ACROSS THE POLES

Ad­ven­tur­ers are cruis­ing to the edges of the world

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - LINER NOTES - AN­DREA BLACK

Any­one who has been lucky enough to take a po­lar ex­pe­di­tion cruise, whether it be to the Antarc­tic, or the Arc­tic Cir­cle, will tell you that once is not enough. Head­ing to these fron­tiers like great ex­plor­ers did not so long ago is a life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and thank­fully these days it can be done in lux­u­ri­ous com­fort.

Ex­pe­di­tion cruis­ing has come a long way. It was just over 100 years ago that Ernest Shack­le­ton placed an ad in the news­pa­per for sailors to join him in the Antarc­tic which read: “Men Wanted: For hazardous jour­ney. Small wages, bit­ter cold, long months of com­plete dark­ness, con­stant dan­ger, safe re­turn doubt­ful. Hon­our and recog­ni­tion in case of suc­cess.”

How times have changed. In 2018, ex­pe­di­tion cruises are unan­i­mously a suc­cess, and for cruis­ers it can be an ad­dic­tion. I know ex­pe­di­tion cruis­ers who have been on a dozen or more sail­ings. What’s the ap­peal? Well, not only are they ad­ven­tur­ing to re­mote lands, they are view­ing in­cred­i­ble icy sky­scrapers and eye­ing off wildlife – po­lar bears, seals, whales, pen­guins, puffins. It’s a pho­tog­ra­pher’s dream. As pop­u­lar­ity for this form of travel grows, so do the of­fer­ings.

Here are some of the most in­no­va­tive up­com­ing voy­ages.

GO ABOVE AND BEYOND WITH SCENIC ECLIPSE

There has been much an­tic­i­pa­tion sur­round­ing the launch of the world’s first “dis­cov­ery yachts”, the Scenic Eclipse fleet. The first will set sail this Jan­uary with an Antarc­tic voy­age. Guests can ex­pect to sit back in lux­ury among the 114 suites across five decks. You can ex­pe­ri­ence the con­ti­nent above and beyond with the op­por­tu­nity to dive in a state-of-theart, six-guest sub­ma­rine, which is ca­pa­ble of depths up to 300m, to see unique ma­rine life. The sub­ma­rine has been cus­tom-built for op­ti­mal sight­see­ing with 180-de­gree views. The Scenic Eclipse also has lux­ury sixguest Air­bus H130 he­li­copters, which can take guests into the in­ner reaches of the Antarc­tic Penin­sula to see wildlife up close. There’s also an av­er­age of two Zo­diac ex­cur­sions each day on the Antarc­tic Penin­sula. SCENIC.COM.AU

PO­NANT’S LUX­URY ICEBREAKER

Aptly named, Po­nant’s new icebreaker can cut through 2.4mthick ice floes and will be the first of its kind to carry pas­sen­gers to the true North Pole (at 90 de­grees north lat­i­tude). Itin­er­ar­ies will also call on hith­erto in­ac­ces­si­ble Antarc­tic sites such as the Wed­dell Sea, Char­cot, and the Peter I Is­land.

The ship will be the world’s first hy­brid elec­tric icebreaker mean­ing it can sail on bat­tery power for stints of two to three hours and will be fit­ted with a sci­en­tific lab for undertaking oceanog­ra­phy mis­sions and re­search.

On board, guests can choose from three res­tau­rants, plus there’s spa and well­ness fa­cil­i­ties, and use of 16 Zo­di­acs and two he­li­copters.

Po­nant re­cently an­nounced its 270-pas­sen­ger lux­ury icebreaker will be named Le Com­man­dant Char­cot, in hon­our of French ex­plorer JeanBap­tiste Char­cot, known as the gen­tle­man of the poles. The ship is sched­uled to en­ter ser­vice in 2021 but is avail­able for book­ing now. PO­NANT.COM

GROUND­BREAK­ING NA­TIONAL GEO­GRAPHIC EN­DURANCE

The Lind­blad Ex­pe­di­tions-Na­tional Geo­graphic al­liance has re­leased de­tails of its 126-guest po­lar ex­pe­di­tion ship and it looks to be a game-changer. The Na­tional Geo­graphic En­durance, set to sail on Arc­tic itin­er­ar­ies come 2020, fea­tures the patented X-Bow that re­port­edly af­fords the smoothest, most com­fort­able ride in all sea con­di­tions. It also re­sults in greater fuel ef­fi­ciency and fewer emis­sions for re­duced en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.

Guests can ex­pect sleek, Scan­di­na­vian mod­ern-style de­sign across six decks with an abun­dance of glass view­ing ar­eas, keep­ing you con­stantly con­nected to the scenery. EX­PE­DI­TIONS.COM

PO­NANT ICEBREAKER

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