Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Celebrate New Year's Eve in Style on the Ultimate 'Flight-Seeing' Trip to Antarctica

Take off on the ultimate New Year's Eve adventure this year aboard Antarctica Flights' specially chartered Qantas 747 to one of the world's most difficult to reach destinations.

Antarctica Flights has announced bookings are now open for its unique all inclusive trip, which gives guests the opportunity to take in the vast expanse and breathtaking beauty of this frozen wilderness in just one day.

Only accessible to Australians, this special day flight over the pristine white landscape of the Earth's southernmost continent takes in the icebergs, coastal cliffs, glaciers and spectacular mountain ranges for which Antarctica is renowned.

Quality celebratory drinks plus dinner and a live on board jazz band add to the once in a lifetime excitement of the New Years Eve “Midnight Sun” flight, while expert Antarctic expeditioners are also on board to talk about the polar environment and life on the ground.

For 21 years, Antarctica Flights has taken more than 45,000 travellers on 125 flights across the Antarctic and, according to Phil Asker, Founder and Director of Antarctica Flights, the New Years Eve flight continues to attract the most interest:

“People are always looking for new and exciting ways to celebrate the New Year. Here in Australia, our close proximity means that we can actually fly to Antarctica and back in just one day. It's a once-in a lifetime experience. And what a phenomenal experience it is. Guests tell us that there is something quite special about being one of the first people in the world to welcome the New Year in daylight.

“Unlike cruises, there are no long sailing times, the cost is not prohibitive and because you are viewing Antarctica by air you get to experience its full majesty and gain an appreciation for its size. It's a great feeling to know that through our Antarctica Flights we enable more people to fulfil what is often a lifelong dream, to see this stunning continent in all its glory.”

Antarctica Flights' New Year's Eve itinerary takes approximately four hours to reach the South Magnetic Pole, descending over spectacular sea ice and icebergs and crossing the Antarctic coast near the French research base at Dumont d'Urville.

From there the aircraft flies over magnificent glaciers and ice fields before continuing to Cape Hudson and Cape Washington and the astounding Trans Antarctic Range.

Up to 19 different routes are available to take advantage of the clearest weather conditions of the day, ensuring the best possible views of the Antarctic landscape.

The 2015/16 Antarctica Flight program comprises three departures:
  • 31 December 2015 - Melbourne;
  • 7 February 2016 - Sydney; and
  • 14 February 2016 - Melbourne
There is also a flight on sale for Australia Day 2017 from Perth.

Prices begin at $1,199 for Economy Class Centre and range to $7,999 for Ice Class.

See www.antarcticaflights.com.au for further information or call Antarctica Flights on 1300 633 449.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Antarctic Cruises with Silversea Expeditions


Venture into Antarctica with Silversea Expeditions

Explore the seldom-seen continent of Antarctica aboard Silversea Expedition's luxurious vessel, Silver Explorer, as she navigates through an array of spectacular natural wonders from sculpted icebergs and calving glaciers to native wildlife on a 10-day roundtrip voyage from Ushuaia, Argentina.

Departing on 12 December 2015, Silver Explorer cruises through the legendary Drake Passage before continuing her breathtaking adventure through the Antarctic Peninsula, where guests can expect to be in awe of the natural beauty.  Guests can watch as seabirds glide through the air currents, seals sunbathe on slow-moving ice floes and humpback and orca whales breach the surface.  With Silversea Expeditions all shore and Zodiac excursions are included enabling guests to step ashore Antarctica's vast white wilderness, walk amongst a variety of penguin rookeries and perhaps visit scientific research stations.  All of these activities are guided by an expert expedition team of naturalists, ecologists and biologists.

If weather conditions permit, itineraries comprise of a number of Antarctic islands including: Aitcho Island, home to Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins; Paradise Island, renowned for its stunning scenery and Petermann Island, a geological masterpiece.  Silver Explorer then returns to Ushuaia with guests disembarking 22 December 2015.

Prices are per person starting from AU$15,110 in a View Suite based on double occupancy.  Silversea Expeditions' fares include: all shore and Zodiac excursions hosted by an expedition leader; all-suite accommodation with butler service; gourmet meals with menus inspired by Relais & Châteaux; complimentary wines, Champagne and spirits served throughout the ship; an outstanding expedition team of expert guides and lecturers; and all gratuities.

