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Author: rosebud

Joined: 3/16/2013
Posts: 8
Countries Visited:

Peru, Ecuador, the Amazon, Galapagos Islands, Machu Pichu, Patagonia, Argentina, Costa RIca, Sea of Cortez, Jamaica, Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Hawaii, Alaska, Canada (Lake Louise, Banff, Jasper, Toronto, Windsor), Spain, England, the Baltics (Tallin, St. Petersburg, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Berlin), Amsterdam, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Kenya, Namibia, China, New Zealand, Bhutan, Nepal

Traveler Since: 2007

February 17, 2014

 We returned yesterday, February 22, 2014, from Antarctica. It is an unmatched experience that should be mandatory for all!!

Our Drake Passage was shaky on one day southbound and on one day northbound. In fact, we experienced hurricane force winds southbound and 30' seas northbound, making for lots of rockin' and rollin'. Do not be fooled by calm seas at the start and prepare your body with either the patch or the Dramamine provided at no charge by the expedition ship. Most people who used the patch were very satisfied and did not have to be concerned about taking pills periodically. You must obtain the patch from your physician before leaving your home town. There is a physician onboard, and for a fee you can use his services if seasickness or other physical problems assail you. 

Once we reached the Antarctic Peninsula, we were very fortunate to have four sunny days and 10 landings. Not all trips are as lucky, and, therefore, the clothing required may vary depending on time of year and day-to-day (or even hour-to-hour) conditions. Even with the sun, however, the red jacket was a must, as are waterproof pants. The calf-height boots provided by the expedition ship work well as long as you wear double wool socks. We also took toe and hand warmers and found them to be very helpful in maintaining comfortable landings as you walk on snow, ice and cold, cold land.

Because the weather cooperated, our Grand Circle Cruise stopped at Deception Island and those who wanted to enjoy a Polar Plunge were able to do so. Had the weather been different, as it apparently was for the cruise the week before ours, landing at Deception Island may not be possible.

The food on board, the crew and staff were all fantastic.

We highly recommend taking onboard a couple of short sleeve tees and a pair of lightweight slacks as the cabins on floors 2, 3 and 4 were very warm and uncomfortable, as were the dining and lounge areas, even after complaints to the HVAC authorities. Conversely, cabins on floors 5 and 6 were too cold.  

There were two closets for hanging cloths, but we found insufficient storage for folded clothing.

Go now!

Author: kokofodobe

Joined: 1/25/2011
Posts: 4
Countries Visited:

15 Trips with GCT/OAT

Traveler Since: 2002

March 04, 2014

 We returned from Antarctica on February 7th and I wanted to pass along a few tips and suggestions for any one going now or in the near future.

1.  Walking sticks:  Although GCT didn't require them, you SHOULD take at least one and better the pair.  Almost every landing presented a walking challenge of some kind.  Snowy steep slopes, icy rocks, snow trails and penguin poop on top of all that.  Just getting off the zodiacs and on to the trail, if there was one, they helped.  Mind folded down so I could  put them in the suitcase and they are very light.  Our PD always said take you walking sticks when we headed down to get our boots on.

2.  The red coats are extremely warm and mostly waterproof.  I usually wore a thermal undershirt, another shirt and a fleece top of some kind, and then the red coat.  If the sun is out you can unzip and zip back up for the windy zodiac trip back to the boat.  This was where it usually was the coldest and sometimes wettest.  You will figure out what works for you as you go according to your own comfort, wind, or sun conditions.  Take a vest, down or other kind as you may find that works for you in the layering process.

3.  Gloves and hats.  Gloves should be waterproof and I bought the type GCT sells that are waterproof with a thermal inner glove.  If you get your hands wet in the zodiac you will be cold and probably can't take pictures.  Mostly I wore the thermals on shore and then put the waterproof gloves back on for the zodiac rides.  A tour of the "iceberg grave yard" takes about a hour and if your hands are cold you won't be happy.  Most everyone wore their hats on shore except for sunny days.  They are important for warmth and if they are wind resistent all the better.  Some took their ski hats if they had one and that worked well.  The red coats have hoods but they are not ideal once you get on shore or for turning your head sideways.

4.  Our ship was the "Corinthian" and the staff, rooms and food were wonderful  We were on one of the upper floors with a private deck.  The patio door made it convenient for taking pictures or just watching the wild life that was announded on the speaker system.  This ship is exactly what it should be - perfect for Antarctica with a luxurious touch.

5.  Boots - my boots worked well even though I have a narrow foot.  I just wore two pairs of thick wool socks and put a pair of inserts in the bottom to be more comfortable and warm.  Getting the boots off and on as many as three times a day can be a trial.  The staff will help you but it was helpful to wear down to the dressing area either crocks or whatever you can get off and on fast.  If you have some slippers that are more or less water resistant on the bottom then take them.  That will speed the process.

6.  Waterproof pants - yes you will need them as they cover your boots and keep your pants from getting wet on landings.   NOT ski pants as some have suggested.  One gal even bought some in Ushuaia after our PD said you needed them to be WATERPROOF.  If you get a big wave from the wind you will get wet.  They also cut the wind when you are out in the zodiacs and on shore.   I bought the ones GCT suggested.  They were great, weighed little, and packed easily.

7.  I would take a good camera if you like to take pictures.  Preferably one with an adequate zoom for those once in a lifetime shots.  My husband got some great shots of whales and seals with his camera.  Remember this is a once in a lifetime trip for most of us and you will want to remember what you saw and experienced.

8.  The dreaded Drake:  We were very lucky - just a few hours of somewhat rock and roll both ways.  Our Captain was thrilled because we made such good time, returning in nearly smooth waters that we were able to see "Cape Horn".  The captain had never been there before and was taking lots of pictures.   

9.  Sea sickness or not:  My husband is prone to sea sickness, so he wore the patch during the Drake crossing.  I am not prone to sea sickness but just to be  safe, I used the magnectic wrist bands and initially took the Bonine meds.  Which worked I couldn't say because we were so lucky in the crossing.  Our PD said - you will either be sick or very sick, so that may be more the norm.

Lastly, pack well, get on the plane and don't worry.  You will experience what only 30,000 people a year are able to do.  It is  hard to describe what you will see, JUST GO!

 

 

Author: mertziek

Joined: 9/2/2010
Posts: 34
Traveler Since: 2010

March 09, 2014

Definitely take a walking stick.  The trails are slippery, very uneven and narrow so the poles help maintain your balance.  There were times I could have used two.  They also worked good for getting up to the shore after you disembark the zodiacs.  I would say the majority of people had at least one on our trip.  As to the gloves, I bought the surf caster gloves with the split finger and ended up just wearing my liners all of the time but we had extremely calm conditions for the 4 days we were in Antarctica and never had to worry about my hands getting wet.

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