Sun. Feb 25th, 2024

    I spent $5,700 to visit Antarctica. It was one of the most draining trips of my life — but I don’t regret it.

    Traveling to Antarctica proved to be more rigorous than expected, but I don’t regret spending the time and money to go.

    I paid $5,700 to travel to Antarctica in November 2022 with Australian tour company Intrepid Travel.Unfortunately, bad weather canceled the camping excursion and forced us to leave a day early.I still had the time of my life and do not regret going to a place that fully captivated me.

    It has been a year since I stepped foot on Antarctica for the first time — joining a small club of people who have faced the remote frozen desert.

    Some 100,000 people visited last year, and tourist numbers are expected to be in the six figures again this season.

    Visiting my seventh continent had been a dream of mine since I took my first backpacking trip in college. I’ve always enjoyed going outside my comfort zone, having studied abroad in China, driven to the Arctic Circle in Alaska, and volunteered in Bulgaria, so I felt prepared for the beast that is Antarctica.

    I booked my adventure with Australian tour company Intrepid Travel for $5,700, snagging a Black Friday sale in 2019 for a November 2020 departure. Unsurprisingly, the pandemic delayed the trip for two years, and I finally set sail for Antarctica in November 2022.

    I cruised in a three-person cabin on the Ocean Endeavor, a 200-passenger expedition vessel — meaning I had two random roommates. Considering I’ve worked in a hostel, this didn’t bother me.

    Overall, the trip proved to be as physically and financially draining as people warned, and there were disappointments along the way due to Antarctica’s wild weather.

    Nevertheless, I don’t regret taking the trip. Here’s why.

    The cruise was treacherous and nauseating, but I loved the quaintness of the boat

    A chinstrap penguin with the Ocean Endeavour in Antarctica.

    The Ocean Endeavour wasn’t your typical mega-ship that can carry thousands of people, nor did it host a casino or dance club.

    Instead, the expedition vessel acted as our trusty tank as it carried us from the southern tip of Argentina through the treacherous Drake Passage, which rocked the boat for two days straight.

    And the waters were no joke.

    A viral TikTok video posted from my cruise shows glasses crashing and people being thrown around as the boat violently rocked. I was actually there during that moment, and it was as intense as it looked.

    Many people spent the days and nights getting sick, and some even strapped themselves into their beds to avoid being tossed out by the waves.

    The boat hitting the water after a giant wave in the Drake Passage on the way back to Argentina.

    This caused a lot of sleepless nights. But Melatonin and scopolamine patches proved to be my saving grace — Don’t go to Antarctica without a solid seasickness medication; it’ll be your biggest mistake.

    Despite the violent Drake Passage, the smaller boat proved to be perfect for socializing and getting my mind off the rocking.

    I ended up finding a squad of nine other people with whom I spent most of my time — all of whom were similar to me in the way we viewed life and travel. They made the long hours in the remote southern ocean more enjoyable.

    I was able to save money by bunking with other people, and our cabin was huge

    The interior of my room. Excuse the mess, it was a hectic embarkation day.

    When I booked my Antarctica trip in 2019, the price was much lower than what Intrepid is offering today.

    According to its website, the cheapest available cruise through the end of the season is running at about $8,000 per person for a triple interior cabin.

    Demand and fuel prices have contributed to this increase, but the shared cabins are still a lot cheaper than if one were to book a single room, which is currently going for $10,000+ on Intrepid.

    I’ve worked in a hostel, so I’m no stranger to this kind of communal living, and it helped me quickly meet other solo travelers.

    My little Antarctic family: (L-R): Erica, me, Emily, Courtney, Paulina, Nastassja, Joanna, Ashley, Harrison, and Hugo.

    My roommates and I had no issues sharing the space or bathroom, and I think this was an easy way to save a few grand on the trip.

    Plus, my specific triple cabin was designed for four people, not three, so it was one of the biggest on the ship and made the journey much more comfortable.

    Over the 11 days of sharing a cabin, I was also reminded that expeditions like these have no age limit: One of my roommates was a solo woman in her 70s, and she had some amazing stories to tell.

    I didn’t get to camp on the ice, and we left a day early, but that’s the reality of Antarctica

    Taken 25 minutes apart by a fellow cruisegoer, these photos show how quickly the weather can go from sunny skies to brutal snow, wind, and rain.

    Having done a lot of research in advance, I knew my Antarctica trip was not going to be a relaxing vacation, and I needed to have realistic expectations.

    Fortunately, I managed to avoid series seasickness thanks to the scopolamine patches I brought, and I know how to pack for the cold.

    But the rocking of the Drake Passage was shockingly rough. Walking around in subfreezing temperatures, hiking up hills, and getting on and off the Zodiacs also proved demanding, and the frigid air definitely put people to the test.

    But aside from the expected challenges — the cold and the violent waves — Antarctica was even more unpredictable than I imagined.

    Not only was our camping excursion delayed twice and eventually canceled (as was snowshoeing and a few kayaking sessions), but we also had to leave Antarctica more than a day early due to a monster storm forming.

    Intrepid showed us the weather in the Drake Passage, with pink meaning gale-force winds and huge wave swells.

    This cut our time on the continent in half, and I was frustrated because of how much money and time I spent to get to Antarctica. My entire investment in the trip was about $8,000 for the cruise, hotels, flights, and a last-minute $450 fuel surcharge.

    I don’t blame Intrepid, but the constant high hopes and eventual disappointment was an emotional rollercoaster. Fortunately, we were able to lighten the mood with a polar plunge and a little booze after setting sail for home.

    Riding around Antarctica in the Zodiacs made every disappointment worth it

    Intrepid Travel passengers looking out at Antarctica.

    As my little group sat at breakfast on the last day of our voyage, we all went around and shared our favorite moments from the journey.

    For me, simply riding around Antarctica on the Zodiac boats and witnessing the continent’s pristine landscape fully captivated me.

    It’s one thing to see the vast white desert from the deck of the Ocean Endeavour, but it’s another to zip through the freezing southern ocean waters to get within feet of mammoth icebergs and all of the beautiful wildlife.

    I saw everything from Antarctic birds and humpback whales to chinstrap penguins and seals. The serenity made it easy to forget about the cold, wind, and rain.

    A selfie of the author on a zodiac with hundreds of penguins in the background.

    Through this conversation, I quickly let go of any frustration I had and remembered the trip allowed me to make incredible bonds and experience some of my life’s greatest moments — making every single stomach ache and disappointment worth the hassle.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


    Generated by Feedzy