Could This Be the Ultimate Bucket List Trip?

Could This Be the Ultimate Bucket List Trip?

From North Pole to South Pole

What if you could visit Antarctica and The Arctic in the same trip?  

Uh-uh, not possible.

With the Antarctic expedition season being from November to March and the Arctic season from May to September, it does seem an impossible feat. 

There is no way you could survive either Antarctica or the Arctic in the depths of their winters.  Ernest Shackleton and his team may have done it over 100 years ago, but let’s get serious, no one in their right mind would do it for fun, would they?

So let’s now imagine sandwiching those two destinations with the likes of Easter Island, South Pacific, The Kimberley in Australia, and the Suez Canal.  Let’s also add in the Acropolis and Greek Isles, sailing under Tower Bridge into London, and culminating with an almost complete circumnavigation of Iceland.

All in one trip.

Now you have my attention.

What if you could take the term “expedition cruise” to a whole new level?

Silversea is planning to take on this very adventure in 2021.  

A 167-day expedition world cruise. 

Your wildest dreams all rolled into one exhilarating bucket list experience.

The first ever expedition world cruise

Kicking off in Ushuaia in January 2021, Silversea’s Silver Cloud will enter uncharted waters and be the first expedition ship to undertake a world cruise:  30 countries, 167 days, 107 ports of call and 6 continents:

Antarctica

South America

Australia

Asia

Africa

Europe

Begin your journey sailing some of the most infamous waters on earth – The Drake Passage.

Step foot on the 7th continent and surround yourself with hundreds of pairs of cacophonous penguins, seals lounging on ice floes, and being within arms’ reach of multiple species of whales.

Visit the untouched islands of the South Shetlands, Easter Island and the Marquesas. Go out on zodiacs to the remote islands of French Polynesia, the Society Islands, Samoa and Papua New Guinea.

Cruise the iconic Northwestern Coast of Australia, often completely missed by anyone who visits this vast and diverse continent.

See Indonesia at its’ best:  Java, Sumatra, and Krakatoa.  

Set your sights on the spectacular India, Oman and Egypt.

Fall in love with the non-touristy side of Greece: Symi, Naxos, Folegandros, Itea, Nafpaktos and Ksamil.

Do Sicily and Sardinia like you have never done before.

Get off the beaten path in Spain, Portugal and France.  

Make your grand entrance into London sailing right up the Thames and under Tower Bridge.  

And on the final leg of your epic journey, complete the ultimate expedition to Svalbard, land of the polar bears.

The All-inclusive expedition cruise

 This kind of trip doesn’t come cheap, and for many of us it will forever remain on our bucket list.  However, for those lucky few, here is what you will find included in the cruise fare:

  • Business class airfare from select gateways to get you there  – and home – in style.

  • Charter flight from Santiago to Ushuaia, overnight accommodations and all transfers – Because the last thing you want is your flight to be late and the ship leaves without you!

  • A bon voyage reception – Kick off your cruise in style

  • $2,000 on board credit – Can you say spa day?

  • All excursions – Yes.  ALL EXCURSIONS

  • Special commemorative expedition gear – to keep you warm and dry in Antarctica and the Arctic – and bragging rights when you get home too.

  • Laundry service – because who has time to do it yourself?

  • Unlimited wifi – to share all those epic photos and make all your friends and family jealous back home

  • Medical services – expect the unexpected (this is NOT an substitute for real travel insurance)

  • Visa package (for citizens of the US, Canada, UK, Australia and Germany) – Because that’s a lot of specific details to remember.  

The complete bucket list experience

If your are like me, and have a ton of places on your bucket list, then this cruise might be one way to get a lot of those places checked off your list.  

Antarctica?  Check.

The Arctic?  Check.

Easter Island, the Kimberley, French Polynesia?  Check, check and check.

This cruise is open for sale right now, so if you want in let me know, and I’ll save you a spot.  🙂

’til next time

Explore. Discover. Learn

Emma

P.S. If you are thinking about an expedition cruise to Antarctica or the Arctic, check out my other post:  What to pack for Antarctica.  

What to Pack for Antarctica

What to Pack for Antarctica

A Polar Packing List

I have three words for you:  Layers, layers, layers.

