“The Evolving Shipboard Eco-traveler”
Bored with the common place, usual hum-drum of daily life? Shopping for another reality? Well, look no further! Most of us live and play on terra firma. We rarely go swimming, though we embrace an aqueous 71.5% liquid composition. You’d think we’d crave being in the water! Or at least ON the vast majority of the planet’s surface, mirroring our volume of H2O. So, DO something different! Yes, research an Arctic holiday getaway on the saltwater surfaces of famous world explorers!
Checking online, there are many different styles of boat travel. Which one is for me? What areas are intriguing? Do you like the cultural, or natural history, or both? Well, how much time and resources do you have? Would you prefer a large group of people or a smaller size group? So, you’ve been to the temperate areas and the tropical ones too. Now, it sounds like you need to go to the polar regions. This is where you will find far fewer (if any) large cruise ships and more expedition style ships. Many of these will be ice-strengthened and/or ice-breakers.
Shop around for the cruises that interest you most. Note the location highlights and best time to see what. Check the cabin options and look at some reviews. All this will help you make some informed decisions. Be sure to think through very carefully, the Arctic equipment you will need to be comfortable and document your “trip of a lifetime.”
Now, that you have flown to your trip start, have your luggage, maybe did an included local tour and over-nighted at the closest hotel, you are ready to board the ship. Your excitement is ramping up and you can’t wait for your voyage of discovery to begin! Bussing as a group (or taxing) to the dock in the early afternoon, (your luggage has been already been taken to your ship cabins), you walk up the gangway into your home-away- from-home. Nice hotel and expedition staff meet you in Reception and take your passport (it’ll be kept by the Purser and returned upon your departure) and escort you to your cabin.
Once you have confirmed your luggage got to your cabin, see the clean and nice view space, you are free to tour the ship. Of course, while in port, the bridge will be closed for security, but the rest of the ship other then crew quarters in the lower decks, will be open to your curiosity. Finding your way around is easy, just getting back to your cabin can be interesting. Once everyone is on board and before the ship can sail, a mandatory safety briefing must be attended by all guests. Primarily, this meeting covers the “Life boat Drill” including the donning of life jackets and meeting, with roll call at the Muster Station. Successful completion of this activity, now its time for “setting sail” and the taking of photos of leaving the land, always an exciting time for all! After a long day, its nice to go meet many new people from around the world (maybe 16 countries or more represented) and enjoy a delicious dinner with beautiful scenery passing by the dining room windows. Its been a very long day, so you won’t stay up too late this night. Tomorrow is a big dayof discovery!
Somewhat “jet-lagged” you make your way amidst a modest ship roll, to the bar for your favorite morning “jump-start” beverage. You will find them all here in one popourri station. Sippin’ your first swill, your eyes slowly drink in the magnificent mountain with glaciers stage of your imagination! Wow, this is grandiose beyond your expectations! Seabirds whirl around the ship headed to the cake-layered cliffs, where thousands of their kindred spirits perch on tiny, precipitice ledges andcall caphonically. You are the only one up this early and so you can’t believe you eyes, when a scycle-shaped fin surfaces on a long, brown-grey back in the water quite near! Nearby, you notice a chart of Baleen Whales and see that the probable size, blow shape and the falcated dorsal fin may equal the Minke Whale. Good job, on your first solo wildlife sighting field ID! Well, its time to go have breakfast and on the way you read the “Daily Adventure Program:” 0900 hours-Zodiac Briefing followed by boot hand-out. 1000 hrs. Wildlife Viewing Briefing. Both are also posted as “mandatory”. Sure seems to be a lot of meetings we have to go to. On the first two days, this is true, but if you are going to go ashore and see all the exciting things you came for, this is necessary. Of course, it will be entertaining too. With people from so many different places and many who have never toured in this style, there will be a lot of curious questions and comments! And there will be those who have done expedition type travel before helping out and/or after the Expedition Leader to verify the itinerary with what their travel agent told them. Usually, the leader will introduce his or her staff at this time, who will say some things about themselves and you can find their bios posted too.
Depending on the focus of the voyage (some are charters with specific goals like Polar Bear viewing) or the weather, ice conditions, ship scheduler openings, will dictate whether we can only ship cruise, zodiac cruise of actually make a landing to see the local natural and cultural history. Most leaders will rotate the zodiac departures in deck or group rotations and have different distances and rates of shore hikes available for varying abilities. Hiking groups must stay close to their rifle and flare gun carrying staff at all times for safety in bear country. Also, guidance on “closed areas”, such as historic sites, fragile zones and wildlife breeding areas is important. Plus, its always fascinating to listen to these passionate Naturalists talk about the “zoetics” of these special landscapes. Always go ashore, attend lectures and recap/briefings to better appreciate the amazing places you will fall in love with. Also, be open to making new friends, as you never know what doors to “new ways of thinking and being” might change your life! Enjoy each moment and you too, will become addicted to this special way of immersion learning about the Polar Places on our Arctic cruises and Antarctica expeditions.