This voyage is subject to availability.  Terms and conditions apply.  For more information, contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 or visit www.silversea.com/expeditions.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Save A$1500 Per Couple and Stay Two Nights For Free on Extended Antarctic Expedition

Australian polar travel specialist, Active Travel, is offering an international flight saving of A$1500 per couple as well as two free nights in Ushuaia for bookings on an 18-night voyage by ice-strengthened expedition ship to Antarctica this October.

This special offer, valid until sold out, applies for an October 23, 2015 departure and includes a A$1500 flight saving per couple, complimentary polar gear and two free nights' accommodation at Ushuaia, including breakfasts, before travellers embark on the 18-night 'Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica' round-trip cruise from Ushuaia - the most southern city in the world - aboard the expedition ship, Akademic Ioffe.

The in-depth expedition is the longest Antarctic itinerary offered by Active Travel, and guests will be accompanied by Active Travel founders, Robert Fletcher and Christine Pearson, who will share their love for the great white continent. The voyage will take passengers to the Falklands, home to a profusion of seabirds and migratory birds, and then the remote island of South Georgia where thousands of king penguins cake the shores. The itinerary includes a visit to old whaling stations and the grave of history's most famous Antarctic explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton.

The voyage continues south through the rugged South Shetland and South Orkney islands before reaching the coast of Antarctica where four days are spent exploring the great white continent and visiting scientific research stations and historic huts during daily excursions by the ship's zodiacs. The opportunity to spend a night camped on the ice may also be possible, weather permitting.

Including onboard lectures, meals and zodiac excursions, the 20-night package is available from US$14,495 per person, twin-share. Bookings will include two free nights' accommodation with breakfast in Ushuaia prior to the cruise and a flight credit of A$750 per person flight credit to be used towards international flights to Ushuaia booked in conjunction with the cruise through Active Travel.

Other pre/post cruise accommodation and touring around South America can also booked through Active Travel.

Active Travel offers one of the most extensive range of Antarctic and Arctic adventures available to Australians in partnership with long-standing polar travel specialists, One Ocean Expeditions, which Active Travel pioneered in the Australian market in 2008.

For details, visit www.activetravel.com.au or call 1300 783 188.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

PONANT - Last Minute Savings on Antarctica Cruises


Up to 25% off select 2015 departures
Have you dreamed of discovering the legendary "White Continent"? Antarctica holds the promise of a unique journey through an icy vastness where the sun hesitates between day and night. The silence is broken only by the crackling of ice pans or the clinking of ice in your cocktail glass.

For a very limited time, enjoy savings of up to 25% on select 2015 departures. Join either L'Austral or the brand new Le Lyrial on an expedition like no other. Your all inclusive voyage includes your zodiac trips ashore, an open bar throughout the ship and private charter flights to or from Ushuaia.

from: $12,120* pp twin share  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

New Ponant Antarctica Brochure



The world’s only French-flagged cruise line and top cruise line worldwide in polar expeditions for 15 years, PONANT’s itineraries to the Antarctic for the 2015-2016 season include, for the first time, three ships in the region plus an itinerary that includes the Sub Antarctic Islands of Australia and New Zealand.


Exploring the world’s extreme regions in five-star comfort has become a PONANT hallmark.

From November 2015 to January 2016, PONANT has three outstanding Antarctic itineraries offering a genuine polar safari experience to observe the region’s unique wildlife in its natural habitat. Aboard LE BORÉAL, L’AUSTRAL and the recently launched LE LYRIAL, luxury French-flag yachts of 122 to 132 staterooms and suites, designed for polar cruises and complying with the international “Green Ship” label, passengers gain access to protected sites only accessible to small capacity ships, limited in this region to 200 passengers.

Flexibility at all times is the approach that sets these cruises apart, with Zodiac® outings to get passengers as close as it is possible to nature, with time to linger over the region’s most emblematic sites. At any moment the ship may alter its course to admire the acrobatics of a humpback whale or land passengers on a beach to meet a particularly impressive penguin colony. It is a unique experience made all the more interesting by renowned South Pole specialists who are only too delighted to share their views and passion for these polar lands which they have been roaming for years.

