Accepting a dream invitation from Aurora Expeditions, Sam Ballard and Anthony Pearce will be exploring the many wonders of Antarctica on the new-build ship
Five years ago, when we first launched Cruise Adviser as a print magazine, Anthony and I made a pact that if we were ever lucky enough to get the chance to go to Antarctica, we would do whatever we could to both go. It was an immaterial agreement, because the likelihood of us getting invited seemed pretty far off.
Over the years we’ve written about regions all around the world – and have been lucky enough to visit many of them – few hold as much allure as Antarctica. It’s not just us who are fascinated by it, either. The expedition cruise sector is booming. By 2022 there will be a 30 per cent increase in capacity, according to Clia. There is growth from the luxury operators and the expedition lines that have been operating in the region for decades. The growth isn’t surprising. These are once-in-a-lifetime voyages that take passengers to the end of the world, after all.
So you can imagine our surprise when Aurora Expeditions gave us a call and invited us on one of the first sailings for its brand new ship, the Greg Mortimer. It will surprise you less to learn that we accepted.
The 120-passenger Greg Mortimer, named after the company’s founder, is one of the most exciting Antarctica launches of recent years – and comes with a raft of its own technological game-changers, too. The most obvious of these is the much hyped X-Bow, the pointed tip of the vessel, which will see it cut through the Drake Passage’s notoriously choppy waters – giving passengers a much smoother ride. The journey over the body of water between the southern tip of Argentina and the Antarctic Peninsula is also made shorter because the Greg Mortimer will not have to slow down – meaning more time on the Peninsula, while also reducing fuel.
Our sailing will see us leave Ushuaia on November 9, crossing the Drake Passage before calling at the South Shetland Islands. From there we will continue on to the Antarctic Peninsula, to spend five days making landings across the frozen continent. Guests will be taking part in an activity programme that includes kayaking, climbing, scuba diving and snowshoeing. There will also be the chance to do the polar plunge – jumping into the icy water in just your swimming gear…
It’s going to be a phenomenal experience and one that we’re very much looking forward to writing about in these pages. Keep your eyes on our social media channels, too. Primarily to find out whether we are brave enough to take the plunge – and to find out what an Antarctic voyage entails.