Got a spare few weeks and a strong pair of sea legs? Us too. Let’s follow in the wake of Scott and Shackleton and sail on a group expedition to Antarctica in an impressively large ship! ONE KEY POINT OF DIFFERENCE: we’re all coming back.
The ship in question is this magnificent lady. Her name is Europa, and she’s a 103-year-old tall ship. Despite her grand old age, she’s 100% seaworthy and makes the journey from South America to Antarctica several times a year. Sometimes she even goes from Antarctica to South Africa. She’s very nimble indeed.
Another World Adventures organise epic Antarctic voyages aboard the Europa. Some, like their Christmas and New Year trip, last 22 days. Others are longer, such as the South Georgia and Antarctica 39-day adventure, or the whopping 52-day cape-to-cape journey across the South Atlantic. And while it’s all massively exciting and you’re probably picking which books to pack even as you read this, you should know that this is a working holiday. You are the crew. YOU ARE.
But before you slink off sadly, here is the kicker: you don’t need to know anything about how ships work. You do not have to be a sailor. There is a permanent crew – there would have to be, otherwise we’d never make it out of the port, let’s face it. You and your fellow adventurers will form the voyage crew. You’ll help out with day-to-day tasks like furling the sails, keeping lookout, making weather observations and even taking the helm. You suss it all out as you go along, and a few days in, everything starts to make sense.
While learning the ropes (literally!) is a huge part of the fun, you do get lots of lovely leisure time. After crossing the Drake Passage you will, depending on which voyage you pick, be visiting places like South Georgia, the South Orkney and Shetland Islands, Deception Island, and – of course – mainland Antarctica. The ship sails between icebergs, her course sometimes dictated by the conditions (the Southern Atlantic Ocean can be very rough, be warned). Along the way, you’ll stop for hikes and wildlife watching – expect birds galore, whales (including killer whales), seals and penguins. So many penguins. Rumour has it, a bit of ice too.
On board, there are plenty of places to relax, including a library and a poker corner. You’ll be fed three times a day, plus anyone working the ‘dog watch’ (11pm-4am) gets a midnight snack, adding to the Five Go To The South Pole vibe.
Phew. All we need now is a vast array of extra-warm jumpers, perhaps a balaclava, and we’re off.
Antarctica, ultimately – voyages set sail from Uruguay or Argentina.
There are three or four voyages each year, with the first setting off in November. Be sure to book early – there are many other eager sailors waiting.
What you need to know:
WARNING, WARNING: these group expeditions book up super-fast. Book fast or you’ll be crying salty tears of missed opportunity. One of the worst species of tear, we hear.