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How "extreme" an Antarctica cruise could be ?

Mountain View
3 posts
How "extreme" an Antarctica cruise could be ?

I was reading many posts here, but is still unclear: aside from sea sickness in the Drake Passage, how demanding the trip is ? I am mainly concerned about landings, is it really a lot of climbing, hiking in extremely low temperatures, etc ? Would it be appropriate for somebody in late 50s, without a known heart desease but otherwise not very fit, whose only encounters with very low temperatures were at ski resorts ?

Boston...
Destination Expert
for Walt Disney World, Orlando, Antarctic Adventures
Level Contributor
9,764 posts
181 reviews
1. Re: How "extreme" an Antarctica cruise could be ?

You have some ability to determine how "extreme" your trip is yourself. On most landings you have the option of staying relatively still and not hiking all over the place if that is not what you want to do. I know on my first landing I was so jazzed by all the marked hiking trails that I climbed up a hill and paid for it the next day with my sore quad muscles. In the end I got some incredible views, but kept me further from the animals so I chose not to ascend the big hills anymore and stick to the flat trails where the penguins, seals, and abandoned buildings were for the rest of the trip. There were people of all ages/shapes/sizes/physical abilities on my cruise, and no one seemed to be overly taxed by the landings. Some people used walking sticks for easier navigation though.

The cold weather is a bit more subjective. I was actually never uncomfortable on land. I did not find it to be much worse than our normal New England winters. I did find zipping around in the zodiacs and standing on deck to be where I got the chills. In the zodiacs I used those little chemical hand warmers and kept my neck gaiter over most of my face and was fine for the hour or two of that. On deck I would just periodically dash inside to warm up or find a seat by the window to watch from inside for a bit.

Walla Walla...
Level Contributor
6 posts
32 reviews
2. Re: How "extreme" an Antarctica cruise could be ?

I'm in mid-60's and in good shape... except for the bladder issue. I did wonder if this will be an issue during shore landings or on zodiac cruising.

Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Perth, Antarctic Adventures
Level Contributor
16,929 posts
30 reviews
3. Re: How "extreme" an Antarctica cruise could be ?

I have been there with fellow passengers in their late 90s who have been far fitter than me !

The shore excursions are as energetic as you want them to be. Some will go off on lengthy hikes and others will stay around the shore line. You are not forced to do anything.

Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Perth, Antarctic Adventures
Level Contributor
16,929 posts
30 reviews
4. Re: How "extreme" an Antarctica cruise could be ?

I have been there with fellow passengers in their late 90s who have been far fitter than me !

The shore excursions are as energetic as you want them to be. Some will go off on lengthy hikes and others will stay around the shore line. You are not forced to do anything.

Bladder issue easily resolved by wearing incontinence pads. But also - Antarctica is very dehydrating so you will rarely find yourself busting. And generally the zodiacs are returning to ship to collect more passengers so there are empty ones to hop in.

Beach City, TX
Level Contributor
41 posts
43 reviews
5. Re: How "extreme" an Antarctica cruise could be ?

On most all our landings, in the Falklands, South Georgia, and South Shetlands/Antarctica, we had some moderate hiking, but as others point out no one was forced to do anything! However, in a number of cases, you had to hike up a moderate hill or two to get close to penguin colonies, so you were motivated to do it, rather than stay on the beach. We saw people of all capabilities, though, and even ones who appeared fairly unfit (eg. overweight) seemed to manage pretty well. It doesn't sound like you will have any issues. Re hiking in low temperatures, we were wishing for some lower temperatures often because we had such good weather that overheating was a bigger problem, so we were shedding some layers at times! As always, be prepared either way.

Re sea sickness in the Drake Passage, you never know what you'll get, but on our 19 day trip we only had one day where sea sickness seemed to be an issue for some not taking their meds. So we worried about it for nothing (but our Scopalomine patches worked well on that one rough day and we kept using them for the entire trip).

Re bladder issues, if you are like me, lay off the second cup of coffee in the morning before that first landing. We were generally off the ship for no more than three hours, and you could return to the ship early if needed.

London, United...
Level Contributor
33,477 posts
78 reviews
6. Re: How "extreme" an Antarctica cruise could be ?

Our ship had a woman in her eighties who used two sticks to walk. Extreme it isn't.

Its a cruise.

If you want extreme, go in a chartered sailing boat. Try Skip Novak.

Queenstown
Level Contributor
106 posts
9 reviews
7. Re: How "extreme" an Antarctica cruise could be ?

chasrob9945 - great points - I have seen a variety of people manage longer/rough walks in Antarctica - motivated by a view, some wildlife and even just pure emotion :)

peterscot - I have seen an 80 year old with two sticks 'outwalk' an unfit 40 year old on one landing!! Nice!

anonymous928 - neck gaiter is a must - and multiple layers to be able to regulate body temperature - good call there.

Mike P - IMHO the most 'extreme' part of a voyage can be the time at sea when crossing the Drake, or traveling through the Southern Oceans below NZ. Prepare yourself for this in terms of sea-sickness. But other than that I wouldn't say it is 'extreme' - you are on a commercial tourism vessel of which most have done dozens of voyages with experienced staff.

The onboard staff should give you a good briefing on what conditions you will experience once at the continent - from landing attire/boots, clothes required for the landing, toilet facilities which are/aren't on offer when ashore. Most take a small backpack ashore for a landing - take a few extra bits and bobs to keep warm. You can usually get a zodiac back to the ship if you are getting too cold - leaving the 'extreme-ists' to battle the cold for a bird sighting or a photo opp ;)

I hope you are able to book and it is the trip of a lifetime for you, and that any worries of cold/terrain doesn't stop you.

On the toileting note - I know some NZ/Australian subAntarctic islands require passengers to take pre-made 'toilet-bags' with them as the islands are very pristine places and are being treated as such. Some of the landings on these islands have you ashore for a whole day.

Tucson, Arizona
1 post
8. Re: How "extreme" an Antarctica cruise could be ?

My husband and I just returned from a cruise on the Azamara Quest to Uruguay, the Falkland Islands, Antarctic Peninsula and Argentina. We are both in our 60s and had no problems at all. The cruise ships are very comfortable (easily negotiable) and you can select land excursions that suit your needs (e.g., length of time away from the ship, amount of walking required). And don't worry about cold weather if you go during Antarctica's summer, December-February. Just take thermal underwear, a good jacket, a warm hat and a wool scarf. Dress in layers because, in fact, we were often too warm. By the way, we would very highly recommend Azamara's cruise to Antarctica. You should go. You will love it.

Edited: 05 February 2013, 10:13
9. Re: How "extreme" an Antarctica cruise could be ?

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