Today I’m getting on a boat and leaving. I’m going somewhere far away from civilization, politics, news, phones, Internet, and people. I’m excited, nervous, and anxious about the whole trip, but I know I need this. Antarctica calls me; it’s my special place, far away from civilization.
When I went there 4 years ago with my father, it was one of the best trips of my life. I didn’t want to get off the boat in Ushuaia. In fact, I sort of went into a little depression when it was over, and I wondered if I had just reached the apex of my travels and there was now nowhere to go but down. I still don’t really know the answer to that question. That trip holds a very special place in my heart, and my travels really haven’t been the same since.
Travel to Antarctica Via the Ross Sea
If you are going to travel to Antarctica via the Ross Sea, it’s a long journey. From South America it only takes two days to get to the Antarctica peninsula. However, from New Zealand it takes a long time to get to the east side of Antarctica. And like most things in life, the longer it takes, the more meaningful the reward – right? I want to go this long route as it takes me below the Antarctic Circle to a whole different part of the continent very few people get to see and experience. Nothing makes me happier than feeling like I’m really exploring and blazing a trail. After all, travel to me is about exploration, just like the voyagers of old. It’s not about selfies or bucket lists, but about truly discovering a place and yourself.
The good news is that Heritage Expeditions breaks up this long journey by stopping at the Subantarctic islands in the South Pacific Ocean. They are collectively designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At this islands I will see a massive variety of wildlife including four species of penguin, King, Royal, Rockhopper and Gentoo. And when I say ‘massive’, I mean millions of penguins!
Then we head through the famed Ross Sea and eventually get to the continent where stops are dependent on weather and ice conditions. We hope to stop at the Scott and Shackleton Huts as well as various research bases including McMurdo Base. And, the thing that I’m probably most excited about is to see the Ross Ice Shelf – the largest ice shelf in Antarctica. I’ve been on glaciers and practically every environment on this planet…but I’ve never seen an ice shelf.
The Heritage Expedition Ship
The Spirit of Enderby is not normal tourist boat to Antarctica – I did one of those 4 years ago…this is a bit more serious, grittier, non-flashy, much smaller boat. I expect the passengers on this trip to be heartier, and probably really well off…as this isn’t a cheap journey…but it’s one that I believe is worth every penny. I haven’t even taken the trip yet and I know that to be true already because Antarctica is Just. That. Amazing. It’s a special place where animals and environment is in charge, and humans are simply alien visitors.
I’ve actually been on this ship before, last summer when I went to Wrangel Island in Russia. It’s small and functional, and built for the rough seas. There will be 48 passengers on the boat approximately 30 crew.
What is Expedition Cruising?
What is expedition cruising and why you should take one.
It Doesn’t Get Any More Incredibly Tough Than This
On this trip even though I’m offline I will be collecting all kinds of pictures and videos with my HTC Evo phone. Once again I’m going to be taking the HTC device with Corning® Gorilla® Glass 5 into one of the toughest environments in the world. If you aren’t familiar with Gorilla Glass, then just take out your phone, it likely has a version of Gorilla Glass on it. Many of the latest phones coming out today have Gorilla Glass 5 on them – the toughest cover glass yet. This is exactly the kind of equipment I want with me in this environment; tough, damage resistant, durable, and beautiful. After all, I have lots of penguin photos and videos in my future to capture! If it could survive polar bears on the tundra, then it should be able to take on penguins in the Antarctic!
Seasickness – I’m Not Letting it Stop Me!
This is a dream trip for me and for most people who take it. Even though I’m prone to seasickness, it didn’t make me hesitate a second in saying yes to travel to Antarctica again. However, I am nervous about how rough these seas are and my ability to deal with it. In the past going through the Drake Passage, I ended up in bed all day not able to even get up. However, I refuse to let things like seasickness, not knowing the language, or fear in any way stop me – I will deal with it. In an effort to not have that happen, I have every type of seasickness meds with me possible! I will likely be trying them all as I get my sea legs. I know for many people the issue of seasickness stops them from going on trips like this, so I’ll let you know what worked for me when I get back!
I’m not talking about my hair…that’s not gray…but I am losing it at a disturbingly rapid rate in my 40’s…but I digress. I’m talking about digital darkness, or grayness. I have blog posts and social media scheduled – so I will still have a presence online – but not really online…fake online. Data will be going out – but I will have nothing coming in nor will I be interacting. But when I get off the boat on Feb 9th, I will start from that point and do a whole video /photo daily journal on my Facebook page of the trip I experienced – sort of real time, but a month later! You’ll still see and hear about the penguins, icebergs, storms, seasickness, birds, lectures, potential boredom, and the ecstasy of visiting this remote part of the world on one of the most remote routes to get there.
And then there’s the other side of darkness, the fact that I won’t be exposed to anything online for a whole month – otherwise known as a digital detox. I love being in the dark regarding what’s going on in the world – and especially this month. In fact, while you are all watching the new US President take office, I will be hanging out with penguins and oblivious. And on an even more granular note, I think simply not having every little detail of the many acquaintances I have on Facebook and Instagram in my face every day will be good for me. This digital world is really hard to deal with at times. Data constantly floods you with what’s happening in other people’s lives, which we then inevitably turn around and compare to our own lives and think ours fall short. I can do without that self-destruction for a while, I like the darkness occasionally, it gives me time to put things in perspective and think.
Thirty Days and Thirty White Nights
I don’t sit still very long; in fact the longest I’ve been in one place is normally about 2 to 3 weeks max. The idea of being on the ship for 30 days has me a bit intimidated. Sleeping in the same bed for 30 days…crazy! I guess that warrants unpacking. I have a small, economical cabin on the lower level. And I will share a bathroom and shower with people on that level too. I have a few books on my Kindle, and a long list of writing and photo editing to work on in my down time. But my experience on these expeditions is that somehow you always stay busy, time flies. We’ll see if that’s the case on this 30-day trip.
As we continue to move South, we’ll also have more and more daylight and eventually we’ll cross below the Antarctic Circle and there will be an abundance of light all the time. It’s really disorienting, but I also love it. However, let’s hope my one window has a really thick curtain!
As I put on my sea sickness patch, and get used to my little cabin, I bid you all farewell. I’m leaving…not on a jet plane, but an expedition ship to my favorite place on earth – Antarctica! I’ll see you all in 30 days!
Are you interested in this Epic Trip?
Check out The Heritage Expeditions Website to learn about their various trips to the Subantarctic Islands as well as Antarctica.
View my Facebook Live video I did with Aaron from Heritage Expeditions to learn more about what I will be experiencing on the trip!
I am a guest of Heritage Expeditions on this trip, however all opinions expressed here are my own.
This blog post contains sponsored links from Corning Incorporated.