What’s it like to travel to Antarctica by cruise ship versus sailboat?
We sat down with Laura Smith, the co-owner with husband Federico, of Quixote Expeditions and sailboat “The Ocean Tramp.” We got a firsthand look at the boat and were able to ask her a few questions about sailing south. Afterward she gave a great tour of Ocean Tramp and showed us how everything works onboard.
The question of which type of trip is right for you, sailing vs. cruising, is dependent on who you are as a person and the adventure you’re looking for in your expedition to Antarctica.
Most travelers go to Antarctica aboard ships with 100 or more people and have opportunities to go off ship twice a day to do many activities such as camping kayaking, and paddle boarding. When you sail to Antarctica, there are a maximum of 9 people onboard, including a cook and a scientist. Excursions are flexible and can be done whenever the weather allows. Sailing trips offer the option of kayaking.
Cruising to Antarctica is aboard much bigger ships, which helps with a smoother ride, but seasickness is always possible. You get more of a luxury experience with gourmet meals every day three times a day and staff to clean up after you and make your bed. You get to lay back and relax and enjoy the activities that the ship has to offer. It’s a much bigger environment with a lot more people to meet from all over the world. With this type of trip, the itinerary is very organized and structured with off-ship excursions and activities. These trips offer more options such as hiking, paddle boarding , kayaking, zodiac cruises, skiing. The proper gear is provided, as well as a complimentary parka to stay warm, and muck boots for off ship activities.This is all with professional guides to show you the way and also giving onboard lectures about wildlife. There are professional photographers onboard to capture some of the most amazing moments in your life. Sitting back and relaxing and getting to see all Antarctica has to offer is what cruising to Antarctica is more about.
Sailing to Antarctica is a longer journey, a minimum of around 20 days. It comes with many perks of getting up close and personal with Antarctica and all it has to offer. Don’t forget that sea sickness is very common and when sailing it can be a rougher ride so being prepared with a remedy is highly recommended.
We sat down with one of the owners who leads sailing trips to Antarctica and learned about what it’s like to travel south to Antarctica aboard an aluminum hulled sailing vessel.
Questions and Answers with Laura Smith:
Q-What does sailing to Antarctica offer that other ships may not?
A- Everyone aboard helps out, and you are able to get up close and personal with the ins and outs of how to sail a boat. We are more flexible with the itinerary, so if someone wants to stop and check out something particular on land, we can do that. We also bring a sponsored scientist on board to join in the adventure doing science along the way. It’s a hand on experience!
Q-Do you need knowledge or experience to sail to Antarctica?
A- No, but a sense of adventure, a willingness to help and a good balance is required. Reading about it beforehand is good, to get an idea of what it’s like so you know what to expect.
Q- How is your boat Eco friendly ?
A- We save water by using a water maker, so we don’t have to carry as much water on board, freeing us to make water whenever needed. We also use LED lights, a wind generator and solar panels to help keep things eco friendly.
Q- What’s your itinerary look like?
A- It takes about 3-4 days to cross the Drake Passage, depending on the weather. (Getting to see the beautiful scenery along the way.) You get to visit Deception Island, Whaler’s Bay, Antarctica Peninsula, and of course visit penguin colonies. We have a very flexible itinerary. We take into account what our passengers want to do and try to make it happen.
Q- What are some of the passenger jobs?
A- Passengers all have a day of washing dishes and helping putting up sails and putting lines in and out. We also have iceberg watch while crossing the Drake, and helping with basic sailing duties. Cleaning your own bunks and cleaning up after yourself is one step to keeping the boat a clean environment for everybody.
Q- What’s your personal favorite part of sailing to Antarctica?
A- Laura Smith – “ After crossing the Drake when we see our first iceberg up close there’s something magical about it and the past 3 days of the rough Drake disappear “
If you are someone who is looking for a real experience of what it’s like to sail to Antarctica, then this is the expedition for you. Reach out to our team for more information and voyage options.