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Antarctic Peninsula

Beth Mercier

  • Beth on location in Antarctica
    Beth on location in Antarctica
  • Silver Explorer in Antarctica
    Silver Explorer in Antarctica

Luxury Expedition Ship
Silver Explorer

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Antarctic Peninsula

Beth Mercier

The Great White Continent. This unparalleled wilderness at the end of the earth is the ultimate destination for travelers seeking to discover far-flung lands. As I envisioned my trip to Antarctica, I was excited to explore the frosty landscape and see the iconic wildlife with my own eyes. Yet even as I was looking forward to my experience in this amazing place, I must admit that the onboard experience—the level of accommodation, standard of service, and safety—was also a high priority. With that in mind, I eagerly traveled to the southernmost tip of Argentina to embark the Silver Explorer, a 132-passenger ship purpose-built to provide the finest expedition-style travel experience for passengers onboard while maintaining the highest levels of safety and service in the polar regions and beyond.

My journey began in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I enjoyed a pre-cruise night in the Recoleta district at a lovely hotel called the Intersur Recoleta. Surrounded by Argentine charm and beautiful landmarks, this hotel was an ideal jumping off point for my time in this charming city. Like any big city, Buenos Aires is bustling and could overwhelm first-time visitors. However, I focused my time in the quieter, boutique neighborhoods of Palermo and Recoleta and had a wonderful time. I enjoyed a city tour as well as a traditional dinner/tango show, and I was fascinated by the bits of European history and architecture that has molded this chic city.

Day one of my Antarctic itinerary began with meeting my fellow passengers at the domestic airport in Buenos Aires. Together we took a charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina, and were met by friendly guides. After a lovely lunch at a local restaurant on the edge of the Tierra del Fuego National Park, we were transferred to the port. Stepping onto the Silver Explorer, I was handed a warm towel and a glass of champagne… and I knew already this was going to be a phenomenal trip! Pinching myself when I saw the marble bathroom and walk-in closet, my cabin felt more like 5-star hotel than an expedition ship! To top it off, I had not one but two floor-to-ceiling windows with balconies, guaranteeing that I would never miss a moment of the breathtaking polar landscape.

Our 36-hour navigation through the Drake Passage gave us a chance to rest and get acquainted with the naturalists and guides. Upon arrival a little ahead of schedule, we enjoyed a bonus landing at Aitcho (HO) Island. Hundreds of gentoo and chinstrap penguins greeted us and provided a wonderful preview of what was to come. Each morning after felt like Christmas, when I opened my curtains to the awe-inspiring beauty of the sun shining on the glistening landscapes and towering mountains in the backdrop as we sailed past floating pieces of ice on which penguins were sunbathing.

Stepping foot onto the Antarctic continent was like a privilege and an accomplishment that I never knew was important to me until that very moment. I felt at once minimized by the enormity of nature while simultaneously more connected than ever before to my surroundings. And the days that followed just got better and better. Morning and afternoon shore excursions afforded opportunities for wildlife viewing, photography, and light walks/hikes. On one particular day when the weather shifted, in lieu of the afternoon shore excursion, our captain circumnavigated a mile-long iceberg! The complex beauty of something so simple was fascinating.

My favorite day of the cruise took us to the towering “Seven Sisters” mountains, the quirky and historic “Penguin Post Office” at Port Lockroy, and later through the Lemaire Channel where, upon arriving at 10PM in the eerily calm glass-like waters, the Antarctic sunset reflected on the water and ice in every possible shade of blue, green, pink, and orange. As if the world were standing still, I felt like every single person on the ship recognized that we were witnessing one of the most beautiful paintings in the world. Except it was no painting. Standing next to two of the onboard naturalists, who had 20 years of Antarctica experience between them, one was brought to tears. I kept thinking “remember this moment… it will never be repeated.” And I will carry that moment with me for the rest of my life.

To any traveler considering this destination, you simply must go. If you have any concerns… fret not. No matter the distance traveled or intense nature of the environment, you owe it to yourself to see this magnificent place. I was fortunate to be on a ship that not only pampered the guests, but also boasted a naturalist staff comprised of individuals who were just as excited to be there as those of us seeing it for the first time. In every way, the authentic experience of Antarctica aboard the Silver Explorer exceeded all my expectations. I can truly say it was an incredible destination, an amazing ship, and an uncompromising experience. That’s Antarctica aboard the Silver Explorer.

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