Voyage examples: (current pricing, subject to increase)

Emblematic Antarctica - Le Lyrial / Le Austral

Complete immersion in the vast white world of the Antarctic Peninsula, discovering the tabular icebergs and drifting pack ice where fur seals and colonies of Gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguins live.

Ushuaia - Ushuaia (11 days): 8 departures from November to January, including New Year Cruise
From 9060 AUD per person (direct flights and transfers Buenos Aires/Ushuaia included) plus $750 Safety and Port taxes

The Great Adventure: The Peninsula & South Georgia - Le Lyrial

Essence of the Antarctic Peninsula’s white landscapes and discovering of South Georgia with its imposing glaciers and black sandy beaches, home to vast colonies of king penguins.

Montevideo - Ushuaia or v.v. (15 days to 16 days): 2 departures, November and February
From 7790 AUD per person (direct flights and transfers Buenos Aires/Ushuaia included) plus $1050 Safety and Port taxes

The Great Austral Loop - Le Boreal / L'Austral

Highlights of three regions - Falklands and the black-browed albatross, South Georgia and king penguins, plus the majestic icebergs of the North Antarctic Peninsula - make for an unforgettable journey.

Ushuaia - Ushuaia (14, 15 and 16 night options): 4 departures November and December 2105
From 9970 AUD per person (direct flights and transfers Buenos Aires/Ushuaia included) plus $1125 Safety and Port taxes

The Sub Antarctic Islands of Australia & New Zealand - Le Soleal

Extraordinary in their primitive beauty, mostly of volcanic origins and less icy than their ‘sister islands’, this rarely visited and protected region abounds in marine, airborne and terrestrial bio-diversity, earning UNESCO World Heritage status. “The Galapagos of the Southern Ocean”.

Christchurch - Melbourne (15 nights): 1 departure in December.

From 7080 AUD per person plus $1125 Safety and Port taxes

Online Brochure

Link to new Collection - Australian version:
ANTARCTICA CRUISES: December 2015 – February 2016.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Opinion: Shokalskiy stranding to boost interest in Antarctic tourism

Passengers disembark from a Chinese helicopter during the rescue (Yahoo!7)

"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success." – Ernest Shackleton

It may seem like a contradiction, but the recent rescue of 52 stranded scientists and passengers from the beleaguered Akademik Shokalskiy near Mawson’s Huts will surely lead to a surge in enquiry from would-be adventurers.

Ernest Shackleton’s famous century-old recruitment advertisement bears testament to the attraction of danger, even possible death, in the quest for adventure and discovery.

If you believe the advertisement as fact (many don’t) the story goes on to tell of more than 5000 hopeful applicants applying for the few places available.

More recently, Prince Edward (as seventh in line to the British throne and chairman of the Duke of Edinburgh Award) commented on the tragic death of schoolboy, David Iredale, who died in December 2006 in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, while accepting the Duke’s challenge.

"All the trustees were convinced that (Iredale’s death) was the end of it, that it (the Award) would never go any further," Prince Edward said. But the publicity had a surprising reverse effect. In the days following the news, enquiries skyrocketed.

"Suddenly the award, which was new and its reputation among young people was: 'Wow, this is serious. You could die doing this.'

"The sense of adventure, the sense of excitement, that it gave you that sort of risk element, the sense that it (death) is possible,” said the Prince, perhaps a little insensitively.

About the same time (November 2007), in another part of Antarctica, the famous MV Explorer (aka ‘the little red ship’) originally commissioned by Lars Eric Lindblad in 1969, hit multi-season ice, punched a “fist-sized” hole in its double hull and sank. Fortunately without loss of life or injury to any of the 154 passengers, but the circumstances were hairy nonetheless.

Now, I’ve never been able to substantiate this, but I heard from sources close to the action that Bruce Poon Tip (high profile owner of the ship and then GAP Adventures, now G Adventures) was justifiably concerned about how the fallout from the event would effect his otherwise highly-respected business.

But join the dots and you’ll see what I mean. Instead of scaling back or closing down his cruise department, GAP rushed to find a replacement vessel (M/S Expedition) to fill both the existing forward bookings and waves of new enquiry.

