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How do you remember a voyage of 4,500 nautical miles? For Jaunted Editor Cynthia D, who sailed on the Azamara Journey for 17 days last month, the answer is with emoji. Allow her to explain.
I'd never been on such a lengthy cruise before, and certainly never to Antarctica. From Buenos Aires, we'd stop at Montevideo, Uruguay and continue to the Antarctic Peninsula, then Ushuaia, Argentina and the Falkland Islands before returning to BsAs. I traveled with a colleague, and the internet onboard was so great that we'd use Twitter DMs like walkie talkies. Emoji quickly crept into these exchanges, and nearly took over as my captions and comments on social media when words proved inadequate to describe the scenery, the experiences, and the feels that developed as the ship sailed on.
Plus, one time I asked Jaunted contributor Andy how his trip to Hong Kong was going, and he replied with a descriptive stream of emoji so brilliant no further explanations were needed. It was awesome.
So, without further ado, a 17-day cruise as seen through emoji:
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The 'Azamara Journey' off Port Lockroy, Antarctica
The Antarctica travel season is an extremely short one, lasting from December through February. Owing to mercurial weather, strict regulations on tourism, complicated logistical planning, and the high price of what are considered once-in-a-lifetime trips, some ships will only squeeze a few voyages into those few months. As such, planning for your trip to Antarctica is best accomplished early and armed with as much first-hand information as possible.
And here's a little nugget we feel compelled to share after our own 17-day sail on Azamara Club Cruises' Azamara Journey: taking a "big ship" to Antarctica is not only possible, but it's potentially the travel deal to rule all travel deals.
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If it's cold where you live, then pay attention this week as we profile a few Perfect Weather destinations.
Ships sailing up the Beagle Channel and into the port city of Ushuaia wish they could always have the view above. Blue skies, majestic mountains, and a slight froth to the waves from the area's infamous high winds. It's optimal weather for setting out in exploration of the capital of Argentina's Tierra del Fuego region, but it only arrives several times every year.
Ushuaia, owing to its location at the "bottom of the world," (Fin del Mundo), is a perfect gateway for Antarctica travel. Expedition ships, cruise ships, and research vessels squeeze in to the single main pier, welcoming thousands of passengers for the start of epic adventures. As such, those travelers much first find their way to this frontier city, and there are definitely differences to the tourist seasons.
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Travel sickness: we’ve all been there. Well, most of us, who don't have iron-clad stomachs have. And seasickness – which can strike even those who’ve never suffered travel sickness before – can ruin the fun of a carefully planned cruise.
So how do you cure seasickness? To find out, Jaunted dispatched me - its most lily-livered contributor, who has balance issues galore and once threw up on a car ferry crossing a tiny river in England - to the Azamara Journey, a cruise ship currently navigating some of the most treacherous waters in the world: the South Atlantic and Drake Passage, en route to Antarctica.
Seasickness is something you will have to deal with if you're traveling to Antarctica - there is no way of escaping these waters known, due to the low latitude, as the 'screaming sixties'. I have been sick for four days and counting, and I have tried various methods of recovery. Here’s how each one rated.
This weekend moviegoers can experience what it's really like to live in Antarctica as the movie Antarctica: A Year On Ice hits theaters.
The film is directed by Anthony Powell who, along with his wife Christine, has been living in Antarctica for more than 10 years. Powell's first documentary captures a year in the life of these two brave Antarctica dwellers, including everything from months of darkness to some of the worst storms on earth.
Just in time for the southern summer, there's an ultimate travel contest for anyone with more stamps in their passport than Facebook friends. Since the Antarctic is no ordinary place, it calls for no ordinary assignment. Air New Zealand and National Geographic have teamed up to find the world's most adventurous traveler to call the South Pole home for a little while, with the goal of bringing environmentalism to the forefront for rest of the world.
