Uber Is Celebrating Earth Day With Immersive Rides to the Great Barrier Reef, Antarctica, and More

Uber Is Celebrating Earth Day With Immersive Rides to the Great Barrier Reef, Antarctica, and More | Travel + Leisure

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How You Can Get Paid To Spend Next Summer In Antarctica

If you like animals, conservation efforts, and remote places, then there’s a unique job just for you. But, before you apply, there are a few catches you need to know about. 

World’s Most Remote Post Office 

The British charity UK Antarctic Heritage Trust is looking for people to run the world’s most remote post office on Goudier Island in Port Lockroy, Antarctica. The search team is looking for “an individual with a sense of adventure and a genuine love of Antarctica.” There are three positions open: base leader, shop manager, and general assistant. 

The three team members will be in charge of taking care of the gift shop, post office, museum, general maintenance, and counting penguins. That’s right! The charity needs to keep tabs on the amount of Gentoo penguins on the island in order to monitor them and protect their population. Maintaining the gift shop is vital to the area’s tourism industry. Port Leroy typically sees around 18,000 visitors during the summer season. 

The Catch

There are a few things to note before you jet off to Antarctica to work for a few months. The job is 7 days a week, with a few fixed days off every 2 weeks. During that time off, you are not allowed to do anything adventurous, or otherwise dangerous, including climbing, water sports, and glacier walking. The charity wants to relax during the time off, suggesting that you read, paint, cook, or watch wildlife. 

Now to the accommodations. The charity described them as “basic but comfortable.” You will stay in a hut with bunk beds, a kitchen, living room area, and a bathroom, but no shower. There is no running water on the island, so there is no way to bathe. The organization is looking for people who are comfortable not showering for an extended period of time, but can still maintain good hygiene. The organization says that sometimes a visiting ship will offer the team shower facilities, but not to expect that on a regular basis.

One other thing the island lacks: connection to the world. There is no cell phone reception and no internet access, so it will be difficult to communicate with anyone back home while you are working.

How To Apply

If this sounds like your dream job, start by filling out the online application. They are due by April 25, 2022, with online interviews happening in mid-May. The charity is expecting to receive hundreds of applications for the three positions. They are specifically looking for someone who has retail experience, maintenance skills, and leadership qualities. Applicants must be able to work in the United Kingdom (since that is where the charity is based), but they are not able to sponsor work visas. The job runs from late October until March 2023.

Maybe this job isn’t for you, but you still want to experience Antarctica. Here are some of our favorite reasons for visiting the continent. Also, be sure to check out the rest of our travel news.

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Climate Change Is Hurting Penguins Unevenly in Antarctica

Adélie penguins have had a rough time of it on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula, where warming linked to climate change has occurred faster than almost anywhere else on the planet. That and other factors have led to sharp declines in Adélie populations in recent decades.

But on the eastern side, it’s a different story.

“It’s just a complete train wreck on the western side of the peninsula,” said Heather J. Lynch, a statistical ecologist at Stony Brook University who studies penguin populations and how they are changing. “But on the eastern side, the populations are stable and quite healthy.”

Dr. Lynch uses satellite imagery in much of her work, but also organizes penguin-surveying expeditions to the peninsula, the northernmost part of the Antarctic continent. On the latest one, in January, three of her current and former doctoral students did the counting, at islands on the eastern side of the peninsula in the Weddell Sea.

Their work showed that Adélie populations there have changed little since previous counts taken over the last two decades. That suggests that as global warming continues and Adélie populations decline in other parts of the continent, the Weddell may remain an important refuge for the birds.

“It’s a nice confirmation that where the climate has not changed as dramatically, the populations have not changed dramatically,” Dr. Lynch said.

The Weddell Sea is notoriously icy, a function of a rotating current, or gyre, that keeps much of the pack ice within the sea for years. The ice makes it difficult for most ships to navigate. (The Weddell is where the explorer Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance was crushed by ice a century ago. The wreck was found last month.)

Over the years, Dr. Lynch’s students have done penguin surveys from “ships of opportunity,” often sailing on cruise ships in return for giving lectures and otherwise helping out. On the Antarctic Peninsula, those ships usually stay on the western side, and regulations limit shore visits to a specific set of colonies.