Let's not forget this time last year, solo yachtsman, Alain Delord, was rescued by the luxury expedition ship Orion, north of the Shokalskiy's current position. While the publicity was similarly enormous, not all passengers appreciated the expensive detour.

Other recent Antarctic and expedition cruise dramas: Polar StarOrion II : NG Sea Lion : Marco Polo : MV Ushuaia : Ocean Nova

Already there are signs that existing expedition cruise operators are sensing an approaching tsunami of enquiry.

Stewart Campbell began his career as an Antarctic expedition leader in the early 1990s and is intimately familiar with the region where the Akademik Shokalskiy found itself beset. He was also involved in a similar rescue in the region almost 20 years ago. Campbell now runs his own online expedition cruise agency, ExpeditionsOnline.com

“Traffic to my site spiked 100-fold as the news broke,” says Campbell, whose company is an agent for the operators of Akademik Shokalskiy and dozens of other similar vessels, “that traffic has settled down now, but still remains at 10 to 20 times what it was prior to the event.”

Other expedition cruise agencies and operators are likely to be experiencing similar surges in web traffic. The sales conversion ratio of that traffic is yet to be determined, but bookings are sure to grow.

When one thinks of ships and ice, it automatically raises comparisons to the RMS Titanic disaster where more than 1500 passengers perished in the icy waters due to inadequate safety procedures – among many other factors.

In a scene reminiscent of Shakleton's Endurance, Akademik Shokalskiy
is beset by ice in Commonwealth Bay.

“There are always risks in expedition travel, but the Shokalskiy, her crew and the voyage organisers are all extremely experienced and I would certainly say those risks were calculated and 99 times out of 100 the ship should have had no issues in fulfilling the expedition itinerary,” explains Campbell. “It was just an unfortunate combination of circumstances with wind, ice breakouts and nature's power!

“People contemplating a trip to Antarctica should not be put off - the vast majority of cruises to Antarctica explore the Peninsula area which has far lighter or zero sea ice coverage during the summer. Risks of being trapped in ice like this are really very minimal.”

But do prospective adventurers really want the path of least risk? Maybe the wild and unpredictable seas around East Antarctica and Mawson’s Base at Cape Adare are just the ticket? Time will tell, but one thing is for certain, the profile and demand for expeditions to Antarctica will not be harmed one bit.

Roderick Eime is a specialist expedition cruise writer and has been sailing aboard the world’s fleet of small adventure vessels since 1998. He travelled to Mawson’s Huts in 2010, just before ice made future landings impossible. He is the editor of The Adventure Cruise Guide (www.adventurecruiseguide.com) and webmaster of www.expeditioncruising.com

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Luxury Seabourn Quest voyage to Antarctica

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Luxury Journey to the Seventh Continent

Cruise from colourful Valparaiso in Chile to the flamboyant Buenos Aires in Argentina on board the elegant  Seabourn Quest, part of a luxury expedition cruise package now available from cruise specialist ecruising.travel.

The voyage departs on December 20 and includes extensive scenic cruising through Reloncavi Sound, Gulf of Corcovado, Chilean Fjords, Amalia Glacier, Canal Sarmiento, Glacier Alley and Beagle Channel.

A highlight of this special cruise is the five day Antarctica experience, which consists of five planned Antarctica landings via Zodiacs that hold a maximum of 100 people. This ensures guests receive an up close and personal experience ashore exploring the spectacular landscape and wildlife.

On-shore visits will also be made at Puerto Mont, Castro and Punta Arenas in Chile, Ushuaia in Argentina, Grytviken in South Georgia and Montevideo in Uruguay. Whilst on board you can take part in special guest lectures, photography workshops and other exclusive amenities and activities to enhance your cruising experience.

The package also includes return economy air fares from Australia, three nights at the Ritz Carlton Santiago, three nights at the Alvear Palace Buenos Aires, 24 night Seabourn suite accommodation, all gourmet meals and complimentary open bar on board, Santiago and Buenos Aires city tours, air and port taxes as well as all airport transfers.

Prices start from $21,799 per person twin share for Sydney, Gold Coast and Perth passengers, from $22,129 from Adelaide and from $22,149 for Melbourne passengers. Prices are subject to change due to the airfare component of the package.

The voyage is on sale until February 28. For more details contact ecruising.travel on 1300-369-848 or visit www.ecruising.travel