How to Choose your Tailor Made Antarctic Expedition Cruise
There are now so many operators to choose from when it comes to choosing your Antarctic Expedition. This is your trip of a lifetime, so you may as well get your choice of Antarctic Cruise right the first time. Between our extended team, we have been on numerous Antarctic Cruises, and we have some tips:
- Choose a small vessel with less than 160 Passengers.
- Choose a purpose built Vessel with an ice strengthened hull
- Choose an Antarctic Company with professional staff, who are members of a professional guiding agency.
- Choose a vessel which is comfortable and has excellent food.
- Choose your route- Antarctic Peninsula or Falklands, South Georgia Antarctica.
- Choose any chosen activities well in advance and prepay them
- Make sure that all of the above fits into your budget.
As we said above the best way to visit the Antarctic is on a cruise in a specialised ice strengthened expedition ship. The African and Oriental Travel Company has been running Antarctic cruises for some years now, and we offer Antarctic cruises with two excellent Antarctic cruise operators: Oceanwide Expeditions and Aurora Expeditions. All vessels have all the necessary comforts, and yet can go almost anywhere except the thickest ice.
Oceanwide Expeditions or Aurora Expeditions, the choice is yours
Oceanwide Expeditions have three vessels, the Hondius, Plancius and Ortelius. Their fourth, the Jassonius is under construction. Oceanwide’s deck crew, hospitality staff, food and beverage service and cabin comfort are excellent. The benefits of Oceanwide, are the special offers that bring an Antarctic cruise within the reach of most people’s budget. Oceanwide also offer Helicopter Flights on some cruises to land on the pack ice. This is an experience not to be missed. Oceanwide Vessels are very comfortable, but they are not luxurious. They take 24 Scuba divers. Cabins offered are 4 berth, 3 berth, twin and deluxe. If you are on a budget, then a carefully chosen Oceanwide Expeditions Cruise will give your unrivalled value.
Aurora Expedions have one vessel, the MV Greg Mortimer, and are building a second vessel, the MV Sylvia Earle. The MV Greg Mortimer is extremely comfortable,> we hesitate to every call an expedition vessel luxurious, but the MV Greg Mortimer is best described as a premium vessel. It has a saun, small gym, and most cabins are twin or double berth. The majority of all cabins have a balcony, which makes your Antarctic experience so much more dramatic. The MV Greg Mortimer has a cruising speed of 16 knots and a dynamic X-bow. Guiding, cabins, catering and Vessel facilities are superb. Aurora also offer flights down to King George Island in the Antarctic Peninsula to join the vessel and save two days sea time. If you are after a step up in quality without breaking the bank, then Aurora Expeditions have the level of comfort and professionalism for the price. Aurora Vessels only take 12 divers, and 12 Kayakers.
Contact us to discuss your Antarctic cruise of a lifetime.
Every year, we offer the full array of Antarctic Cruises which range: from the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Orkneys, Weddell Sea, Antarctic Peninsula, Lamaire Channel and the South Shetland islands.
Antarctic 10 Day Itineraries
Regardless of company, a normal 10 day cruise would take in: the Antarctic Peninsula including Port Lockroy, Doumer hut, Brown Station the Lamaire Channel and Deceptions island. (all subject to weather and the discretion of the Captain and Expedition Leader ).
The best selling Antarctic Voyage is the 10 day Antarctic cruise that takes in the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland islands. This cruise usually takes in the British Post Office at Port Lockroy, the British Antarctic Heritage trust sites at Port Lockroy and Damoy hut. Sometimes the expedition may pass by the Argentine Antarctic Station at Brown Station and other locations based upon weather. Seeing the history of the Antarctic is an amazing experience. Seeing where the Royal Navy Set up bases to block German U boat traffic is a humbling experience. In addition, this tour takes in Necko Harbour and the deception Island. If you are very lucky, you may be able to transit the Lamaire Channel, which is possibly the most beautiful cruise in the southern hemisphere.