The January trip was aboard a Greenpeace vessel that ventured around the tip of the peninsula into the northwestern Weddell. “It’s somewhere that we’ve wanted to get to,” Dr. Lynch said. “A lot of these colonies had not been visited in a very long time, if ever.”

The three researchers — Michael Wethington, Clare Flynn and Alex Borowicz — used drones and hand-counting to determine the number of chicks at colonies on Joinville, Vortex, Devil and other islands.

Hand-counting takes time, said Ms. Flynn, a first-year doctoral student at Stony Brook. Counters identify a specific area within a colony — perhaps a grouping of nests, or an area delineated by the birds’ walking paths — and count all the chicks within it three times to ensure accuracy. At Penguin Point, a particularly sprawling colony on Seymour Island that is home to 21,500 chicks, the counting took two days. (Adélies normally produce two chicks per breeding pair each year.)

“It does get tedious, counting them three times over,” Ms. Flynn said. “But it’s just such an amazing place to be and such an amazing job to be doing.” And the birds can be entertaining, she said, like when a hungry chick furiously chases after a parent demanding food.

Adélies are among the most numerous of the penguin species found in Antarctica, with an estimated 3.8 million breeding pairs at colonies all around the continent. They use their beaks to gather small stones to make nests on dry land. Chicks hatch around November, late in the Southern Hemisphere spring, and the parents take turns guarding them and foraging for food that they regurgitate for their offspring. Antarctic Peninsula Adélies are choosy about their diet: They eat only krill, a small crustacean, although elsewhere they also eat fish.

Krill and ice, or the lack of both, are at the root of the Adélies’ problems on the western side of the peninsula, which has been warming in part as a result of atmospheric circulation patterns originating in the warming tropics. Krill flourish in cold, icy conditions, so as warming has caused sea ice to decline, krill have become less abundant as well.

That leaves Adélies without enough of the food they need for themselves and their chicks. “The fact that they’re such picky eaters on the peninsula is to their detriment, because they’re very much tied to the health of the krill population,” Dr. Lynch said.

Populations have declined by as much as 90 percent in some parts of the western side, and Gentoo penguins, distinguishable by their bright orange beaks, have largely taken over. “They’ll eat anything, they’ll breed anywhere,” Dr. Lynch said of Gentoos. “I think of them like the urban pests of the peninsula.”

As the world continues to warm, models suggest that the Weddell, and the Ross Sea in West Antarctica, will be the last places to become unfavorable to Adélies.

The Weddell has also been proposed as a marine protected area under the Antarctic Treaty, which would further protect the penguins and other life there, from human activities like krill fishing, especially as ice cover declines from warming and the area becomes more accessible. “As scientists, we want to map out where all the important biology is” for that effort, Dr. Lynch said.

The finding that populations are stable “doesn’t mean that climate change isn’t happening in the Weddell Sea,” she said. “It just means that by virtue of the oceanography it remains cold and icy and exactly the kind of place where these Adélies need to live.”

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Ten Pioneering Women of Antarctica and the Places Named for Them | Travel


Eileen McSaveney (left) and Terry Tickhill (right) use a hand augur to drill Lake Vanda, Wright Valley, Antarctica, during the 1969-1970 field season. Water collected during this effort was used to date the lake.
Lois Jones via National Science Foundation

Men had been exploring Antarctica for over a century when the first woman, Norwegian Ingrid Christensen, stepped foot on the continent’s mainland in 1937. In fact, although women were allowed to work offshore, most women were banned from working on Antarctic land until the 1970s and ‘80s. “Many of the women directly involved with Antarctica in the early 20th century were the wives of explorers,” says Jennifer Fought, a geologist aboard the luxury-expedition cruise ship, Scenic Eclipse. “Like Kathleen Scott, who raised money for her husband Captain Robert Scott’s race to the South Pole,” she says, though was still barred from visiting the continent herself due to such reasons as it being too harsh a climate for females, and the inability of women to handle crisis situations. In fact, as an American woman, I wouldn’t have been allowed to freely work on Antarctica until 1969, when the U.S. Navy lifted its ban on transporting women to the Great White Continent.

