Antarctica cruising adventure: Cruise the frozen south

Island Escapes’ Island Passage. Cruising in Antarctica.
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Singapore cruising.

Antarctica continues to top many adventurous travellers’ bucket-lists. While you’d be lucky to score a cabin on any departures before  this season ends in March, now is the time to look at booking for the November 2016 to March 2017 season – or even for the following year.

Companies that operate cruises to Antarctica include luxury lines Ponant, Silversea and Seabourn and adventure specialists such as Aurora Expeditions, Chimu Adventures, G Adventures, Hurtigruten, Lindblad Expeditions and Oceanwide Expeditions. Lindblad, G Adventures and Hurtigruten deploy their own ships to Antarctica, while other companies charter a range of expedition vessels.

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), which is committed to preserving the integrity of the world’s biggest wilderness area, does not allow ships carrying more than 500 passengers to land in Antarctica – and groups landing at any one time are limited to 100. So while larger lines offer scenic cruising in Antarctica, passengers can’t disembark.

As well as researching what size and type of ship you’d prefer to sail on, you should check the itineraries. These fall into two main categories, sailing from Ushuaia in Argentina: nine to 12 nights to the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula, and 15 to 22 nights that also visit the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. Antarctic voyages are led by expedition teams who have had years of experience in sailing in the polar regions.

Chimu is operating two Antarctic cruises in 2017 that offer passengers the chance to contribute to two important charities – and mix and mingle with high-profile media personalities Andrew Denton and Jennifer Byrne, and actor-adventurer Samuel Johnson. (He famously rode around Australia on a unicycle to raise funds for breast cancer awareness.)

Denton and Byrne have made 11 Antarctic trips between them and are raising funds for MAD (Make a Difference), which supports various causes in South America. Their 12-day Pure Adventure trip departs in February 2017.

Epic Antarctica with Johnson is a 10-day adventure departing in March 2017 – you can join him in a polar plunge to raise money for the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

Chimu’s Greg Carter says: “Our charity cruises offer the perfect platform for conscientious travellers to have the time of their life while offering others a lifeline. Travellers have the opportunity to interact with our celebrity guests who will pepper the cruise with special lectures, trivia nights and special activities. These cruises are unique to Chimu Adventures and offer travellers a true once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”  MEET THE CREW

NAME Patrick Beatson, from Nelson, New Zealand

POSITION Captain, Island Escapes’ Island Passage

MY JOB I am responsible for the safety of guests and crew, and making sure our guests have a wonderful holiday – the goal is to exceed their expectations.

A TYPICAL DAY I check sea and weather conditions each morning and decide whether or not we need to change the schedule. Every day involves calling at one or more ports – we don’t usually sail overnight – and as Island Passage is a small vessel we can anchor close to our destinations.

FAVOURITE CRUISE MOMENT While on a journey from Hawaii to California, I saw a sunset that went 360 degrees from horizon to horizon – it was like being inside a ball of fire. Later that night I saw a torpedo-like thing at the bow, which turned out to be a dophin leaving a beautiful trail of phosphorescence.

FAVOURITE CRUISE PORT Panarea, one of the Aeolian islands north of Sicily. It’s a holiday spot for 30 to 40-year-old Italians, chic but friendly.

INSIDER TIP Don’t be disappointed if it rains when you visit New Zealand’s spectacular Fiordland. The area comes alive with dramatic waterfalls and cloud formations in wet conditions.  TIP

Check the dress code on your cruise before you go – there may not be any traditional formal nights but you don’t want to miss a special event because you don’t have the required jacket or suitable outfit. Just look at the FAQ section on your cruise line’s website. NEWS 

Try before you book

Cruise Express is hosting ship inspections and lunches on board Celebrity Solstice in Melbourne (January 31) and Celebrity Millennium on Sydney (March 29) for passengers who are keen to find out more about its escorted Cradles of Civilisation holiday in October. The 25-night fly/cruise/stay package starts with an eight-day tour of Turkey, which includes hot-air balloon flights in Cappadocia and visits to Anzac Cove and Konya, home to the whirling dervishes. From Istanbul, guests will board Celebrity Constellation for a 12-night Eastern Mediterranean cruise to Rome, visiting Kusadasi, Rhodes, Haifa and Ashdod (Israel), Malta and Rome. For details about the shipboard events, see cruiseexpress老域名出售备案老域名.

Singapore cruise packages

Cruise specialist ecruising.travel has partnered with the Singapore Tourism Board, Changi International  Airport and P&O Cruises to launch a range of holiday packages on the newly refurbished Pacific Eden during its inaugural Asia season in July and August. Ecruising’s value packages range from seven to 17 nights and include return international flights, hotel accommodation, transfers, tours and cruise. The itineraries cover a good balance of time at sea and numerous port visits in Thailand (Phuket, Krabi​, Bangkok, Ko Samui and Ko Chang), Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia. Onboard pricing is in Australian dollars (no gratuities required) and cruises will feature Australian entertainers. See ecruising.travel/eden

Pandaw goes coastal

South-east Asia river expedition company Pandaw recently bought the 22-passenger motor-yacht Andaman Explorer and plans to offer cruises around the coasts of Myanmar and Indonesia later this year. The ship, which has Carrara marble floors and fittings in its 11 upmarket suites, will be redecorated in “Pandaw style” in Yangon and in 2017 will have a full refit. It has a lounge area, indoor dining room and two aft decks, one for outdoor dining and one with a whirlpool. Two motorboats are carried on board for excursions. Andaman Explorer will sail in Indonesia from June to September and along the coast of Thailand and Myanmar from October 2016 to April 2017. See pandaw老域名出售. DEAL OF THE WEEK 

Cruise Traveller has a 24-night special fly/cruise package with Voyages of Discovery, cruising from Marseille (France) to Athens (Greece) on board the 540-passenger MV Discovery. Prices for an ocean-view cabin start from $7680 and include return flights from Australia, transfers and onboard gratuities. Departs September 1; offer valid until

MORE DEALS 

MSC CRUISES is offering a 10 per cent discount on all its 2016 cruises to teachers. MSC Cruises sails in the Mediterranean, northern Europe, Caribbean, Cuba, Arabian Peninsula, South America and South Africa. Phone 1300 028 502, see msccruises老域名出售备案老域名.

APT’s grand sale, on until February 29, offers special fares across a range of travel styles and destinations. Offers include flight deals on land tours in Africa, Europe, the Kimberley, South America and Tasmania, and fly free and business-class air deals on selected European and Asian river cruises. Phone 1300 196 420, see aptouring老域名出售备案老域名/grandsale.

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