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Prepare for the Experience of a Lifetime
A vacation to Antarctica and surrounding regions is a study in extremes. This land of contrasts has captured the imagination of curious explorers, adventure-seekers and nature-lovers since its discovery. Read this convenient guide before setting out to discover it for yourself on an all-inclusive A&K Antarctica vacation adventure.
Meet the Natives
The Southern Ocean's stunning scenery is home to equally extraordinary, unique wildlife. Below are a few of the creatures you will get to know on your visit.
- Gentoo Penguin
- Unlike other penguin in Antarctica, gentoos sport brightly colored bills and feet. They measure between 20 and 36 inches tall and are the fastest underwater swimmers. They are frequently spotted in the summertime with their chicks on the Antarctic Peninsula.
- Humpback Whale
- The humpback's distinctive features include long pectoral fins, a knobby head and formidable length (about 53 feet long). Known for breaching and slapping the water, these gentle giants feed in polar waters during the summer months.
- Rockhopper penguin
- Rockhoppers — the smallest penguins in Antarctica — bear striking features, including a black forehead, red eyes and bright-yellow eyebrows. They nest in the Falklands, with chicks hatching in mid-December through January.
- Wandering Albatross
- With an average wingspan of 11.5 feet, these birds can glide for hours at a time. (In fact, they never flap their wings mid-air.) A&K Philanthropy's Save the Albatross project is devoted to helping save these magnificent seabirds from dying needlessly on long-line fishing hooks.
- Elephant Seal
- This is the world's largest seal — one bull was recorded to be 22.5 feet long and over 11,000 pounds. Their name stems from the appendage resembling an elephant's trunk on the males' heads, which they use to produce a "roar" during mating season.
- King Penguin
- This regal bird is the second-largest penguin species, reaching a height of up to 30 inches. Adults boast black heads and vivid-orange ear patches, while chicks sport brownish down. Around 100,000 king penguin call South Georgia Island home.
Antarctica blows away the expectations of even the most experienced travellers. The continent is flush with vivid colors — gleaming white ice, mottled gray stone, sapphire blue waters — and wildlife running rampant. Abercrombie & Kent's Antarctic cruises come equipped with a staff of ornithologists, historians, marine biologists and other experts to make your experience that much richer.
A Day in the Antarctic
No two days are the same on an A&K Antarctica vacation — but every day is an exciting new adventure that brings you closer to understanding the most remote wilderness in the world. Wander shorelines teeming with penguin rookeries, sit in on fascinating lectures by our on-board experts and circle majestic glaciers as tall as skyscrapers. For a taste of what's in store on our journey, read a day's account of an Antarctica expedition below.
- 7:30 a.m.
- We awoke to ice-covered mountains reflecting off the surface of Paradise Bay. We dressed and made our way to the dining room for breakfast.
- 9:00 a.m.
- Our cruise director assisted us onto a Zodiac. As we motored ashore in our small group we had one thing in mind: we were about to set foot on Antarctica. We touched terra firma at the Argentine Almirante Brown Station in Paradise Bay, on the mainland of the Antarctic Peninsula. As we planted our feet on the continent itself, many of us were overwhelmed by the emotion of this milestone. We hiked up the peak behind the station for a view of Paradise Bay, which sprawled out below us.
- 11:00 a.m.
- We re-boarded the Zodiacs for a tour of the bay. Some of us stopped at a colony of blue-eyed shags tending to their young perched on cliff ledges high above us. Patches of ice and colossal icebergs dotted the bay. We came across what seemed like a Zodiac in distress — but it turned out to be a bar full of bubbly. We toasted our continental landing with champagne, reflecting on the incredible morning.
- 12:30 p.m.
- We enjoyed lunch on the deck, scanning for seal on ice floes and watching the ever-changing mountains along our route through the Errera Channel. The executive chef had prepared a delicious hot soup and chili, which we enjoyed by the pool deck so we didn't miss any wildlife sightings. As lunch drew to a close, a call came from the bridge that a large group of humpback whales was feeding up ahead. We grabbed cameras and made our way to watch the show.
- 3:00 p.m.
- Following a briefing by our expedition leader, we went to the deck to watch our approach to Cuverville Island. Upon landing, we decided to simply sit on the cobble beach, taking in the sights all around. Many of us spent as much as two hours watching thousands of gentoo penguin that surrounded us, strolling by and feeding their chicks. Some of us also took a hike up a ridge to a point where we could absorb the immensity of the penguin colony.
- 5:30 p.m.
- The ride back to the ship was bumpy, yet another face of Antarctica revealing itself. After warming up with a shower, we joined our shipmates in the bar, where storytelling and laughter filled our early evening.
- 8:00 p.m.
- After a gourmet dinner, some of us lapped the outer deck, with spectacular mountains wherever we looked. We retired for the night early — we would be entering the stunning Lemaire Channel by 8:00 a.m. tomorrow, and we didn't want to miss a thing.