Thankfully, in the 53 years since, both American women and females from all around the globe have been more than making up for lost time, blazing trails across Antarctica and achieving amazing feats. In 1993, American explorer Ann Bancroft and her all-female team became the first women to reach the South Pole—tucked well within the Antarctic continent—on skis. In 2011, adventurer Barbara Hillary was the first African American woman to stand on the South Pole. And in 2012, British pioneer Felicity Aston became both the first person to ski solo across Antarctica using nothing but muscle power, as well as the first woman to cross the entire Antarctic land-mass alone.

There are also the many scientific breakthroughs made by women in the Antarctic, from discovering a series of active subglacial lakes to initiating the use of autonomous ocean gliders to take ocean measurements in tough-to-reach waters.

Now, Antarctica’s geologic features are starting to bear their names as well. Here are 10 prominent landmarks in Antarctica, and the pioneering women they are named for:

Fricker Ice Piedmont

This seven-and-a-half-mile strip of low-lying coastal land, covered in ice and backed by mountains, along the east side of Antarctica’s Adelaide Island, is named for American Helen Amanda Fricker, a glaciologist and professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, in San Diego, California.

Fricker uses satellite data to study the evolution of Antarctica’s ice loss, including the melting of basal ice (basically, the bottom layers of ice sheets, glaciers and ice caps), and ways it contributes to rising sea levels and climate change.

Using data from NASA’s Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat), launched in 2003, Fricker also discovered a system of active subglacial lakes under the continent’s ice streams. By 2009, she and her colleagues had detected at least 124 such lakes throughout Antarctica (as of 2019, there were at least 400 of them known to exist). These include Lake Whillans, a body of water teeming with microbes that sits 2,600 feet below the surface of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

In 2010, Fricker won the Martha Muse Prize for Science and Policy (now the Tinker-Muse), a prestigious monetary award recognizing the contributions of an individual whose work promotes better understanding and preservation of Antarctica for future generations.

Klenova Peak

One of the founders of Russian marine science, geologist Maria Klenova (1898-1976) earned the nickname the “Mother of Marine Geology” for her work, which included the analyses of Antarctica’s seabed geology through the use of oceanographic measurements. After being turned away from joining several whaling vessels to the continent because of her gender, Klenova took part in the First Soviet Antarctic Expedition in 1955–57. She became the first woman scientist ever to carry out work in Antarctica—despite her male colleagues collecting many of the data samples that she utilized, since women were largely restricted from leaving the ship.

Klenova also helped map the first Soviet Antarctic Atlas, a four-volume tome created by navigating previously uncharted areas of the Antarctic coast, in 1956. The sharp-rising, 7,546-foot-tall Klenova Peak, part of the continent’s Sentinel mountain range, pays homage to this determined and outspoken scientist.

Bernasconi Cove

Located on the Jason Peninsula—a stretch of mostly snow-covered summits jutting east from the Antarctic Peninsula and into the Weddell Sea—is Bernasconi Cove, named for the late Argentine marine biologist Irene Bernasconi. During her active career (1924 to 1984), Bernasconi was one of Argentina’s top echinoderm specialists, particularly known for her studies of marine invertebrates such as starfish, sea urchins and brittle stars. Bernasconi was also one of four female scientists who traveled to Antarctica in late 1968 and spent two-and-a-half months at Melchior Base on Gamma Island, off the northwestern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, collecting deep-sea samples of water, mud, flora and fauna, including over 2,000 specimens of echinoderms. They were the first Argentine female scientists to carry out fieldwork on the continent.

The three other female scientists, all who also have Antarctic geological features bearing their names, are Maria Adela Caría (Cape Caría), a bacteriologist; Elena Martínez Fontes (Cape Fontes), a specialist in marine invertebrates; and Carmen Pujals (Pujals Cove), a renowned specialist in phycology, the study of algae.

Jones Terrace

In 1969, geochemist Lois M. Jones (1934 – 2000) led the first all-female research team from the U.S. to work in Antarctica. A huge feat, as the U.S. Navy, which was in charge of Antarctic field operations, still saw the continent as a place reserved for men.

That same year, these four women from the Ohio State University also became the first of their gender to reach the South Pole. Jones and her team studied chemical weathering in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, one of the few ice-free areas of Antarctica. Through chemical analyses of rocks that they’d spend days collecting and hauling back to their camp, Jones and her team unraveled the many geochemical characteristics of the valley’s ice-covered lakes, and utilized chemistry’s tools and principles to explain that the dry valley climates were responsible for the lakes’ mineral differentiations.

