Arctic and Antarctic Basecamp Cruises – Choose Your Own Adventure
There’s such an astonishing variety of activities to choose from when planning an Arctic trip or Antarctic cruise that it might become a bit overwhelming. How do you choose just one voyage over another when you want to experience everything?
Happily, you don’t have to give up one activity for another. Oceanwide Expedition’s Basecamp Cruises have you covered.
Each voyage uses one of our main ships (Plancius or Ortelius) as a main hub and from there passengers are able to launch into any one of a variety of activities, all of which are included (except polar diving).
The Plancius or Ortelius anchors in a sheltered area where it stays for up to two days, acting as the cruise’s headquarters, within easy Zodiac travelling distance to the shore. Once the ship is anchored it’s up to you how you want to spend your day!
Each activity is led by trained and certified experts in their particular field. Whether you’re a novice or a Polar Pro, you’re sure to find some activity (and most likely, more than one!) that will excite you.
As an added bonus, we provide you with rubber boots that are free to use during your off-ship undertakings. Speaking of activities, let’s take a look at what’s available:
Zodiac Cruises and Ship-to-Shore Journeys
Zodiacs are rubber pontoon boats that we use for 2 major activities.
The first activity is for shoreline cruises. The boats, driven by experienced excursion leaders, zip along the shorelines, giving you the chance to take in icebergs, the stark rugged beauty of the Polar Region, land-based wildlife, and during very special moments, they allow you to give up close and personal hellos to a whale or two.
Also, they move faster than polar bears, which is always a plus.
The second main use for Zodiacs is to get passengers from their basecamp ship to the shore. Everything you care to do once ashore - photography, mountaineering, hiking, saying hello to penguins and seals, or tickling polar bears (we don’t recommend the last one) is made possible via these zippy little boats.
Make sure you bring waterproof outer-wear, you may get splashed!Zodiac cruising | © Mellany van der Hulst-Oceanwide Expeditions
Whether you’re a novice photo-bug or a seasoned pro, our Arctic and Antarctic cruises offer a vast panorama of beautiful and interesting subjects to capture.
Keeping each particular photo outing to about 20 people so you have individualized attention, our photo expert starts out with an on-board course in camera mechanics and shot composition.
Once you’re able to tell the front end of your camera from the back, it’s a quick Zodiac trip to the shore where you’ll have plenty of opportunity to put what you’ve learned into practice. Many of the fantastic photos you see on our site have come from people who attended one of our cruises.
If you’re a more experienced photographer you’re welcome to bring some additional lightweight equipment ashore. If you’re not sure if your gear is going to take up too much room on our Zodiacs drop us a note and we’ll see what we can do for you. Also, make sure to bring waterproof bags or containers – Zodiac rides are not always dry environments!
Photography | © Arjen Drost-Oceanwide Expeditions
Snowshoeing and Hiking
If you’re looking to be a little more physically active on your Antarctic or Arctic cruise we offer walks of different levels of endurance.
In the Antarctic we usually offer 2-3 hour landings twice a day. For the Arctic voyages we offer one or more full-day hikes (5-7 hours) that come with a packed lunch.
If you take a voyage that’s early in the cruise season there may still be some deep-ish snow to deal with, which means it’s time to break out the snowshoes. The snowshoes are very easy to use, they fit your free rubber boots, and most importantly, they’re fun.
Snowshoeing | © Sandra Petrowitz-Oceanwide Expeditions
Ramping up on the physical activity meter, we come next to kayaking. Our cruises usually offer about 2 kayak outings a day for up to 14 people at a time (we limit the number of people so our safety spotters are able to keep an eye on everyone).
We’ll provide you with single or double-seat kayaks, neoprene wetsuits, and life vests. You provide the muscle.
Kayaking | © Sandra Petrowitz-Oceanwide Expeditions
Mountaineering excursions are provided for those passengers who really want to get their hearts pumping. A qualified mountaineering guide leads up to 12 Antarctic cruise passengers per excursion (up to 6 mountaineers per rope lead) on glacier walks to higher points of land that reward you with breathtaking views.
While mountaineering experience isn’t absolutely essential, you are going to want to be in pretty good physical shape for this one; it can get quite strenuous. We’ll provide you with mountaineering gear – ropes, carabineers, harnesses, helmets, ice axes, and crampons.
Mountaineering | © Christoph Hoebenreich-Oceanwide Expeditions
After you’ve done all that walking or climbing you’re going to be looking forward to a good night’s sleep. On our Antarctic cruises you can have that sleep ashore under the Polar skies.
Up to 3 or even 4 nights are dedicated to overnight camps. Passengers are taken back ashore after dinner to a wildlife friendly location where we set up tents, returning to the hub ship the next morning before breakfast.
We provide the tents, wind and waterproof bivouac bags, mattresses, and polar sleeping bags.
Camping | © Sandra Petrowitz-Oceanwide Expeditions
Arctic and Antarctic Diving
For the experienced diver we offer the chance to explore the polar waters near your hub ship. Planning on 2 dives per day, our experienced polar divers will lead dives near the ice and into the blue waters on the Polar Regions.
You do have to be experienced diver (PADI Advanced or equivalent) to participate; this is not a diving course. You can see our requirements on our diving page.
Polar Diving | © Miss Scuba-Oceanwide Expeditions
Your Daily Itinerary
So what will it be? Kayaking through the morning, followed by an afternoon of photography? Or maybe an easy hike followed by an overnight camp-out is more your speed.
It’s up to you.
If you have more questions we have this handy FAQ available, more info about individual activities available here, and of course you can always drop us a note via our contact page.