Getting Around Antarctica

  • Transportation
    by LynCod
  • Twin-Otter on the Bowden névé Antarctica
    Twin-Otter on the Bowden névé Antarctica
    by XenoHumph
  • Refueling of a Twin Otter plane
    Refueling of a Twin Otter plane
    by XenoHumph

Most Viewed Transportation in Antarctica

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    The M/V Ushauaia

    by 850prc Updated Apr 26, 2011

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    The M/V Ushuaia is not a luxury vessel. She's comfortable, the staff is friendly and warm, and you'll be well taken care of. But if you are looking for "crystal glasses at dinner, six ballrooms, orchestras, duel steamship rounds being carved at dinner, a bar stocked with thousands of rare wines, etc", this is not your ship. BUT, if you want a solid and dependable ship with an experienced crew, an outfit that will insure that you have both an enjoyable and SAFE trip to and through what are dangerous waters, you can't do any better than the Ushuaia and its parent company, Antarpply.

    The ship was originally built for the United States agency NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration), and later refurbished to accommodate a maximum of 84 passengers in 41 comfortable twin cabins and suites. The ice-strengthened polar vessel USHUAIA is very well appointed and provides ample deck space and an open bridge policy. The full complement of inflatable landing craft (the zodiacs) ensure superb landings and wildlife viewing opportunities on the otherwise inaccessible coastline.

    The cabins, especially the B and C cabins, have a generous amount of storage space. The public areas feature a large dining room (dinner is served during one sitting), an observation lounge and bar, a conference room with modern multimedia equipment, a well-stocked library, a changing room and a small infirmary. On a personal note, the ship's physician - Dr Konstantin Petrosyan - is top notch. He's a wonderful fellow, very caring and very well schooled. (do remember, Bonnie and I have spent our career in healthcare... we know a good physician when we meet one) We did have an unexpected medical situation on our trip, and Konstantin's presence and help was a Godsend.

    The ships captain(s), officers and crew are highly experienced in Antarctic navigation and have a great love of nature. The ships expedition team include an international crew of expedition leaders and lecturers, all extremely knowledgeable, enthusiastic, helpful and dedicated to the protection of the environment.

    The ship's chefs prepare simple and tasty meals, with a lot of variety. I was impressed with the supply and quality of fresh fruit available during the entire voyage. The pastry/dessert chef is also a very artistic and creative guy. The service staff in the dining room was terrific. Couldn't have asked for better care, service and attention to detail.

    Alvaro runs a pretty decent little bar. I hightly recommend the Argentine Quilmes beer. Good stuff indeed. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, soups and such are available 24/7 in the observation bar, and the afternoon "snack" is always well-attended and enjoyable. Lots of sandwiches, cakes, cookies, etc.

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    Antarctic Expeditions/Antarpply

    by 850prc Updated Apr 26, 2011

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    We traveled to Antarctica with Antarpply Expeditions. We'd originally zeroed in on the M/V Ushuaia as a ship that we'd want to know more about. Additionally, the itineraries were what we were looking for. A number of travel companies sold space for this ship, and over the period that we were researching, I eventually learned that Antarpply actually OWNED the ship. So, I figured that we should work directly with the owners. Also about that time, I "met" Ute Hohn-Bowen, the president and CEO of Antarpply. Her caring attitude, her willingness to patiently answer all of our questions and basically to meet our needs for so large of a decision, well..... it told me we had the right company. BTW, if you'd like to know more about Antarpply, please contact Ute directly at ute@antarpply.com. BE SURE TO DROP MY NAME AS RECOMMENDING HER AND ANTARPPLY. She and I became friends and we really do see eye to eye on travel. You'll like her.

    Another good contact person is Claudia Albornoz (claudia@antarpply.com), the company's reservation manager. Claudia lives in Ushuaia year-round. (Ute is there during the Argentine summer months, and lives in Great Britain with her husband George during the other half of the year)

    In general, Antarpply Expeditions is a leading operator of small ship expedition cruises to Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands. The company is based in Ushuaia, Argentina and specializes in taking small groups and individual passengers to some of the most spectacular, remote and pristine parts of the world on board the M/V USHUAIA.

    Contact information:
    Office address:
    Gob. Paz 633 - 1st Floor
    (9410) Ushuaia - Tierra del Fuego - Argentina

    phone numbers +54 (2901) 433636 / 436747
    fax number +54 (2901) 437728

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    Cruising

    by toonsarah Updated Dec 23, 2006

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    I’d never really thought of cruising as a holiday choice, but for a trip to the Antarctic it’s the most obvious way to go. The decision then is whether to take a fairly large regular cruise ship or one of the smaller, expedition type vessels. Both have their advantages. The larger ships tend to be more economical (because they can take so many more passengers) and have more facilities on board. The smaller ones can get to some places the large ones can’t, and tend to create the atmosphere of a real expedition – plus there are fewer people waiting for their turn in the Zodiac when there’s a landing, so you get to spend more time on land.

