap Adventures' ms Expedition now specialises in cruises in the polar regions.

The 124-passenger ship has big decks, perfect for viewing the frigid landscape, and all cabins have a porthole or window. Public spaces include a lounge, bar, dining room, library, pub and even a sun deck.

Next January and February, ms Expedition will embark on 10-night Antarctica Classic cruises from the Argentine port of Ushuaia.

The ship will cruise through the Beagle Channel, named after the vessel Charles Darwin famously sailed on, before crossing the 645km Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica.

During the two-day crossing, passengers will hear lectures from the crew about history of the region.

When ms Expedition reaches the South Shetland Islands, which are claimed by a number of countries, passengers get their first chance to set foot in the polar region and see the birds and seals that thrive off the algae-rich waters.

The ship then negotiates the 320km Bransfield Strait that separates the South Shetlands from a continent that is largely unchanged since explorers first landed less than 200 years ago. Excursions ashore will reveal huge rookeries of penguins and colonies of seals.

On the return journey north, the lecturers will review the highlights of the cruise and whale sightings are possible.

• The 10-night Antarctica Classic cruise costs from $8189 per person, twin-share including meals, sightseeing and one night's accommodation in Ushuaia.


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