As one of the most fragile places on earth, Antarctica is home to not only a lot of ice and penguins, but a handful of research stations to expand knowledge of the frozen continent. The lucky winner of the Air NZ contest will work side-by-side with a few scientists and National Geographic photographer, Jason Edwards at one of these stations. The winner will learn about environmental issues hurting our planet's southern most ice mass and, ultimately, the rest of earth.
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The Maldives. Australia. The Grenadines. The US Virgin Islands.
Sensing a trend?
These have all been recent locations to score the cover shot of the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Now brace yourself, because 2013's destination star definitely doesn't belong in the bunch other than the fact that it too is an islanda very large island. Antarctica.
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Shackleton's original voyage
Imagine taking nearly two months off to sail some of the most exotic seas on the earth. If you're picturing a cruise, with its midnight buffets and tinkling atrium piano and sunning on the Lido deck, then STOP. What we're talking about is a serious voyage, one that requires a bit more preparation than having the post office hold your mail and a bit more clothing than tank tops and flip flops.
We're talking about sailing the route of Sir Ernest Shackleton to Antarctica, on the T.S. Pelican tall ship that's nearly the twin of his original ship, the Endurance, while shadowing a team of 6 who'll complete the second portion of Shackleton's journey in a replica 22.5' whaler boat.
It's been four years of planning for the journeyfrom Punta Arenas, Chile to Elephant Island, then 800 nautical miles on to South Georgia Island and Shackleton’s grave at Grytviken, before ending in Rio de Janeiro. In alliance with Intrepid Travel, the Pelican has made 10 berths available for regular travelers to join the trip, provided you're willing and able to embark on a 56-day epic and shell out $30,000 for the opportunity.
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For those jet-setters who've ticked off a healthy slew of bucket list destinations, we applaud you. It is quite the accomplishment to have been almost everywhere. Still, we just added a new destination to our own list and we think you may want in. You see, for the first time in 33 years, commercial trips from New Zealand to Antarctica have, once again, become a possibility.
There's a reason they ended in the first place, however; a tourist flight crashed in 1979 and proved fatal for all aboard. It's been long enough for airplanes and navigation and all sorts of other technology to improve and so, this upcoming February, sightseeing flights to the polar cap will once again become a normal departure from NZ. The day trip will see a chartered Qantas Boeing 747 take off from Auckland and travel due south to fly over the ice mass.
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Consider this your necessary daily dose of adorableness.
Voyagers with Lindblad Expeditions, onboard the ship National Geographic Explorer, were just chilling on Aitcho Island in Antarctica when they spotted a rare white penguin a few days ago. The cutie pie is a Leucistic chinstrap penguin (okay, so he's not totally albino), as the video explains, and he's just going about his penguin-y business.
Now is the middle of the prime summer season in Antarctica, when the cruise ships and expedition tours make landfall on the southernmost continent. Hopefully we can expect more sightings of similarly cute wild fauna before the season ends in a couple months.
It's the video gone viral yesterdaythe Japanese whaling vessel purposefully turning to hit the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's Batman-looking boat, the Ady Gil, in the seas off Antarctica. Check out the collision above if you haven't seen it already; it's a pretty great video for such a terrible event.
Luckily, no crew on board the Ady Gil were killed and only one suffered cracked ribs, but the collision did sheer 10 feet off the bow of the high-speed stealth boat, which was sitting dead in the water when the Shonan Maru altered course to aim directly for it. The incident occurred in the most frigid of waters, in Antarctica's Commonwealth Bay, which is part of Australia's Antarctica territory. Luckily for the Ady Gil, the crew of the Sea Shepherd's newest shipthe Bob Barker was only a little ways away and was able to rescue the crew and salvage the boat.
See exactly where it all went down, after the jump
A gang called Antarctic Sightseeing Flights are running the trip, which starts in Sydney and will pick up more passengers in Melbourne before heading down in the direction of the South Pole. You'll spend almost 12 hours on board but it's no ordinary flightthey'll have a jazz band playing, a bit of a party atmosphere, and a strict seat rotation policy so that everybody gets their share of the best views.