Antarctica draws the dreams of many and the visits of just a few. Located so very far from civilization, travel to Antarctica is the stuff of hearty explorers, burly men of substance and adventure travelers. Luxury cruise ships and their pampered passengers? Not so much. Until now.
Seabourn has a fleet of small ships that travel around the world to amazing locations in opulent luxury, something we rarely talk about here.
After all, does ultra-luxury cruising really qualify as “travel” anyway?
Probably so when it’s a 21-night expedition sailing from Buenos Aires, Argentina, stopping by Montevideo, Uruguay, then the Falkland Islands before spending five days in Antarctica, running Zodiac landings to a variety of ridiculously amazing places.
OK, maybe that’s sort of traveling.
Agreed, but that’s before continuing on to Ushuaia, Argentina, followed by scenic cruising in the Beagle Channel, then on through Glacier Alley and the Cockburn Channel before a stop in Punta Arenas, Chile, which of course you need before passing through the Straight of Magellan followed by scenic cruising in Canal Sarmiento where the ship passes by the Amalia Glacier followed by a day in the Chilean Fjords.
Do I have your attention yet? No? Let’s press on.
Up next is a day in Puerto Chacabuco, Chile, then on to Puerto Montt, Chile, for the day just before a day spent scenic cruising Reloncavi Sound. Finally, those left standing will spend a day at sea before disembarking in Valparaiso (Santiago), Chile.
Sound like a bucket-list adventure? Operationally, it’s no big deal for Seabourn. Their small yacht-like ships run itineraries from just a few days to a year-long, around-the-world voyage and have had almost all the luxury cruise travel bases covered.
Now, adding to its destination-focused roster of itineraries, Seabourn is heading south. But make no mistake about it; they are prepared.
Antarctic sailings have traditionally been the exclusive domain of expedition ships for good reason. Fortified ship hulls are extra thick and ice rated, a designation that provides an extra measure of safety in what can be brutal sea conditions. This is not a part of the world where luxury liners float around with passengers lining the decks sipping umbrella drinks to be sure, and that’s not what Seabourn has in store for those they take to the white continent.
To customize Seabourn Quest for these adventures, they transformed the marina built into the ship, normally used by passengers for complimentary water sports, to house and launch multiple Zodiacs.
Who is going on these voyages? Seabourn past-passengers who have been asking for it along with first-timers who want to knock Antarctica “off their bucket list,” Seabourn’s John Delaney told Gadling, as excited about the new itineraries as a kid on Christmas Eve. “It’s the one continent we did not sail to,” explained Delaney.
Each Seabourn sailing to Antarctica and Patagonia includes five days of zodiac landings and expeditions to selected Antarctic locations. As a bonus, Seabourn Quest‘s small size will enable the ship to get closer to land, offering unprecedented wildlife viewing and the photo opportunities associated with Antarctic expedition cruising … with a twist.
Also on board, will be an expedition team that makes up a who’s who of naturalists, scientists, and political and historical experts with decades of Antarctic experience, including experts in wildlife and exploration – adventure travelers who have been there and done that.
Each night, they will choose from hundreds of landing areas for the following day, to bring ships up close and ensure that zodiac landings can happen, based on decades of experience.
Award-winning photographers will also be on board to offer digital photography coaching, helping guests capture exciting wildlife images while sharing their knowledge, guidance and passion for Antarctica.
Three 21-day sailings, like the one detailed above, are planned. They are filling up fast and look to be a staple on the Seabourn roster of itineraries in future years as well.
An even longer, 24-day sailing does all of the above plus a stop at South Georgia Island, arguably “as interesting if not more so than Antarctica itself,” added Delaney.
The Seabourn plan promises to be far more than a fancy ship with some extra safety measures slapped on for show too, although they will be running the only all-suite ship in the area. Each passenger will receive an expedition-grade parka (emblazoned with the Seabourn logo) and a backpack. In addition, for those who need the right gear, passengers will have access to an experienced outfitter via the Seabourn website.
So what will it cost to come along?
Prices start at $14,999 per person, a bit over $700 per person, per day.
Yes, you could buy a car for that.
Sissies would buy the car.
[Image credit - Seabourn]