Skip to main content

I get horribly seasick. It has ruined quite a few moments in my life that should have been fun. I also fear being a long way from land on wild oceans.

All of which doesn’t sound good for someone who just won a trip to Antarctica! There was a moment after asking if we were going to fly the Drake when I did consider saying no.

But Antarctica is on so many of my clients’ ultimate bucket lists, with more and more of my Africa-loving clients saying the Great White Continent is next. As a travel agent, you know how important seeing a destination or a product is to the quality of the advice you give your clients.

For someone whose personal holiday passion is to be far from people and among wildlife, I would have to take this one for the team.

Thankfully, I had some advice early on from colleagues who had found sea sickness medication that worked for them and I started to relax and get excited about the incredible opportunity I had in front of me.

Looking back now I can say, somewhat amazingly, that the Drake was a really enjoyable part of the trip. It helped that we had relatively smooth crossings in both directions; the medication worked and I felt completely fine.

Leaving Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel and heading out into one of the most remote oceans in the world was actually an exhilarating feeling. Many important preparations occur on those two days as you head to Antarctica.

Bio security is a big deal in such a remote location; not bringing our diseases and viruses to such a pristine environment requires preparation, rules and vigilance.

Getting 100 people correctly dressed and into Zodiacs quickly, allowing two or three off-ship excursions daily, also took some preparation. The onboard lectures over those first couple of days excited us about the wildlife we would see.

But then, with the waters smooth, you see your first iceberg floating by, your first penguin sitting on a floating iceberg, the vast snow-covered mountains of the South Shetland Islands come into view and your anticipation is through the roof.

Despite our two days of preparation on the Drake, nothing can ready you for the reality of Antarctica.

The sheer size, scale, mountains, glaciers and bird and sea life. You could turn 360 degrees on most days and see half a dozen whales; the beauty takes your breath away. We explored just one small area of the Antarctic Peninsula but you know these scenes are repeated over and over.

Each day in Antarctica on an expedition ship is packed with once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

By the end of day one, for example:

  • We had two Zodiac expeditions and learned how to get on/off without getting wet
  • Numerous humpback whales presented us with perfect fluke tail photos
  • Glided past icebergs in so many shades of blue and white
  • Laughed at the wobbling walk of the penguins as they carried stones to their nest and we took a few hundred photos of them
  • Listened to glaciers cracking, groaning and exploding
  • Watched a huge iceberg rollover and experienced the consequential waves from our Zodiac.

And that was all on day one.

Then, on day two, the sun came out!

The trip gave me privileged personal insight on advising my clients on their Antarctica decisions. How to dress, packing suggestions, which additional activities they would enjoy and, of course, whether they should do the Drake Passage.

Would I do the Drake again? Yes! If it allowed me even one more day to be in Antarctica, I would be happy to, with medication. But I might fly back.