Monday, October 27, 2008

How To Choose A Trip To Antarctica

Want to go to Antarctica? We did and we were able to make this wish a reality this past January. So I’ve put together, here, a few things to think about if this is on your wish list.

First, a decision needs to be made whether or not to actually make landings in Antarctica or to just cruise the waters. Main stream cruise lines like Holland America and Princess have itineraries that cruise the waters of Antarctica. To actually set foot on the Antarctic continent requires looking off the beaten path.

Assuming you want to be on a ship that makes landings, there is then a second decision to be made and that has to do with the size of the ship and the number of passengers. There is an international treaty of tour operators for Antarctica and it requires that no more than 100 people are ashore at the same time.

Therefore, most tour operators to Antarctica use ships that hold less than 100 people. These ships are small and typically are either old research vessels or luxury ships. Either way, because of the smaller number of passengers, the cost per person can be quite expensive.

The alternative is to go on a larger ship, holding more people, which use staggered landings to bring the passengers ashore. The negative part of this is usually less time ashore. The positive side is usually a less costly trip.

We chose the later, using Hurtigruten for our Antarctic trip. I really wish I could recommend Hurtigruten. They have a great product and we had a wonderful trip. Once we got going that is…..you can read my Hurtigruten Overbooking post to find out more.

If you really feel that Hurtigurten is the right choice for you, my suggestion is to book it through Vacations To Go. I know absolutely nothing about Vacations To Go except that their group made up about 50% of the passengers on board our sailing and following sailing. I could almost guarantee that every VTG client that wants to go gets a cabin.

There’s another alternative that can keep the cost down and that is G Adventures. I have been on three of their itineraries and would not hesitate to go on another. Actually, we seriously considered GAP for our Antarctica cruise but I wanted the longer itinerary offered by Hurtigruten. Live and learn.

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