Today, an ice-free terrace in the Olympus Mountain Range in eastern Antarctica’s Victoria Land, which rises from 2,600 feet to a summit of over 3,300 feet, bears Jones’ name.

Bradshaw Peak

Rising upwards of 5,380 feet on the southwest side of McLay Glacier in Antarctica’s Churchill Mountains, Bradshaw Peak honors British-born New Zealander Margaret Bradshaw, a geologist from the University of Canterbury. Bradshaw first traveled to Antarctica from 1975 to 1976 to collect specimens for the Canterbury Museum, where she was a curator. In 1979, she became the first woman to lead a field party deep into the Antarctic, landing at the remote Ohio Range—a 30-mile-long mountain range that is part of the continent’s enormous Transantarctic Mountains.

Bradshaw has studied the continent’s structure and stratigraphy (layering) of rocks from the Devonian geologic period (between 419.2 million and 358.9 million years ago), and was the first person to record fish fossils found in the natural exposures of Antarctica’s Cook Mountains during the 1988-1989 field season.

She served as president of the New Zealand Antarctic Society from 1993 until 2003, and is also the only New Zealand woman to be awarded the Queen’s Polar Medal (1993), a medal awarded to individuals who have made outstanding achievements in the field of polar research.

Tilav Cirque

Located on the northwest side of McLean Buttress in eastern Antarctica’s Victoria Land is Tilav Cirque, a glacier-carved, amphitheater-like depression named for pioneering Turkish astrophysicist Serap Z. Tilav.

Tilav is based at the University of Delaware’s Bartol Research Institute, part of the school’s physics and astronomy department, though she spent multiple seasons on the Antarctic continent as a member of the United States Antarctic Program. Stationed at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, she participated in the deployment of 670 light sensors that, once melted into the South Pole ice, used subatomic particles known as neutrinos to map the universe. Her work was an essential part of the Antarctic Muon and Neutrino Detector Array (AMANDA) project, which operated from 1996 until 2005, and is now a part of its successor, the IceCube Neutrino Observatory—home to the largest neutrino telescope in the world.

Mount Fiennes

Lady Virginia “Ginny” Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes (1947-2004) was both an adventurer and explorer, not to mention a polar radio operator. In fact, Fiennes established and maintained 80-foot-tall radio masts in both the Arctic and Antarctic, often battling strong winds and in temperatures that could drop to 58-degrees-below Fahrenheit. Fiennes is responsible for conceiving, planning and fundraising for the legendary Transglobe Expedition, a 35,000-mile circumnavigation of Earth that crossed both Antarctica and the Arctic Ocean. Fiennes’ husband, British adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, led this three-year expedition from 1979 to 1982.

In 1985, Fiennes became the first female invited to join the Antarctic Club, a British supper club founded in 1929 and open to individuals who have spent extended time in the Antarctic region and have a vested interest in Antarctic affairs. In 1987, she became the first-ever woman recipient of the Queen’s Polar Medal.

The 8,202-foot-high Mount Fiennes, located on Antarctica’s largest island—Alexander Island—is named for this intrepid spirit.

Francis Peak

Dame Jane Francis is the first (and current) female director of the British Antarctic Survey, the national polar research institute of the United Kingdom.

As both a palaeobotanist and palaeoclimatologist specializing in the study of fossil plants, Francis’ collection of fossils on Seymour Island, near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, helped conclude in a 2021 paper that Antarctica’s abundant plant fossils indicate that the continent once had a much warmer climate than it currently does.

The British scientist’s services to U.K. polar science and diplomacy earned her the title of “Dame Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George” (DCMG) in 2017, and Francis is the fourth woman in history (and the third one mentioned here) to receive the Queen’s Polar Medal. A 3,727-foot-tall peak on Antarctica’s Adelaide Island is named in her honor.

Heywood Glacier

British Antarctic oceanographer Karen Heywood has led six oceanographic research cruises (cruises that study the ocean in various ways) to Antarctica over the last 25-plus years. A professor of physical oceanography at Engand’s University of East Anglia, she’s a pioneer in the use of autonomous ocean gliders, a.k.a. unmanned underwater robots. These gliders can take below-the-sea measurements in spots that are often too difficult to reach, all in an effort to examine and interpret ocean-ice interaction and how it relates to the overall climate.

