It has been five years since my vacation in Antarctica, and I still get butterflies in my stomach thinking about my time there. My husband and I work long hours in New York City, but we love to travel and explore the world. In our downtime, we are skiers, cyclists, mountain bikers, divers, tennis and soccer players. We get outside a lot, are adrenaline junkies, and stay super active. So with our time constraints, we needed a company that offered us a way to get to Antarctica quickly. Then I discovered that you could fly to Antarctica, take an air-cruise, and spend your vacation in Antarctica and not just traveling there. And to be honest, the other plus for me was no rough waters crossing the Drake Passage. Knowing all this, we pulled the trigger and booked our trip.
We settled on a date in December for the lure of landscapes. We got a lot more than that – I can’t remember on what day of our air-cruise it was, but we were on the bridge of our ship, Ocean Nova, spending time with the Captain and his crew. All of a sudden, the crew started getting really excited. They had spotted a big pod of whales. They told my husband and me first and then made an announcement to the entire ship. We rushed down to our cabin, threw on our outerwear, and headed for the Zodiacs. We loaded up in the boats with our expedition guide and slipped out onto the blue waters. Orca and Humpbacks were all around. Here we were in our boat with these magnificent creatures. We dipped our GoPro in the water and later listened to the whales calling to each other from below.
The expedition group was small itself, but for me, it felt even more intimate. You could speak to the crew and the Captain. We made good friends with other couples on the cruise. The nighttime discussions from the expedition team covered so many different topics – seabirds, crevasses…we had access to so many talented and passionate people. This experience, it is not about luxury travel; it’s about that access. Our snowshoeing expedition leader was also a guide on Everest, and we hiked with him in Antarctica in a group of four – as the rest of the guests were off busy somewhere else. Just four people, standing in the relentless wind on the last continent.
My vacation in Antarctica from the beginning to the end was well-orchestrated. The welcome night coordination depends on the weather, and if it’s time, you’re out of there by 5am to board your Antarctic flight. The food was superb. Ocean Nova was adventurous, clean, and just what we wanted for our Antarctic cruise. I loved the post-trip package we received from the team that included photos from our trip and a list of all the places we had landed.
Traveling to Antarctica was transformative. I became more aware of my carbon footprint and how we are delicately connected to places distant from our everyday lives. This trip triggered a lot of positive change in my life. Antarctica is not just a place to visit. It’s alive, a part of all of us, and, when you experience it in person, life changing.
Story by, Lauren Lopez Rutkowski – New York City, USA