Antarctica is one of the most rewarding and otherworldly destinations you can cruise to. Filled with towering icebergs, snow-capped peaks, hundreds of penguins and some of the most gorgeous sunsets and sunrises you’ve ever seen, cruises here are often considered to be the ultimate voyage.
Getting to Antarctica, however, can be problematic, as doing so requires guests to sail across the dreaded Drake Passage. It’s one of the world’s most notoriously rough stretches of water, and I have very distinct memories of the Norwegian captain on my own cruise to Antarctica saying we were “getting off easy” with 26-foot seas and gale-force winds.
It’s a rite of passage – but if you’re prone to seasickness, just the thought of having to deal with the Drake can put prospective guests off from visiting Antarctica. Fortunately, someone thought of that and came up with a solution.
In addition to offering standard, multi-length expedition cruises to Antarctica, Quark Expeditions is one of the few small-ship cruise lines that will let you bypass the Drake Passage altogether.
The line offers guests the ability to skip this turbulent stretch of water with its “Fly the Drake” itineraries. Ranging in length from just one week to 11 days, guests can elect to skip the Drake Passage one way or both ways thanks to charter flights from the Chilean ports of Santiago and Punta Arenas that fly guests across the passage, dropping them off on King George Island, where they’re ferried by Zodiac raft to their waiting expedition ship.
From there, guests will get to explore some of the wonders of the Antarctic Peninsula, including Neko Harbor, with its massive Gentoo penguin population; and Port Lockroy, which used to function as a military outpost and is now a functioning museum and post-office. Then, of course, there’s the scenic cruising through historic sites like the Lemaire Channel.
It might be too late to get in on these expeditions this year (though there were still some spaces for the line’s December 2016 sailings as I write this), but Quark is offering 11 of these “Fly the Drake” departures for the 2017-18 winter season.
Beginning on December 11, 2017 and running until February 16, 2018, these sailings will take place aboard the newly-refitted Sea Adventurer and the nimble, 108-guest Island Sky. It’s small-ship expedition cruising at its best – without all the seasickness.