Heywood’s innovative work has earned her a namesake glacier, measuring 11.1 miles long and 1.8 miles wide, on the southeast side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Penden Cliffs

In 1979, trailblazing engineer Irene Peden became the first woman to spend an entire winter at the South Pole. She was also the first American female scientist to both live and work in the Antarctic interior, where she used radio waves to study glacial ice sheets. Peden and her team determined how very low frequency (VLF) radio waves spread over long polar distances by measuring pathways in the ice. They also utilized varying radio wave frequencies to measure the thickness of Antarctica’s ice sheets, and to look for structures buried beneath them.

The Penden Cliffs near Antarctica’s Garfield Glacier and Marie Byrd Land (MBL), one of Antarctica’s unclaimed regions, are a testament to her labor.

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Is this the ultimate Antarctica cruise ship? Our take on Lindblad’s new vessel

Is this the ultimate Antarctica cruise ship? Our take on Lindblad’s new vessel

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I just went kayaking in Antarctica — if I can do it, you can, too

I just went kayaking in Antarctica — if I can do it, you can, too

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Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Clarksville woman heads to Antarctica to complete 7-continent marathon quest

In below zero weather, most people would be indoors, snuggled up on the couch under a cozy blanket with a cup of hot chocolate.

But that’s not the case in Maria Shircel’s world. She’d rather be running a marathon outside.  

The 60-year-old Clarksville realtor is on a mission to run across the world, and Antarctica is her last stop. 

After decades of long-distance running, Shircel has participated in more than 200 marathons in nearly 50 states and at least 20 countries on 6 different continents.

On Jan. 27, she is planning to join the Seven Continents Club finishers list as she prepares to run a 26.2 mile marathon in the coldest, windiest and driest of all Earth’s continents.

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The inspiration 

Shircel came to the U.S. from the Philippines in 1979.

She relocated to Hawaii, and during her time there, she met a woman in her 70’s who looked half her age.

She found herself wondering what the woman’s secret was.

“I noticed she was running all the time,” Shircel said. The woman told Shircel that she loved running through the lush tropical rainforests and valleys of Hawaii, enjoying the view. 

Shircel was inspired to run and bike ride and fell in love with it. 

She moved to Tennessee and ran her first marathon in 1998 in Memphis. She has run more than 100 half marathons, at 13.1 miles apiece, and more than 40 full marathons. 

Whether it’s been a five or 26 mile run, Shircel has been training tirelessly for the moment to complete her seven continent milestone. 

‘If I finish it, I bet I can do anything’

And she’s spent years perfecting her training routine.

“Monday, I have an easy run,” Shircel said.

“Tuesday I work on speed. Wednesday I work on hills. Thursday … I cross-train.” Shircel told The Leaf-Chronicle. She works out every day for at least three hours. 

And she’s been training for the Antarctica marathon for more than a year.

The event has been canceled for the past two years due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In the meantime, she’s been participating in other marathons.

From Brazil to Iceland, Shircel has visited more than 20 countries in her quest. 

In 2018, Shircel ran a full marathon in New Zealand, an experience she described as her favorite so far, despite it being the most challenging. 

“I wasn’t completely prepared,” she said, noting the unexpected weather and running conditions. There were steep hills, rain and snow, and Shircel struggled, but she finished the marathon after seven hours and 16 minutes.

Time didn’t matter. The only thing that did matter was the fact that she’d done it.

“If I finish it, I bet I can do anything,” she said. “It was a wonderful feeling.”

Shircel’s most recent international marathon was in 2019 in Zimbabwe, where she finished in 3 hours and 54 minutes. 

But, overall, she doesn’t run for the competitive edge, she said.

Argentina to Antarctica

Shircel will be one of 200 runners to participate in next week’s marathon. The event is sold out.

She will be wearing several layers of clothing, water resistant shoes, a face covering, gloves and goggles to protect her from the continent’s extreme weather conditions. 

Antarctica’s average annual temperature ranges from about −10 degrees on the coast to −60 degrees in the the highest parts of the interior. 

Shircel left the U.S. on Jan. 20, and she’s expected to return in early February.

