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A baby boom of new polar cruise vessels anticipates a growing interest in exploring Antarctica for many years to come. For the upcoming 2018-2019, 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons, AdventureSmith Explorations, the world’s leading purveyor of small and expedition ship cruises, has added to its portfolio five new purpose-built vessels that will cruise Antarctica.
“With your travel options in Antarctica increasing, it’s even more important to make this once-in-a-lifetime trip exactly the style and experience you want,” says Todd Smith, President of AdventureSmith Explorations. “Your trip to Antarctica should be a true journey, and turn you into an ambassador for the region, not just a passer-through.” How to achieve this? Smith suggests staying small and sustainable, on a ship carrying less than 200 guests.
Antarctica, unlike warm-weather destinations, remains a rarely visited, pristine world. In the 2017-18 cruise season (October-March), just 42,576 visitors set foot on the continent, less than half the number of spectators at the Super Bowl. But there are still many options to consider.
As the “go-to resource” for the also-expanding population of small ship cruise enthusiasts, Smith underscores how important it is that travelers understand the nuances of cruising polar regions. These nuances will determine which ship and itinerary a client selects.
For example, does a traveler have enough vacation time to cruise through the Drake Passage? Or will time constraints mandate a fly-over option? If your route of choice includes more remote locales like Weddell Sea or South Georgia, “suites will be more comfortable than cabins when there are several days at sea with no leg-stretching land excursions,” notes Smith. Other considerations include ship size, activity options (some with added costs), seasonality for specific wildlife interests and focus, like wellness-themed ships and itineraries with guest host photographers. He advises booking now for the 2019-2020 season so his staff can make the best match between traveler and ship.
The new expedition ships designed for active polar explorations consider, among other factors:
- allowing guests to move twice daily off the ship to access Zodiac, kayak and on-land adventures. Former expedition ship options, including retrofitted research vessels, may not be set up as well for the active exploration that travelers seek today.
- the number of passengers. Expedition ships for under 200 guests are the core of what AdventureSmith Explorations is all about. Ships, especially in Antarctica, need to be of a certain size for a bespoke, intimate and active experience. To sustain a quality experience in this region, only 100 guests are allowed ashore at one time. Larger vessels may find it hard to facilitate getting guests ashore twice daily.
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