Erica & Matt Chua: What to See on an Antarctic Voyage

Hours, no days, of any “expedition” to Antarctica is spent on your ship.  Considering the majority of the time you’ll be on the ship, what will you see?  Here’s a photo guide to an Antarctic Peninsula trip to show why time on the ship won’t be wasted.

Our ship, the M/V Plancius, had an open bridge.  That meant we could wander up to the controls whenever we pleased to get the captain’s view.  This was “the” moment that we saw the first land of Antarctica with bare eyes after two days of seasickness inducing, rocking through the Drake Passage.

As we approached Antarctica we saw the cliche, the iceberg, but soon realized that an iceberg isn’t just a larger version of what’s floating in your Gin and Tonic.  What logically should be white, snow-covered, ice serves as a reflector for all the earth’s colors, mimicking the deep blues of the sky and greens of the ocean.

In calmer waters such as the epic Lemaire Channel, the trip on the ship turns dramatic as your vessel squeezes through thousand foot cliff walls.  All the while, whales and penguins swim by to check you out because in Antarctica, you’re the caged animal in the zoo.

Antarctica is nothing short of massive.  While on the ship it is clear that the mountains, ice and land stretch on impossibly far, but all those sights are put into perspective when you see just how miniscule your ship is compared to the surroundings.  That boat we’re on is almost 300 feet long, but makes a minor part of the view.

Antarctic sunsets onboard never disappointed.  Because the light didn’t fade to complete darkness while we were there it became a photographer’s dream of soft light, reflecting ice-caps, and unforgettable wildlife sightings.

Whales and, in warmer waters, dolphins often came to examine the intruder in their territory: us.  Starting from afar they would circle, slowly approaching as they found we posed no danger until they were directly next to the ship.  A pod of dolphins welcomed us back to South America, following us for hours then playing alongside the boat through the night.  Such sights became the norm after days of these visits, something you can only take for granted if you’ve taken an Antarctic voyage.

From crossing the infamous Drake Passage to seeing Antarctica for the first time, to steaming around the islands, the time spent on the ship during an Antarctic expedition will form some of your best memories.  Not only for the sights, but also for the amazing people that such a trip draws.  In our years on the road the time spend aboard the M/V Plancius ranks high in our memories of sharing sights and amazement with our fellow sailors.

Interested in exploring Antarctica yourself?
Click here to read our Antarctica Travel Guide to learn how, who to go with, and how to get the best deal.


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