Her itinerary has her flying to Ushuaia, at the southern tip of Argentina. There, she’ll start the journey to Antarctica aboard the Ocean Victory ship, according to the Marathon tours and travel site. 

Over the course of several days, the ship will sail through the Beagle Channel across the Drake Passage, through the Shetland Islands before reaching King George Island – where the marathon will start. 

Her trip will span 16 days and include training runs in addition to the full marathon, where she’ll come face-to-face with Antarctic glaciers, icebergs, penguins and more. 

From clothes to travel, marathon expenses have totaled to more than $11,000, according to Shircel.

But when she finishes, she knows it’ll be worth every penny. 

She described her entire journey, with every trip and experience she’s had around the world, as a once in a lifetime opportunity that she couldn’t pass up.

“I love the scenery,” she said. “I am very passionate about running … it’s a part of me.”

There are times she has been exhausted, but throughout her journey, she has learned to create better life habits, skills for longevity, technique and discipline. 

“Whatever you spend your time (on) the most, you’ll get good at it,” Shircel said. “It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I want to do more … I am able to learn more.”

After Antarctica, Shircel said she wants to meet more people, including aspiring world record holders, and she is planning to continue competing in ultramarathons – defined as any distance longer than a standard marathon. 

So, how long will Shircel continue to compete? When will she retire?

“Until I couldn’t walk,” she laughed. 

Alexis Clark can be reached at aclark@gannett.com or 931-217-8519. To support her work, sign up for a digital subscription to TheLeafChronicle.com.

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Discovering the wild dreamscape of Antarctica

An untamed world: Discovering the wild dreamscape of Antarctica

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Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which ThePointsGuy.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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6 Physician Tips To Prepare For A Cruise To Antarctica

This is truly a trip of a lifetime. And while it isn’t as rigorous as a mountaineering expedition or a sailing vacation in which you’re part of the crew, it isn’t your typical cruise with endless buffets and umbrella drinks by the deck pool.

A cruise to Antarctica is an expedition, an exploration of a remote, untamed continent miles away from civilization. And miles away from a hospital. There are many adages about planning ahead. I first learned the six “P’s” in the Army: “Prior planning prevents p-ss poor performance.” It was a favorite in the operating room, too, where it served to remind the physicians, nurses, and technicians entrusted with caring for patients to check and double-check that everything was in order, and we were ready for the day. 

For your upcoming cruise to Antarctica, here are six tips — six “P’s” to help prepare you for your trip of a lifetime.

1. Pay A Visit To Your Healthcare Provider

Before you book a cruise to Antarctica, make an honest assessment of your health. Whether you find you have some medical problems that need to be addressed or you’re perfectly healthy, be sure to visit your healthcare provider before your trip.

If you have chronic illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure, a history of strokes, blood clots, diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, or have had recent surgery, a visit with your primary care provider as soon as you book your trip will give you time to medically get yourself in the best shape possible.

Even if you’re healthy, pay a visit to your provider for medication refills and to discuss your need for medication to prevent or lessen seasickness.

Four South American fur seals on a gray rock. A young seal is in the foreground and Ushuaia Argentina is in the background. Shallow depth of field.
Teresa Otto

There is a healthcare provider on board the ship to evaluate and treat minor illnesses (gastrointestinal upset, colds, mild infections, etc.) and emergencies like a fur seal bite. But you’ll need to be flown to a hospital in Argentina, Chile, or home if your illness or injury is serious or can’t be treated onboard.

Pro Tip: Depending on the tour operator, your healthcare provider may need to verify and sign a medical history form for the ship’s doctor to review several months before departure.

Group of tourists in blue jackets on a zodiac boat touring around icebergs in Antarctica.
Teresa Otto

2. Plan For Seasickness

Most expeditions traverse the Drake Passage between Antarctica and South America. This is the roughest stretch of water in the world. I had never had motion sickness before, so I was confident I’d be okay on the 2-day transit across the Drake Passage. 

I was very wrong. 

It’s much better to prevent seasickness than to try to treat it after the fact. There are both medications and acupressure devices to help prevent or minimize the symptoms. The wise passengers on the cruise wore scopolamine patches before we entered the Drake Passage. This is a prescription-only medication you need to bring with you.

