(through the porthole – onboard the Ocean Diamond en route to Antarctica)
If you ask someone what frustrates them most about their daily life, chances are they will respond with “there are not enough hours in the day”. Ironically, when that same person prepares for an expedition cruise to Antarctica, chances are one of their first questions will be “will I be bored during the sea days?”
Most of us are not very good at slowing down and making the most of the moment we are in. But an expedition cruise to Antarctic not only allows you to slow down, it insists upon it.
Regardless of the itinerary you have chosen, you will find yourself at sea for at least two consecutive days, more than once. You will not see land and you will not be exploring the area in a zodiac – you will be on the ship all day and all night and you will repeat this the next day. This is an expedition cruise, not a typical ocean liner cruise of the Caribbean. So what exactly are you going to do?
I came prepared. I loaded up my Kindle with books I’ve been meaning to read, I added the TV shows and movies I hadn’t had time to watch at home on my iPad, I had a TV in my room and I brought my laptop to do some writing. In the end, I didn’t switch my Kindle on, my iPad stayed in my bag, my TV remained off and the only writing I did was scribble a few notes of things I didn’t want to forget about.
I found myself saying the same thing on the ship that I say constantly at home: “there are not enough hours in the day”.
A typical day at sea
Nothing is mandatory on a sea day except for the occasional safety briefing or biosecurity vacuum and inspection, so how you choose to spend a day at sea will depend on your own personal interests. Some of your choices may include:
- Enjoy learning more about the environment you are travelling through at one of the lectures given in the comfortable lecture theatre. There are usually 3-4 a day to choose from and could be given by an historian, marine biologist, ornithologist, photographer or other specialists who are part of the expedition crew (if you are lucky, it could even include a Penguinologist!)
- Enjoy being alone without feeling lonely. The ship is small enough to not feel like an ocean liner but large enough to provide plenty of space to be on your own when you need it.
- Breathe in the fresh sea air out on deck and let your mind wander as you gaze out at the seemingly endless stretch of water
- Take advantage of the Bridge’s ‘open door policy’ and join the crew as they navigate the ship through Antarctic waters.
- Being at sea doesn’t mean there is nothing to see – quite the opposite. Photographers will enjoy the opportunity to shoot a vast array of sea birds, seals and penguins swimming alongside the ship, whales existing in their natural habitat and possibly sea ice and icebergs
- Visit the well-stocked polar library to learn more about Antarctica or to borrow a DVD that you can watch in your cabin
- Join other pre-breakfast early risers for a coffee in the Bar Lounge or catch up with friends later in the day with snacks and afternoon tea.
- Relax in your cabin with a book, movie or even a nanna nap!
- Sip a drink at the open bar as you enjoy the outside scenery from the warmth of the ship’s interior
- Do a little souvenir shopping in the small but well-stocked Polar Boutique
- Join a yoga class, work out in the small gym or even have a massage
- Play scrabble, chess, cards or share photos and stories with new friends in the Bar Lounge or in the Observation Deck
- Enjoy one of the after-dinner entertainment options: a movie in the lecture theatre, a movie or documentary on your cabin TV, drinks in the bar after a short and entertaining ‘bar talk’ antecdote by one of the crew, shooting sunset out on deck, or an early night
Embrace the ‘down time’ at sea by taking the opportunity to explore new interests or to simply spend time on the things you enjoy that get neglected in the hustle and bustle of daily life at home.
Kellie travelled through the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica for three weeks in Dec 2012 & Jan 2013 with Quark Expeditions and is sharing this experience in a four-part series here at We Said Go Travel.
For more Antarctica stories and photographs, visit her at Destination Unknown.