Antarctic Itineraries start at £4900 per person.
South Georgia Antarctic Itineraries
Signature Polar Expeditions
The signature Polar expedition is the 18-21 Day Shackleton itinerary which takes in the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, the South Orkney Islands, Elephant Island, the Antarctic peninsula and returns to South America. This journey can be the most impressive wildlife experience. South Georgia is packed with seals, endemic birds and penguins.
Without doubt the most exciting and fulfilling Antarctic Voyage is the one that takes in the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Orkneys and the South Shetlands. South Georgia is actually more difficult to get to than the Antarctic Peninsula. Very few vessels call there, and yet these islands, the subject of the BBC’s Blue Planet, are perhaps the most unique breeding grounds for birds on earth. Protected by British legislation and fisheries protection infrastructure, the wildlife on South Georgia is immense and unique. South Georgia is a jewel of any Antarctic Cruise.
This journey starts in Ushuaia and you steam towards the Falkland Islands. After exploring the west coast of the Falklands Islands, you will steam towards Port Stanley. After an afternoon in the charming town of Port Stanley, your vessel will set sail and head on towards the stunning Island of South Georgia. It is a two day steam at 12 knots to Shag Rocks, a small outcrop that sits 60 Nautical Miles off the coast of South Georgia. If the weather is kind, the vessel will heave to and you may see whales and seabirds.
Soon enough it is time to steam on. The next morning you’ll be on South Georgia. Weather permitting your expedition leader will take you to Prince Olaf’s Bay, St Andrews Bay and Grytviken. All of this is at the discretion of the Captain and Expedition leader. After three to four days on South Georgia you’ll set sail southwest to the South Orkney Islands. If it is calm and you are on the MV Plancius or Ortelius, you’ll have three diesel generators powering you along at 12 knots. If you are on the MV Greg Mortimer or the MV Hondius you might even be steaming at 16 knots. In calm conditions, those extra four knots can make a difference of half a day.
After a day in the South Orkney Islands, you’ll steam on towards the Antarctic peninsula. Some cruises take in the Weddell Sea and Some stop at Elephant Island. All of this is at the discretion of mother nature and the weather. After three days in Antarctica, you’ll head north to the stunning South Shetland Islands for a visit to Deception Island or Yankee harbour and then steam back towards South America.
The Shackleton Itineraries start at £9600.00 per person
Escorted Antarctic Dive Expeditions
We are the only company in the UK who offers guided Antarctic dive expeditions. With 3000 and 1100 dives each, including hundreds of dry suit dives and cold water experience, Raf and Francisca Jah know exactly what is required for Polar diving. It is easier than you might think in some ways, but it requires training and ability. We pioneered diving in the height of the Antarctic summer with Dr Jeffrey Bozanic FRGS of California. In 2019 we had a very successful expedition to the Falklands, South Georgia, and the Weddell Sea. In 2021 we have a dive expedition scheduled for March, Divers and non-divers alike are welcome on all our Antarctic holidays.
We use Oceanwide Expeditions and Aurora Expeditions for many reasons, but one which you will notice is the small numbers of passengers on the vessel 110 to 124. When you take into account Antarctic Kayakers and Antarctic Divers, and those wildlife photographers who want to do an Antarctic Zodiac cruise then you end up with less than 100 people, all of whom can land on the ice or the Antarctic peninsula. Under the Antarctic Tour Operator policy only 100 passengers can land on the ice/Antarctic peninsula at any one landing. This means that there is no queue. Everyone who would like to, goes off the ship every day, at every landing/activity point. It is hard to overstate the importance of this. We saw large cruise ships in the Antarctic but the passengers of these ships only had “eyeball landings”. This means that of the 350 on board, only 100 could land at any one time. Vessels with over 500 passengers are not allowed to land at all.All of our Antarctic Cruises or Expeditions are as active as you want them to be. All of the landings are fully guided by the vessels’ Polar Guides.
CONTACT US FOR MORE DETAILS:
Tel: +44 1291 570 953