Icecapades in Antarctica

Solo woman traveler finds unforgettable beauty, adventure on the seventh continent

Corine Freeman, first-time traveler from McDonough, Georgia may have traversed the sands of Africa, photographed the onion domes of Russia, and admired the monuments of Rome and temples of Korea up close. But until this winter, Corine had two continents to check off on her world list: South America and Antarctica.

Fin del mundo literally means “end of the world,” but for Corine Freeman and fellow travelers on Antartica’s White Wilderness, it was just the beginning, in Ushuaia, Argentina.

“I didn’t even know I could go there,” she said of the seventh continent. “But my travel agent told me Grand Circle could get me there [on Antarctica’s White Wilderness], and treated [solo travelers] well. That was the truth. Some people say, ‘Girl, you’ve got a lot of nerve going to place like that by yourself.’ It doesn’t bother me. As long as I have a tour guide and someone to take me through these countries, I’m fine. As long as I have a tour guide and someone to take me through these countries, I’m fine. I think we are here for a purpose, and we’re supposed to go where we’re supposed to go without fear, or hesitation.”

And although she was aware that the turbulent Drake Passage at times provides challenges—and excitement—all its own, Corine said the rewards are worth it.

“There’s nothing else that compares to the beauty of Antarctica. That trip just stands up by itself. It stands alone. You’ll never be able to find any other like it. It’s just so beautiful, it’s something you’ll never forget.”

The natural beauty of Antarctica—including this 10 p.m sunset—blew Corine Freeman away.

When Corine got her pictures developed, the developer, a native Alaskan, thought they were from our 49th state. And although Corine’s traveled there, too, she said nothing compares to the sights. “You can’t compare Alaska with Antarctica—or any other place on earth. It just stands out. It’s an experience different from any other trip you can take.”

Part of that, of course, is the colorful culture of South America . But for landscape and seascape, the beauty of the white wilderness is still embedded in her consciousness. “I’d peer out and I’d see ice everywhere, some whales, and always penguins. I still dream about it now.”

Penguins waddling onshore is a daily occurrence on most departures of Antarctica’s White Wilderness.

Corine and her fellow travelers were able to explore what they saw from their portholes each morning on daily shore excursions—and getting to land was one of the most memorable parts of her adventures. “I loved those Zodiacs—it’s really exhilarating. My daughter and I had looked at the video on the Internet [of the trip], and she said, ‘Mom, are you going to get on one of those things?’ and I said, ‘I’ll try at least one time.’ You could tell the guys driving it really enjoyed it too!”

Photographing wildlife never gets old, even for expedition guides like Oleg.

She said the rafts’ small size made her feel quite secure, and she offered up advice to other Antarctica travelers. Sleeping on the couch aboard the Corinthian made her feel cozy—more like her smaller quarters at home—as opposed to the large bed and spacious cabin. “Everyone on the ship was great, right down to the housekeeper. She noticed where I was sleeping, and she started making up the couch instead.“

Corine was also impressed by her Program Director Berna. “He was so sweet, and I’ve traveled a lot. He was the best guide I’ve had.” Berna gave her some tips when she felt seasick while crossing the Drake Passage: While many travelers use a patch to prevent sea sickness, it doesn’t work for all of them. Sometimes, motion sickness pills work better and the front desk of the ship distributes these pills for passengers who need them. Berna also advised her to keep eating—even if it’s just crackers or dry toast. Never one to let queasiness keep her down, Corine followed Berna’s advice. When she replaced her patch with Dramamine, she felt much better. (For more information about physical challenges to expect on this trip, click here.)

This was an experience that made her stronger, said Corine. “I had an idea it was going to be a little shaky, but I didn’t think it would be quite that rough,” she said of the Drake Passage, where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet. “But I think that kind of made the trip, in a way, because now we’ve got bragging rights. We can all say, ‘Boy, we endured something.’ And no matter how much the ship rocked, I didn’t see one waiter spill a single cup of coffee.”

Corine and one of the many helpful members of the Corinthian crew.

And there were plenty of cups of coffee and tea to be had onboard, where Corine made new friends. Her outgoing nature has helped her on countless trips.

Corine said she makes new friends on all of her trips as a solo traveler.

“Everywhere I go, I make friends with other single people. But all of the couples are always willing to share a table with you at dinner. A lot of women will not travel by themselves, because they feel that if they don’t take someone with them, they’ll be alone. I always tell them, ‘That is not true!’”

Corine said she never felt alone on Antarctica’s White Wilderness, and enjoyed something a little bit different from other trips she’s been on, she said. “It was beautiful, I enjoyed the whole trip. “It was beautiful, I enjoyed the whole trip. But what was also beautiful was my tour guide. In all the traveling that I’ve done by myself, I’ve had people pick me up at the airport and bring me back. But I’ve never had anyone waiting for everyone and bringing them to the counter to make sure everyone’s flight was OK.”

As for the next time she boards a plane, Corine said she will likely be heading back to Italy—though the seventh continent has left an indelible impression on her. “When we would go onshore and stand there and see nothing but ice. It looked like someone had created a work of art.”

If you’d like to learn more about this trip from our travelers, check out this video featuring Grand Circle Cruise Line travelers like Corine describing—in their own words—what made their experiences in Antarctica and South America so memorable.