Luxury Expedition Ship
"Amanda, guess what? We're going to Antarctica!" Those were the few words I repeatedly spoke the entire week prior to our 'once in a lifetime' adventure. I had been longing to go to Antarctica ever since I began working at ExpeditionTrips just over a year and half ago, never truly believing that my dream would magically become a reality; especially since this would be my 7th continent! My colleague Amanda and I were lucky enough to embark on our Antarctica adventure together, and I think we can both honestly say it was one of the most life-changing experiences we have ever lived.
I had never actually been on a cruise before, so I was incredibly nervous because my style of traveling was always backpacking up until this point. Once we embarked the Corinthian II, all of my concerns and fears subsided as we were greeted by a crew of welcoming, friendly faces. It was at that point that I knew I would be comfortable calling this luxury ship home for the next 11 days. The ship was comfortable, with spacious rooms and living areas, a great upper viewing deck, quaint library, piano lounge and bar, and large lecture room. She even had a hot-tub on-board that was filled for use once we had arrived in Antarctica!
The infamous 'Drake Shake' that I had heard so much about, turned out to be the 'Drake Lake', and because of this we made great time on our two day journey cruising in the vast open seas. When the captain sighted the first iceberg, I officially knew that I wasn't dreaming anymore! As we got closer, I noticed that it appeared to be speckled with tiny black dots... after looking more closely, I soon realized that the tiny black dots weren't just any dots, they were penguins! These were the first of thousands that we would see while on this incredible journey.
The 'Polar Plunge' was a must-do on our list, and the two Travel Coordinators from ExpeditionTrips were the first to experience the breathtakingly frigid polar waters (there were multiple photos that seemed to miraculously appear in the end to prove it!). I had never imagined I would actually take part in a 'polar plunge,' but I knew that I would never be able to live it down if I hadn't, especially since the sun had peered its head out for the occasion.
One aspect that I thoroughly enjoyed was that there was never a shortage of activities to do on the Corinthian II. Whether it was having the opportunity to head out on a zodiac adventure twice a day, listening to an educational lecture from one of our inspiring knowledgeable guides or guest speakers, or watching the multiple episodes of 'Life in the Freezer' down in the lecture room, the decision was always yours as to whether or not you wanted to participate. Afternoon tea was a favorite upstairs in the lounge because I found myself enjoying listening to the piano player in the background while I gazed out the window watching hundreds of icebergs dance by to the melodies that were playing inside. One of the most special moments for me was standing up on the bridge watching the captain carefully navigate through the multiple icebergs that were hugging us in the Lemaire Channel. As I was quietly observing this, I was also taking in the breathtakingly spectacular mountains, watching them slowly pass me by as the sun was setting behind them, leaving only silhouettes in the pink and orange sky. I then realized at that point there was nowhere else I would have rather been; I was truly living a dream.
I honestly can't pinpoint just one favorite part of my trip, as each moment was an entirely different experience from the next, but I certainly can name a few... hill sliding in my Wellington boots, afternoon iceberg cruising in zodiacs, sunny hikes in the snow, visiting multiple gentoo, adelie and chin-strap penguin colonies, watching and listening to glaciers calve in the sea, playing hide and seek with leopard seals in zodiacs, and cruising alongside a family of humpback whales that you could almost reach out and touch. The scenery, deep rich colors, sounds and smells were like nothing I had ever experienced before, and will be memories that will last with me forever. There aren't many people who can say that they plopped themselves down in the middle of a smelly penguin rookery, only to get pecked at by curious penguin chicks passing by!
Words cannot begin to accurately describe the life-changing, fascinating voyage I experienced this past February. So, if you find yourself sitting at home wondering if an Antarctica cruise really is for you, the answer is YES! I wish everyone could be presented with the opportunity to explore all that this indescribable white continent sitting at the end of the earth has to offer, because it truly is an experience of a life-time.