Small ship cruise expert AdventureSmith Explorations, now with an expanded Antarctica cruise program, suggests moving one’s trip-of-a-lifetime higher up on the bucket list, before fuel and airline consolidations become rate deterrents and effects of climate change impact and alter the natural experience.
Why go now? Smaller ships plying this region’s waters are slowly being replaced by larger expedition vessels. As ship sizes increase it becomes harder to provide as intimate an experience with meaningful time ashore for all guests, said Todd Smith, founder and director of AdventureSmith Explorations, who has positioned his team as the international experts in cruising Antarctic waters by small ship.“Antarctica has been ‘discovered’ by mainstream travelers and is on many ‘must-do’ vacation lists. The short season matched with limited departures aboard small ships mean most cruises sail at full capacity. We suggest that travelers book nine to 12 months in advance for the best selection of cruises, cabins and activities. This also helps ensure the best price,” Smith said.
The urgency to travel here now is underscored by environmental threats in addition to global warming: overfishing, invasive species, pollution, exploitation of minerals, oil and gas and even threats from too much tourism.
“People hear reports of declining penguin populations and icebergs the size of Rhode Island breaking off and feel a sense of urgency to see Antarctica now, before it becomes spoiled. It is our hope that industry and humanity will come together to address these issues and Antarctic conservation will take hold to prevent further degradation of the polar environment,” he continued. “It is our hope that by responsibly sending travelers to experience Antarctica in person we will create an army of advocates for its protection and the larger environmental issues that affect Antarctica and the entire planet.”
AdventureSmith Explorations’ recently added Antarctic ships and cruises for the 2015-2016 season fall in line with this responsible travel. Below is a summary of the additions:
The 88-guest Ushuaia at 278 feet is among the smallest ships operating in Antarctica. Because of its size, it can bring guests closer to land. The ice-strengthened, well-appointed polar vessel offers ample deck space and an open bridge policy that invites guests to observe the navigational operations of the ship. A full complement of inflatable landing craft ensures landings twice daily to access by foot wildlife viewing opportunities on the otherwise inaccessible Antarctic coastline. Evenings after dinner, an Expedition Leader helps guests digest what they’ve seen and discusses the excitement ahead. Each trip aboard Ushuaia plans to visit at least one of the scientific stations to get an inside look into the research taking place in Antarctica. Classic Antarctica is an 11-day expedition cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands. The per-person double rate is from $5,500. Departures are from mid-November 2015 through early April 2016.
The 112-passenger, 297-foot Sea Explorer is a small luxury expedition ship offering sea kayaking and trekking expeditions on Antarctic Peninsula Aboard Sea Explorer, a 12-day Antarctic Peninsula expedition. The per-person double rate is from $6,795. Departures are November into February. Before embarkation, the Expedition Team meets guests in Ushuaia, home of Argentinean leather markets and succulent lamb dishes that make Patagonia famous. Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica Aboard Sea Explorer is a 20-day expedition from $11,595 per person double. There are two departures: Oct. 29, 2015 and Jan. 30, 2016.
This 197-foot luxury ship offers all suites for 116 guests. The Sea Spirit features the amenities of a fine hotel while travelling through and experiencing Antarctica in grand style. Last Discovered Continent is a classic Antarctica itinerary that boasts one of the best staff-to-passenger ratios in the business. This is a 12-day expedition with rates from $5,995 per person double. There are four departures between mid-December and mid-January. Audience with "Kings", also on Sea Spirit, is 21 days from $10,995 per person double. King penguins are one of the highlights of this itinerary.
For the 2016-2017 season, Sea Explorer is being refurbished and rechristened as the 114-guest Hebridean Sky and will follow the same itinerary as Sea Explorer. The refurbished cruise ships will offer all-suite, 220-square-foot cabins. Reservations for October 2016 and into 2017 are available for the itinerary Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica Aboard Sea Explorer (in October 2016 rechristened the Hebridean Sky). The rates for this 20-day voyage are from $13,995 per person double.
In addition to the new small ships, routes and itineraries, AdventureSmith has reissued its in-depth Antarctica Cruise Guide to help travelers decide what kind of polar experience and style of ship to book. Also on the AdventureSmith blog, Founder Todd Smith has detailed how to best choose an Antarctic cruise operator, covering things to consider like ship ice class, Antarctic Treaty compliance, experience of guides, operator conservation efforts and trip inclusions, which can vary greatly in this destination.
For the most comprehensive selection of Antarctica small ship cruises available, please see: Antarctica Cruises. For current cruise specials and early booking offers worldwide see: http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/special-offers.