Cruising Antarctica: Penguins, Icebergs and a World Record

AFF member bigpetebrown recently visited a destination that many of us dream of one day visiting, but very few ever do. This southern continent is home to few residents, but plenty of penguins, whales and seals. That’s right, they visited Antarctica!

There were plenty of spectacular sights to take in aboard the three-week cruise. Departing from Tasmania, cruise ship “The World” set sail towards the Ross Sea before eventually returning to the south island of New Zealand.

Still pinching ourselves after receiving a message on Sunday night asking us if it was too late for us to be able to go on the expedition to the Ross Sea.

Penguins, Scott’s Discovery and Terra Nova huts, penguins, whales, icebergs, more penguins, hopefully Scott and McMurdo bases, more penguins, orca, seals. Did I mention penguins? So begins potentially our biggest holiday year yet.

It was several days into the cruise before the first icebergs were sighted, but there was plenty of good food and insightful guest speakers to help the time pass. There was also a mini-celebration on one evening for the “shortest night”, which lasted barely over an hour. Being the middle of summer, and so far to the south, the sun never really disappeared on this particular evening.

The wait was well and truly worth it though, with some absolutely spectacular scenery in store once the ice continent was reached. There’s nothing quite like Antarctica. It may be cold, but the air is clean and crisp.

Outside it’s cold, but the sky is an amazing blue. Everyone who has been to Antarctica talks about the light down here and it’s true. The humongous mountain ranges in the distance look like they have been painted.

One of the first stops was Cape Adare, home to an impressive colony of penguins.

Gigantic tabular bergs around us as we came into the bay in front of the Cape Adare ‘spit’. Then bits of broken pack ice started floating past covered in masses of Adélie penguins. It was so fantastic. We could see the hundreds of thousands of penguins on the spit and leading up the perilous cliffside. There are close to 600,000.

The first contact with other people was made at an Italian base on the Antarctic continent. Here, cruise passengers were split into groups and taken on tours around the scientific base.

It’s not every day that you get to visit Antarctica, but it’s even rarer that you get to break a world record while doing so! The ship’s passengers were invited to the lobby one morning for celebratory drinks after the cruise ship broke the world record for the “furthest south sailed by a ship”!

The first part of the morning was all about breaking the world record for the furthest south that a ship had sailed.

They sent the fast rescue boat out to find that furthest ice-clear most southerly point and then the ship followed it. At approximately 10:30 we edged up towards the ice sheet. The fast rescue boat was down under the prow of the ship making sure that the bulbous bow didn’t hit the ice jutting out under the water. Three officers, severely under-dressed in their short sleave whites, GPSs in hand, confirmed to the bridge that we had made it to 78 43.997’, a new world record!

This incredible trip report is full of spectacular photography from bigpetebrown, including the photo accompanying this article. Enjoy the full trip report HERE.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]