Alternatively, talk to your doctor about over-the-counter Dramamine or Marezine. Your healthcare provider will make sure there are no interactions with medications you already take. 

The acupressure wrist bands that apply pressure to the “nausea” point receive mixed reviews in studies. They have no side effects so they seem to be a good adjunct to medication.

If you opt not to take preventative medication (personally, I think this is a huge mistake), ginger lozenges or ginger ale can soothe an upset stomach — provided they stay in your stomach long enough to do anything.

A ship anchored in Paradise Bay Antarctica, photographed from a Zodiak boat. Snow covered mountains surround the bay and small iceberg are seen in the foreground.
Teresa Otto

3. Practice Balance-Improving Exercises

Most days include excursions on Zodiac boats whether you are viewing icebergs, whales, and seals from the boat or making a landing on South Georgia or Antarctica Peninsula. The crew assists you on and off the Zodiacs, but you’ll make their jobs easier if you have the lower body strength and balance to climb in and out of a moving ship to a bouncing inflatable and vice versa. The greater test of strength and balance occurs on shore landings as you battle the surf when climbing in and getting out of the Zodiac boat. 

Trails on South Georgia are unpaved. If you’re interested in seeing more remote penguin colonies or retracing part of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s trek, you may walk several miles on a moderately strenuous hike over hilly terrain. Bring walking poles if needed for balance.

Walking around the ship’s deck or passageways in rough seas requires good balance as well. The ship is equipped with handrails throughout. 

Start exercises to improve leg strength and balance as soon as you book your trip. The Mayo Clinic provides an at-home exercise regimen to improve your balance. Joining a tai chi group is particularly helpful as this discipline’s main goal is improving balance in a non-strenuous way. 

Pro Tip: If you’re carrying heavy camera gear, hand it to the crew on the Zodiac so you have both hands free. Accept their help getting on and off the ship and Zodiac no matter how good your balance is.

Hiking on Antarctica
Teresa Otto

4. Pack Appropriately

Having waterproof clothing for cold weather is so important, many tour operators provide both muck boots and jackets. You’ll need to bring waterproof pants to wear over your clothes. Layering is key — choose waterproof outerwear for your Zodiac excursion that you can remove or unzip if it gets warm while you’re hiking in South Georgia.

Depending on how acclimatized you are to cold weather, bring thinner or heavier thermal underwear, shirts, sweaters, or a fleece jacket, pants, sweatpants, or leggings. The tour operator I went with provided boots for us to use, but if you wear an unusual size jacket or shoe or wear orthotics, check to make sure they can accommodate you. If you bring your own, boots need to be slip-on and tall since you’ll be getting out of the Zodiac into shallow water and walking up to the beach.

Check with your tour operator about dinner wear. Cruises to Antarctica tend to be casual without the need for formal dinner wear.

Bring your prescription and over-the-counter medication in your carry-on bag, with plenty to last the entire trip. If you use a CPAP machine, bring it and the supplies you’ll need with you. You should be able to buy distilled water and any personal items you’ve forgotten in Ushuaia before you embark, time permitting. 

The ship I traveled on did not have a gift shop, sundry shop, or laundry services on board. If you need to hand wash your clothes, bring eco-friendly detergent.

Pro Tip: If your cruise departs from Argentina, the weight limit per piece of luggage on the domestic flight you take from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia is about 50 pounds.

The bow of the ship with wood and metal railing and wooden deck in fairly calm seas with fog ahead. Visibility is limited.
Teresa Otto

5. Purchase Medical Evacuation Insurance

Most tour operators require medical evacuation insurance. It may be included in general trip insurance, but you’ll need to read the contract carefully to determine what exclusions the coverage has. Alternatively, you can purchase stand-alone medical evacuation insurance. 

Evacuation from an Antarctic cruise back to Argentina, Chile, or home will make a serious dent in your savings. Cruise experts, Expedition Trips, recommend $200,000 due to Antarctica’s remote location.

Trip cancellation and interruption insurance are separate insurances (although you can add a medical evacuation rider to it) that reimburse the cost of the trip due to covered causes. Read the contract carefully as many causes are excluded. 

Pro Tip: Trip cancellation plans require you purchase the insurance within 10 to 21 days of booking the trip for pre-existing medical conditions to be covered.

