You may think I’m crazy, but here it goes…
In 2002 my husband and I were living in an RV in California. At that time, Ken was a supervisor for the San Jose Police Department, and I worked as an ESL teacher for the school district. I had a recurring dream of standing on a small ship entirely alone, staring at the ship’s mast. Like all married couples, I could not imagine being without my husband. He was only 55, but every night for a week, I had the same dream. In January 2003, we became I, and everything changed forever.
November 2003: In Antarctica, every sunrise is breathtaking. Each morning I would walk around the deck, inhaling the invigorating fresh air. The water was deep blue with impressive icebergs surrounded by crystal clear emerald green water. As usual, one morning, I got up early to see the beautiful glow of a golden sunrise, as I had done so many times during my seven-week adventure. This morning was different. I suddenly stopped, stood motionless, look up, and to my astonishment, I was staring at the same mast and pristine iceberg I had seen so many times in my dream.
Just like in my vision, I was standing alone. At that time, I think I knew that my husband was saying good-bye, and to follow my dreams. Follow your dreams! This was, and always will be, an experience that I will never forget.
Do you dream of exploring Antarctica?
If you are interested in exploring Antarctica, only a few ships will allow you to explore the continent. With the others, you may only “see” Antarctica from a distance.
BEWARE! Only certain vessels are designed to navigate through the ice, and icebergs always remember ice burgs are 10% above and 90% below the waterline. The largest iceberg is B-15 183 miles long and 23 miles wide. What you have to worry about is 90% under the water. You would be one thousand eight hundred miles or more from help if something were to go wrong. Remember the Titanic?
There are several choices of ship companies and vessels with experienced crews that know the area and can navigate into safe waters. Most advertised cruise companies are not.
It is essential to understand that a cruise company can sail anywhere at any time. That does not mean that it is safe to do so.
Think about it, wouldn’t you rather have a crew with expertise in the ocean you are cruising in? They would know what to look out for, and if they notice danger or fantastic photo opportunity, they would be able to sail into safe waters.
The Southern Ocean changes in an instant. Icebergs can rollover; in 2002, the 1255 square mile section of Antarctic call the Larsen Ice Shelf rapidly collapses, causing severe waves. Then you have the icebergs caving.
Because the 120 passenger Clipper Adventurer had an experienced captain and crew, we did change our route many times. Visited places that are seen by those lucky enough to be sailing with this crew. We did visit remote islands and met with the locals living on the islands in some cases we ate with them.
Many nights I was wakened with the captain’s announcement to put our life jackets over our nightgowns and meet him off we would go in a zodiac to see amazing scenery and animals. That would be a once in a lifetime experience that you would never get otherwise.
The International Association of Antarctica Tour Organization (IAATO): “Antarctica is the largest wilderness area on earth, unaffected by large-scale human activities. As a unique and pristine environment, it has been afforded special protection. It is also physically remote, inhospitable, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous. All activities should, therefore, be planned and conducted with both environmental protection and safety in mind.”
THIS DOES NOT STOP CRUISE COMPANIES FROM SAILING INTO DANGEROUS WATER IF THEY HAVE TOURISTS WHO WANT TO GO! There are very few vessels, if any, with over 160- 500 passengers that are built to navigate in the Southern Ocean. Honestly, your experience is very different from a 120 passenger to a 5oo passenger cruise ship. This must be taken seriously as this is probably one of the most fantastic life-changing, expensive, and potentially dangerous trip you will ever make.
For a ship to be considered an icebreaker, it requires an ice-strengthened hull, an ice clearing shape with enough power to plow through the thick ice.
Safety should always be considered when traveling just because a cruise line offers a cruise to a destination does not mean that it is the safest ship to be on.
For more information, please check out my book on Amazon “Travel Tips and Trivia for the Savvy Traveler.”
Sara Susanne Raney
Expert in Travel Advice & Consulting
Travel Designer for Tripadvisor
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