What is Expedition Cruising in Antarctica?

Hadleigh Measham, Expedition Leader and Program & Development Coordinator, talks about the expedition cruising experience in Antarctica.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Exploring the uncharted frontiers of our planet, Hadleigh Measham, the Expedition Leader and Program & Development Coordinator at Antarctica21, is a true modern-day polar explorer. With over a decade of experience living and working in the polar regions, Hadleigh’s journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. His journey has taken him to the icy expanses of West Antarctica and the far reaches of the Arctic, including diving with beluga whales. Rarely finding respite at his U.K. home, Hadleigh’s life is dedicated to exploring the world’s frozen frontiers and sharing his passion for polar history and the remarkable fauna of both hemispheres.

In this interview, Hadleigh explains some of the aspects of expedition cruising with Antarctica21.

Hadleigh Mesham during an expedition to South Georgia with Antarctica21. Photography by Rodrigo Moraga.

Hadleigh Mesham during an expedition to South Georgia with Antarctica21. Photography by Rodrigo Moraga.

What is expedition cruising? How is it different from traditional cruises?

Expedition cruising involves purposeful voyages to remote and challenging locations. Smaller, purpose-built vessels are essential for navigating these regions effectively. Achieving the ideal balance between vessel capability, technical expertise, knowledge of the crew, and guest capacity is crucial. Unlike traditional cruising, where the emphasis is on the hospitality experience and entertainment, our focus is on facilitating visits to extraordinary but challenging locations. Antarctica21’s expeditions offer boutique comfort with full flexibility and initiative. Our deep institutional knowledge of remote areas sets us apart, delivering a unique expedition cruise experience distinct from traditional cruises.

How does small ship cruising affect the overall travel experience in Antarctica?

In short, massively. Everything happens quickly: transfers, embarkation, expedition procedures…it all leads to flexibility, privileged access, and a relaxed, personalized experience. Creating a purposeful voyage means fulfilling objectives and delivering guest experiences day in and day out. Antarctica21 maintains low ship capacities and a high guide-to-guest ratio, allowing us to seize unexpected opportunities and adjust itineraries based on current conditions. If we know a pod of whales is nearby, we can easily adjust our itinerary to observe them and continue our route with these pleasant surprises. This flexibility ensures a dynamic and tailored voyage guided by the present and future.

How do you adapt the itinerary to Antarctica’s unique and ever-changing conditions while still offering guests a chance to explore?

Weather in Antarctica can change rapidly, compounded by drifting sea and glacial ice challenges. However, these changes tend to be localized. We invest time in monitoring signals of change and leverage our regional knowledge to adapt quickly. Our approach involves continuous adjustments to our long-term plan while focusing on strategically achieving our objectives. Unlike rigid itineraries, we approach our journey like chess, not checkers, prioritizing adaptability over predetermined routes.

How would you describe the guest expedition experience with Antarctica21?

In this vast wilderness, we form a tight-knit group with abundant resources. Together, we listen, share, and adapt, tailoring experiences not just to the group but to each individual. To truly immerse yourself in this world, become an active participant, and shape your unique adventure. We’re more than access providers; we’re avid listeners, inviting you to embrace the opportunity to co-create a profoundly personal and enriching experience through this philosophy.

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