Stories From Antarctica: Why You Should Go to Antarctica Now

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Antarctica is unparalleled, otherworldly, and powerfully moving in a way that is almost impossible to describe. But we’re going to try. A&K is excited to introduce a series of first-hand stories — dispatches, moments, eye-openers — by our guests and Expedition Team about their experiences across the Southern Ocean.

As told by A&K climate change expert and marine biologist Dr. James McClintock from his current research site, Palmer Station in Antarctica

I’m in Antarctica now, and it has me thinking that there is no good reason that anyone who hasn’t been should put off a visit. It is the quintessential trip of a lifetime and I can say with great experience and confidence that it will change you — and in a better, enriching way.

For me as a marine biologist, Antarctica is always about the wildlife, which is remarkable and unreal in so many respects. Just last month, I was along the Antarctic Peninsula on a research expedition and we counted 65 humpback whales in just a few hours time. We saw many feeding and several breaching (leaping from the water). I had never seen such a large concentration of whales.

12 Jan Whale-6127These high populations of animals take some getting used to. One of my favorite experiences is going ashore and being welcomed by tens of thousands of Adélie or gentoo or chinstrap penguins, and discovering the penguins have not read the regulations for keeping their distance. I call it the Disney element; because the wildlife have no history of predation by large animals, they have no fear of us. It’s surreal. Whether for me as a scientist or an A&K guest making their first landing, it’s like being a kid in a candy store.

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Video: What It’s Like to Snorkel in the Galápagos Islands

Located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands represent one of the most magical places on the planet. Where else in the world can you explore an archipelago born entirely of volcanic eruption and interact with wildlife virtually unafraid of humans? And where can you swim with everything from sea lions to sharks and feel completely at ease?

Don’t take our word for it: See this recent GoPro video captured on A&K’s Galápagos Wildlife Adventure for highlights across the various islands we visit, including Floreana, Isabela and Espanola. Continue Reading ›

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Video: An Amazing Polar Bear Encounter on A&K’s Northwest Passage Voyage

Guests aboard A&K’s recent Luxury Expedition Cruise, The Northwest Passage: From Greenland to the Bering Sea, were treated to a surprising number of polar bear sightings — a total of 32 bears in all! The encounter captured in this video with a mama polar bear and her cub approaching ‘Le Boreal’ on Arctic sea ice was easily one of the most incredible and special.

While cruising through a vast sheet of sea ice en route to the M’Clintock Channel, a mother polar bear and her two- to three-year old male cub approached ‘Le Boreal’ at the edge of the ice, until they were about 30 feet from the ship.

“Polar bears have a very keen sense of smell and both were sniffing the air, perhaps trying to figure out what that fabulous smell of bacon was all about,” said Larry Hobbs, A&K’s expert marine biology lecturer and Expedition Team member. “After a while, the cub began to growl in a way that seemed to be signaling his mother that he was feeling impatient. Our captain is extremely sensitive to animals and slowly backed away, leaving them to their polar bear life.”

Larry shared what a gift the experience had been. “Time stood still for all of us on board ‘Le Boreal,’ and what felt like hours might have been only 30 minutes with these two polar wanderers. But it was a half hour of all else in the world disappearing from our minds and hearts.”

Video courtesy of A&K guest Paul M. who travelled on the 2015 Northwest Passage voyage.

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