ACROSS THE POLES
Adventurers are cruising to the edges of the world
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