    We opted for a larger ship, mainly for reasons of economy – though there’s no such thing as a cheap trip to the Antarctic. Our ship was the Marco Polo, an Orient Lines vessel. Although a large cruise ship, for the Antarctic trips they restrict the numbers and she sails with only about 50% passenger capacity. This means that everyone does get a good length of time on the ice and on Zodiac outings.

    The facilities on board were first class, and having thought I wouldn’t really enjoy cruising I found instead that there was plenty to keep me occupied and happy during days at sea – interesting lectures, a cosy library and a wonderful bar. One of the highlights of the holiday was sitting in the bar with a wonderful martini watching ice-bergs drift slowly past the picture windows.

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    research class of ship to Antarctica

    by Ekahau Updated Jun 10, 2006

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    The research class of ship is is, a friendly, and interactive ship where as a general rule you can wonder onto the bridge and interface with the crew. The Officers and crew are Russian and the Ships were made for the former Soviet Union by Finland as Ice strengthened research vessels to sail in the treacherous waters of the USSR's Artic Coast and to Support the Research stations of the Soviet Union in Antarctica. They hold from 45 to 55 Passengers. The following are the ones this VTer knows of.

    Akademik Shokalskiy
    Aleksey Maryshev
    Grigoriy Mikheev
    Polar Pioneer
    Professor Molchanov and
    Professor Multanovskiy

    The oldest was built in 1985 the newest in 1990.

    One can get to Antarctica for as little as $3,995 in a triple room on a research Ship nd this sort of ship has cool stuff to do like Sea Kayaking, Ice Climbing, Ice Scuba Diving and Cross Country Skiing. On the Grigoriy Mikheev for example there is a trip to the Weddell Sea where the Vter can see the Emperor Penguin for under $5,000. (this trip is November 13, 2006)

    The website below is to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators web-site which has a list of all the approved operators to Antarctica.

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    Research Icebreaker class of ship to Antarctica

    by Ekahau Updated Nov 9, 2007

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    The next class of ship is about twice the size as the Research class and it is know in the Polar areas of the world as a Research Icebreaker they have more stuff like a sauna, workout room, pool. They carry about 100 passengers and because the ships are icebreakers they can go deeper into Antarctica’s waters. This is the class of vessel that can do a circumnavigation of Antarctica as a tour and they do. The most Basic tour is just under $5,000 on this class

    Akademik Ioffe and the Kapitan Khlebnikov are in this class again both Russian with Russian crews and built in Finland. The Kapitan Khebnikov has the record of going the deepest south in the ice of any ship deep into the Ross sea. This Ship can take you to the dry valleys, and the cabins of Scott and Shackleton as well as the McMurdo Station and Scott Base.

    The website below is to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators web-site which has a list of all the approved operators to Antarctica.

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    Expedition Cruise Ships

    by Ekahau Updated Nov 3, 2007

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    The next is the Expedition Cruise Ships this is a cruse ship that has been strengthen for ice but built for cruising so they are more plush bigger smother with a fully equipped lecture hall and theatre, bar and lounge, Antarctic library and gym with a view. You also get European chefs international cuisine you know the stuff one get on a ship built for crusing and the comfortable bar is stocked with a good selection of wine and spirits. The ship is crewed by Russian officers and crew, all highly experienced in polar navigation. In the lecture hall they have educational program for passengers during their Antarctica travel, covering subjects such as natural history, ornithology, marine biology, geography, geology, history and the environment. If you are a Physician they even have medical lectures on some cruses so you can do it as a Business expense but that is a secret.
    Antarctic Dream
    Clipper Adventurer
    M/V Orlova
    MS Endeavour
    Polar Star
    Sarpik Ittuk

    On the M/V Orlova or Sarpik Ittuk you can go for as little as $2,995 in a triple for 12 days.

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    Luxury Expedition Ships

    by Ekahau Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    TThe last class is the Luxury Expedition Ships
    This is a supper soft posh cruise ships with hardened hulls for ice but still a luxury cruise vessel with all the goodies you know the has 5**** stuff like fresh flowers in Antarctica, gleaming brass, polished wood and works of original art.. These are the big one with almost 200 on board. The have 15 to 20 Zodiacs on board to get you to the shore of Antartica

    Corinthian II
    Explorer II
    The cheapest in this class is $7,095 for 12 days.

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    Zodiac Boat

    by Ekahau Updated Jun 5, 2006

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    Either by air like DAP (details in other tips in this report) or by ship the way around once you are in “Warm” Northern Antarctica it is by Zodiac Boat.

    Most Vters get to know and love there Zodiac. Another popular way to get around is by sea kayaking for the young and healthy.