Layers is the name of the game when planning any winter outdoor trip.  You never know what the weather will be like.  Wet and warm or cold and windy, you need to be prepared for any kind of weather.  The list below can be used for any kind of winter trip.  From exploring the Northern Lights above the Arctic Circle, or an Antarctic expedition cruise, the following guidelines will insure that you stay warm and dry in any kind of weather.  Be sure to read to the end and download the checklist to use for your next polar adventure!

You can buy everything you need at Outdoor Adventure stores such as REI, or Patagonia, or online on Amazon.  

If you are taking an expedition cruise to Antarctica, or the Arctic, check with your travel adviser or cruise line as most will include a fabulous warm waterproof parka in the cost of your fare.  True expedition cruises (where your only means of transit is by zodiac) will generally have it included.  If you are doing a hybrid cruise where you will be docking and visiting local communities, in addition to zodiac landings, you may find it is not included.  

 

Base Layer

The Base Layer is probably the most important layer.  You want something that wicks away water (aka: sweat), dries quickly and also keeps you warm.  You fail here and you will be cold all day.  Merino wool is the best option, which is much softer and breathable than other types.  If you happen to be allergic to wool, Capilene is a good alternative.  This layer should also be thin and not bulky since you will be wearing it underneath two other layers.

Insulation Layer

Stretch tops and bottoms that fit over your base layer and under your waterproof layer. It can also double as your outer layer in warmer temps.  You can choose to wear two sets of a base layer, if you prefer.  Just make sure that whatever you wear as your second layer fits comfortably over the first and isn’t too bulky to wear under your waterproof (top) layer.

Socks and Sock Liners

Even with socks, layers are key.  You still need a base layer to wick away moisture and add extra warmth, especially for those days where you are going to be out all day.  Regular socks should be heavy weight and made of wool or a wool blend.

Gloves and Glove Liners

Fingers are usually the hardest to keep warm, especially if you keep taking off your gloves or mittens to take photos!  This is why they invented touch screen gloves!  These are great.  I would recommend using these as a regular glove in warmer weather, but they can also be used as a liner in extreme cold temperatures.  If you need to take off your gloves to use your touch screen phone or camera, you can still keep your fingers (relatively) warm while fiddling with the buttons!

Make sure your outwear gloves are water resistant!

Balaclava Wool hat w/ flaps Infinity Scarf

Head Gear

80% of your body heat can escape from the top of your head.  It’s important to trap as much heat as possible.  There are a couple of different options:

All-in-one balaclava which covers your head, forehead, neck and mouth.  Probably the least bulky to pack and also wear

Hat with ear flaps combined with a neck gaiter. 

A gaiter is similar to an infinity scarf, which wraps around your neck but doesn’t have any loose ends to get trapped anywhere.  I don’t recommend a scarf at all, especially if you are climbing in and out of zodiacs or sleighs where they can easily get sat on or stuck in tight spaces.  Having your neck wear tucked inside your parka or coat will alleviate this problem

Waterproof pants - to go over your base layer(s)

Outer Layers

Waterproof jacket and pants are equally important when packing for a polar expedition.  Most cruise lines will include a fabulous warm, waterproof parka in the price of the expedition – but not all.  Please check with your travel advisor or the the cruise line you are traveling with to ensure you will receive one, and if not, plan accordingly.

Some cruise lines will also rent out waterproof pants for the duration of your cruise – again check with your agent or the cruise line to make sure.  

 

Waterproof Jacket – Lightweight,breathable and easily packable. For warmer days on land or up on deck when weather is wet.

Hiking Boots

Hiking Boots – For “sea days” when you are on the ship, or for land based vacations.  When at sea, most cruise lines will supply you with a pair of waterproof rubber boots for use while on your expedition voyage.  These are to be used for wet zodiac landings, especially in Antarctica to clean off penguin guana etc upon return back to ship.

 

Parka – Provided for you by the cruise lines and yours to keep.  Most cruise lines will provide one for you on all Antarctic/S. Georgia sailings.  Please check with your Travel Agent or the cruise lines to make sure you will have one.

Hand and Feet warmers

When all else fails, and you just cannot keep your extremities warm, there are always hot hands.  Need I say more!

Other Miscellaneous items to pack:

Swimsuit or swim trunks – You can’t NOT do the polar plunge!

