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What is it like: travelling to the polar regions on an adventure expedition cruise?

Many years ago my holiday plans fell through and on short notice I was casting around for another tour. My eye fell on an adventure expedition cruise to Antarctica - these were the early days of polar expedition cruises and last-minute space was still a thing. (It no longer is!) Truth be told, travelling to Antarctica had never been on my radar but I figured I'd give it a shot. Turned out the trip was nothing short of spectacular. Sailing to Antarctica truly changed my life. And I have since been on two more expedition cruises - to the Canadian Arctic and South Georgia - and I can't wait to go on another expedition trip!

Everyone I speak to who has been on polar expedition cruises has similar experiences and keeps going back for more.

Ask Theresa from Toronto who has been to the Arctic numerous times. "My attraction to the Arctic really began with my first trip in 2013 with One Ocean Expeditions, sailing along Baffin Island and retracing Sir John Franklin's doomed voyage. Travelling around the Arctic you get a sense of the otherworldly: being a speck in a vast desolate area. When you're aboard a ship navigating to your next destination looking for signs of life and you happen on a guillemot or an arctic tern, lone seal or a herd of walrus on an ice floe or a whale's misty spray or a breaching orca and then you realize the Arctic is teeming with life. So you start looking for polar bears, narwhals or one of the 25 species of arctic bird like puffins."

Gordon from Scarborough recently travelled to South Georgia in the South Atlantic. He reports "the entire trip, from beginning to end, was awesome - the magic of South Georgia is directly proportional to the challenge in getting there, worth every effort. Sitting on the ground with thousands of penguins walking around you, the feeling is breathtaking. It just doesn’t seem that it can be real - the trust that thousands of creatures show that we humans won’t hurt them is incredibly humbling. Walking within 50 yards of 5,000 lb elephant seals with nothing between them and us, appreciating that they are neither afraid nor threatened, is a feeling that alone is worth the journey. And the variety of opportunities to do so many different things every day filled each day to the full - the wildlife, the views, the walks, the history, the geography, the photography and geology, the education, the understanding that we are almost as remote in the world as we can be and the people we met and made friends with made the whole trip an adventure of a lifetime. - I’d love to do it all over again!"

Both Gordon and Theresa travelled with One Ocean Expeditions. Says Gordon: "I plan to go to the Arctic with One Ocean. The trip was well organized and very well communicated as plans altered to take advantage of opportunities presented by rapidly changing weather conditions. The equipment that we were provided with was first class quality and in excellent condition. And the staff were very efficient and attentive and yet they felt like they were friends and at the same time nothing was too much trouble for any one of them."

Theresa found that "most of One Ocean Expeditions' staff have lead interesting lives and are very knowledgeable in their learned field and will offer educational and most enlightening talks. Then there is happy hour before dinner while after dinner there are bar chats or jam sessions. All in a day's life aboard the ship. Small ships like One Ocean's are the way to go as it isn't as intrusive as a 4000-passenger ship and bonds are easily created whereas it might not be on a bigger ship."

Theresa too is looking forward to her next trips: "My next foray into the Arctic will surely be Greenland (eastern side) and looking at revisiting another areas of Baffin Island including Greenland (west). And I am also looking seriously at Antarctica."

Ready to start planning? Visit our Antarctica, Canadian Arctic and Greenland or our Svalbard, Russian Arctic & North Pole page.

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