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    Zodiacs

    by toonsarah Written Dec 23, 2006

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    To get from your cruise ship to the various landing places you need to take to the sea in a Zodiac. These are small inflatable boats each holding about a dozen passengers. Despite appearances, they are very sturdy and cope well even when the sea is a bit rough.

    No more than 100 people from each ship are allowed on the ice at any one time, so if like us you’re on a large cruise ship you have to wait your turn. But everything is well-organised and you should find you get long enough to explore.

    The Zodiacs are also used for mini cruises among the icebergs, giving you an opportunity to really get up close and personal. We were lucky on one occasion to get very near to a leopard seal resting on a small iceberg – earlier pilots had hung back so as not to frighten him away, but we were on the last boat and were rewarded for our patience in waiting our turn by being able to get within a couple of feet.

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    USNS CHATTAHOOCHEE

    by Pawtuxet Written May 24, 2006

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    The Chattahoochee was the ice breaker that brought supplies in to Antarctica when my husband was there in the early 60's. The hull is massive....and rightfully so, I guess. Not sure I'd want to go in on an ice breaker...but to each his own! Anyone out there ever serve on an ice breaker? Or..the Chattahoochee?

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    • Eco-Tourism

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    Piston Bully

    by frankcanfly Written Dec 25, 2004

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    These are neat little all-track vehicles that can climb some incredibly steep hills of ice, they often have a motorized track-trailer as well.

    These are powered by a piston engine, but in Alaska I drove one with a turbine engine... very cool!

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    Polar Star Ice Breaker

    by frankcanfly Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Every summer, the Coast Guard moves this breaker south to clear out the path to McMurdo.

    It is critical to the winter operations at McMurdo. Only one cargo ship arrives here each year, keeping the station running during winter.

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    The Cruise

    by grets Updated Jul 2, 2004

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    There is only one commercially available way of getting to Antarctica - by ship! It's most useful anyway, as you have your own floating hotel with you - the alternative (if you flew there) would be to camp!

    Your consideration when it comes to deciding which ship should be:

    Price (obviously)

    Number of passengers (only 100 people are permitted to go ashore in Antarctica at any one time. If your ship has more passengers than this, you could be spending a lot of time waiting to go ashore)

    Dress code - are you a jeans and T-shirt person or do you like to dress for dinner?

    Itinerary - does it go to the places you would like to go? How many landings do they make? (some of the largesr ships make fewer landings - someone we spoke to had only gone ashore twice in 8 days)

    The size of the ship - smaller ships can get closer to shore making landings easier and quicker.

    How many zodiacs have they got? Are there enough for you all to go ashore at the same time or do you have to wait your turn for ages while you see others enjoying the penguins.....

    Cabins - have they got en suite facilities? Do you get two lower berths or bunk beds? (Have you ever tried sleeping in a top bunk at a 41 degree angle in rough seas?)

    That brings me quickly (and painfully) to stabilisation - larger ships generally roll less in rough seas.

    Is the type and quality of the food a consideration?

    What nationality are the staff and crew? Do the naturalists and lecturers speak your language?

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    Bark Europa - mainly for sailing-fans

    by globetrott Updated Sep 19, 2012

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    Making an Antarctic-cruise onboard of the Bark Europa certainly makes sense for every sailing-fan, but for all the others it might be good to think about another ship !
    The best about this small sailing-ship is certainly, that you will be able to land and go ashore anywhere with all of the passengers at the same time, because according to the so-called "Antarctic-treaty" not more than 100 passengers of the same ship are allowed ashore at the same time.That means, a ship with 400 passengers will have to split the tours into 4 terms and while the first term might have sunshine.
    English is the main language onboard.
    22 days of cruising from and to Ushuaia is
    5100 euros p.p. in a 4-6 person-cabin
    6300 euros p.p. in a double cabin

    ---

    take a look at the video of my brother Bernhard (he is abvideo here on VT)
    about our cruise on the Bark Europa:
    The part with Antarctica is at the end of the movie
    after 1:26 min !

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    • Sailing and Boating
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    Zodiaks - the best boats to land in Antarctica

    by globetrott Updated Jul 31, 2012

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    Zodiaks are the best boats to explore Antarctica, and most probably also the only ones beeing allowed there, where almost at none of the places, where you can land, there will be a pier. Instead you will have to try to find a sandy and flat beach, where you may land the zodiak and when stepping in or out the zodiak you will hardly every may avoid to step at least for a short moment into the icy-cold water.
    This is the reason, why everybody has to wear wellies.
    Inside the Zodiaks you will sit on both sides of it and when you are lucky you will find a rope to hold on with at least one hand. With the other hand you will hold your camerabag and in the beginning I thought I might easily fall overboard, but none of our passengers ever had that problem !
    The biggest problem is the water that might splash over, when the Zodiak hits a big wave and you will get wet all over.

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