Author bundled up in waterproof and cold weather gear on a Zodiac boat.
Teresa Otto

6. Plan Early For Your Unique Circumstances

Planning early to accommodate your unique circumstances is key. I’ve read about a wheelchair-bound woman who cruised to Antarctica and made it onto the continent. All of that took prior planning. That said, reach out to the tour operator you’d like to use before you book your trip if you have limited mobility. Most ships have elevators and several ADA-compliant rooms. 

A trip to Antarctica is a feast for the senses, so visual or hearing impairments shouldn’t stop you from traveling here. For the visually impaired who are assisted by a guide dog, dogs were banned in Antarctica in 1992 after being used as sled dogs since the early days of exploration. I don’t believe you can make an exception for a guide dog, although I can’t guarantee that’s the case. 

For those with severe food allergies, you should be able to avoid a particular food but there will be a risk of contamination because small ships have one kitchen and can’t accommodate preparing food in a gluten, dairy, or nut-free kitchen for example. A passenger with a severe gluten allergy brought all of her own food for the Antarctica cruise I took.

Pro Tip: Proof of a completed series of COVID-19 vaccines and a recent negative test are required by most tour operators. If you are unvaccinated for personal or medical reasons (allergy to a component of the vaccine, for example), contact the tour company about your eligibility to take the cruise before you book your trip.

Check out this information on Antarctica voyages:

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Airbus A340 plane lands on Antarctica for first time

(CNN) — For the first time in history, an Airbus A340 plane has landed on Antarctica.
Hi Fly, a boutique aviation company, was behind the flight. The company specializes in wet leases, which means they hire out both aircraft and air crew and are responsible for handling insurance, maintenance and other logistics.

Hi Fly 801 took off from Cape Town, South Africa on Tuesday, November 2.

Captain Carlos Mirpuri sets foot on Antarctica.

Captain Carlos Mirpuri sets foot on Antarctica.

Marc Bow/Hi Fly

The plane was commissioned by Wolf’s Fang, a new upscale adventure camp on the world’s southernmost continent, and brought much-needed supplies to the resort. Wolf’s Fang is a new project from high-end Antarctica tourism company White Desert.

The crew of Hi Fly 801 (and its return trip to Cape Town, Hi Fly 802) was led by Captain Carlos Mirpuri, who is also Hi Fly’s vice president.

Altogether, the round trip flights plus the short stop in Antarctica to unload took about three hours and covered 2,500 nautical miles.

The blue-ice runway at the Wolf’s Fang property is designated a C Level airport, despite not technically being an airport. That means that only highly specialized crew can fly there due to challenging conditions.

“The cooler it is the better,” Mipuri explained in his captain’s log.

“Grooving is carved along the runway by special equipment, and after cleaning and carving we get an adequate braking coefficient; the runway being 3,000 meters long, landing and stopping an A340 that heavy on that airfield wouldn’t be a problem.”

Although the blue ice is gorgeous, it can also be concerning for pilots because of its glare.

Mipuri added: “The reflection is tremendous, and proper eyewear helps you adjust your eyes between the outside view and the instrumentation. The non-flying pilot has an important role in making the usual plus extra callouts, especially in the late stages of the approach.”

Hi Fly 801 approaches the ice runway.

Hi Fly 801 approaches the ice runway.

Marc Bow/Hi Fly

The first recorded flight to Antarctica was a Lockheed Vega 1 monoplane in 1928, piloted by George Hubert Wilkins, an Australian military pilot and explorer. He took off from Deception Island in the South Shetland Islands. The project was funded by William Randolph Hearst, the wealthy American publishing tycoon.

Short exploratory flights like these were how scientists and mapmakers got vital information about Antarctica’s topography.

To this day, there is no airport on the White Continent, but there are 50 landing strips and runways.

Australia and South Africa are just two of the global powers with interests in Antarctica.

As aviation website Simple Flying notes, the Russian Antarctic research station organized a half-dozen trial flights to their 3,000-foot blue ice runway between 2019 and 2020. Those were carried out by wide-body aircrafts as well.

Since the vast majority of people get to the White Continent via ship, seeing the A340 landing on an ice runway is certainly dramatic — and means there will likely be more such landings in the future.

Airbus 340 image by Marc Bow, courtesy Hi Fly.

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