A decent pair of UV sunglasses.  It may be cold in Antarctica, but the sun can be very bright, especially during the long Austral summers.  Eye protection is paramount for those extra sunny days when the bright sun reflects on the white snow.

Lip balm and sunscreen – Again, it may be cold, but the sun can still take its’ toll.

Binoculars – For birding and whale watching

Camera and all the accessories – An expedition cruise is a photographers paradise.   Come prepared to take some epic photos!

A waterproof bag/backpack – Essential to protect your camera equipment and binoculars as well as your hat, gloves etc.  Important when getting in and out of zodiacs, or putting stuff down on the snow while taking pictures.

Don’t Overpack

It can be easy to get carried away with packing for a trip like this, but honestly, aside from a couple of extra pairs of slacks and sweaters, you don’t need much else.  Evenings on the ship are laid back and relaxed.  No Captain’s Galas or formal wear required.

Full disclosure: Some of these items are affiliate links – I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase through that link. 

Grab the downloadable version of my packing list below.

Til next time,

Explore. Discover. Learn.

Emma

A New Expedition Ship for Lindblad Expeditions

A New Expedition Ship for Lindblad Expeditions

Lindblad Expeditions is adding to its’ fleet with a brand new expedition class vessel setting sail in 2020.  The National Geographic Endurance is named in honor of Antarctica’s most intrepid and renowned explorer – Ernest Shackleton.  The Endurance was the ship which carried Shackleton and his men through the most grueling of sea conditions known on earth – The Southern Ocean.

In a recent press briefing, CEO Sven Lindblad, son of Lindblad Expeditions founder, Lars Erik Lindblad, revealed how they will be incorporating innovative technologies into their newest member of the family.

The National Geographic Endurance

Small and intimate at 126 guests, the National Geographic Endurance sports an innovative new X-bow design, setting the gold standard for future expedition ships. A PC5 category A vessel, she is capable of exploring deeper into the polar regions than any of its’ current fleet or its’ competitors.  The new bow design provides a higher level of comfort in the open seas.  It also increases fuel efficiency and stabilization during inclement weather.  Anyone familiar with the Drake Passage can attest to how mighty and relentless those waters can be.

Eco-friendly features include high capacity fuel tanks with the cleanest emissions and purification water tanks. The benefit?  Without the need to re-provision, the ship is capable of navigating longer, more dynamic expeditions.  Remote, unexplored reaches of the Arctic will become accessible for the first time. Itineraries such as Svalbard in Spring: Polar Bears, Arctic Light and Epic Ice and The Northeast Passage from Norway to Alaska are two incredibly fascinating and compelling itineraries slated for her inaugural season.

Innovative Technology

The ship is the most technologically advanced expedition ship of its kind with ice radar and hi-res night vision equipment.  The National Geographic Endurance will include Lindblad Expeditions’ standard cool tools for exploration:  ROVs (remote underwater vehicle), underwater cameras, hydrophones, kayaks, snorkeling gear, and wet suits.  All tools are standard on every Lindblad Expeditions polar sailing.

The Design

A sleek Scandinavian design complements the fire & ice theme throughout the common areas and staterooms.  The sauna and yoga studios also incorporates this element.  Imagine yourself performing sun salutations while witnessing the immense presence of icebergs a few hundred yards away.

The 270 room, the main dining room, has an unprecedented 270-degree view of the outside.  No matter where you sit, you will be afforded breathtaking views of the days’ landscape.  From the mountainous terrain of Antarctica to the vastness of the ice floe littered Arctic Ocean, the landscape is unparalleled.

The National Geographic Endurance has several outside observation areas, including forward-facing observation wings. There will be a state of the art mudroom with multiple zodiac loading platforms for a quick and efficient embarkation/disembarkation process.

Finally, each of the 56 outward facing staterooms has a command center mixing old and new technology. Historical analog instruments, such as barometers and incline meters, juxtapose against everyday necessities such as tablets, USB ports, wi-fi, and in-room TVs. Here is a rendering of a standard room:

What you can expect from the Lindblad Expeditions and the National Geographic Endurance inaugural season:

A sampling of the 2020 itineraries

Northeast Passage: An Unforgettable Voyage from Norway to Alaska

Coastal Wonders of Norway, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland

Svalbard in Spring:  Polar Bears, Arctic Light and Epic Ice

Arctic Exploration: A voyage to Iceland, East Greenland and Norway

Norway’s Fjords and Arctic Svalbard

Norwegian Fjords and Scottish Isles

Norwegian Discovery:  Svalbard and the Northern Fjords

East Greenland:  Wild Shores of the High Arctic

Did you know the Faroe Islands have a Michelin starred restaurant? It’s true! You can read about it here

I don’t know about you, but my bucket list just got a whole lot longer!

I am excited for what the future of expedition cruising is bringing to the table.  The next few years will be a spectacular journey as we watch it unfold.  Innovative new ships with inspiring destinations are just around the corner.  I can’t wait to share them all with you!  It would be my absolute pleasure to assist you in being one of the first guests on this innovative new ship!

So, tell me, where are YOU most interested in traveling to next?

‘Til next time,

Explore. Discover. Learn

Emma

Why Svalbard is the best place to see a polar bear in the wild

Why Svalbard is the best place to see a polar bear in the wild

Svalbard

Where is Svalbard, you ask?

Svalbard is a small Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Circle, about 600 miles from the North Pole and equal distance from Tromso, on the North Cape of Norway.  Not very well known until a few years ago, it is making a name for itself as one of the best places for adventure travel.  The long winter nights are prime season for sightings of the Aurora Borealis while the long summer days are perfect for hiking, dogsledding and other adventurous activities.

Why Svalbard

Svalbard, arguably, is the least off-the-beaten-path location to find a polar bear.  There are more polar bears in the archipelago than there are humans.  They are elusive at the best of times, but particularly in the summer, when the sea ice melts.  During these long summer day polar bears find themselves stranded on the pack ice hundreds of miles from the closest shoreline. They are excellent swimmers and can swim long distances in a single day searching for food.  As ring seals are their main source of food, the bears rely on this pack ice from which to do their hunting.   You will find that by late summer most polar bears have retreated to the shores to wait for the ice to freeze over again in the late fall and winter.

Expedition Cruising

If you have ever taken a cruise, you understand the serenity of standing at the bow of the ship looking out onto the horizon at the endless ocean.  Now close your eyes and imagine seeing ice floes dotting the landscape.  Listen to the hull of your polar class expedition ship tearing through the ice, crunching as it sails through the frigid arctic waters.  You look out towards the horizon and see a polar bear in it’s natural environment.  Is it lounging on the ice absorbing the suns’ rays.  Or is it leaping from one ice floe to the other in search of it’s next meal?  This is truly the most spectacular way see these formidable creatures.  If your lucky, you may find one come curiously close to your ship as was the case for these lucky Expeditioners on their Lindblad Expedition/National Geographic cruise.

Where Else Can You Find Polar Bears in the Wild

Polar bears can be also be found above the Arctic Circle in Alaska,  Canada, Russia and Greenland.  You won’t see polar bears on a typical Alaskan cruise. That climate is far too warm and temperate for a polar bear who requires the hardy temperatures and frozen waters of the Arctic to survive.  To see a polar bear in Alaska, you need to travel to the far north along the Beaufort Sea.  Ever heard of Kaktovik, Alaska?  Click here to find it’s location.  Yup, all the way up there.  

Churchill, Manitoba along the Hudson Bay has become somewhat of a tourist destination for polar bear sightings over the past few years.  These polar bears have arrived in Churchill over the warmer summer months due to the receding sea ice in Hudson Bay.  The melting ice forces them onshore to wait for the bay to refreeze for the winter, usually around November.  They spend these months as scavengers along the shore eating flora and any other plant life they can find just to survive until the sea ice freezes over again and they can go back to hunting seals.

The same holds true for Kaktovik.  Every year the local community is permitted to hunt one bowhead whale whose meat and blubber is divided up among members of the community for provisions to see them through the long, harsh winter.  The carcass is left on the beach and the local polar bear population takeover the clean up.

There is nothing quite like polar bear spotting from an expedition ship.  Catching a glimpse of a mama bear with her cubs looking at you with as much curiosity as you are looking at them.  It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that should be at the top of anyone’s bucket list.  I hope one way you will have the opportunity to experience it!

‘Til next time

Emma

Explore.Discover.Learn

P.S.  Download my free expedition cruise guide and find out which cruise companies ply the Arctic waters in search of elusive polar bears.